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Chomp, Chomp, Chomp.

A hybrid or maybe just a wannabe jack of all trades. I enjoy writing, reading, blogging, cooking and most of all – EATING! I think my general love for all things food makes me a perfect subject for Menuism. Let the great experiment begin!

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Oklahoma Joe's BBQ & Catering

 3002 W. 47th Avenue
Kansas City, KS
 

Best BBQ I've Ever Had!

Hands down, best BBQ I’ve had. I guess I shouldn’t have expected anything less from Kansas City, but thanks to Mizzouatheart’s recommendation and backed up by Anthony Bourdain’s ‘Top 13 Places to Eat Before you Die" I made sure I stopped in for a bite at Oklahoma Joe’s.

Located in Kansas City near the border of Kansas and Missouri, you might find Oklahoma Joe’s gas station location a little strange. No flash or frills, just really good BBQ. Inside you’ll find a gas station convenient store on one side and Joe’s on the other. The menu is on the blackboard on the wall. Figure out what you want before you step up to the window.

Even before we got to KC, I knew I must have the Carolina! Pulled pork with a pile of spicy slaw all on a buttered bun…AMAZING! My boyfriend had the Hog Heaven which was pulled pork and smoked sausage, also to die for. Add in a couple of beers and some Texas toast and you have yourself the perfect lunch. And for less than $20? Unheard of! It also will revitalize you after a long ride in the car.

If you’re anywhere near KC make the trip to Oklahoma Joe’s. You will not be disappointed!

Carolina Style Sandwich at Oklahoma Joe's BBQ & Catering

Carolina Style Sandwich

Pulled pork, brisket or turkey on a bun topped with spicy slaw and Bubba’s Sauce. Served with pickles.

The pork was tender, smokey and amazing. Not too watery or saucy. Just the right amount of heat and seasoning. Even the bun was something special.

The Hog Heaven at Oklahoma Joe's BBQ & Catering

The Hog Heaven

Pulled pork and sliced sausage on a bun.

What more could you ask for? Juicy seasoned pork and smokey sausage slices on a buttered bun.

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Miyabi 9

 512 E Grand Ave
Des Moines, IA
 

Best Toro!

Never thought I’d find my favorite sushi place in Des Moines, IA, but Miyabi 9 changed my mind. Located in the East Village, this trendy little sushi joint fits in well with its surroundings. With only about 10 small tables it is obvious that Miyabi 9 focuses on quality not quantity.

We attempted times before to visit, but it was always too busy. They take reservations only if your party consists of 6 or more. A good bet is to go during the afternoon if you just want to try it out. My boyfriend and I (sushi lovers) were brought to Miyabi by his parents one afternoon. We were lucky to get a table right by the window. When we walked in the door we were greeted by the sushi chefs behind the bar. Our server quickly brought us water and was very helpful explaining the menu.

We usually order way too much food when we go out and this visit to Miyabi 9 was no exception. A huge plate arrived with a rainbow of fresh fish. We had everything from caterpillar rolls to toro sashmi. This was the first time any of us had ever had toro. Our server recommended it to us explaining it was the fatty oily part of the bluefin tuna belly, but super delicious. We agreed! Since that day my boyfriend and I have been toro fanatics! All the other sushi was amazing as well. I think the other table favorite was the rainbow roll which was covered in salmon, shrimp, tuna, hamachi and eel.

Everything was ultra fresh and beautifully presented. The restaurant decor is classy, modern and clean cut. The staff is super courteous and showed an obvious amount of passion and love for their art. It is a little pricey, but well worth it. I hope I can visit again soon!

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Hoban

 1989 Silver Bell Rd
Eagan, MN
 

Korean a la Strip Mall

I’ve heard mixed reviews about this place, but from my experience Hoban serves up some of the best Korean in Minnesota. I think you should trust me on this one. I can say with 99% certainty that you’ll enjoy what Hoban has to offer.

Located in Eagan, Hoban has made its home in a small strip for over 15 years. Surrounded by a McDonald’s, Domino’s delivery, and a gas station, the area seems unusual for a restaurant of this nature. However, just this summer they closed down (I almost had a heart attack) for renovation and expansion sake. It was closed for 3 months (longest 3 month of my life!). The dining area almost tripled in size and they got new booths. I guess the strip mall is treating Hoban well. To me this means the place is worth a visit, even if it is a little out of the way.

