Curry caramel donut holes from Esker Grove
Brunching at the Walker’s new light-filled restaurant, surrounded by important art and gazing out on Hennepin Avenue, you'll feel urbane to an absurd degree.
But while the menu is cosmopolitan, it’s not too high-minded. Bloody Marys are garnished with smoky cocktail weenies, and you can have a cheeseburger for breakfast if you want it. But our favorite nod to fun is the donut holes, perfumed with just the lightest whiff of curry. Even if you’re generally against the idea of curry in donuts, as I am, here it really, really works. The lightly salty caramel is touched — but just touched, mind you — with the yellow spice blend, too. But more importantly, these airy little balloons are what every donut strives to be: light, indulgent, and all sorts of fun.
723 Vineland Pl., Minneapolis
Duck taco from the Harriet Brasserie
These tacos have become a mainstay at this underrated Linden Hills bistro, and for good reason. Luscious duck confit provides a profoundly rich backdrop for pickled vegetables that careen through the fat with crackling, colorful spark.
Pipian sauce is made with toasted pumpkin seeds and is a life-changing addition to your salsa repertoire. Handmade corn tortillas are warm and fragrant, and Salsa Diablo lights the whole thing up with fire.
For $6, it's an affordable reason to start popping in here on a regular basis for one (or two) of these and a glass of wine.
2724 W. 43rd St., Minneapolis
Chicken liver mousse on toast from Heirloom
Heirloom's staunch adherance to place and time (that's right here, in February) means using every last bit of what's available. Livers can be pan fried and spread simply on toast, but in the hands of good chefs like these, it's light as whippped butter and more decadent. Piped on toast in billowing ribbons like it is at Heirloom, it'll make you forget all about liver as a byproduct, and reach for this before the flesh.
2186 Marshall Ave., St. Paul
House-cured bacon from Q Fanatic
If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. And because not all bacon is created equal, Q Fanatic takes the most fetishized of all meats and house-cures it for seven days, and then house-smokes it, because they've got that technology.
The end result is a gloriously fatty, charred, sugar-spicy wonder. Pile a bunch of it on a bun and eat it, just like you would anything else. There's nothing else to do but to treat it like the main event.
180 Miller Rd., Champlin
6009 Nicollet Ave. S., Minneapolis
Dan dan Noodles from Jun
As we continue our obsession with Chinese noodles, our current crush is at Jun, in their freshly made dan dan. These long, thick, Udon-style noodles are gloriously chewy with no mush, served steamy with spicy sesame sauce, chili oil, Szechuan pepper, and minced pork. These things ought to be served with a warning, as their addictive properties have rendered us pretty much powerless.
730 N. Washington Ave., Minneapolis