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The Fix Does the Twin Cities

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. -- The Fix spent yesterday on the move -- jetting from Denver to Minnesota to prepare for the second national party convention in as many weeks.

On the flight, we had the chance to sit next to this guy (true!), and he recommended a stop at the Minnesota State Fair, which runs until Monday.

The Fix is going to do his darndest to make it out to the Fair today; after all, the Fix stomach has finally recovered from his intake at last summer's Iowa State Fair.

So, with a week ahead of us in the Twin Cities we again turn to the community of loyal Fixistas (yesterday at Sam's No. 3 in Denver we were greeted by a man who yelled "I am a Fixista!") for advice about the "can't miss" dining and cultural experiences here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

What we need to know:

1. What is the one delicacy we absolutely must eat at the fair?

2. What's the best place to buy Mrs. Fix a gift in the Mall of America? Best place to eat in the MOA?

3. In downtown St. Paul -- preferably within walking distance of the Xcel Center -- where can we eat a late (post 10 pm) dinner?

Any and all suggestions are welcome in the comments section below. And, thanks in advance.

By Chris Cillizza  |  August 30, 2008; 11:28 AM ET
Categories:  Fix Notes  
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Comments

Somebody has to tell Joe (previous comment) sorry - Puerto Azul recently closed. I suggest The Happy Gnome on Selby Ave. The chef is superb and they have a very good and expansive beer list. 40 taps of crafts and imports, including several from the world-class local brewery, Surly.

Posted by: Dean | September 1, 2008 4:40 AM | Report abuse

The Fix wants to know

1. What is the one delicacy we absolutely must eat at the fair?

The new food everyone's talking about this year is the 'pig licker' - bacon dipped in chocolate. If that's not appealing the standby Walleye on a Stick is something you can't get anywhere else.


2. What's the best place to buy Mrs. Fix a gift in the Mall of America? Best place to eat in the MOA?

If you must go to the mall, locally themed gifts are available at the prairie home store - it has MN stuff, and prairie home companion stuff.


3. In downtown St. Paul -- preferably within walking distance of the Xcel Center -- where can we eat a late (post 10 pm) dinner?

Great Waters brewery - its a few blocks from Xcel, just outside the security zone. Ask for muffy. Tell her bsimon sent you. It probably won't get you free drinks though.

Posted by: bsimon | August 31, 2008 10:49 PM | Report abuse

Chris, I'm the Fixista who yelled at you after you did an interview on MSNBC on Thursday in Denver that Obama is going to carry two electoral votes in Nebraska. My daughter goes to Macalester, and we have spent lots of time in the Twin Cities. Some good places to eat in downtown St. Paul are Pazzaluna, a nice Italian restaurant across the street from the St. Paul Hotel, Cossetta's, a casual Italian restaurant and market just west of the Xcel Energy Center, and Mickey's Diner, the famous 50s style diner featured in the movie A Prairie Home Companion. Grand Avenue has lots of nice shops and places to eat. Cafe Latte is casual, but very good. Coffee News near Macalester is great, as is Grandview Grill just a few blocks west of Macalester. The places I mentioned on Grand are all inexpensive. There is a good Puerto Rican restaurant in St. Paul north of Grand called which I think is called Puerto Azul. My wife thinks you should buy your wife a gift at Traditions, a fancy furniture store on Grand, or something from the mall in Edina, which is very classy. You can always go to Nordstrom's at the Mall of America to find something for your wife. There are also some stores with gifts symbolic of Minnesota. My favorite store at the Mall of America is Games by James, a puzzle and game store. My favorite restaurant at MOA is Tucci Benucch, a nice Italian restaurant. Another area with nice shops and restaurants is Uptown in Minneapolis. Figlio is a good place. If your wife likes to cook, Penzey's Spices in Uptown and on Grand is a good place to shop. There is a great cooking store in Uptown too. Enjoy your time in the Twin Cities, and keep your eye on Nebraska this fall.

