Southwest Journal editor Sarah McKenzie has the scoop on the area's food scene
Celebrating 20 years in business isn't just a milestone in the newspaper industry; these days it's almost a miracle. The Southwest Journal newspaper reached that landmark this year, and editor Sarah McKenzie took a break from knocking out the paper's Flavor stories and planning the 20th anniversary celebration to talk about what's changed dining-wise during the paper's two decades in southwest Minneapolis.
Hillary Kline Sarah McKenzie's chosen reading material
1. The Southwest Journal is celebrating its 20th anniversary this week. What have been some of the biggest food/restaurant stories over the years? How about in 2010?
In southwest Minneapolis, restaurateurs like Lucia Watson and Scott Pampuch really have been at the forefront of efforts to promote local food. Lucia's is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year and remains a popular dining destination despite all the major changes and construction in Uptown. As for 2010, one of the major players in the restaurant scene in southwest has been Parasole Restaurant Holdings. The company has invested nearly $9 million in three new restaurants, including its latest, the Uptown Cafeteria & Support Group.
2. What's been your favorite new restaurant in Southwest this year and why?
Based on our Flavor columns this year, the favorite newcomer is Doug Flicker's Piccolo at 43rd & Bryant. It's received lots of rave reviews and is a good spot for people who might be stuck in a dining rut. The restaurant's menu features a variety of small plates with all kinds of unique dishes that will likely push people out of their comfort zone, such as pickled pigs feet with scrambled eggs.
3. How will the arrival of street food change the downtown and southwest neighborhoods?
Street food should help make neighborhoods much more vibrant. So far, we've just sampled the Chef Shack at 5th & Hennepin. Of course, we're addicted to the mini donuts like everyone else. We're eager for the other vendors to arrive. I'm hopeful that there will be a lot of good and inexpensive dining options.
4. You also edit the Downtown Journal. What do you think of Tom Pham's new venture Wanderers, and the fact that he's shutting down Azia?
Time will tell whether Wanderers will be a success. There were a lot of fans of Azia, but the price point is tough in this economy. The space he's going into on Hennepin has seen many restaurants come and go, so we'll see if he can figure out a concept that will work for the downtown lunch crowd.
5. What changes would you like to see in Southwest in the next 20 years?
As for the food scene, I'd love to see strong neighborhood restaurants like the Corner Table, Kings Wine Bar and Lucia's, thrive for years to come. People in southwest tend to be good about supporting their local independent restaurants rather than hitting chains. I'd love to see other farmers markets like the Kingfield Farmers Market pop up. They are such an awesome way for people to come together and celebrate good food and their neighborhood.