Tag Archives: cosetta’s

Best Twin Cities Restaurants to Take Out-of-Town Guests

Standard

This post was inspired by a friend who has family in town this weekend. She wanted ideas for where to take them. And while she came up with her own answer, it did get us to thinking where we’ve taken our out-of-town guests.

I feel a little guilty writing this one.

Why? Because I know that there will be some opinions out there. I may sound like I’m dogging some Mpls-St. Paul institutions. Let’s just say that these are not necessarily the best restaurants in the Twin Cities to take your out-of-town guests. Of course, that all depends on you and your guests. Your tastes might be completely different from ours.

So, instead, let’s label this list as our favorite places to take guests who come in from out of town. We want them to experience restaurants that we not only love, but that are also either unique, capture a piece of Minnesota or offer a bit of fun. They are listed in no particular order. At the time of this writing, Restaurant Impressions might not be written on all restaurants listed yet. But you can always hop over there to check!

~

Cossetta’s – St. Paul

I have to admit that Rob has never been to Cossetta’s {the original eatery} and I haven’t eaten there in years. However, after a trip to the newly renovated/expanded Alimentari, including the eatery/pizzeria, Pasticceria, Italian grocery and restaurant with my parents this past May, it’s worth a trip… if only for the pastry/gelato/supermarket experience. Most would notice how grand the paticceria and rest of the building looks. But instead, my dad noticed what kind of light bulbs were used. He’s cute like that.

photo 3(3)~

Buffalo Tap – Savage

Forget Matt’s.

Forget the 5-8 Club.

Get your Juicy Lucy here – the Parmesan Patty Melt to be exact. Matt’s Lucy is a good dive bar burger that is worth trying, but our burgers at the 5-8 Club were absolutely horrible. On the other hand, the Parmesan Patty Melt Juicy Lucy at the Buffalo Tap is heaven. For those of you who don’t know what a Juicy Lucy is, think of an inside-out burger. It’s one with the yummy, gooey cheese right in the middle. This one is served on Parmesan Encrusted Bread. Need I say more? You just need a little patience because you don’t want to bite into it right away, that cheese will squirt out and burn you. Give it some time to set. Then cut it in half. Drag the chips through any melty cheese that oozes out.

This photo doesn't do this perfect Juicy Lucy justice!

This photo doesn’t do this perfect Juicy Lucy justice!

If that’s not enough of a reason, the bar has a rustic, Minnesota northwoods cabin feel that makes the perfect setting for out-of-town guests. The menu is large with something for everyone. They also serve buffalo, hence the name. And fried cheese curds. As a cheesehead myself, I like to show guests from back home where I watch Packer games when they aren’t on regular TV here in Viking Country. Yep, it’s right here at “The Tap.”

A plus: There are some excellent beers on tap!
A minus: Said beers are often way overpriced.
A plus: You can still get a bottle of Mondavi Cab for $11.95. Not kidding. As my husband would say, “Cheap at the price.”
A plus: They make some of the best Bloody Marys – perfect for game day.

Three pluses over one minus? We’ll take it.

~

The Happy Gnome – St. Paul

This is an easy pick for your guests who may have an affinity for beer like we do. Rob stole my brother away on one visit, leaving his other half behind with the kids. They sipped fresh brews and devoured poutine. Oh yeah, this was all just a few days after my back surgery. Maybe he needed to get out, too. 😉

If you’ve had a late night, I’d say get the delectable breakfast sammy the next morning. Best in the Twin Cities! But the folks at this gourmet gastropub change the menu often, so who knows if it’ll be available when you read this. No matter what you order, you should always wash it down with a beer or two that you’ve never had and perhaps may never have again.

Jared's Beer Flight

~

Forepaugh’s – St. Paul

Rob likes to describe this experience as “taking someone to your rich uncle’s house.Forepaugh’s is housed in a 19th century Victorian Mansion. You can make it an expensive, fancy evening out, if you’d like. {A lot of special occasion events are held here.} Or you can do what we do: Drop by during happy hour in the bar area and let Joey or Victor wait on you. The bar menu is less expensive and quite good. In fact, we voted them as having best “Toast” in the Twin Cities. You’ll just need to go to find out what that means. And The Double Double Bacon Cheeseburger is on Rob’s Top 10 list. Furthermore, the Deconstructed Banana Cream Pie is a dessert for which you’ll return. It’s an impressive place. Have your guests take a walk around the mansion and check out all levels. Ask the staff about the ghosts.

~

Sul Lago – Prior Lake

Perron’s Sul Lago is a no brainer for us, being one of our favorite restaurants and all. Forget Manny’s. Forget Murray’s. {And, yes, we’ve had both.} If you want a steak, come here instead. That being said, let me preface that statement with this: I like filet mignons. The best I’ve ever had in Minnesota is here. My mom said it was the best steak of her life. But I tried a friend’s sirloin and wasn’t as pleased. Maybe that’s because I know how much more I love the filet. Still, the steak sandwich gives Murray’s a run for its money.

It’s a place where the service is great because they leave you alone to linger for hours if you wish, just like they would in Italy. Rob’s favorite pasta – the Sausage and White Truffle Oil – is back on the menu! The food is fantastic, as is the ambiance. And, you’ll find our favorite Bartender, Billy, there, too. He makes the best French Pear.