Posted by: Joe | August 31, 2008 10:30 PM | Report abuse

We're disappointed you didn't make it to the fair, but now that the Republicans have cut short the convention on Monday, you could always make it out afterwards. You can't go without cheese curds, and you can get a great grilled ham and cheese at the Lunchbox next to the DFL Pavilion (at the intersection of Dan Patch and Cooper).

Posted by: David Weinlick | August 31, 2008 6:46 PM | Report abuse

Best food at the fair for a number of years has been the pork chop on a stick - always long lines - juicy and delicious.

Also fish tacos in the food building and cream puffs on ligett are fabulous.

Best food in St Paul by a fairly wide margin is Meritage on St Peter. It's about 4 blocks from the X. If I see you at lunch on Tuesday I will buy you a very good drink and introduce myself.

Posted by: stpaulsage | August 31, 2008 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Fair: Get the original cheese curds on Dan Patch Avenue and wash 'em down with the craft-brewed 1919 Root Beer right across the street. If you like craft beer, go in the coliseum building at Judson and Liggett for the Surly Cynic Ale at the Boulevard Grill (also serving local hormone-free beef, pork and buffalo).

Posted by: Dean | August 31, 2008 4:40 PM | Report abuse

At the State Fair, if it's on a stick, eat it. You'll be glad you did.

Posted by: Ian | August 31, 2008 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Chris, you should check out Sex World. Mrs. Fix will be glad you did.

Posted by: Jon Morgan | August 31, 2008 5:04 AM | Report abuse

Yet another example of how this blog has devolved into an exercise in narcissism. Since about February of this year, you seem more interested in your own "celebrity" than political commentary. I keep checking back here hoping for some of the insight that used to appear in this space, but instead I get you preening for the cameras, posing for your "loyal fixistas," always ready for your closeup. Time to move elsewhere.

Posted by: Hubert | August 31, 2008 4:24 AM | Report abuse

I second and third, respectively, nominations for Babani's (we had a huge graduation dinner there) and Mickey's (a Sputnik burger, blueberry pancakes and/or their massive hashbrowns all hit the spot at 3 a.m.). A little further afield, the Muddy Pig has an extensive (on Selby Avenue a bit west of Cathedral Hill) Belgian beer and scotch collection and the Hickory Hut (on University Avenue) has fantastic, if simple, soul food. Their ribs will make your nose run. Should you make it over to Minneapolis, go to The Wienery on 414 Cedar Avenue by the West Bank of the U of M campus. Best hotdogs in town.

Posted by: Peter who once went to school in St. Paul | August 31, 2008 1:34 AM | Report abuse

I think there's a lefse stand in the food building at the fair. You can get your curds there, too. If you've never had it, its true Minnesota fare. Basically, a potato tortilla rolled up with whatever you want in it. Its a scandinavian thing, but if you go to the fair, they'll probably have it there, so its a good chance to try it. Best with brown sugar and butter, or just rolled up with a hot dog, IMO.

Posted by: lefse | August 31, 2008 12:05 AM | Report abuse

1) Pork chop on a stick (all street fairs have them, but the best is ONLY at MN State Fair)
2) MOA, kitschy but necessary for the out of towner. I love "The Afternoon" gift shop near Bloomingdales. My son loves to eat at Bubba Gump shrimp, I like a good burger from Johnny Rockets.
3) Pot roast at Patrick McGoverns, can't beat it for late night comfort food. Coney with cheese and onions at the Gopher Bar (best coney this side of Coney Island), if you can handle the deer heads on the walls with Christmas lights decorating the antlers.
**hint** steer clear of anything seafood, I didn't know the meaning of fresh seafood until I ate in Baltimore.

If you do go to Grand Ave, buy the gift for Mrs. Fix at Bibelot. And then you must eat Beer Battered Walleye at Tavern on Grand!! You will never have better walleye, anywhere on the planet. You could also visit the Copper Dome for the world's best blueberry pancakes (it was visited by Obama Aug 7) only open for breakfast.

Where everything is good: take a cab to Mama's Pizza, or to Phil's Tara Hideaway (closed at 10pm), rumored to be a favorite of Al Capone.

