Archive for the ‘eat’ Category

Key’s Cafe Locationshttp://www.keyscafe.com/locations.php

How Did I Find This Place?

I found Keys many years ago when I lived in the ghettos of Fridley and lived in an apartment across from one of their locations.  Since then Keys Cafe has continued to be one of my favorite places to eat on a regular basis and I don’t see myself getting sick of it, EVER.  I have one by my office and there is one near my church and even if they weren’t, I would hunt them down.

About The Restaurant

Keys opened their doors in 1973 in St. Paul on Raymond Avenue and as their menu and mission says, they bring you food that “you grew up with”.  Fitting with the theme, you’ll see appropriately placed Norman Rockwell paintings of diners and 1950’s scenes decorating their walls.

Since they opened the doors they have expanded to nine locations across the Twin Cities and won numerous awards regionally and nationally for their food.


Varies quite a bit depending on location.  My only warning is that if you go to the Raymond Ave location, don’t plan on meeting more than one person over lunch because they just aren’t set up for large groups and you will be waiting or splitting the group most likely.


Check the website by location

The menus also vary by location and sometimes even if you order the same omelet from one location to another it can be very different.  I like the personality and character of all the individual restaurants but I understand that some people might get their undies in a bundle about it.

I recommend that you just get over it and appreciate the fact that no matter what….it’s going to be good even if it’s a little different from other locations.


Some of my favorite dishes and sides include:

  • Loon Omelet: Two eggs with Minnesota wild rice, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, provolone cheese, and a mushroom cream sauce
  • Honey Smoked Salmon Omelet: Two eggs with honey smoked salmon, scallions and cream cheese. Served with fruit
  • Their homemade soups, especially the Chicken Wild Rice and White Chicken Chili
  • Monte Cristo topped with powdered sugar: Batter-dipped bread grilled with swiss cheese, deli turkey, and ham. Served with homemade jam
  • Hot Oven Roasted Turkey: with mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, cranberries
  • Their homemade toast (pay the extra $0.60, trust me) and their homemade jelly that comes with it
Now that I’ve named the favorites, I’ll get into some of the pics that I currently have on hand (this collection will continue to grow…no doubt about that).

Loon Omelet: Two eggs with Minnesota wild rice, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, provolone cheese, and a mushroom cream sauce. PS: The “loon sauce” is like crack…extremely addictive


Honey Smoked Salmon Omelet Two eggs with honey smoked salmon, scallions and cream cheese. Served with fruit. I definitely made this at home after trying this, so good and SO easy to make.

I took this to show the quality of their homemade bread and jam. Ultra tasty, especially with soup


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So recently I was at Smashburger, a high-end burger chain that a coworker of mine is on the breaking point of addicted to.  Since I have never had a burger from there (and don’t plan on getting addicted to them like others I have known to fall prey) I have been trying more exploratory options and recently ran across a great one that I had to feature.

Smashburger’s Classic Cobb – A mix of fresh greens, fried egg, applewood smoked bacon, tomatoes, onions, cheddar and blue cheese topped with buttermilk ranch dressing.  For around $5, where else can you get a salad like that?  It has everything that you would ever want, and even some protein by way of the grill fried egg to keep you full through the day.

Plus, if you would like it healthier you can always omit the bacon and get a different dressing or use it sparingly and on the side (like I often do with dressings).

What an unexpected place to find a good salad at a great price….a burger place!

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Lyndale Tap House
2937 Lyndale Ave South
Minneapolis, MN 55408

Website: http://www.thelyndale.com/
Menu: http://www.thelyndale.com/menu/

How Did I Find This Place?

While I recently went through a “bargain deal purge” where I unsubscribed to every Groupon, Living Social and numerous other websites that offer restaurant and spa deals that are just “too good to say no”….and I didn’t….I still had a few left when my sister Diane came into town for a week this summer.  Of the ones that I had left, the Lyndale Tap House sounded like the hippest option for two cool cat sisters.

Yeah, we're on a boat.


Located in an area dubbed “Lyn-Lake” because of the cross streets, the Lyndale Tap House opened in 2009.  The interior is a gastropub concept with beautiful wood decor and tables.  The large windows facing the street also open in the summer giving many of the diners some fresh air and light breeze.

