Archive for the ‘Eat Street’ Category

Where do we eat?! Where DON’T we eat!?

One of the top reasons/complaints/questions I get pertain to where and what I get to eat. “Well doesn’t it suck, like not being able to go to restaurants?”  Why can’t I go to restaurants? Silly people! There are so, so many places in

Azia, we almost had our wedding reception here!

the Twin Cities where I can get vegetarian meals it’s remarkable! Below, I have an extensive list of places that are either all veg, all vegan, or are vegan/vegetarian friendly! The crazy thing? This isn’t even all of them…there are hundreds more from where this list came from! Do a little digging on the internet and you are bound to find more! Happy Hunting!
Vegetarian Options
128 Cafe, St. Paul
Adelita’s (Mexican), Mpls
Amici Pizza & Bistro, Mpls
Azuki’s Sushi, Stadium Village Mpls
Bagu Sushi, Mpls
The Barbary Fig (Moroccan), St. Paul
Barbette (French), Mpls
Barley John’s, New Brighton
The Bean Factory, St. Paul
Bob’s Java Hut (soup, sandwiches, salads), Mpls
Bombay Bistro (Indian), Mpls
Bravo! Cafe and Bakery, St. Paul
Bryn Mawr Pizza and Deli, Mpls
Burger King (I’m serious, they have a Veggie burger!), all over
Chatterbox Pub, Mpls and St. Paul
*Chili’s, all over
*Chino Latino, Mpls
Christo’s (Greek), Mpls and St. Paul
*Davanni’s, all over
Delicious Cafe and Brazilian Grill, Minnetonka
*Dino’s Gyros (Greek), Roseville
Dulono’s Pizza, Mpls
Fuji-Ya (Japanese), St. Paul
*Green Mill, all over
Hard Times Cafe, Mpls
II Gatto (Italian), Mpls
*Jimmy John’s, all over
*Mt. Fuji, Mpls and Maple Grove
*Olive Garden, all over
*Panco Villa (Mexican), Mpls
*Romano’s Macaroni Grill, Rosedale Mall
Solera (Tapas Bar), Mpls
Vegan & Vegetarian Options
5 Spice Asian Take-out, Blaine
501 Club, Mpls
Acadia Cafe, Mpls
Amazing Thailand, Mpls
Anodyne, Mpls (Cafe)
*Asia’s Finest Restaurant, Vadnais Heights
Asian Express, St. Paul Skyway
*Azia, Mpls
Back Door Deli, Vadnais Heights
The Bad Waitress, Mpls
*Baja Sol, all over
*Bambu (Vietnamese and Chinese), Maplewood
Ban Thai Restaurant, White Bear Lake
Bangkok Thai Deli, St. Paul
Bar Abilene (Mexican), Mpls
BD’s Mongolian BBQ, Burnsville
Beirut Restaurant (Lebanese), St. Paul
Best of India, St. Louis Park
*Big Bowl, all over
Birchwood Cafe, Mpls
Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar, St. Paul
Black Sea Restaurant (Turkish), St. Paul
Black Sheep Coal Fired Pizza, Mpls
Blue Moon Coffee Cafe, Mpls
Blue Nile (Ethiopian), Mpls
*Bona Vietnamese Restaurant, Mpls
Bordertown Cafe, UofM Campus
Breadsmith, all over
Broder’s Cucina Italiana, Mpls
*Bruegger’s Bagels, all over
Bryant Lake Bowl, (bowling alley with vegan options-weird but cool), Mpls
*Buca di Beppo (Italian), Maple Grove and Mpls
*Burrito Loco, Dinkytown
Cafe Latte, St. Paul
*California Pizza Kitchen, all over
Caspian Bistro (Iranian), Mpls
Cheng Heng (Cambodian), St. Paul
Chiang Mai Thai, Mpls
Chin’s Asia Fresh, Minnetonka
*Chipotle, all over
Cosmos, Mpls
Crave (Italian), Edina
Cupcake, Mpls
*Dunn Brothers, all over
*Ecopolitan, Mpls
Eden Pizza, St. Paul
*Einstien Bros. Bagels, all over
*Erbert and gerbert’s, all over
Everest on Grand (Nepalese and Tibetan), St. Paul
Falafel King (Middle Eastern), all over
French Meadow Bakery and Cafe, Mpls
Galactic Pizza, Mpls
*Good Earth, Roseville and Edina
*Gopher Express, UofM Campus
Grand Szechuan, Bloomington
*Grumpy’s, Roseville and Mpls
*The Independent, Mpls
It’s Greek to Me, Mpls
Izzy’s Ice Cream Cafe, St. Paul
*Jamba Juice, all over
*Jasmine 26, Mpls
*Jasmine Deli, Mpls
Johnny Rockets (60’s drive thru), Bloomington
*Khan’s Mongolian BBQ, Roseville and Richfield
King and I Thai, Mpls
Little Tijuana (Punk Rock Mexican? Whatever that means. Lol, that’s what their site actually says), Mpls
*The Local (Irish bar), Mpls
*Lucky Dragon, Mpls
moto-i (Japanese), Mpls
*Muddy Paws Cheesecake, St. Louis Park
*Napa Valley Grille, MOA
*Noodles and Company, all over
OM (Upscale Indian), Mpls
*P.F Chang’s, all over
*Panera, all over
*Pei Wei (Fast food Pan-Asian), all over
Pineda Tacos, all over
*Pizza Luce, Mpls (3 locations) and St. Paul
*Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge (Bar food), Mpls
*Rainbow Chinese Restaurant and Bar, Mpls
*Sawatdee (Thai), Mpls, Maple Grove, St. Paul
*Shuang Cheng (Chinese), Dinkytown (My favorite restaurant of all time!)
Triple Rock Social Club (Punk Bar-serves breakfast-I need to go here!), Mpls
Tucci Benucch (Italian), MOA
Turtle Bread Company, Mpls (2 locations)
*Village Wok, UofM Campus-open hella late, like till 2am!
Vincent A Restaurant (French), Mpls
W.A Frost and Company, St. Paul