Posted by: PJS | August 31, 2008 12:00 AM | Report abuse

LaRouche to Putin: Georgia Provocation Was British-Run, Through Cheney
Increase Decrease

August 28, 2008 (LPAC)--Lyndon LaRouche today responded to a CNN interview by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, in which he charged that the U.S. was behind the Georgian attack on Russian peacekeepers and the South Ossetian population, earlier this month. Putin claimed to have evidence that American military advisers were engaged with Georgian Special Forces units in combat against Russian peacekeepers, and that such actions had to be the result of orders from higher-ups.

While agreeing with the facts presented by Prime Minister Putin, LaRouche offered a crucial clarification: ``It is wrong to view this as an American operation,'' LaRouche explained. ``This came from the British, and the British operated principally through one of their key assets in the Bush White House, Vice President Dick Cheney. Cheney is a documented asset of the faction in Britain that is out to provoke a World War III confrontation between Russia and the United States.''

LaRouche continued, ``Cheney is a British stooge, and that must be understood, for Prime Minister Putin and others, like Gen. Ivashov, to properly assess the strategic context of these provocations. Cheney is a British stooge, and this Georgia provocation is a British strategic operation, utilizing highlevel American assets. Prime Minister Putin has his facts correct, but his analysis is not correct, insofar as he leaves out the crucial British role.''

LaRouche further warned that both of the presumed U.S. Presidential candidates, Senator John McCain and Senator Barack Obama, will likely fall in line with this British-steered World War III provocation. In Obama's case, he implicitly is a British agent, through his close ties and allegiance to a known asset of the British Foreign Office, George Soros. In the case of John McCain, he is ideologically susceptible to precisely such a British-orchestrated provocation.

LaRouche concluded: ``The British intent is to bring the world to the edge of a new Cuba Missile Crisis-type confrontation, and they are running this policy through U.S. operations that they control, centered around our Vice President, Dick Cheney.''

Posted by: Anonymous | August 30, 2008 11:11 PM | Report abuse

Welcome to the Twin Cities! I'm predominantly a St. Paul guy so I'll recommend a few of my favorite quieter places to eat. For a delicious breakfast, check out the Highland Grill. The salmon scramble or the hot holly and hash are incredible. If you like pastries, I recommend La Patisserie off of Randolph and Snelling - excellent eclairs. Another fun coffee shop is Nina's in the Cathedral Hill area. Plus, right beneath it is Garrison Keillor's bookstore. In Minneapolis, definitely hit Northeast places like Brassa and the Times.

Posted by: JTN | August 30, 2008 11:01 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: a very special afterschool special | August 30, 2008 10:35 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: a very special afterschool special | August 30, 2008 10:34 PM | Report abuse

As a St. Paul resident, I would first say that downtown Minneapolis has more upscale dining. Dinkytown (the Loring Pasta Bar) and Uptown also have plenty to offer.

In downtown St. Paul, there are some but not many worthy places. I would recommend, like others, walking or taking a cab to the Cathedral Hill/Selby area. It has WA Frost, Moscow on the Hill, Il Visco Vino, and La Grolla, which are all good; the Happy Gnome and the Muddy Pug are personal favorites -- interesting atmosphere, tremendous beer selection, and without being overly formal.

Also in St. Paul, there is Grand Ave, which has many restaurants, including the exceptional Salut. (Hillary Clinton spent time at Dixie's during the primary.)

Lastly, the Strip Club (no, it's just a restaurant), which is close to downtown but sort of out of the way, is incredible. Although, the area it's in is not that great.

I would also note that Mickey's Diner is sort of a downtown landmark. Robert Altman's last film included scenes there.

Cossetta's in downtown St. Paul offers quick, tasty and affordable Italian food.

Posted by: Mykelti | August 30, 2008 10:24 PM | Report abuse

KBH,

Most beef served in restaurants is made from cows fed with corn. Grass-fed cows taste far better. The beef prepared at the restaurant I proposed is free-range from a town 40 miles South of Saint Paul.

