Sweet Peas Classic Neighborhood Pub

Maybe I watched too many episodes of Cheers when I was growing up, but I love a neighborhood bar where I feel like everyone could know my name. That’s the feeling that you get from Sweet Peas. Located on Snelling Avenue in St. Paul, Sweet Peas has a classic bar menu filled with burgers, fries and sandwiches. They’ve added their own touch of intrigue with homemade tater tots (not for the vegetarians in the group), lobster grilled cheese sandwiches, and spicy stuffed pickles. Despite the meat-centric menu, I liked my veggie burger so much I returned for a second visit!

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Butter IS Better: The Butter Bakery Cafe

Have you been looking for the perfect neighborhood cafe to meet a friend for breakfast? How about a great spot to have a tasty scone and savor a cup of tea? Look no further, I have just the spot for you: Butter Bakery Cafe in Southwest Minneapolis.

tofu scramble

My Tofu Scramble: Seasoned tofu scrambled with veggies, served with potatoes

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Exploring Food & Culture at the Pilgrimage Café

The newly opened Pilgrimage Café is a restaurant that celebrates the importance of food as a connection to culture and history. Influenced by foods that span the globe, they use flavors and dishes to explore other cultures while at the same time reminding you of home. Did someone say comfort food? It certainly was that, and delicious too.

It’s a treat to start your breakfast with an appetizer. When we saw that they had donuts filled with peanut butter mousse, we had to try them.

peanut butter donutes filled with mousse donuts

French crullers served with honey glaze, filled with peanut butter mousse

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The Woman Behind Cafe Maude

One of the things I love about the local eateries in Minneapolis is that they often have a story, and usually they are stories I didn’t know.

Cafe Maude in southwest Minneapolis, for example, was named after Maude Armatage, a woman basically forgotten to history. Enticed to do a little Googling, I learned that Maude was considered a driving force in helping Minneapolis come of age in the 20th century. Born in 1870 to a family whose farm is now the entire Armatage neighborhood in Minneapolis, her grandparents founded Harmony, which later became the city of Richfield. When she first married, she moved to South Minneapolis – an area that was considered the wilderness at that time.

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Lunch at Broders’ Deli

A snowy winter afternoon can be transformed by a leisurely lunch, especially when it is at Broders’ Deli, the Cucina Italiana.

The neighborhood deli in Minneapolis features fresh pasta, sauces, baked goods, Italian groceries and pastries, deli items  and so much more – all of the food is available for carryout. The Husband and I ate our lunch in their small dining area and enjoyed every bite.

risotto cake

Seasonal Risotto Cake (vegetarian)

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Eating at the World Street Kitchen

The Best-Good Friend always has brilliant ideas. It was a crisp winter day when she suggested lunch at the World Street Kitchen, one of the best restaurants in Minneapolis. Featuring a seasonal menu that is inspired by the food served in street carts around the world, their lunch took me on a culinary vacation – my favorite kind of dining experience.

We both decided on the Yum Yum Rice Bowls. I had the Crispy Marinated Tofu charred squash, shiitake mushrooms and Chinese Broccoli (I requested it vegan):tofu rice bowl


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Best Waffle: The Lowry

I blogged about my visit to the The Lowry in July, but I have to post again. In my mind, the primary reason to go there for breakfast is to indulge in this:
peanut butter waffle

The Peanut Butter Waffle is the closest thing to culinary perfection that I have ever tasted. The light and tender waffle is served with crunchy Skippy, vanilla custard, and candied peanuts. Your first impulse is to skip adding the maple syrup, but that is a mistake; adding maple syrup to this delectable feast only enhances each of its flavors. It simply has to be the best waffle in Minneapolis.

I’ve been to The Lowry for breakfast several times since that first visit in July and while all of the food is spectacular, it’s the Peanut Butter Waffle that keeps me going back. I have introduced it to friends and watched their eyes widen in pleasure after that first tentative bite. Then they dig in with gusto, trying to isolate the secret to this wondrous waffle. Trust me. Try the Peanut Butter Waffle and let me know what you think.

Eating Breakfast in Modern Times

Great Breakfast in Minneapolis

We are lucky to have so many great places to have breakfast in Minneapolis. With such a wide variety to choose from, it’s easy to find something for every appetite at the table. It is a rare treat when those options are targeted to me, however, I’m usually the only vegetarian in the group.

When The Husband and I needed to fuel up before searching for the perfect Christmas tree, we decided to head to Modern Times Cafe. A restaurant well-known for their vegan and vegetarian options, their menu is clearly labeled for dietary preferences but has plenty for carnivores too. I love it when a restaurant takes the guesswork out of my dining experience!

The Husband went with the special, The Croque John Wayne. His two organic poached eggs were served on grilled bison meatloaf and topped with hollandaise sauce. He said that he loved starting his day with meatloaf:
croque john wayne

My Hashbrowns Rancheros with scrambled tofu was good but I can’t wait to try other items on their menu that I think I will love more:
hashbrowns rancheros

Obviously a popular neighborhood joint, we got there just in time to claim the last spots at the counter. I loved the cozy cafe and can’t wait to sample other items in the near future.

3200 Chicago Ave S.
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55407

Mon – Fri: 7:00 am – 5:00 pm
Sat – Sun: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm

Feeling Like A Cheeky Monkey

I love a good name. Coming up with clever names and titles has never been my strong suit, so I have a lot of respect for people that can. When I was looking for dinner recommendations a few weeks ago, I did a double take when The Best-Good Friend suggested The Cheeky Monkey. The cheeky what? I had to learn more.

The Cheeky Monkey is located in one of my favorite neighborhoods in St. Paul, historic Cathedral Hill. The dining room’s cozy atmosphere is accentuated by a fireplace and matches their comfort food menu perfectly. Our server was a huge help that evening, telling us her favorite items and pointing out how The Cheeky Monkey makes standard comfort food items their own.

The Husband loved his Mac & Cheese. They make this dish cheeky by adding chicken, montchevré goat cheese, and rosemary:
macaroni and cheese

My entree didn’t seem very cheeky, but I went with our server’s suggestion. She said one of her favorite menu items was the Roasted Vegetable Sandwich, but I should make it into a salad – an option for all of the sandwiches on the menu. I’m glad that I took her recommendation:
roasted vegetable salad

The Husband and I could not agree on one dessert to share, so we splurged and ordered our own. He surprised me by ordering the homemade French Silk Pie:
french silk pie

I did not surprise him by ordering the Pumpkin Whoopie Pie and oh, my, it was good:
pumpkin whoopie pie

The Cheeky Monkey prides themselves on being gluten-friendly, but I would love to see more vegetarian items on the menu. We both had delicious meals and loved the atmosphere, so we’ll definitely be going back. Who knows, maybe the next time there will be a vegetarian comfort food entree on the menu?

The Caves of Faribault

Faribault, Minnesota has one of the best-kept secrets in the state: The Cheese Caves. The first cave was carved into the naturally occurring sandstone thanks to German immigrants in the 1850s. Brothers Ernst & Gottfried Fleckenstein founded a brewery and used the caves for brewing and storing beer. Their brewery Fleckenstein Brewing operated in the caves until Prohibition.

The caves were quiet until 1936 when a cheese maker came to town. Expanding the largest cave and carving additional ones, it was there that the AmaBlu® blue cheese recipe was created by Felix Frederiksen. According to Caves of Faribault,  it was the first blue cheese made in America. Frederiksen’s company eventually came to be known as Treasure Cave, Inc.

In the 1990s, the caves were purchased and cheese production moved to a conventional facility in another state, but in 2001, the Faribault Dairy Company (now the Caves of Faribault®) was founded to bring them back to life. And thank goodness they did. Almost eighty years after that first batch of blue cheese was made by Felix Frederiksen, the caves are back in business. The internationally acclaimed cheese is still made by hand in traditional open vats following Frederiksen’s original recipe. Using only Grade A milk, traditional starter culture, salt and Penicillium rocquefortii, it is hand salted, cured and aged in the caves.

Cheeses and specialty items are now sold at their gourmet artisan cheese shop, The Cheese Cave. A casual cafe is located at the back of the shop and guests can relax over a glass of wine or have a delicious lunch featuring the Cheese Cave cheeses like these sandwiches:

Flatbreads like this Pear Gorgonzola Pizza:
pear and Gorgonzola pizza

And unique cheesecakes made from blue cheese with fruit toppings:

Cave tours are not allowed in person but they can be enjoyed through the internet:

The next time you’re in Minnesota, save room for some cheese and head to Faribault. Can’t get there in person? Not a problem, they have an online shop.

Primary sources used in this article:
The Caves of Faribault
The Cheese Caves

Dinner at Kim’s Kitchen

Great Chinese Food in St. Paul

We are always on the lookout for great Chinese food, especially when it’s getting late and we’re out running errands. The other evening, desperate for food ideas and hungry for something simple, we noticed Kim’s Kitchen as we flew past on Randolph Avenue in St. Paul. Kim’s is a small, neighborhood restaurant that has been family-owned since the 1960s. They have a simple menu that features classic American-style Chinese food, perfect for those evenings when you want something comforting – it reminded me of the Chinese food I grew up eating from our neighborhood restaurant in southwest Minneapolis.

The Husband asked for a chicken recommendation and was told that the Kung Pao Chicken was one of their most popular items. He ordered up and cleaned his plate:
kung pao chicken

I tried the Vegetable Lo Mein and could have cleaned my plate but managed to stop myself. The only thing it was missing was a little tofu, but I love tofu on everything:
vegetarian lo mein

We headed home feeling warm and fuzzy from good food, hot tea and the quiet atmosphere. The next time we want great Chinese takeout, we’ll definitely be calling Kim’s.