*Places I’ve ate vegetarian meals at, so feel free to ask me questions!

Pictures (Click to enlarge.)

Barbette.

Blue Nile.

Everest on Grand.

Fuji-Ya.

The Good Earth.

Izzy’s Ice Cream Cafe- Vegan ice cream? So cool!

Cafe Latte.

Christo’s.

OM.

Solera.

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Jasmine 26; A Step up from the Deli

Last night my best friend G and I took one of our girlfriends out for her birthday, named A. Being that A and I are both vegetarians we decided to try out a new vegetarian place, called Jasmine 26 in Minneapolis. Many people, especially foodies, have heard of Eat Street. Normal folks call it Nicollet, but for the foodies, it is Eat Street…the magical street that boosts every authentic and cultured meal known to Minneapolis. The diversity there is remarkable, from Vietnamese, Mexican, Greek, American, All Raw to Indian (and everything else in-between). Many people have experienced Jasmine Deli…which is owned by the same folks as Jasmine 26. Jasmine Deli, which I have reviewed before ( see post ‘Tofu Wars’) is a great little hole in the wall dive that has a great variety of authentic Vietnamese dishes as well as many vegetarian/vegan options. It literally can only seat 12 people-max, but people still come in droves to wait for a seat anyways. So Jasmine Deli decided to make a larger and more upscale version of their highly successful Deli, and there’s where Jasmine 26 comes in. Jasmine 26 is a beautiful restaurant nestled next to The Bad Waitress on the corner of 26th and Nicollet. The place is larger than it’s proceeder, is spacious and has a remarkably large and full bar guarded by a wall sized Buddha. Very cool!

