Best pumpkin dishes in the Twin Cities, part 1

So many pumpkins, just one season<br /><br />

So many pumpkins, just one season

Ah, mid-autumn. The time of year best marked by your level of annoyance with people who are still talking about how great it is that pumpkin lattes are back. But savvy foodies know there are so many more interesting uses for this in-season squash than as a syrupy synthetic shot in your morning coffee.

Here's a roundup of some of our favorite seasonal dishes where pumpkin is the star.

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Cream cheese pumpkin bars Bars Bakery There's a reason the combination of softly spicy, moist pumpkin cake and subtly salty cream cheese frosting remains an absolute classic: It's perfect. And no one executes it more perfectly than Bars Bakery in St. Paul. Prefer your pumpkin in a crisper, chewier form? Bars makes fantastic pumpkin cookies too.

Harvest pumpkin soup Meritage Chef Russell Klein's signature fall soup, based on his mother's recipe, first gained popularity when he introduced it to regulars at W.A. Frost. It hasn't changed much since then, and that's a good thing. This velvety, buttery, nutty soup sets the standard for all others. Plus, it comes in an individual terrine that looks like a pumpkin. We can't ignore cute.

Pumpkin-buckwheat waffles Hot Plate The kitschy diner serves up plenty of potpies, meatloaf, and other '50s classics, but their take on a regular breakfast waffle is anything but old-fashioned. The buckwheat flour gives more density and chew to the batter, but it's all the pie-inspired flavors in the smooth pumpkin puree that keep it really interesting. Be sure to get it with the whipped cream so as not to be too healthy.

Pumpkin curry Amazing Thailand This one is a bit of a cheat, since the restaurant has it on the menu year-round, but Amazing Thailand's gorgeous, generous pumpkin curry is truly amazing. Served in a whole, hollowed out pumpkin, the dish is finished with coconut milk, lots of other veggies, and a good amount of spice.

Pumpkin eggnog doughnut holes Mojo Monkey Just because they're small doesn't mean they aren't mighty. Mojo Monkey's cake doughnut holes have a nice fried crunch to the outside and a good amount of nutmeg to help evoke all the flavors of at least two cold-weather holidays.


Pumpkin handpie Birchwood Cafe Flaky cream cheese pastry envelopes a mix of roasted pumpkin, onions, turnips, and sharp gruyere cheese in this delicious savory turnover. To balance out the richness, it's finished with a slightly sour elderberry gastrique and served with a bit of homemade applesauce.

We've got another installment of the roundup set for tomorrow, but what are some of your fall pumpkin favorites?