Church Basement Cookie and Bar Plate from Young Joni
Call us rubes, but nine times out of ten, we'd take a selection of good old fashioned cookies and bars over a plate of fancy-pants gels and crumbles and dusts. So when that selection of church basement-style desserts is served in a restaurant as esteemed as Ann Kim's Young Joni, we get practically giddy.
Our adorable tray came with two bite-sized, chocolate-peanut butter "Special K" bars, two brownie bars, and two piping hot chocolate chip cookies that Kim has made famous at her Edina outfit, Pizzeria Lola. (On a recent trip to Young Joni, we sat at the bar just outside the kitchen and watched Ann Kim herself send our cookies back to get the proper level of toastiness. They're not kidding around here.) Of course, the whole spread has a little glass of milk with a striped straw riding alongside. What could feel more comforting than that?
165 13th Ave. NE, Minneapolis
Mumbai Fish Sliders from World Street Kitchen
Next to the burger and the chicken sandwich, a fish sandwich is as classic a fast food item as there is. But there’s really nothing much to a Filet-O-Fish. Let’s face it, McDonald’s added it as a token for those avoiding meat on Fridays during Lent.
But as with the rest of its menu, World Street Kitchen takes the notion of fast food, slows it down just a touch, and makes it better in absolutely every way. The Mumbai fish sliders are an excellent example of that, with tender and flaky Indian-spiced fried fish cakes, super piquant green cilantro chutney, a funky dry garlic chutney, and pickled onions on a black onion seed bun. Good for Fridays, and all of the other days of the week.
2743 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis
Our new favorite fried baloney sandwich from Bearcat Bar
2016 was the year of the fried baloney sandwich, but Bearcat Bar has not left it behind just because the calendar has flipped. We’re loving this place, because in addition to the central Loring Park location, casual vibes, and reasonable prices, they’ve gone far out of their way to amalgamate all of our favorite drinking snacks on one menu.
True taco enthusiasts will love the genius things they do with lengua, and those who know the cult fave cacio e pepe will appreciate the nod in the mac and cheese here.
But the fried baloney sandwich, stacked high with mortadella, is a guilty pleasure of tangy-spicy Calabrian peppers, house pickles, Chihuahua cheese (soft, white, Mexican cheese), and shocking yellow cheese sauce because it belongs there. All served on a squishy bun, obviously.
1612 Harmon Pl., Minneapolis
Eggrolls from Dumpling
Though they do their namesake dumpling with as much aplomb as anyone in the Twin Cities, pay close attention to the entire appetizer list at this Longfellow gem. The next-generation Chinese restaurant does not do “fusion” or “elevation,” but instead classic Chinese-American faves done properly and well.
Cream cheese wontons, chicken wings, and orange shrimp are all here, but so are pork egg rolls, rolled and fried to precision. These babies are rolled into a tight flute; they're shatter crisp two-or-three bite wonders, layered with good pork, fresh herbs, and perhaps most importantly, solid technique.
Noting leaden, greasy, or sloppy. These rolls are the tightest in town.
4004 Minnehaha Ave., Minneapolis
Vegetables that make you forget about meat at Brasa
Of all the delicious, smoked, and slow-cooked things on the Brasa menu, why get vegetables? Well, you can't subsist on red meat and barbecue sauce alone. So if you have to work in something green, the creamed spinach is the one side item on the menu with the most carefully crafted flavor profile, balancing cream, spice, and earthiness in glorious harmony.
You can pair with the pulled chicken or masa corn cake to make a complete meal, but if you go solo on a couple bowls of the creamed spinach, you won't regret bypassing an entree. Then again, if you order the pork and over-easy egg bowl, you can have the best of both worlds, as the creamed spinach is mixed in to satisfying effect.
600 E. Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis
777 Grand Ave., St Paul