Bread bowls can be traced all the way back to the Middle Ages, when pouring stews and porridge into hollowed-out loaves of bread was the standard way of eating. It’s a blessing that they haven’t gone out of style. Especially popular for serving clam chowder in West Coast cities like San Francisco, we Minnesotans have put our own stamp on the bread bowl, filling wheat, rye, sourdough or whatever other bread we desire with our own specialties. Here are a few Minnesota restaurants that really do it right.
1600 County Road E.
White Bear Lake, MN 55110
The aptly named Café Cravings offers a Minnesota staple, chicken wild rice, in the heartiest, most delicious way possible: the bread bowl. Baked perfectly so that it fuses and becomes one with the soup without losing its structural integrity, the meal is a savory, satisfying, wholesome experience; perfect for a cold winter day. The cozy café adds a homey touch and makes the bread bowl all the more enjoyable.
Blarney Pub and Grill
412 14th Ave. S.E.
Minneapolis, MN 55414
The Blarney Pub in Dinkytown isn’t known for food. It’s a great place to grab a pint in a lively, college-age atmosphere, but not the first place that comes to mind when thinking about dinner. That being said, the Guiness beef stew, and the sourdough bread bowl it’s served in, is unlike anything you’ll find in the area. The stout gravy blends with the airy sourdough bread to make a delectable combination of textures and flavors; certainly not something you’d expect from a pub this far from the Emerald Isle.
14 3rd St. S.W.
Rochester, MN 55902
Giving Café Cravings a run for the best wild rice soup in a bread bowl, the fairly new Downtown Kitchen on historic 3rd street in Rochester is a tasty light lunch or midday snack. Hearty, but not to the point of leaving you distended, the bread bowl’s light, fluffy interior and crispy exterior reminds us why bread bowls became popular in the first place. While the restaurant had a few kinks upon its first opening, the bread bowl has been a scrumptious option since day one.
Related: Best Bread Shops in the Twin Cities
Speak Easy Restaurant and Lounge
1001 30th Ave. S.
Moorhead, MN 56560
A great place in Moorhead for steaks and pasta, Speak Easy also adds a special touch to a classic appetizer with its spinach dip in a chewy, delicious bread bowl. The dip itself is smooth and savory and there’s an added bonus: instead of licking the plate to get the last bits, you can just eat the bowl. It’s incredibly satisfying. During happy hour, the spinach dip is half-price and there’s no better complement to a cold beer or glass of wine.
Nick’s 3rd Floor
18 5th Ave. S.
St. Cloud, MN 56301
The chefs at Nick’s 3rd Floor know that a good bread bowl shouldn’t be relegated to an appetizer or forgettable lunch item. The large, fresh-baked bread bowls are filled some of the best beef stew in the state, in no small part due to the slow-roasted, grass-fed beef and vegetables cooked to perfection. The dish holds its own against any of the steak, chicken or fish entrees on the menu. As St. Cloud’s premier dining destination, the restaurant has a lot to offer by way of ambiance, service and quality of product, and if you’re looking for the best bread bowl around, Nick’s 3rd Floor might just be the best one in the state.
Related: Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes
Adrian Schramm is a resident Saint Paul writer with a passion for all things local. Through his work with Saint Paul Almanac and Minneapolis Examiner at Examiner.com, as well as in the kitchens of bars and restaurants around town, he has discovered what truly makes the Twin Cities tick.