Coup d'Etat vs. Porchetteria: Walk-up window warfare

Categories: Food Fight

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Amy Dahlin
Rapini porchetta sandwich at Porchetteria

Sometimes you just gotta eat. When racked with an impatient, irrational hunger, the rigmarole of parking the car, getting a table, pondering menus as thick and impenetrable as a quarterly prospectus, waiting for your food when you run out of things to say, and remembering to use your knife and fork to feed yourself can seem like just too much. This is what pushes people through the fast food drive-thru time and time again. But what if there was an alternative? What if, somewhere, there was a tiny place with a limited menu of real, dig-in-with-your-hands victuals flung out to you and yours in a matter of seconds? Thanks to the addition of restaurants with walk-up windows, two very different neighborhoods know the answer to these questions.

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Fasika vs. Blue Nile: Battle of the Berbere beef


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Fasika vs. Blue Nile: Battle of the Berbere beef

Categories: Food Fight
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Frederik Hermann
Ethiopian wot

Minnesota is for carnivores. Steaks, burgers, and brats paired with some kind of bread and some kind of side are staples of our summertime diet. But it's easy to get caught in a rut and tire of the too-familiar options and too-familiar variations. This week we're breaking out of our Midwestern habits and routines and sneaking into the Twin Cities' African culinary scene for a different take on the meat-bread-side combo: Berbere spiced beef, injera, and salad.

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Taste of Thailand vs. On's Thai Kitchen: Pad Thai pandemonium


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Taste of Thailand vs. On's Thai Kitchen: Pad Thai pandemonium

Categories: Food Fight

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Paul Rivera
Pad Thai

When it comes to food from other cultures, "authentic" is a tricky designation. Not only is authenticity complicated by ingredient sourcing and the quality of the chefs themselves, when another country's cuisine is transposed onto our local dining scene, often only the most basic recipes survive. In the Twin Cities, this is the case with Pad Thai, the original Thai fast food dish.

So let's focus less on authenticity -- that threadbare endorsement trotted out by hipsters and food snobs -- and instead get down to which Pad Thai in the Twin Cities brings us the most enjoyable, belly-filling, satiating dining experience.

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Red's Savoy vs. the Bulldog: Cheesesteak challenge


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Red's Savoy vs. the Bulldog: Cheesesteak challenge

Categories: Food Fight

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JeffreyW

Once a dish is declared "the best," how long does it stay that way? How long does that chosen taco or cupcake deserve to sit at the top of the mountain? A realistic answer might be "as long as the restaurant manages to stay in business." A more psychologically accurate answer might be "as long as our pre-conceived or firmly established expectations about the dish in question remain untroubled." A Darwinian answer might be "until something better comes along, as it inevitably will." This week we decided to revisit cheesesteak sandwiches and figure out which answer (and which cheesesteak) was the most satisfying.

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Edina Grill vs. French Meadow Cafe: Turkey burger takedown


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Edina Grill vs. French Meadow Cafe: Turkey burger takedown

Categories: Food Fight

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Jan Murin
Gourmet turkey burger

Serious foodies instinctively distrust restaurant chains. Chains evoke the processed, middlebrow, not-too-spicy-or-my-tummy-will-hurt blandness meant to please the masses. And they're, like, totally soulless, too. Isn't it obvious that the multi-grain, sustainably-sourced, earth-friendly, chef-driven spot has to be better? Well, it depends on what you order. This week, we use turkey burgers to scrutinize a basic tenet of foodie scripture.

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Emily's Lebanese Deli vs. Zakia Deli: Spinach pie showdown


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Emily's Lebanese Deli vs. Zakia Deli: Spinach pie showdown

Categories: Food Fight

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Amy Dahlin
Zakia's spinach pie

One Saturday last autumn in the parking lot of the Maronite church on University Avenue in Minneapolis, we had a transcendant Lebanese sandwich: grilled bread stuffed with meaty eggplant, crispy onions, and tart and flavorful za'atar (a mixture of dried oregano, wild thyme, dried sumac, and sesame seeds) topped with yogurt sauce. Last Saturday, after spotting a few flyers for an upcoming Lebanese dinner event, we were once again reminded of the glories of this country's cuisine. This time, we wanted to try some spinach pie and tabouli salad.

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Dong Yang vs. Hoban: Bulgogi blowout


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Dong Yang vs. Hoban: Bulgogi blowout

Categories: Food Fight

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Amy Dahlin
Beef bulgogi at Hoban


To paraphrase noted poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson, "In the spring, a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of grilled meat." While Minnesota lifers know another snowstorm is not inconceivable, burgers, brats, and juicy steaks on the grill are just around the corner. If you haven't scraped your grill clean, dusted off your charcoal, and tied on your apron yet, then this week's Food Fight is here to help. The Korean barbecue dish known as bulgogi offers a taste of summer while the thaw continues.

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Tilia vs. Blackbird: Fish sandwich fisticuffs


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Tilia vs. Blackbird: Fish sandwich fisticuffs

Categories: Food Fight

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Jeremy Keith
Fish sandwich

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but would a fish sandwich, even if you insist on tarting it up and calling it a Fish Taco Torta or a Catfish Po' Boy? It's just fish, bread, and toppings, folks. No need for misleading Orwellian doublespeak. Whatever you want to call them, you don't need to use Lent as an excuse to try the fish sandwiches at Tilia and Blackbird Café.

See also - Cave Vin vs. Meritage: A French onion free-for-all

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Cave Vin vs. Meritage: A French onion free-for-all

Categories: Food Fight

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saebaryo
French onion soup

Café Levain's onion soup is number 34 on our 100 Favorite Dishes list. But is it the only place in town with strong soup game? We don't live in some competition-mad, Talladega Nights-style dystopia where "if you ain't first, you're last." (At least not when it comes to food, anyway.) But a search for the silver medal soup is not without peril. There are restaurants -- even French restaurants -- foisting inauthentic mugs of cheesy-salty brown brine on unsuspecting customers. Don't give those dishes a moment of your time. Instead, stay on the watch for those telltale signs of real French onion soup: nutty gruyere, rich broth, mellow onions, and a meaty crouton.

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Grand Ole Creamery vs. Lynden Soda Fountain: Ice cream clash


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Grand Ole Creamery vs. Lynden Soda Fountain: Ice cream clash

Categories: Food Fight

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Joyosity
Fresh strawberry ice cream

Here are some stats from last Friday's blizzard: 17 inches of snow; post-snow highs in the single digits; 60,000 people without power; more than 1,900 automobile spin outs and 680 crashes; 100 flights cancelled; 66 jack-knifed semis; black ice under bridges and on ramps; and yet another school day cancelled. What we're saying is this: If current trends continue, we're right in the middle of one of the five coldest winters in Minnesota history.

What we're also saying is this: who feels like some ice cream (or maybe some sherbet)?

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First Course vs. 112 Eatery: Gnocchi knockout

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