The 10 best Twin Cities dog friendly restaurants

Minnesota joined the civilized world in 2008 by lifting the ban on dogs in restaurants. Since then, scores of restaurants and bars have opened their tables to Canine Americans and their people. Grab a leash and come hungry; we’ve gone through and picked out our favorite ten Twin Cities dog friendly restaurants.But, hurry! There’s only a month left before most of these restaurants close their door to dogs until next spring. Carpus canus! Continue Reading

GLOBAL GROCERIES | Need sunscreen? Diapers? Steichen’s Market is an oasis among food on sticks

If you’re looking for something on a stick, Steichen’s Market and Deli at the Minnesota State Fair is not for you. The store’s motto is “Cease the grease. Nothing on a stick since 1933.” But for anyone looking for diapers or allergy medicine, this market might be your best friend.Those who actually stay full-time at the Great Minnesota Get Together – people who run the Midway rides or operate a food booth or who brought a four legged 4-H project to show – already know about Steichen’s Market and Deli. It’s the only place to go when you need cleaning supplies, diapers, cereal, aspirin, antihistamine, shampoo, deodorant, bandages, sunscreen, canned tuna, and even dental floss.But, even if you don’t work at the fair, if you’re one of the nearly two million people who attend only as a visitor, you’ve probably seen the signs for the store. You may have thought the place was off limits to sightseers. Continue Reading

GLOBAL GROCERIES | Cinco de Mayo Mercado deserves its many fans

I came across Cinco de Mayo Mercado almost by accident.I had gone into another not-to-be-named Mexican market and butcher shop to research it for a story. I asked the two people at the front counter if it would be okay if I took some photos and notes for an article I was writing about them. Sure, they said. No problem. I’d been there before and maybe they recognized me. Continue Reading

GLOBAL GROCERIES | Starting a new farmers market in Minneapolis isn’t easy

Todd Douma and Brad Tetzloff quickly learned that starting a farmers market from scratch in Minneapolis isn’t for the faint of heart. But after three years of planning, the Nokomis Farmers Market is finally open for business.The new market, located at the corner of Chicago Ave. and 52nd St., is currently in a test phase, and with two Wednesday evenings down and one more to go, no decision has yet been made for its fate for next year. But so far, organizers are calling the Nokomis Market a success.“It seemed like something we needed,” said Douma, a member of Hale Page Diamond Lake Business Alliance, which fostered the market. “Other neighborhood events like Picnic in the Park in July and Frost Fest in January are heavily attended, so we knew the neighborhood would support it.”To open a new farmers market requires licensing with the city’s health department, with vendors and locations in place before applications can be even submitted. Continue Reading

Hilltop Korean grocery store has an élite secret

Central Plaza Shopping Center, at 45th and Central Ave. in the landlocked town of Hilltop, is a great place to go for food. Drive down the narrow parking lot and you’ll pass Pooja Indian Groceries, Mike’s Discount Foods, Hilltop Liquor and Tasty Pizza before you get to the separate building housing Dong Yang Oriental Foods and Deli If you are looking for Korean or Japanese ingredients, you’ll probably find them here.One regular customer, a young woman named Vicki (no last name) had brought a friend, looking for what she called ‘lazy day food.’ Vicki’s heritage is Vietnamese, she said, but she loves Korean food. “You should try the mochi,” she told me, referring to the gooey dessert cakes made from sticky rice and filled with ice cream in the store’s freezer cases.”I am not usually fond of sweets, but they remind me of my childhood.” Continue Reading

GLOBAL GROCERIES | Not hip or trendy (yet), MN’s only Venezuelan sandwich shop is a winner

Even if you are looking for Teque Arepa, the tiny Eden Prairie Venezuelan sandwich shop, finding it might be hard. It’s hidden behind a row of trees in a nondescript strip mall on Flying Cloud Drive. Go there any time, and find a crowd of folks who have discovered the place and know that the food is worth the trip.Venezuelan-style arepas are round flatbreads made from a special corn flour mixed with water and salt. They are thick, about the size of a hamburger bun with a flavor not unlike white cornbread but with a firmer texture. (The word “arepa” comes from a local Indian word “erepa” which means cornbread.) “Teque” refers to the capital city of the Venezuelan state of Miranda.Owners Erwin Chacon and his wife Liddamir Hernandez – the cooking talent at the restaurant – stuff the arepas with your choice of 18 homemade fillings, serving around 180 of the sandwiches every day.“We found a niche,” says Chacon. “My wife is a great cook and there is no other place serving Venezuelan food in the rest of the state. Continue Reading

Money for St. Paul neighborhoods in Green Line Challenge grants

What’s a “corridor of opportunity?” Six St. Paul neighborhoods are about to discover — or to shape — the answer with Knight Foundation grants ranging from $1,000 to $75,000 over the next three years.The Knight Foundation’s St. Paul chapter has announced a community challenge that they hope will create what they call “corridors of opportunity” for residents and small businesses along St. Paul’s soon-to-be opened Central Corridor light rail line. Continue Reading

Minneapolis School Board candidates give their solutions to public school problems

Delegates to the April 26 Minneapolis DFL City Convention, along with a handful of parents and educators, sat in the half-filled auditorium April 17 at Sabathani Community Center to hear candidates for the Minneapolis School Board give their views on what can be done to improve public school education in the city. The forum was sponsored by the Coalition for Quality Public Schools, a group focused on addressing racial and economic disparities in local schools.The candidates faced moderator Nicque Mabrey, an associate director at Out Front Minnesota and an anti-bullying advocate, along with a panel of four community members who posed questions about high-stakes standardized testing, bullying, class size, school closures, discipline policies and community schools.“We want to bring together different view points,” said Mabrey. “We have to transform school culture and focus on the first steps to change.”The candidates – Siad Ali from the 3rd District, Jay Larson and Nelson Inz from the 5th District, and Iris Altamirano, Rebecca Gagnon, Ira Jourdain, and Andrew Minck running for two at-large seats – are seeking the party’s endorsement. At-large candidate Doug Mann, a democratic socialist, is seeking an indorsement from the Green Party.All the candidates agreed that there are troubling problems with local schools, including ethnic differences in graduation rates. While graduation rates are rising, 21 percent of students still don’t finish high school. Continue Reading