Zach

Posted by: Zachary Crosby | August 30, 2008 10:02 PM | Report abuse

Book out of SP as soon as you can and eat in Northeast Mpls. either at Brassa or Red Fox Supper Club or Chindia.

The fair will wear you down, man, so just eat whatever appeals to you.

Posted by: lou | August 30, 2008 9:54 PM | Report abuse

No good restrawnts in St Paul. Sorry, pal. Fix and Mrs Fix might have to eat little baby Fix!

Posted by: Wapo Sux | August 30, 2008 9:22 PM | Report abuse

Has The Fix ever had a true deep fried cheese curd? Most fried cheese is to a true deep fried cheese curd what a McDonald's hamburger is to a burger. The State Fair has pretty good cheese curds. For the best of the breed, however, you need to go to the Bungalow (take I-94 east, it is the last exit in MN, north of the freeway - if you cross the river into WI turnaround and go back.)

I also have the perfect spot Sunday night for anyone attending the convention of the party of Lincoln: Phil's Tara Hideaway in Stillwater, MN (technically Oak Park Heights.) Why is it perfect? Not only is the food pretty good, but it is in an old log building. A reminder of when a Republican president came from the humblest of homes. How better to kick off the convention?

Otherwise drink a Summit, drink a Leinenkugels, drink a Schlitz in a bottle (this is only one of three markets with the original 60's recipe) and drink a Spotted Cow.

As for Mrs. Fix, abandoned for thirteen days, I don't know what she likes but I would recommend using the credit card until you feel physical pain.

Posted by: muD | August 30, 2008 8:23 PM | Report abuse

1. Adding to the consensus: Cheese Curds, a Pronto Pup, and Sweet Martha's cookies, which pair well with the all-you-can drink milk booth.

2. Skip MOA for Grand Ave.; eat at Cafe Latte, and get Mrs. Fix a gift from The Chocolate Fig.

3. W.H. Frost is a disappointment. If you really want a unique and memorable dining experience, try Heartland or 128 Cafe in St. Paul, or Joe's Garage or Hell's Kitchen in Minneapolis.

Posted by: ilibbus | August 30, 2008 8:21 PM | Report abuse

'Grass-fed cows'?!

Posted by: KBH | August 30, 2008 7:17 PM | Report abuse

Chris,

I'm a native Saint Paul-er.

For probably the best restaurant meal in Saint Paul, try The Strip Club: http://www.domeats.com/ (1.7 miles from Excel Center, I'd call to double-check they're open and seating guests). Grass-fed cows from Minnesota make for incredible steaks. For something within walking distance, try Shamrock's on West 7th: http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=142317917 - Very good food and nice bar atmosphere. West 7th has a lot of other bars and restaurants that are open past 10, just take a stroll South-Westward and see what you find.

If you or anyone you're with enjoy candy, the best candy-store that I've ever been to (And I've been to many), is Candyland, only a few blocks North of the Excel Center on Wabasha and open till 10: http://www.candylandstore.com/ - most of the candy is made fresh in the store, and it is always busy.

As for the State Fair, the best malts and ice cream by far are in the huge Dairy Building in the South-East corner of the fair.

Finally, if you like reptiles... The Reptile Garden at the Fair (just East of the DNR building) has a wonderful alligator, and if you're lucky you can get quite close - the owner opens up its tank for visitors and you can get within a couple feet of it (one person even put her hand on its claws). Quite an experience!!! They blink rather slowly... Two bucks to get in.

Enjoy,
Zach

www.zmrsc.com/

Posted by: Zachary Crosby | August 30, 2008 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Go to sakura. Awsome sushi. Close, but not venomly close to the arena.
http://www.sakurastpaul.com/

For good thai in dt STP
Ruam Mit Thai
http://www.ruam-mit-thai.com/

And of course, the timeless Gopher Bar, if you want a Coney and a beer. Bring cash.... :)
http://www.flickr.com/photos/bluhousworker/49536456/

Posted by: Sushi and Coneys | August 30, 2008 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Palin is nothing more than an inexperienced creationist cheerleader.


"Dermot Cole, a longtime columnist for Alaska's second largest newspaper, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, called McCain's choice of Palin "reckless" and questioned her credentials. "Sarah Palin's chief qualification for being elected governor was that she was not Frank Murkowski," Cole said of her enormously unpopular predecessor, who lost favor with Alaskans in part because of unpopular budget cuts. "She was not elected because she was a conservative. She was not elected because of her grasp of issues or because of her track record as the mayor of Wasilla."

Full story here:
http://www.newsminer.com/news/2008/aug/29/palin-vice-presidential-candidacy-raises-eyebrows-/
.

Posted by: Bush + Cheney = McCain | August 30, 2008 5:53 PM | Report abuse

The dining options in dt St. Paul nowhere near what's in Mpls., but you have some options. Places near the arena will probably be mobbed - but McGovern's is super close and its a good place to relax and eat some regular food.

You could walk down to Lowertown to Loto cafe or Trattoria Davince. (less than 10 minute-walk)

The other option would be to walk up to Cathedral Hill. Its probably about a 15 minute walk or short cab ride. (Or use one of thos Humana bikes!) Aside from the places already mentioned, there's Fabulous Fern's, which is a very comfortable place and pretty good american fare.

Mancini's is a classic joint. Its a little further, perhaps a 15 minute walk -- but its a memorable place.

Posted by: neb | August 30, 2008 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Go to Babani's, the only Kurdish restaurant in the US

Babanis Kurdish Restaurant
(651) 602-9964 babani.com
544 Saint Peter St, St Paul, MN 55102

Posted by: David | August 30, 2008 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Chris,
Lucky you to be at the Minnesota State Fair! I grew up in Mpls., moved to Chicago, then British West Indies, New York, Florida, now live inside the beltway, and go back for the Fair every chance I get.

Tour Guide is right -- be sure to get the "real thing": Minnesota Wild Rice. It's in the Agriculture (Horticulture?) pavillion. They generally also have a slim wild rice cookbook. If you're staying in Bloomington, get to Byerly's for Minnesota Wild Rice soup. It's wonderful.

Tom Thumb Donuts, Pronto Pups, Cheese Curds.

Posted by: A.Marie | August 30, 2008 4:04 PM | Report abuse

SARAH PALIN - IS DAN QUAYLE IN A PONYTAIL!!

You just cant make this stuff up!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUMWJoLR1sM

Posted by: Anonymous | August 30, 2008 3:36 PM | Report abuse

1. Cheese curds is probably right but walleye in any form is very Minnesota
2. Agree with everyone else on the MOA but if there find a bag of REAL hand-picked wild rice. The Napa Grill is actually a pretty good restaurant.
3. Cossetta's really is the choice but it's crowded all the time. Pazzaulna is good but not different than a good DC Italian. The St. Paul grill at the St. Paul Hotel is very traditional. I vote with the"get a cab to Selby Avenue" crowd. F. Scott's neighborhood (he worked at Frosts when it was a drugstore. Keillor lives there and there are several good places. Frost's is great (the outside at night is fabulous), so is Moscow on the Hill. Or sneak over to Matt's in Minneapolis and get a Juicy Lucy. Your life will never be the same again - if your arteries survive the combination of that and cheese curds.

Posted by: Tour Guide | August 30, 2008 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Moscow on the Hill for horseradish vodka and great Blini's.

Mancini's Supper Club or the Lexington for a dose of old St. Paul style politics - the timeless hubs for backslapping and deal-making

Venture to Minneapolis and check out "Eat Street" which is a street lined with 1st generation immigrant family restaurants- Penang for Malaysian food, Jasmine 21 or Quang for Vietnamese, or the inimitable Harry T. Singh's Caribbean Restaurant for great hole-in-the-wall Trinadadian food. Yes, we have a Trinadadian restaurant in Minnesota.

If you don't leave St. Paul, there's lots of great Vietnamese food on University close to the Capitol- Mai Village is the old classic.

