Archive | June 2012

Sam Thai & Chinese -White Bear Lake

When you pull up to this almost empty strip mall in White Bear Lake, you would never think that it housed an excellent restaurant. Usually known as the Thai place behind Kowalskis, Sam is the place to go to get Thai food in the North Suburbs. Just called Sam, plain and simple, this place has hands down the best Thai food I have ever had.

Most likely my favorite because Sam who owns Sam, was born in Thailand and learned how to cook from his mother. She made everything from scratch. So, that is exactly how Sam does it as well. He makes all the sauces and curry pastes in house and nothing is precooked.

I have eaten at Chang Mai Thai, Tum Rup Thai, and Thai Table ( I like the curry here) all in the last few months and Sam is by far my favorite. I liked all of restaurants other than Chang Mai Thai which does Pad Thai well, but I think the rest of the menu is lacking.  For me, Sam was the best because it was all about the flavor and they did the tofu correctly. If you are a tofu person, you know how it can be mushy sometimes. Sam gets it right. I bet if you are a meat-a-tarian, you might even like the tofu here.

Sam is not a luxury Thai restaurant like the ones in Uptown. You won’t find swanky cocktails or themed decor. But, you will get a TV playing Justin Bieber, a drink machine that says you can only use it for ice, and a magazine collection. It is cozy and homey.

I tried a few items while I was there. The first, was a shrimp and chicken spring roll with a peanut sauce. It was very good and I liked the combination with both meats and the sauce. The sauce was not spicy and I could tell that the peanuts were just crushed. Plus, they were huge! See below.

With help from Sam, I ordered Pad Woon Sen which he says that many customers like because they are no fat low-carb noodles. He said they were made out of bean and now I know why many people order this, because they were delicious and felt like carbs. I ordered mine with beef and it came with a very flavorful broth. Which it set it apart from all the other items that I have had at other Thai restaurants. See below.

I also had a few bites of Pad Thai with tofu, I say only a few bites because it was gone within minutes. The portions are large, so you should have some for the next day if you don’t end up eating it all right away. Overall, this is something that you need to try and make your friends try as well.

If you haven’t been here yet, take a day trip or a night trip to White Bear Lake. Have dinner at Sam and check out some of the cute shops in downtown White Bear or go boating on the lake.

Because food is always better when passed down through generations.


Here is their website:

Sam Thai Cuisine (formerly Wild Ginger) on Urbanspoon


Eat Street Social

After trying to go to the new restaurant in town “The Icehouse” and being rudely turned away by the hostess (I don’t think she will last long), some friends and I ended up at Eat Street Social on 26th and Nicollet.

It was a blessing. I can’t believe I had not been there yet. After looking over the handcrafted drink menu, I was amazed by the choices. The names were clever and made with quality ingredients. My favorite was the Yamato Sling. I was able to try almost all the drinks on the menu and even got a little tutorial from one of the bartenders.

If you go there I suggest sitting at the bar because you will get a show along with your drink or dinner. The bartender that we were sitting by struck up a conversation with us and even showed us how he was making the drinks. They have several bartenders on hand so you are guaranteed a really well made drink.

All I can say is that the service was overwhelmingly great, it was a friendly atmosphere and the hostess did her best to accommodate our large group. The server we had did a great job of explaining the menu and even though we didn’t have dinner there and he explained some of the items that we would have had no idea what they were. Such as “A Round for the Boys”  where you can buy the kitchen a drink for $12.00. What a great idea! I am going to be using that next time I come and eat dinner.

The reason I will be going back is because the dinner menu looked delicious and was reasonable. Their soups sounded wonderful, and I haven’t met an asparagus soup that I haven’t liked at least a little bit. Also, the braised lamb sandwich is something I have to try. The bacon gnocchi with ramps and the fish special entree are also at the top of my list.

So, if you haven’t given it a try yet, do not overlook the Eat Street Social.

Because never underestimate the power of a good drink.


Eat Street Social on Urbanspoon

Pancho Villa

This post was going to be about how great Pancho Villa handles crowds and how great it is to have a birthday there. But, unfortunately, that is not going to be what this post is about.

While celebrating a friends birthday this weekend, we decided to change our reservations to Pancho Villa (note: I normally would be telling you how great it was that they were able to take a group of 10 at a moments notice and that they were very accommodating) it went horribly wrong when a friends car was towed.

(Note: I would be writing how nice it was that if you bring 6 friends the one with the birthday gets free drinks and they get to spin the wheel and have a chance to win free drinks for the whole table)

While we are still unsure of why the car was towed (it was not parked on the side where there was a no parking sign)  a certain member of the party is now out about $250 and the cost of a cab ride.

I am sorry Pancho Villa but after this I will NEVER be coming back and neither will all 10 of my friends. It is unfortunate that you treat your customers this way. But, now it makes sense to me why it was dead on a Saturday night even when you do have good margaritas.

I never like to give reviews like this because I love Minneapolis and I LOVE Mexican food. But, people who are thinking of coming to your restaurant should know about your parking lot and how you treat your customers.

Do you know of any other restaurants that tow cars frequently? Let me know. Tweet me. Email me. Or leave me a comment.

Because your customers should be put first.


Pancho Villa Mexican Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Get Sauced- Food Truck

With lines halfway down the block, this truck is definitely trending downtown Minneapolis during lunchtime. Believe me, it is for good reason. The food on this food truck much like the design is… is out of this world.

Why? because it is all made from scratch and your taste buds can tell. They try and use all natural organic local foods. Yay!