French Pear Martini: Elderflower liqueur, pear vodka, sparkling wine, lime juice

French Pear Martini: Elderflower liqueur, pear vodka, sparkling wine, lime juice

~

Nicollet Mall – Minneapolis

While this technically isn’t a restaurant, it’s a great area in downtown Minneapolis where you can stroll and hop from place to place to try a little bits of what Minneapolis has to offer. We recommend going on a Saturday afternoon when it’s not crazy-busy. Just be sure that there isn’t a Twins game or a big event when you go or that whole lazy-Saturday-afternoon plan will be blown out of the water. We do this because we aim to get a seat for our guests.

Our favorite stops? The Local Irish Pub (duh!), the News Room (especially for the brie cheese curds), Devil’s Advocate (tap beer selection) and Brit’s Pub (rooftop lawn bowling). My husband also found this great map of the Mall and printed out menus for each location for his parents when they were in town. In the evening, The Dakota Jazz Club is recommended for something swanky. We often pop in when they open for a cocktail and some frites before venturing somewhere else down The Mall. Other evening faves include Vincent (French) and Zelo (Italian).

BRIE CURDS DEEP FRIED BRIE, HOMEMADE BLUEBERRY KETCHUP 11.95

Brie Curds – The News Room

~

So those are our current picks. And after yesterday’s post, I realize that I should be taking peeps to The Bulldog NE more often. I think we’ve only done that once. Whether they are beer and burger lovers or just like sweets, I’m sure they’ll love it as much as we do.

What are your favorite places to take out-of-town guests where you live?

Cheers~
Carrie

Pastries, Gangsters & Steel Toes

Standard

Have you been to Cossetta’s lately?

For those of you not from the Twin Cities Metro area, let’s just say that this place is sort of an institution in St. Paul. Cossetta’s is an Italian Pizzeria & Market where food is served cafeteria-style and has been in business for decades. However, the place was recently closed for some time for a multimillion dollar renovation and expansion. I really didn’t have any expectations on how it would be changed, but the new space is incredible!

The reason we went?

My parents were in town. My mom hadn’t visited in at least three years and we never got to take her to Pardon My French to indulge in pastries. I went in search of a new place and one that work in conjunction with our plans for the weekend. Part of Cossetta’s renovation-expansion included the addition of Louis Ristorante & Bar {now on my must try list of restaurants!} and a Pasticceria. And let me tell you, this place is absolutely gorgeous. Not only did I blow my parents away with how big and grand this entire place was, but I was blown away myself.

The pastry case feels like it is a mile long!

The pastry case feels like it is a mile long!

Luckily, when we arrived, there were no other patrons {although that quickly changed}, so we were able to walk the length of the case and check out everything before making our selections. The plan was to settle in to have pastries and coffees before our Gangster Tour of St. Paul. {Highly recommended!} We may have gone a little overboard…

The ladies chose…

These two pastries are sort of Italian cousins. The one of the left is a Sfogliatelle which is a flaky pastry filled with a sweet ricotta filling. The one on the right is a Lobster Tail. The filling is more similar to that of French cream or custard.

The guys selected…

chocolate covered cannoli

Chocolate-Covered Cannoli

Run, don’t walk to get one of these right now! I didn’t know that cannoli could taste this good! {Then you will need to run back to burn the thing off. It’s huge!}

Then we had to get a couple of other items just to try:

PB & J & Nutella stuffed cream puff

Nutella Stuffed Cream Puff and PB & J Tarte {not sure if those are the official names, but just go with it}

I would say that they enjoyed it…

I Woudl say they enjoyed it.

Also in the display case were other Italian favorites, such as Biscotti & Gelato:

~

When every last crumb was eaten and our coffees were empty, we had some extra time. So we spent it wandering around the new market. This place is huge! There is such incredible selection – much, much more than before. The first thing we caught a whiff of was the freshly baked bread. But the cases of meats, cheeses, olives and rows and rows of Italian products would keep any foodie occupied and happy.

~

I promised my mom that we’d go back after the Gangster Tour to pick up some of the fresh foccacia that we didn’t think would keep well in the car. But after this fun and incredible historical tour…

Did you know that the Volstead Act (Prohibition) was signed in St. Paul, MN?

…We completely forgot all about going back to the Italian Market. Instead, we made a trek all the way across the cities to try some special samples of Steel Toe Brewery‘s Scotch and Barrel Aged sudsy beverages. On tap were the Wee Heavy Scotch Ale, the Lunker Barleywine, the Steel Toe Size 11 DIPA and the Dissent Imperial Stout. Steel Toe Brewery became one of our favorites in the Twin Cities after we were introduced to them on a Beer Trolley Tour. We wanted to make sure my dad had a chance to try their brews, too.

asdf

As usual, the beer tasted, oh, so good! But because these particular batches were just limited editions, we couldn’t get a growler to go. Some people ask why you’d visit a brewery if you can get the beer on tap around town. This is exactly why – for the specialty stuff! {I may have won out on a Steel Toe sweatshirt, too, from Rob for carting everyone around town.} While we were there, there was some sort of Amazing (Bike) Race going on because serious bikers were stopping by, running in, getting a slip of paper signed and scurrying back out. They didn’t even stop for a beer! So sad.

While, I probably normally wouldn’t do all of these things in one day, we managed to fit it all in and take my parents out to dinner to Sul Lago. Everything just seemed to fall into place. And I think Cossetta’s Pasticceria just might become our new PMF.

What activities do you plan for out-of-town guests?

Let me know what’s fun in your neighborhood!

Cheers~
Carrie