Banchan (a Korean meal tradition) is served with every meal. It typically consists of Kimchee, potatoes, kongnamul (bean sprout salad), and other pickled vegetables. The appetizers at Hoban are great. I would highly recommend trying a couple, or at least the Man Doo. Man Doo is a small fried dumpling filled with beef and vegetables. You can’t really go wrong here. I also recommend the Bin Dae Tuk which is a Korean-style soybean pancake cooked with green onions and carrots.

I can’t pick a favorite dish, because it’s all good to me. I guess at the top of my list would be the dolsot bibimbob and the kimche bokum. Two very traditional Korean dishes that both possess a lot of favor, texture and visual appeal (see pics!).

The owner (Kim, as they call her) is very sweet and truly loves her restaurant and her restaurant supporters. We have had some minor problems with service, but in the end I’m just there to bliss out on some Korean food. If the server isn’t super fast it’s not a big deal to me, but I understand that it may be to some.

So, what else can I say? Hoban is good food. The selection is great and true to its origin. Go there and tell them I sent you. Just kidding…but do actually go there.

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Turtle Bread Co./Pizza Biga

 4762 Chicago Ave S
Minneapolis, MN
 

Love the Chicago Ave Turtle!

Kidding, the bread doesn’t really have turtles in it. My sister actually informed me that Harvey himself said they called Turtle Bread Turtle Bread because they baked their bread slow, like a turtle. Funny.

Anyways…Harvey McLain (TB, Tosca, Levain, and Pizza Biga owner) is quite a guy. Lawyer, restaurateur and overall just a really great person.

His latest venture, Tosca, is located next to the Linden Hills Turtle Bread. I’m sad to say that this location has seen better days. Since the bakery and cooks moved to the Chicago Ave store, TB in Linden Hills has slowed down. I can only hope that Tosca will revitalize the bakery and deli side as well as becoming a sucessful restaurant addition to Minneapolis.

I visit the Chicago Ave location quite frequently. I am in love with their breakfast specials and the fresh organic atmosphere. TB doesn’t try to be trendy, it just is. Their fresh baked bread often make it home to my pantry as well as the soups and pastries. During breakfast time TB serves a large menu sure to please anyone looking for a hearty, filling and loving breakfast.

Sitting at the hightop wooden tables the sun shines in on the patrons with a warm glow. Couples sit a smaller tables, sipping coffee, reading the Sunday paper and sharing in a laugh. The whole place is filled with cheerful chatter which turns into a pleasing and gentle sound that acts as background music. Servers bring your meals to your table in exchange for the little red number tents handed out when you order. Don’t forget to tip at the counter!

The staff is colorful and fun. If and when Harvey is in (he usually is) you will see him walking around talking to regulars, past employees and friends. I have never seen anyone in Turtle Bread who isn’t enjoying themself.

If you haven’t noticed I really have a thing for Turtle Bread Bakery and if you have not taken the opportunity to visit I hope that you will. Everything is afordable and above and beyond delicious. Try the salmon benedict, it will blow you away.

Some random facts:
Free Wi-Fi
First come first serve basis
Sandwiches, soups, pizza dough, cheese, bread and pastries available all day
Fresh squeezed juices
Unlimited refill house coffee
Specialty cakes made to order or other cakes, cupcake and pies available daily (Opera cake – YUM!)
Seating outside
Plenty of free parking (just note the street signs)

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Five Guys Burgers and Fries

 Gallagher Dr
Edina, MN
 

I'm Love With Five Guys!

Okay, that sounded wrong, but I am, with the restaurant that is. I’m not a super huge fan of fast food and avoid it whenever possible. So when Five Guys opened up near by I just figured it was loads of greasy food for cheap and that’s why everyone loved it so much. Turns out I was wrong and Five Guys is something worth talking about.

Recently open on Gallagher Drive in Edina, Five Guys isn’t easy to spot. Hopefully by the time I’m done everyone in Minnesota will know about Five Guys. The store itself is small and so is the parking lot which sometimes poses a problem. We’ve tried to visit several times, but always got frustrated by the lack of parking and opt for somewhere else. Not Five Guys fault and they seem to be doing good with or without the parking lot.