Part of the interior at Lyndale Tap House


Almost all of the dishes are best served with a nice tap beer at this high-end pub eatery.  Hot pretzels, maple glazed pork belly, wild rice waldorf, beet salad (a favorite of mine), pub pies, hand cut fries, brussel sprouts (another favorite), sandwiches and also serves brunch on the weekends form 10AM-3PM.

Then there is the pit beef, which is their specialty.  Straight from blue-collared East Baltimore, this top round of beef is seasoned with pepper for three days and then slow cooked for a crunchy outside and rare inside.  It’s then served cut paper thin with horseradish sauce (yes please!).


We decided to share an appetizer since we needed to spend the $30 gift certificate.  Look at this beautiful presentation!

Lyndale Tap Homemade Onion Rings: beer battered onion rings served with homemade spicy ketchup and buttermilk dressing

Diane is a pasta freak so when I glanced at the menu I was less than shocked when she picked the following:

Lyndale Tap Shells and Cheese: Wisconsin smoked cheddar, gouda, scallions, peas and bacon. Topped with buttery bread crumbs.

But I couldn’t go here and not try their specialty (especially since it sounded so interesting) so pit beef it was.

Lyndale Tap's Pit Beef Sandwich: served on a kaiser roll with shaved onion and horseradish sauce. Side of homemade pickles.

As far as the pasta, our conclusion was to skip out on the pasta and just stick with their specialty, well executed pub food.

BUT more about the pub food.  The fries were hand cut and fresh, the onion rings were some of the crunchiest and best I’d ever had and the pit beef sandwich was very good; I would give it a shot if you go.  The horseradish was also a phenomenal co-star!  Yum!

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We had a work sponsored lunch this summer that featured cuisine from a place that I had been following…..the GRASTROTRUCK food truck!  I was thrilled!

Food trucks have been more popular than ever and while the Smack Shack will always hold a special place in my heart, the GASTROTRUCK was a very nice surprise for a weekday lunch.

The Grand Entrance!

Their seasonally inspired offerings by Chef Stephen Trojahn were well executed and through my research I observed that Chef Stephen fosters a farm to truck concept.  In short, they are proud of knowing where all of their ingredients come from (and they should be!).

The truck can be found on the streets of Minneapolis and St. Paul depending what day it is and can also be booked for company events for unique catering that no one will ever forget!

Here’s a few of the things that were featured on their menu that beautiful summer day:

Gastrotruck Fish Taco with Shredded Beets with a side of Summer Salad

Gastrotruck Buffalo Blue Cheese Burger

The best place to find out where the GASTROTRUCK is parked for lunch or dinner is their twitter account or here at their facebook page, like all of the Twin Cities food trucks.  In addition, here is their website that has some great photos of other menu items that they seasonally feature.

So while the end of the season is near, try to get out there while there is still time!


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Various locations
Website: http://craveamerica.com

How Did I Find This Place?

I had heard about CRAVE from some friends, seen it all over the review boards and had specifically been directed to try their fabulous happy hour specials.


Very hip and chic, lots of marble, beautiful people and kind of loud music when it gets later…but I guess that is the “bees knees” with all the kids these days.


CRAVE offers lunch, dinner, sushi, desert, happy hour and extensive drink and wine menus. I would go into it but there is just too much and too many locations.  So I’ll let you research the one that you’re going to and give a couple of tips based on plates that I have dined on.


This small research project was over the course of multiple trips and with various people but here it goes:

Look at this monster serving of $4 Truffle Fries on the Happy Hour Menu!

CRAVE Korean Chicken Tenders, $5 on Happy Hour Menu

CRAVE Mini Fresh Margarita Pizza, $5 on Happy Hour Menu

CRAVE Walleye Fingers, $6 Happy Hour Special


The Korean Chicken Fingers, Margarita Pizza, and Truffle Fries were all very good.  Other dishes that I’ve sampled there and have really liked include the Shrimp Pesto, Asian Noodle Salad and we also REALLY liked the seasonal Halibut dish that they had on the menu this summer.  I didn’t take pictures though; it would have been awkward and I didn’t want to seem like a TOTAL freak to the group I was with.

