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Wander Minnesota: Dining Around The World — In The Twin Cities

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(credit: Ngon Vietnamese Bistro via Facebook)

(credit: Ngon Vietnamese Bistro via Facebook)

Amy Rea Amy Rea
Amy Rea is a freelance writer and author of Minnesota, Land of 10,000...
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Last week I took a look at ways to keep the family entertained over spring break without leaving town. This week, let’s look at eating out—and ways to explore the food of different countries without leaving the Twin Cities. Think your kids won’t try foreign foods? Give them a chance. Frame it as an adventure, show them online or on a globe where you’ll be “dining”, and encourage them to look for both similarities and differences in the cuisine compared to what they normally eat. They might just find a new favorite.

University Avenue in St. Paul gives you numerous options, especially with Asian varieties. Little Szechuan has a wide variety of Chinese dishes from simple and basic to much more adventurous. Or try the Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches at Ngon Bistro, or the pho—how can you go wrong with noodle soup? Or you can try Thai food served in a former Burger King—the ambiance might be lacking, but the food at Bangkok Thai Deli will overcome that. Homi Restaurante Mexicano takes you south of the border. Don’t think your kids will try menudo? No worries. There are tacos and empanadas that will please finicky eaters, while more authentic options will reward everyone else.

You can also veer off University slightly to visit the Hmongtown Marketplace, located not far from the State Capitol (field trip!). Bonus: it’s not just one restaurant, and it’s not just restaurants—you can choose different places to buy food from to eat, and shop for later as well.

Across the river, the stretch of Nicollet known as Eat Street provides plenty of international options too. Christos offers delicious Greek food (don’t forget the crowd-pleasing Saganaki, cheese set on fire while everyone yells “Opa!”), while just down the street Peninsula Malaysian Cuisine has an extensive Malaysian menu, including kid-friendly basics like chicken satay and noodle dishes. Across the street is the Black Forest Inn, home to all things German. A trip to Marissa’s Bakery—an impressive Mexican bakery with perhaps the largest churro ever—would complete the day in a sweet way.

An easy way to explore foods of other lands is to visit Midtown Global Market. From Scandinavian treats like lefse and open-faced sandwiches from Café Finspång, to an Italian market and build-your-own-pasta-bar at Fresco’s Pasta Bar, to a Middle Eastern buffet at Holy Land Deli, to authentic Mexican foods at El Burrito Mercado, Midtown Global Market gives you the opportunity to try a wide range of ethnic foods, all in one visit.

What else is happening in our state? Be sure to check out the 10 p.m. Sunday night WCCO newscasts, where you can learn more in the weekly segment, Finding Minnesota.

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