G, A and I debated sitting outside on the cute wicker chairs and tables they have lining up outside their building but decided since it was over 90 degrees out, inside would be just fine. First dilemma to conquer? What to drink. They have a large and extensive menu of what I call “fancy” drinks, wines and beer. I settled on Sapporo, my fave Japanese beer (that’s brewed in Canada…strange? That will be a different blog…), A settled on a martini, and G got the interesting if not fascinating Frozen Bubble Tea. For anyone who has had Bubble tea, you know exactly why this concoction is strange. Frozen bubble tea? Frozen liqured bubble tea? Well G got it, and we all tried it. Excellente! G got the Mango version, but there’s also other flavors, including coconut. Yum! Yum!

Since we were fiendishly excited over too many options on the menu we all got an appetizer as well as a main dish. On the appetizer course we got the Coconut Cream Cheese Wontons, Sea Salt and Pepper Cube Tofu and Lettuce Wraps. Delicious, delicious, delicious. We were all amazed by the appetizers. So much that we ate almost all of them before I realized I hadn’t snapped any pictures! Opps. So that’s why my pictures show scantily clad plates of food…

The cream cheese wontons were definitely different…it had the familiar taste that we all know and love but then it had a little sweet coconut to it, and served with homemade pineapple sauce, it was perfection. The tofu. Omg. I know I always praise P.F Chang’s tofu as my favorite, but I think I found a new one. This appetizer of lightly fried tofu is a-mazing. G, isn’t even a fan of tofu and she was addicted to that stuff!  On the outside it has a little spicy kick, and flavored so delectably by salt and pepper; on the inside it is hot, soft and with less flavor (in this case it works out so, so well). The contrast between the very flavorful and crispy outside is great with the soft and less flavorful inside. It’s so good. I have been thinking about it all day. The lettuce wraps came out so beautifully wrapped. Seriously like little presents-they were wrapped with rice udon noodles, eggs, cucumbers, mints, bean sprouts and had little baby shrimp on the outside neatly tucked into the cilantro tying the package together. (Everything we got was vegetarian except the lettuce rolls, but you can easily take the shrimp off!)

Onto the main meal. G got the Pho (beef), I got the Vegetarian Pho and A got the Grilled Shrimp Coconut Milk Noodle Salad without the shrimp (she got mock duck instead). G thought her beef broth was good, sweeter than usual but still very delicious. It came out similar to most other places serving pho. Mine however was different, but this was expected. For anyone who doesn’t have Pho knowledge, it is the common Vietnamese soup that can be eaten literally for any meal. It is usually made of (beef) broth, flavored with onions, herbs, bean sprouts, lemon, lime, and is made with rice noodles and served with meat, tofu or mock duck. It is as common to the Asians and foodies, as it is the all American Chicken Noodle Soup. I have it when I’m sick, when I’m cold, when I’m tired, when I’m hungover and most definitely when I crave Vietnamese food. This was my first time ever having Pho that had broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots in it. Your first impression would be, “That’s wrong” and I wouldn’t correct you. It was wrong. I understand that I ordered the Veggie Pho…but I thought all would be replaced was my broth and meat. No, they added in other stuff too. I’m not saying it was bad, I’m just saying it was different and not in a way that I favor. The broth however was good, since I have had vegetarian Pho that has been downright bad before, so at least I can give them props on that. A also wasn’t too impressed with her meal, saying it lacked flavor. It’s described as “Grilled shrimp (in her case, mock duck) tossed in coconut milk with thick “udon-style” rice noodles, garnished with shredded lettuce, cucumber, herbs, cilantro, and a sprinkle of roasted peanuts. Served with house vinaigrette sauce.” Without the shrimp, shedidn’t have much of a coconut taste, so her noodle dish ended up being rather bland. She had to add a lot of hoisin sauce (which they called Ha Noi sauce here, so don’t be tricked) and chili pepper sauce to her dish to make it taste better.

In conclusion, we would probably rate it a B+.