Walk in and you’ll be greeted by a line of people and a partition of economy sized peanut bags. Open boxes of peanuts are available to dine-in customers and to keep you satisfied and quiet while you wait in line. The line was to the door this afternoon, but we managed to make it in and out in about 15 minutes, pretty slick. You walk up to the counter, order and it comes out the other side. The screens on the outside of the register ensure you know exactly what you’re getting and you’re getting exactly what you want. Burgers come standard as double stacks. If you want one patty you’ll want to go for the little burgers (that’s what I did). You can get hamburgers, cheeseburgers or bacon cheeseburgers. All additions are free, but you have to ask for them. Toppings include mayo, relish, onions, lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, grilled onions, grilled mushrooms, ketchup, mustard, jalapenos, green peppers, A-1 sauce, BBQ sauce and hot sauce. WOW!

The staff was extremely nice even though they were busy. I noticed that I accidentally had onions added to my burger order instead of grilled mushroom. I just asked one of the busy workers and they fixed it right up for me with no attitude and a smile. I got my order and everything was exactly right. Love the amout of fresh jalapenos and grilled mushrooms they put on the burger! The meat was juicy and not greasy. The french fries were amazing as well and this is coming from a girl who doesn’t typically like french fries. I know, something is wrong with me. The fries are all fresh cut in the store. There’s even a little sign at the front that says where the potatoes came from that day.

Never thought I’d be this excited about a burger (a burger franchise too!), but Five Guys has changed my mind. Probably one of the best burgers I’ve ever had. Now I just gotta hop on the treadmill so I can visit again!

Little Cheeseburger

All around great buger. Melty cheese. Pick all the toppings you want. I recommend the grilled mushrooms! Delicious.

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Tea Garden

 2601 Hennepin Ave
Minneapolis, MN
 

Tea-lightful

The Tea Garden is one of the best places in Uptown, hands down! Cute corner location on the outskirts of Uptown with a fun, fresh and young atmosphere.

They have a huge selection of teas, bubble teas, lattes, coffees, coolers and shakes. You can pick a million different combinations and never have the same thing twice. I personally like the lychee black tea with tapioca pearls (bubbles). Sometimes I get lychee jellies too if I’m feeling ambitious (also available are mango, pineapple, green apple, passion fruit, tri-color, coffee and strawberry jellies).

The staff is always friendly and helpful and the scene is always lively. It’s a fun place to relax with friends, refresh after a walk through Uptown or to sit and study (free wi-fi) or read. Togo is always an option too. There isn’t a ton of parking, mostly street. The small lot next door allows Tea Garden patrons to park in a couple of spots during certain hours of the day, so mind the signs. There are also 3 other locations at Grand Ave in St. Paul, Stadium Village and the Downtown St. Paul Skyway.

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Punch Pizza

 3226 W Lake St
Minneapolis, MN
 

Ahh, Za!

Punch is a good casual place to dine, but also it should be just a treat. Like most pizza places in the Twin Cities they can get a little pricey. The marg pizza is only $5.95, but after that you’ll probably spend an average of about $10 a person for any meal.

Punch is not your traditional za from a hut. The crust is all the same, thin and and soft, ‘Neapolitan style’. There toppings aren’t loaded on and a few of the selections even feature arugula (yum!). The whole thing is popped into an 800 degree oven for just 90 seconds where it develops its signature ’flame’blackend blisters’. It’s like the trendy diva version of most pizza joints and whether right or wrong, Punch has created quite a following.

The location in Calhoun is pretty decent with a dining room of about 10 tables, plus a 6 seater bar by the window. There is also a small patio and a couple additional tables on the side of the building. I’ve been there a few times when there was a line, but it’s generally pretty speedy. You can also call ahead, but they don’t deliver.

I love Punch. The pizzas and salads are all great. Keep feeding me Bufalinas and gorg salads and I will be a happy camper.