Skip MOA. It's boring, and it'll likely be filled with conventioneers. Try Grand Avenue, Uptown, or 50th and France for your gift buying needs.

Posted by: stpaulite | August 30, 2008 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Chris,

I only hope I get to yell "I am a fixista" at you during the convention some time.

1) Highly underrated is the french fries booth. They are great. Another good trick is hitting up Sweet Martha's cookies and then finding the all you can drink milk stand. Makes for a tasty combo.

2) Eat at the Rainforest Cafe for ambiance.
There are a few Minnesota related stores around the mall.

3) For a quick meal be sure to check out Cosetta's Italian. Great Pizza by the slice, and open late.

Posted by: Dan | August 30, 2008 2:31 PM | Report abuse

If you really want to wow people with your culinary exploits at the fair, the basic cheese curds, pronto pup, or sweet corn on the cob will not cut it (though all are excellent, and should be eaten, especially the corn). What will make the best story, and the most interesting eating, is the Scotch Egg.
This is basically a hard boiled egg that has been encased in sausage, then breaded and deep fried. It comes on a stick, but there is no shame in having the vendor cut it in quarters for you, so that it is actually eatable (the whole thing is larger than a tennis ball, thus hard to approach). Be sure to try it with both maple syrup and horseradish dipping sauce (separately) and have a helper eater there to avoid food coma.

Posted by: State Fair Guy | August 30, 2008 2:16 PM | Report abuse

W.A. Frosts in St. Paul at Western and and Selby is first rate. Avoid MOA - hit grand ave, or uptown in MPLS.

Posted by: John S | August 30, 2008 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Chris,

Welcome to the Twin Cities!

Gifts at Mall of America... Depends on her taste--but if you want something that would represent Minnesota but go beyond the pricey Minnesota t-shirts and mugs category, try out Lake Wobegon USA, inspired by Garrison Keillor and his Prairie Home Companion radio show. Lots of items with a little intellectual wit attached to them, that convey the stereotypical stoic, reserved, Minnesota nice persona. You might even find a few politically-nuanced items.

As far as this week's convention is shaping up, it seems like the Republicans could get hit with the perfect storm...
Wooten-gate AND Gustav.

Posted by: MNobserver | August 30, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Mickey's Diner. Art Deco Diner Car.
36 7th St. West., Just a hop skip and jump from the Xcel Center.

Posted by: Sheldon Johnson | August 30, 2008 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Chris.... seven words; deep-fried snickers bar on a stick...

Posted by: jgold | August 30, 2008 1:56 PM | Report abuse

1. Stops at the state fair--both the Dem and GOP booths should be hopping, but for something to eat, try the cheese curds. If you are more daring, Ostrich on a Stick is pretty good.
2. What to get Mrs. Fix will depend on her tastes, but for a good place to eat, I suggest the Twin City Grill on level one.
3. Again, this will depend on your tastes, but Cosettas is good as is Pazzaluna if you can get into them (they will be busy). If you dont mind a quick cab ride (Im talking very quick), you can ride up to Grand Avenue for a number of nice places or to Selby (on the other side of the Cathedral on the hill)--that is actually Garrison Keillor's neighborhood. However, the best restaurant I would suggest is Tratorria da Vinci in downtown St. Paul about 8 blocks from the XCel center--Excellent Italian food.

Hope this helps. IF you are up for grabbing a beer, let me know.
Tony in St. Paul (Ragingbull913 on EJs Board)

Posted by: Tony from St. Paul | August 30, 2008 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Definitely try the fried cheese curds at the fair!

Posted by: LAR | August 30, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

THE TRUTHIER EXPLANATION FOR THE SARAH PALIN PICK?

Theory:

The Sarah Palin selection was programmed into McCain's D.E.W.-addled brain through the use of sophisticated, hi-tech "psy ops" techniques, with the intent of causing such a farce that the GOP leadership refuses to nominate him and elects to go with a more stable, reliable, younger, and ideologically purer selection who better comports with the new world order.

That would be Rob Portman.

His veep would be Condi Rice.

