New places get all the love. There are so many new places and so many are worthy of love. But a new puppy is not a good reason to kick your loyal hound to the curb.
Five places you haven’t been to in too long, and the reasons you’ll fall back in love.
Dixies on Grand
For 30 years, Dixie’s on Grand has been serving consistent Louisiana-inspired cuisine on Grand Avenue.
It’s been around since the days when the Twin Cities were decidedly not a gourmand’s paradise, and Dixie’s was one of the few places offering a taste of another region.
But once restaurants start having more birthdays than you have, they get taken for granted. Now it’s time to give this old stalwart another look.
Dixie’s has recently undergone a menu refresh, led by chef Erin Lege, a south Louisiana native. He says his recipes have been passed down for generations, and we believe him.
The fried chicken is as good as we’ve had it in St. Paul, tender as dew within, encrusted with a restrained batter that doesn’t compete with the meat. Also find gumbo with a side of deviled egg potato salad, a Muffaletta “press,” the classic New Orleans sandwich toasted panini style, and St. Louis BBQ Ribs, to name only a few of the new items.
Dixie’s is also now serving bourbon flights, from workingman’s labels to top shelf.
Dixie’s on Grand
695 Grand Ave., St. Paul
St. Paul’s classic Italian restaurants are so beloved they’re practically frayed from being loved to death.
Mancini’s and Cossetta’s are legendary, but we prefer the more sedate and practical DeGidio’s. Here, the cooking comes before Sinatra and Vegas-style lounges.
The spot-on Italian American cooking at DeGidio’s has been happening on these hallowed grounds since 1933. The red sauce tastes like the flame hasn’t gone out beneath the pot since the Roosevelt administration, it’s so complex and crimson.
Easygoing, gossamer meatballs make it effortless to consume a third, and an Italian sausage sandwich is the sort of thing that wouldn’t look silly in a quarterback’s hand.
The room is dignified enough for the funeral luncheons they regularly host in servitude to the devoted old neighborhood. Generations of diners pass the tradition of Degidio’s on to the next.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t raise a big glass of Chianti on a Saturday night, and make a boastful toast over a shared scoop of Spumoni.
425 W. Seventh St., St. Paul
Minneapolis’ only fine Middle Eastern restaurant is on the verge of a decade in business. A decade of hummus so smooth it's practically a sauce, of smoky baba ganouj that tells the tale of a bonfire, of lamb BLTs to make you look askance at pork.
Sameh and Saed Wadi’s more au courant projects World Street Kitchen (street food) and Milkjam (ice cream) have been getting all the attention these days.
But don’t forget the big sophisticated sister who started it all.
You won’t find lamb brain at the scoop shop.
123 N. Third St., Minneapolis
Clancey’s Meat and Fish
Lowry Hill Meats and St. Paul Meat Shop are two whole animal, sustainable butcher shops that have recently landed on either side of the river. Their bacon, sausages, and sandwiches are Instagrammable.
But for a long time, Clancey’s was the only meat shop of its kind. Sourcing animals from farmers they actually knew, cutting meat to order, and acting like the neighborhood general store that no longer exists anywhere. Stay away from Clancey’s six months, and they’ll still address you by name when you swing open the bell-jingling door.
But stay away six months and you’ll miss the superior sandwiches stuffed with cold cuts, oiled and salted and peppered, available until the bread runs out. You’ll miss goat, lamb, rabbit, farm fresh eggs, local honey, and natural sodas.
You’ll miss hundreds of other things, but most of all you’ll miss the sweet sound of your own name.
Clancey’s Meat & Fish
4307 Upton Ave. S., Minneapolis
There are few earnest yet wacky French restaurants. Sanctuary is that place.
Decorated in gargoyles and damask, the space is reminiscent of an episode of Game of Thrones.
Never to be penned in, the menu reads like a travelogue. Rocky mountain oysters with pineapple and chile mingle with hot link sausage stuffed into pita. And don’t miss the chocolate and strawberry soup with ancho whipped cream.
And those are just the starters.
It’s also one of the few restaurants left with a real, live maitre’ d, so this is a good time to get dressed up.
903 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis