At Lemon Grass Thai and Sushi, Chef Ann Sengmavong draws from her travels across Asia, Europe and the United States to cultivate a menu of colorful, fragrant curries, entrees of delicate fish and savory roast duck, and fresh sushi. Thai dishes seamlessly blend complementary flavors, such as the Nuea-Sawan's savory dried beef mixed with spicy ginger and garlic, or the Black Out's earthy mix of shiitake mushrooms accented by a zesty black bean sauce. Diners at the sushi bar witness the craftsmanship and knife juggling skills that goes into each spicy salmon maki or seabass nigiri. Autumnal orange walls and blonde wood furnishing creates an earthy, inviting atmosphere in the dining area. When not whipping up curries or pan-frying noodles in the kitchen, Chef Ann teaches curious patrons in the art of Thai cooking with group lessons at Crocus Hill or private classes in clients' homes.
Herradura's kitchen hums with the sounds of simmering Mexican sauces and sizzling meats. Chef Rita Castro fries up fresh shrimp, crab, and scallops for seafood fajitas, stuffs taquitos with beef or chicken, and adorns cheese enchiladas with pork, onions, tomatoes, and bell peppers. Bartenders blend natural juices into pitchers of mango, cactus fruit, and guava margaritas, drawing from an 18-year-old recipe formulated by brothers Raul and Oscar.
"Your food should be something you get your hands on and become a part of," Rob Dubnecay told a reporter from CBS Minnesota. "Sitting back with a fork and knife is kind of boring."
Rob developed his philosophy—and his palate—while growing up in Chicago, where he honed his motor skills by wrapping his hands around Chicago-style hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches. Hoping to introduce his childhood cuisine to Minnesota, he founded Chris and Rob's Chicago's Taste Authority, where each week trucks haul in ingredients straight from the Windy City, such as fresh poppy-seed buns and sausages wrapped in old mobsters' hit lists. True to the authentic big-shoulders style, cooks top Vienna all-beef hot dogs with everything but ketchup: mustard, relish, onions, tomatoes, pickles, sport peppers, and a sprinkle of celery salt. For 17 years, the family-friendly restaurant has continued to adapt their roots to other Chicago favorites including Kronos Gyro's, sliced Italian beef sandwiches served on Gonella bread, specialty pizzas, and Maxwell Street polish sausages.
Exposed brick and stone surfaces weave a common theme through Cityside Bar & Grill's varied dining spaces. In the St. Paul room, an enormous stone fireplace rises before a collection of wooden tables, and in the Minneapolis Loft, brick columns join slanted ceiling beams to frame a more intimate scene. The bar area houses a stage for live music performances held every Saturday night, while outside, the restaurant's roomy patio overlooks a rippling pond. Cityside's menu share’s the architecture’s diverse core, offering everything from stone-hearth pizzas to steaks, ribs, and pastas. Chefs also assemble six signature sandwiches inspired by their cities of origin, stopping just short of autographing each in mustard to maintain established levels of authenticity.