Palin will serve as secretary of the interior, being a moose-eater from Alaska and such...

This is just a theory and is intended for amusement only. Comments are welcome just to add to the "fun."
********************************************
PS to Chris C:

Why don't you interview Garrison Keillor and get his take on Sarah Palin and how her selection is going over with the "locals" in Lake Wobegon and beyond up there in the North Country?

Posted by: Eyes2disinfo | August 30, 2008 1:36 PM | Report abuse

A hearty "amen" to all those who recommend avoiding the MOA - there's so much that's so much cooler about my Twin Cities.

RE: place to eat, walking distance from the Excel - Sakura does sushi up right (bit pricey, but not for a DC native!). Also recommend the Liffey if you're looking for pub fare. Off the beaten track: the chatterbox, w/a great micro brew and old-school nintendo games (that's right, EIGHT bit!).

Posted by: rachelm | August 30, 2008 1:36 PM | Report abuse

I agree with all of the posters who say to avoid the Mall. It's really a pit; the only good thing about it is that the light rail goes there. Even better would be to take a walk around the sculpture garden at the Walker Arts Center in Minneapolis and get her a present at their gift shop, a place loaded with neat jewelery and other well-designed items. Mmm, cheese curds. At the fair I also really like the lefse, a Scandinavian potato pancake that you can get with sour lingonberries. Welcome to the TC!

Posted by: Fern | August 30, 2008 1:24 PM | Report abuse

And there I was thinking that the Republican case was all about fear: fear terrorism, and fear the unknown Senator from Illinois. Now I see that the case is surprise: Sarah Palin.

And if the fear wasn’t working, the surprise certainly is. Stunned, I searched “Palin” in Wikipedia. Wikipedia gave me back: Michael Palin, the Monty Python actor in first place. And then, the vice-search result: Sarah Palin.

And, man, was I ever surprised by the common policies they share. Wikipedia says Michael Palin is best known for several skits: the Dead Parrot, the Lumberjack skit, and the Spanish Inquisition.

So you know the Dead Parrot skit: “I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it,” says John Cleese, ‘”e’s dead.” Did you see today’s NYTimes profile: in her “downtown” Anchorage office, sitting on a couch covered by a dead bear?

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/30/us/politics/30palin.html?hp

But then Palin responds to Cleese. “No, no, ‘e’s uh . . .he’s resting.” And Sarah Palin is an environmentalist who just happens to favor drilling in Alaska.

It’s her husband, not her, who’s the member of the Union Steel, Paper and Forestry union. “I cut down trees, I eat my lunch . . . I’m a lumberjack, and I’m OK.”

I thought it was going to be Romney or Lieberman. “I didn’t expect a kind of Spanish Inquisition.”

“Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition. Our chief weapon is surprise. Surprise and fear.”

But the Republicans say, Sarah Palin has commanded the National Guard and stared down Russia across the Bering Straights. I have to hand it to McCain: I am not only surprised; for the first time I am also scared.

You’ve heard her social policies. “Amongst our weaponry are such diverse elements as: fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope, and nice red uniforms.”

And it’s true: she does look good in red.

http://gov.state.ak.us/official_portraits.php

Posted by: Matt | August 30, 2008 1:18 PM | Report abuse

hey Chris -
it's technically called the "Land of 10,000 Lakes" not 1,000.
get the CHEESE CURDS!

Posted by: Amber | August 30, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Definitely get hotdish on a stick (it comes with white mushroom dipping sauce) for a true Minnesota delicacy.

Definitely DON'T go to the MOA unless you have time to kill before the flight. Once you marvel at its immense size there's nothing interesting about it.

Spend that time exploring one of the Twin Cities' unique neighborhoods, like Dinkytown. This weekend it will be swarming with college kids moving in, so go to Al's Breakfast (http://www.myspace.com/alsbreakfast) as early as you can for the best first meal of your life.

