Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl’s Top 5 Lunch Dates to Look At Flowers

March 22, 2014 12:00 PM

(credit: Como Park Website)

Everybody loves flowers! And good grief do we love them after THIS winter. Think warm people.

This week, the Macy’s Flower Show opened up on the 8th floor of the downtown Minneapolis store (sorry for the giveaway but it’s number one on this list). That inspired Dara to come up with her Top 5 Lunch Dates to Look at Flowers! Here’s a rundown of some great spots to stop and smell the flowers, and stop and have a bite, all in one lovely afternoon!

Cowles Conservatory, Walker Art Center

(credit: Walker Art Center)

Cowles Conservatory
Lowry Hill
Minneapolis, MN 55403
(612) 375-7600

It doesn’t have to be summer to enjoy some “outdoor” beauty at the Walker. The iconic Cherry and Spoon and other displays at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden can sit outside with the melting snow while you head inside to the Cowles Conservatory. There are permanent and seasonal displays of native, tropical and exotic plants, orchids, palms and other fragrant and beautiful plant species in this all glass building.

While visiting, a great spot for lunch is Gather! This D’Amico product is the new-ish restaurant at the Walker and they specialize in lunch. Perfect for a date spot! You’ll find the food to be super fresh and local, going so far to even provide who supplies the ingredients to the kitchen! Don’t miss the fruity non-alcoholic cocktails either.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Bachman’s Lyndale
6010 Lyndale Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55419
(612) 861-7600

The Lyndale Bachman’s is the one garden center on Dara’s list. It’s a massive place, full to the brim with all the flowers and plants that make you feel like spring! It’s refreshing just to walk through, feel the humidity, smell the dirt and flowers and just feel like the sun is shining down in the middle of summer.

Inside Bachman’s, you’ll find the Greenhouse location of Patrick’s Bakery and Cafe! Patrick Bernet of Patrick’s Bakery is a native Frenchman who has won more national French pastry competitions than you could imagine. His food matches his pedigree and enjoying it in a greenhouse setting couldn’t be more fitting!

(credit: Minnesota Zoo Facebook Page)

(credit: Minnesota Zoo Facebook Page)

Tropics Trail at the Minnesota Zoo
13000 Zoo Boulevard
Apple Valley, MN 55124
(952) 431-9200

It’s a tropical heaven. A world of the rain forest where green foliage and beautiful orchids envelop you along a winding path. Filled with animals, you’ll encounter lemurs, gibbons and agile tree kangaroos at each turn. Beauty and unique wildlife first attract you, but the Tropics Trail also showcases several of the world’s biodiversity “hotspots”. These are areas especially rich in species found nowhere else that are also at extreme risk of destruction. It’s a tropical vacation just down the street.

There are a few options for lunch in Apple Valley and the surrounding area that Dara recommends.

Satay 2 Go features some great Asian food classics such as BBQ Short Ribs, rice noodle dishes, plenty of Satay (grilled meats on a stick) to choose from and more!

You could head to Hoban in Eagan. Hoban is a restaurant that stays committed to quality and authentic Korean cuisine. From flavorful meat dishes like bulgogi to amazing kimchee dishes, noodle dishes and plenty of fresh vegetables, you’ll find plenty of ways to mix some hot-zone food with your tropical adventure at the zoo!

A totally different way to lunch in the area is Valley Tap House. With 20 beers on tap (and another 30 in bottles) you’ll find a great array of adult beverages to choose from. The food comes in huge (truly Midwestern) proportions. This is comfort food. They specialize in Baltimore Pit Beef. Pit Beef is top round that is covered in spices then grilled slowly over coals. It’s crispy on the outside, rare and juicy in the middle. Slice it thin, pile it high and you’re off and running!

(credit: Como Park Website)

(credit: Como Park Website)

Como Conservatory
1225 Estabrook Dr.
St Paul, MN 55103
(651) 487-8200

The Marjorie McNeely Conservatory was first opened in 1915 as part of Como Park and still is a fantastic attraction for people of all ages looking to discover exotic plants and flowers in St. Paul’s backyard. The Conservatory is a half acre both indoor and outdoor with a number of different wings dedicated to a variety of plant life including bonsai trees, ferns, orchids and seasonal flowers. The building itself is beautiful as the picture to the right can attest.

We’ll keep an Asian theme going for our lunch plans since Como is so close to many of the metro area’s best spots.

Ngon Bistro is a Vietnamese restaurant located in Frogtown. They speciaclize in French-Vietnamese food using fresh, local, and sustainable ingredients.

Mai Village is a family owned and operated Vietnamese restaurant in St. Paul that has suffered because of all the construction surrounding the light rail project. They’ve remained open and serve up some of the best Vietnamese food in the city.

Little Szechuan does some of the city’s best traditional Szechuan Chinese cuisine. Typical Szechuan dishes include Kung Pao Chicken, Twice Cooked Pork, Fish-Flavored Pork, Tea Smoked Duck, Dan Dan Noodles, and more. In fact, you’ll find over 100 dishes to choose from!

Royal Bangkok has been mentioned along with some of the best Thai restaurant in the Twin Cities. Beyond that, it could be one of the best deals in town with a lot of entrees in the $7.99 neighborhood. That’s eating good and eating cheap!

(credit: Macy's Website)

(credit: Macy’s Website)

Macy’s Flower Show
700 On The Mall
Minneapolis, MN 55402
(612) 375-2200

It’s been a family tradition for so many for years. Since the days of Daytons, the 8th floor has been transformed into a flowery wonderland every spring. Running from March 23rd through April 6th, this year’s Macy’s Flower Show presents “The Secret Garden”. And really, what year have we ever needed spring as badly as this year? The design of “The Secret Garden” aims to give visitors a taste of gardens around the world, including England, Holland, Asia and even tropical destinations. To read more about the Macy’s Flower Show click here for Sara Pelissero’s Curiocity Blog.

For lunch downtown, the options are really broad. But Dara has chosen four spots that give you great choices in the same vicinity as Macy’s downtown.

Vincent is a classic french restaurant that does so many things well, it should be a regular stop anyway. But for lunch, there’s nothing better than the Vincent Burger! It’s chef Vincent Francoual’s creation combining ground beef stuffed with braised short ribs and smoked gouda cheese. There’s nothing left to say.

Next up Dara gives you the choice of two excellent Mexican spots. Masa and Barrio.  Masa is the more “upscale” of the two with a very contemporary tribute to the tradition of Mexican cuisine. You’ll find all your regular Mexican favorites but done with a fine-dining twist. Barrio takes a different look at things while still creating exceptional food. Barrio’s a tequila bar that makes about as good a taco as you’ll find in addition to several other small plates to choose from. Don’t miss the homemade chips and guacamole either.

Finally, there’s the Macy’s Oak Grill. Why leave the building, right? A Minneapolis tradition was born on October 2, 1947, when the Oak Grill opened for business in the old Daytons building and has been serving up classic lunches ever since. From the ornate, 300 plus year old fireplace to the dark paneling, red chairs and dim lighting, the Oak Grill has an amazing cozy ambiance. May we recommend the popovers? Or should we just insist. You won’t regret it. A perfect date spot to enjoy before or after a springlike flower show that’ll leave you warm from the inside out!

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