The presentation was beautiful, the place was clean and gorgeous, the service was good, the appetizers had us drooling, our drinks were overall normal, and the main dishes were aiight. So, to round it off we gave them a great B+ and think that if they can improve on their main dishes, and maybe take the prices down a notch it would be a stellar A. Still, we have to be grateful for them to make such a nice, vegetarian and vegan friendly restaurant. Almost every single thing on the menu can be made vegetarinized.  Would we go there again? Totally, and next time you can join us! 😉

Tofu Wars

Although I try to limit my soy intake (substituting rice milk for soy milk, for example) I still have a special place in my heart for tofu. Tofu is definitely an acquired taste and most people think they don’t like it even without trying it. For all of us tofu veterans out there, we know how tofu can vary in texture and taste based on how it is cooked. Because we know this, we enjoy lots of tofu! The common folk are missing out!

When I am actually using my kitchen (rare!) I sometimes like my tofu sautéed in sauce with veggies, or baked in the oven with soy sauce, or in a broth served soup style. But my talents usually run dry after these recipes. So what’s a girl with no cooking skills to do? Eat out of course. You already know, my husband and I are professionals when it comes to eating out. I have tried tofu from almost every place that serves it in the Twin Cities and have found many different varieties. I have to say only a handful of places really stand out to me, in good and bad ways. Although I could list many places from all over, I’m going to keep this restricted to common places that most people already dine at. This is to help the tofu lovers out there as well as the people out there who are nervous about trying it.

The Good

P.F Chang’s – I absolutely love this restaurant. I loved it when I ate meat and I love it now that I don’t. They have an exclusive menu of vegetarian options and even a gluten free menu. They have three tofu dishes to choose from, one being my favorite tofu dish…ever.

Buddha’s Feast: This is a vegetable medley with five-spice tofu served with steamed or fried rice. This is not my favorite, although still good. I originally ordered this because I love spicy food but the tofu was too soft for me. I do enjoy soft tofu, but in this dish I would have preferred it to be a bit thicker to resemble meat in this dish. C

Buddha’s Feast

Ma Po Tofu: OMG. This is my favorite tofu dish of all time. The tofu is crispy on the outside, silken on the inside and in a yummy sichuan vegetarian sauce with steamed broccoli. I order this a little too much. Actually this is the only thing I order at P.F Chang’s now, ever since I first tried it. Only complaint? Sometimes when you get it take-out, the sauce sits at the bottom making the dish towards the bottom extra salty. A!

Ma Po Tofu

Coconut Curry Vegetables: This is stir fried veggies with the same crispy silken tofu with peanuts in a vegetarian coconut curry sauce. This sounds really good, but unfortunately I cannot tear myself away from the Ma Po Tofu. Opps. Someone else will have to grade this one for me!

Coconut Curry Vegetables w/ Tofu

Big Bowl – Good old Big Bowl. It’s becoming as commonplace as Leann Chins (which does not serve any meatless dishes! Grr…). Big Bowl is a favorite of mine as well since they serve all natural, organic and fresh foods daily. I always get a ginger beverage there and it’s so fresh and good every single time. Hmm. Like P.F Chang’s they also (just started to) have a gluten free menu. Perks! Of course they have bountiful options for vegetarians but my focus here is tofu!

Noodles w/ Kung Pao Tofu & Spinach: A-mazing. I love this dish which consists of wide wheat noodles, little pieces of tough tofu, blackened chilies, roasted peanuts and a sweet and spicy sauce. Really if you like kung pao anything, you’re sure to like this. The tofu in this one is good because it’s small and a little bit tougher, really mimicking meat. The tofu also really soaks up the sauce, acting as a sauce sponge making it even more yummy. A