Bufalina

Mozzarella di bufala, prosciutto, arugula. This pizza is a bianco meaning no crushed tomatoes or sauce, just olive oil and cheese and toppings. Crispy and salty prosciutto is complemented by the peppery bitter arugula. This one is my favorite!

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West Street Deli

 2810 West St
Ames, IA
 

The Best of Campus Town

In a world of Subways and Jimmy Johns’, West Street Deli give fast and fresh deli sandwiches a little more of a hometown, personal touch. I’ve partaken in my share of cold cut trios, but when in Iowa West Street is the place to go.

Located on the outskirts of the ISU campus, West Street Deli is known by most students and alumn. It is a small establishment set between Thumbs bar and a laundromat. It might be hard to find if you don’t know what you’re looking for, but if you happen to be in Ames I suggest you map it out and stop in.

The sandwiches are giant. They have a large selection of breads, meats, cheeses, veggies and specialty sandwiches. They typically grill the sandwich in a panini press, but you can have it just the way it is too, just ask! The whole menu is posted on a large board on the wall right where you walk in. Take a quick glance. They often have daily specials too and 2-3 daily soups.

Place your order at the counter and they make everything right there. You are given a tray, the soda fountain is in the back and you bus your own table. Make sure to leave a tip in the jar up front. These guys work hard.

My favorite is the egg salad with provolone cheese grilled. At one point they had a sandwich called steak and eggs something that featured sliced steak and egg salad along with your choice of cheese and any veggie you wanted to add. That thing was amazing!

Sigh…now I’m hungry.

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Cafe Beaudelaire

 2504 E Lincoln Way
Ames, IA
 

Brazil in Iowa

After living in Ames for 5 years I started to realize that you can’t judge a book by its cover. Ames, while small and pretty rural, is home to some of the best restaurants I’ve been too. Cafe Beaudelaire is one of those places. It’s so good that I’m a regular there and I love it! Some might called me obsessed, others a stalker, overly involved in food maybe? Don’t care, I will never stop visiting Cafe B,

I have a soft spot for hole in the wall establishments and although Cafe B is located on Lincoln Way (a well traveled street in Ames) it is cozy and homey like a family owned restaurant should be, The inside only houses a few tables and a bar, but they bring big flavors and a spicy attitude to mild mannered Ames. They are known around campus town for their long island ice teas, but I think the food is the real treat.

For breakfast, lunch and dinner Cafe B serves up Brazilian inspired dishes as well as American items with kick in the butt of Brazilian. My favorite is the Beaudelaire burger with just bacon, munster cheese and a fried egg on top. Never had a fried egg on a burger? TRY IT! The staff at Cafe B are very accommodating and are working really hard now to keep this business up and running.

Next time you’re in or passing though Ames, stop by Cafe Beaudelaire and give a ‘hi’ to Claudio for me.

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Fuji-Ya Restaurant

 600 W Lake St
Minneapolis, MN
 

The Whole Sushi Package

Overall Fuji Ya has to be my favorite place for sushi in the Twin Cities that I’ve found thus far. It really does have the whole package. The atmosphere is laid back, there is a sushi bar and drink bar, a patio, private dining rooms, a patio and a friendly staff.

They have happy hour specials twice a night for drinks, apps and sushi. I think my 2 favorite things about Fuji Ya are the bartender ladies (Hi, Ellen!) and the toro. I was also happy to learn that they are moving towards using farm raised tuna rather than Atlantic or Mediterranean which are currently facing the probability of extinction.

Get there early for the 5-7 happy hour because the bar side fills up quick and the specials don’t apply to the dinning room area. I’ve been to Fuji Ya many, many times and have only had to wait for a table once or twice. The staff however was extremely accommodating and apologetic for the wait. They even brought us beer.

Love the futo maki (an assortment of vegetables, marinaded radish, and usually fishcake, tofu or another protein), tekka maki (super simple and cheap tuna in rice and nori), toro sashimi (market price. They usually have the big eye toro as well as the bluefin toro. Toro is actually the oily fattiest cut of the tuna belly. It melts in your mouth!) and $3 Sapporo during happy hour. The gyoza is also delicious and a good segue into the world of Asian food for those not down with the raw fish scene just yet.

I would highly recommend Fuji Ya. It’s a great Minneapolis dining experience.

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