The last time I was there I had the Tacos al Pastor, which is a pork and pineapple taco and seriously, go get them right now. They are the perfect blend of spicy-sweet. Plus, they were unlike any other tacos I have had recently, smothered in this delicious sauce. Be careful, they are not the easiest thing to eat, I had to use a fork.  Normally, I would say that they need to make it easier to eat on the go. But, they have this right and I will welcome the mess that these tacos create.

While waiting in line I spoke with a man near me who said the the sandwiches are also great. Apparently, you cannot go wrong with what you order. He was a big fan. And about those lines… even though it looks long, they have this organized. The guy who runs the window is fast, efficient, and the food comes out fast.  I waited in a line  1/4 of the size at another food truck and waited as long as another group of girls at the Get Sauced truck. Don’t be scared away by the look of the long line.

Now, how do you find this food truck. Lately, it has been setting up shop on 7-6th and Marquette on Thursdays and Fridays. But, if you want to know exactly where they are check their twitter feed @chefdrivenco where they also post menus. Since, I can’t get on Twitter at work I look up food trucks on this website

They also own George’s Dog House which I am looking forward to trying soon.

because good food can come off a truck.


Get Sauced (Food Truck) on Urbanspoon

10,000 Licks

If I can explain the heat in Minnesota, it is hot, it is sticky, and it can be unbearable at times. I have found the remedy to our sticky heat woes and it’s 10,000 Licks, an ice pop company started by two Minnesotans Andi McDaniel and Sarah Newberry. They created unique flavors with local fruits, herbs, and more surprisingly vegetables. And who said that you can’t get your children to eat their veggies?

What makes this company unique is the flavors they create, the ingredients that they use, and the fact that they are still small. Plus, each pop is created from scratch! You will not find Vanilla Beet, Sweet Corn, and Almond Butter and Jelly in your local grocery store. They also have fruit based pops like Strawberry Basil, Raspberry Rhubarb, Lavender Lemon, Blueberry Lemongrass, and Watermelon Mint. They are always inventing new flavors and will have a different selection at every event that they go to. You can even suggest to them a flavor you would like to see.

They certainly have a following in the land of 10,000 lakes and were able to raise over $10,000 in 2011 on Kickstarter to expand and purchase some much needed equipment for their growing business. During this campaign they even named a pop for someone who lost their daughter Chelsea to cancer in 2009 now named Chelsea’s Cherry Cheesecake in her honor and even had a donor from Egypt.

Now in 2012, their business is flourishing at events all around the twin cities and they are on to a new venture with Chowgirls Catering. Chowgirls has be an event space called The Parlor in Northeast Minneapolis that you can rent for your next special event and they offer great catering. They are the perfect partner for 10,000 licks. Together they have started to sell and create boozy pops for special events. I am more than excited to try one of these. So far, they created Mojito, Sangria, and Champagne Strawberry Mint flavors.

Here is the deal, since they are small they only sell at certain events during the summer so get yourself out there and spend sometime outside this summer while enjoying an ice pop from 10,000 licks. Support local businesses!

Here are some places you will find the ice pops this summer:

Midtown Minneapolis Farmer’s Market – June 23, July 28, August 25
Northeast Minneapolis Farmer’s Market – July 14, August 11, September 8
Music in Mears Park – June 28, July 26, August 23, August 30
Red House Records Barn Fest – August 4
North Coast Nosh – August 17

because there is nothing like a sweet treat on a hot summer day


Lunds Downtown Minneapolis

Thank-goodness! Target is now not the only one who is selling food in downtown Minneapolis, lets be honest their fresh food and meat selection sucks. They now have some stiff competition from Lunds who is opening their store today on 12th and Hennepin. This opening has been long awaited by anyone who lives in downtown Minneapolis or works downtown.

Lunds downtown will be housed in an old motor company building which has beautiful windows that were used as a car showroom. There will also be a Lunds liquor store opening in the adjacent building. I know that organic fruits, sustainable seafood, and quality pre-made meals are going to be a welcome change for those of us who are used to green over-priced bananas from Target. Not that I don’t love Target prices on snack foods because they beat out all prices at most grocery stores.

Head to Lunds this week because they are offering $5.99 specials on crab and steak in their flyer to celebrate the opening of this new store. Also, $4.99 Cherry Chicken Salad as well.


Salsa a la Salsa

Just a bit out of downtown on eat street you will find a quaint place called Salsa a la Salsa. If you are looking for somewhere to pop in with out a reservation. This is a great place to try. It is usually quiet and the food is good. I say usually, because I was seated to a group of dude bros who were talking about all the females they were going to meet at the clubs that night while drinking strawberry margaritas. Don’t judge bro.

They have a huge menu and I haven’t had anything that I didn’t like yet. I would ask your waiter/waitress what they like to eat and get that.

It is a nice place to go if you are really hungry because they bring chips to the table right away with green salsa that is mild. Their margaritas are good and they have reasonable prices on both beer and wine.

It is not taco bell and some of my friends that are not all about “real” tacos did not like this place. If you do have someone who is that way in your party, point them to the burritos. There is one that is like many of the chain restaurants make but better.

It is not the best food I have ever had but in a pinch it is wonderful. The place is friendly with welcoming staff and relaxing. This is exactly what you need when you have had a stressful day and do not want to make dinner.

I should mention that they also have another restaurant in the Midtown Global Market which is great as well with the same menu I believe.

Where do you go to get a meal when you don’t want to cook?


Salsa a la Salsa on Urbanspoon

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