Despite the sickly economy, a batch of new restaurants has sprouted up in Minneapolis recently, several of them in the Nordeast area. I’ve tried three of them in the past couple weeks: ChinDian, El Taco Riendo, and The Northeast Social Club.
ChinDian is, as you may have guessed from its name, a restaurant dedicated to the fusion of Chinese and Indian cuisines. It’s small, cute, unassuming, but tastefully decorated with some Asian flavored touches here and there. We went on a cool evening in late May and the air conditioning was inexplicably blasting. We actually had to move tables between eating our appetizer and having our entrees delivered, because we right in the icy line of fire. It’s been a couple of weeks since our visit and they don’t have their menu online, so I can’t remember the exact names of the dishes we got. We started with a potsticker appetizer (I remember it having chives) with a soy dipping sauce that was pretty tasty. For our entrees, Mike got a dish with chicken and vegetables sauteed with Indian spices, served with white rice, and I got a noodle dish. Both were satisfying and unexceptional. They don’t have a liquor license yet (though they’re working on it), so we couldn’t get any beer or wine with dinner. My overall impression was that ChinDian might be a good take-out option, but the ambiance of the restaurant itself wouldn’t draw me back. They did also have a booth set up outside the Casket Arts Building during Art-a-Whirl, and I stopped there for a delicious crepe handmade by Ashley Siegel. I believe she’s going to start offering them at the restaurant itself sometime soon. I hope so! That would definitely bring me back.
El Taco Riendo (“The Laughing Taco”) just opened in the space formerly occupied by Chiapas at Lowry and Central. It’s right across the street from Adelita’s, our favorite Mexican restaurant in town. Since going part-time at my day job, I’ve got Fridays off of work. This past Friday I biked up to the gym for an invigorating yoga class, and on my way back home the hunger bug struck just as I was approaching Lowry and Central on my jaunty bicycle. It was the perfect time to try El Taco Riendo, as I had heard that they were more like Chipotle than Adelita’s, in the sense that you stand at the counter, order, and watch them make it for you right there. Perfect for lunch on the go. I ordered three tacos–two Pollo de Tinga (which were HOT HOT HOT), and one Pollo con Salsa de Tomate (my favorite). It was just $6.75 for 3 tacos, and I stayed full for hours. They gave me a punch card–buy five tacos, get one free–and punched out the first three holes. Next time I go back, I’ll get 3 for the price of 2! Can’t beat that. The quality of the food was much closer to Adelita’s than to Chipotle–authentic Mexican ingredients and flavors–it didn’t taste at all like Tex Mexy fast food. For sit-down dinners, we’ll probably stick with Adelita’s, but when I need something quick but tasty, I’ve got another great option in the neighborhood.
Then there’s the Northeast Social Club. I’m so excited about this place. First of all, it’s half a block from my house. Second of all, they have “social hour” Mon-Sat from 4:00-5:30 with half price bottles of wine, many of which are already reasonably priced. So that $16 bottle is now $8. That $20 bottle is now $10. Yeah. Awesome. And they have a charming sidewalk patio on which to enjoy said wine, along with some of their scrumptious food. When we stopped in the other night, we got the fried okra app (yum), a delicious beet and goat cheese salad, an entree of a baked chicken breast with a side of a white bean-garlic melange, and the rosemary honey pana cotta for dessert. Everything was exquisitely done, but the dessert sent me into full on rapture mode. I think I alarmed the older couple at the table next to us with my moans. It was definitely a “When Harry Met Sally” kind of restaurant moment. Is it dangerous that this place is a 15 second walk from my front door? Yes. But it is also awesome.
So that’s that. 3 new restaurants to add to our rotation of takeout and dining out options in the neighborhood. Gotta love it. I wish them all success and longevity!