Noodles w/ Kung Pao Tofu & Spinach

Vegetable Pad Thai with Tofu: Good good good. For anyone out there who isn’t familiar with pad thai, it’s Thailand’s signature dish made with fresh lemons, herbs, big rice noodles, basil, eggs, sprouts and peanuts. It’s a really refreshing dish that seems light when eaten but still fills you up! The tofu version comes with medium texture tofu and fresh asian vegetables. (Think bok choy.) It’s a really tasty meal, especially for lunch. A-

Vegetable Pad Thai w/ Tofu

Yellow Curry Vegetable with Tofu: This dish is fried or steamed rice with bok choy, green beans, seasonal veggies, soft textured tofu and yellow coconut curry sauce. I have to say this one isn’t my favorite. But it doesn’t really have to do with the tofu, but the sauce is a bit runny for me. It resembles soup more than sauce in my eyes. But if you’re fan of curry, be my guest! The yellow curry is a bit sweeter and they also offer Thai Green Curry instead which is spicy! C

Yellow Curry Vegetable w/ Tofu

Jasmine Deli: Most of us that grew up in or around Minneapolis know about Eat Street…the amazing strip of Nicollet in Minneapolis filled with food for every type of taste bud possible. You will find authentic Asian restaurants, Mexican Restaurants, gourmet breakfast diners, fresh vegetable markets, etc. It’s a foodie’s heaven. jasmine Deli is on this strip and is most commonly known for their pho (a Vietnamese soup as common as the chicken noodle) and banh mi (Vietnamese subs made with French baguettes) but their tofu should not be overlooked! On this certain day I was looking for a place that offered vegetarian pho (a blog will come later about this) but something else caught my eye on the menu. Tamarind Tofu. So I asked the owner about it and he told me just to try it. I shrugged, said what the hell and ordered it. And thank goodness I did. This is a phenomenal dish for the little Jasmine Deli! Here is an appetizer portion of fried and baked tofu in a tangy tamarind sauce. The tofu looks and tastes as if someone fried it to get it to be the texture it is, then baked it afterwards to make the extra crisp outer layer then smothered it in this sauce that’s both sour, tangy and sweet. It’s almost citrusy but is not the typical sweet and sour sauce. Hmm hmm. I ended up eating that, a veggie pho and ordering another portion of Tamarind Tofu to bring home. A

Tamarind Tofu

The Bad

Noodles & Company: I hate to rip on Noodles, since I do like their pastas but the tofu here can definitely be passed. I had the misfortune to try this, not once but twice, and not liking it either time. For whatever reason the tofu here is really tough and chewy. Not like a tough piece of steak but like a dog’s chew toy. It virtually has no flavor and seems to have been fried so much on the outside that no moisture or sauce can even get soaked up into it. My sister in law had her first tofu experience at Noodles, and now her tongue doesn’t trust it anymore. It’s a shame because almost anyone’s tofu is better than Noodles. D-

Doesn’t matter what kind of noodles you get. The tofu stinks.

The Ugly

Benihana’s: This is a great restaurant. Not too pricey for what it offers, good entertainment, great for kids, delicious…Here’s the thing though. It’s only delicious because everything is smothered in butter. If you want to get something healthy, or something without meat, it’s not going to be pretty.

Spicy Tofu Steak: The description says: tofu, scallions and cilantro grilled in a spicy tofu hot sauce. Sounded good. Tasted bad! The tofu in itself was, get this, slippery. This was no steak. It was uber soft and slimy, had little to no taste (it isn’t marinated before hand, which you see when the cook pulls out the cold tofu straight from the container and plops it onto the grill), and has seriously no texture to the point where I after a few bites it was like tofu slushy in my mouth. Now, the sauce. How disappointing! It was not a sauce. It was a spicy soy sauce, without the spice. Total waste of money in my eyes and something I wouldn’t eat again even if someone paid me. F

Spicy Tofu Steak

Hope this somewhat helps you tofu newbies out there. Get out there and try your first piece!! At least try it at the restaurants, instead of buying it and attempting to cook it! Hopefully you won’t be disappointed!