On the other hand, I can’t say that much about the Walleye Fingers; they weren’t too impressive.  Another dish to avoid is the Baked Crab and Artichoke appetizer; it’s literally one of the worst dishes I’ve ever paid for in my dining history.  It was extremely salty and fishy.

But besides those isolated incidents, CRAVE has a great atmosphere with wicked happy hour specials and some unique fusion dishes.  It also holds a special place in my heart since they were very charitable and supportive while one of their team members and our friends went through a medical battle.

In closing, I advise anyone to check out their happy hour specials in order to try a little bit of everything if nothing else!

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700 Commons Dr
Woodbury, MN 55125


How Did I Find This Place?

I “found” Sunsets about five years ago when I began working on the East side of town.  I go here ALL of the time since it near where I work and I am embarrassed to say that I have never blogged about their phenomenal happy hour.  They feature appetizers ranging from $2.00 for a twice baked potatoes to various dishes up to $4.99 including the following:

  • Artichoke Cheese Dip
  • Buffalo Wings
  • Basil Pesto Quesadillas
  • Bruschetta
  • Chicken Flat Bread
  • Szechuan Wings
  • Mussels
  • Sunsets Sliders
  • Nachos
Here are the appetizers that me and my good friend Liz decided upon and overestimated ourselves on.  You might not be able to tell but the portion sizes are extremely large.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip, and the largest serving side West of the Mississippi


Mushrooms...REALLY good ones

As always, Sunsets didn’t fail to deliver in this case.  It’s a restaurant that has reasonably priced food with a chef minded menu, focused on fresh ingredients.

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Christo’s Greek Restaurant: St. Paul Location

Union Depot Place
214 Fourth Street East
Saint Paul, MN 55101

Website: http://www.christos.com/christos.html

How Did I Find This Place?

My coworker, Stephanie, picked this as a place for us to go on one of our global cuisine trips.  This spot had a particularly special meaning to her since this is the where her reception was held the day that she was married to her husband.  We also went there since the St. Paul location would closing down from July-December 2011 for renovations that they had worked out with Ramsey County (who owns Union Station I’m imagining).


Union Station is an open aired train station with antique architecture and old world charm…with a Greek restaurant smack dab in the middle of it.  Which sounds absolutely delightful to me!

Union Station in St. Paul, Home of Christo's St. Paul Location

Christo's Restaurant, in the Heart of the Union Station

I loved how open and light-filled the restaurant was; it made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside (as if Greek food didn’t make me happy enough!).  The atmosphere here might have been one of my favorites in the Twin Cities to date.  I know that might sound strange but I just really enjoyed it.


Christo’s features traditional homemade Greek fair like tabouli, hummus, gyros, falafel, tomato-basil with feta soup, ke-babs, and while I didn’t get this it caught my eye…salmos exohikos.  It is a fresh Norwegian salmon with a dill aioli sauce baked in a flaky phyllo wrap that is served with broccoli over mixed greens with a dill vinegar.  YUM.  Then of course there are some stellar lamb dishes and many other Greek favorites on their dinner menu that I encourage you to check out on their website.


When you can’t choose just one, go for the weekday lunch buffet and have it all is my motto.  And what other option is there really when you can get everything that you would want for about $10?

yum Yum YUM

Here were some of our favorites:

Clockwise: Greek stew, dill glazed carrots, gyro meat, cucumber sauce, tabouli and Greek seasoned chicken

Clockwise: tomato-basil with feta soup, more gyro meat, cucumber sauce, and fantastic Greek salad

Lentil soup, that was actually phenomenal...and I usually don't like stuff like this!

Upon finishing our meal we were served a small complimentary slice of WARM baklava. PHENOMENAL.


Christo’s offers a wonderful open air atmosphere with a weekday lunch buffet steal for around $10.  The freshness and high quality of all of the ingredients was everything that I could have wished for and we even were served a warm piece of baklava to sweeten the already pleasant experience that we had there over lunch.

Will be back there as soon as they open back up in December and I can’t wait to see what the renovations are going to be like…but admittedly am more excited about the food!

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