Posted by: NPP | August 30, 2008 12:35 PM | Report abuse

1. State Fair musts:
- See Butter sculptures
- See Seed art
- Eat Sweet Martha's cookies
- Eat Tom Thumb Mini donuts

2. There are no BEST places in the Mall of America. It is a collection of chains stores from around the country. Locals only go here to do bulk shopping as it has several stores in one area. If you must go, look at the map, find your favorite restaurant chain, and eat there.

3. Agreed with WA Frost, though a Saturday night might be packed.

Posted by: Johnny | August 30, 2008 12:27 PM | Report abuse

1. For must eats I recommend fried cheese kids and a pronto pup at the State Fair.
2. Avoid the MOA. There are plenty of other attractions in the Twin Cities. Go to the Walker Art Center and the Sculpture garden and buy a gift at the gift shop there. Or closer to downtown St. Paul go to the Minnesota History Center.
3. St. Paul Grill for sure for a late night bite. It's on Rice Park in the St. Paul Hotel, three blocks from the Ex. Or go to the Happy Gnome an Selby (two blocks east of Dale) - at most a 10 minute drive from downtown for a great selection of micro brews and excellent food. You'll also be just a couple of blocks from Garrison Keilor's bookstore and right next to the St. Paul Curling Club, which is the oldest curling club in the U.S.

Posted by: Nathan | August 30, 2008 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Chris,

Welcome to the Twin Cities!

I really enjoy the Fix and am constantly catching up via RSS.

Chocolate covered bacon on a stick or tater-tot hot dish on a stick are fair favorites, or go with the tried and true cheese curds and pronto pups.

http://www.kare11.com/news/news_article.aspx?storyid=522541&catid=14

Try the Day by Day Café for breakfast, you can walk there from the Excel.

http://www.daybyday.com/

You should also be able to walk to Fhima’s for late night dining, they’re open until midnight.

http://twincities.citysearch.com/profile/35186912/st_paul_mn/fhima_s.html

There are plenty of good taverns along West 7th if you need a late night libation…

Posted by: Joel | August 30, 2008 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Pretty much everywhere has these glorified cheese sticks called "Cheese Curds." Sounds gross, but I have yet to have a bad batch. They apparently originated at the state Fair so you should try the "original" home of the delicacy.

As for late dinner - The joint that CNN is occupying across from the Xcel center is pretty good and open late (they serve the curds with a good spicy sauce). The Great Waters Brewing Company has pretty good home brewed beer and solid nachos. The Liffey across the street has a great draught selection and the bartender said they'll be serving their menu until early morning next week.

Posted by: Adam | August 30, 2008 11:53 AM | Report abuse

1) Anything fried on stick, which works out because they fry anything and put it on a stick. But seriously, Minnesotans fry cheese, corn dogs and pickles like no one's business.

2) Don't go to the Mall of America. Mrs. Fix will want something not found in every chain store in the U.S. Check out the Lake Hennepin area in Minneapolis. It's beautiful and there are some really nice little stores. You'll probably need some fresh air anyway.


3) W.H. Frost, hands down.

Posted by: CLH | August 30, 2008 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Oh, also, perhaps one of the most time-honored MN state fair traditions: Go to the Sweet Martha's cookie stand, and get one of the enormous boxes of chocolate cookies. Then, go to the all-you-can-drink-for-50-cents milk stand, and enjoy.

Posted by: bogatyr | August 30, 2008 11:50 AM | Report abuse

It's true. In the first few weeks of the fair, they have sold fifteen thousand chocolate covered bacon slices.

I personally have always been fond of our spaghetti and meatballs on-a-stick.

Posted by: bogatyr | August 30, 2008 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Hey Chris: Check this one out:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/8/30/82113/4808/746/579971

Is it true that the St. Paul police raided a community center where protesters were gathering?

Posted by: Bill | August 30, 2008 11:45 AM | Report abuse

New this year at the Minnesota State Fair: "PIG LICKERS" For real--chocolate covered bacon--on a stick, of course. In fact, I'm not sure you can buy food at the fair that ISN'T on a stick. Good Luck!

Posted by: dch | August 30, 2008 11:42 AM | Report abuse

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