With views of the Mississippi River outside the humble, historic storefront, Red Rock Cafe mixes fresh ingredients into the three most important meals of the day—breakfast, lunch, and dessert. For breakfast, the taco omelet stuffs seasoned meat, pepper-jack cheese, and diced tomato in a soft, scrambled shell of three eggs ($8.49). The quintessential breakfast diplomats, two eggs, negotiate between fresh, gravy-smothered biscuits and neighboring italian sausage, onion, and mushrooms in the scrambled house special ($8.59 each). To kick off the lunch menu, the Rodeo burger bursts out of the pen as bacon, fried onion, and barbecue sauce ride a bucking third-pound patty ($7.59), and the Rachael substitutes turkey breast for the Reuben's corned beef and embraces a layer of sauerkraut and swiss cheese on rye bread ($8.49 each).
Chez Daniel executive chef Wilver Sanchez interprets the cuisine of France with an eye for artful presentation, simple and fresh ingredients, and a creative sensibility. Attentive servers welcome diners with appetizing small plates, covering nude tables with plump escargot baked in garlic butter and house-smoked salmon toast. Lobster ravioli is tossed with sautéed mushrooms before making a dazzling midmeal entrance in a mantle of roasted artichokes and lobster-tarragon sauce, while filet mignon is served with potatoes and a classic béarnaise sauce. During lunch, a more casual midday menu features sandwiches such as an open-faced beef-tenderloin sandwich with cambozola-cheese fondue, and plates heaped with chicken fettuccine. Chez Daniel also features a list of weekly specials. The dining room's exposed-brick, lofty archways, and elaborately adorned tables entice customers with an atmosphere as elegant as a tablecloth woven from Charlemagne’s beard.
The aroma of brewing organic, fair-trade coffee from Brazil wafts through the air at 50th Street Cafe during breakfast and lunch. Behind the breakfast counter, cooks work to reinvent classic breakfast dishes. They flip pancakes made with cookie dough and drizzle them with chocolate or add fresh mozzarella and basil-pesto hollandaise to unorthodox omelets. Farm-fresh eggs and housemade hash browns, early-morning staples, arrive alongside less traditional panko-battered walleye fillets. The griddle sizzles like a knight in shining armor left in a hot car, laden with half-pound patties of Cattleman’s Selection ground beef, which end up on thick-cut sourdough toast with Old Smokehouse bacon and melted swiss cheese. That heat is also reflected in the bright hues of yellow tile and orange accents as well as whimsical calico-patterned carpets. The staff at 50th Street Cafe works to reduce its collective carbon footprint by using recyclable materials.
Luckily for the patrons of Las Sirenas, the restaurant is so authentic that staffers are happy to blend the creative ingredients to make a michelada. And the michelada is just one example of authentic Mexican coastal culture and cuisine at Las Sirenas, which translates to “the mermaids.” The concept and theme behind the restaurant stems from the Mesoamerican myth of sea-bound nymphs, and diners can see that influence in the restaurant’s watery lighting effects and mural of a mermaid lounging on the ocean floor. A glowing bar dispenses drinks and offers 12 Micheladas, or Mexican beer cocktails—some served in coconuts and pineapples, just like Caribbean divorce papers—that are playfully assigned names such as Mermaids in Heat and Tails Up.
To soak up the spicy drinks, a menu of Mexican seafood offers an ocean of options, such as ceviches and aguachiles, as well as an variety of shrimp dishes such as Sirenas en Brama and shrimp in a chipotle-cream sauce. From shrimp wrapped in bacon to oysters on the half-shell topped with ceviche and a raw-bar smorgasbord with shrimp and fish ceviche, aguachile, and octopus ceviche, each dish bears the indelible stamp of south-of-the-border inspiration. So, too, does the eatery’s entertainment, which includes karaoke, weekend live mariachi and Mexican music, and dancing when the space transforms into a Latin nightclub after-hours.
The founder of Finnish Bistro, who moved to the United States from Finland decades ago, recently passed the torch to a new owner, Sandra Weise. With the same care for authenticity that the restaurant’s founder brought to bear, Sandra curates a menu full of fresh fish, lefse flatbreads, and Finnish-style baked goods—as well as sundry continental, European offerings. A robust selection of traditional delights includes pickled herring, beets, and cucumbers, as well as smoked salmon, salami, and spicy reindeer sausage.
Patrons can peruse fresh-baked goods on display in glass cases, ranging from the familiar—donuts—to the more unique—their signature almond kringlers and gluten-free flourless tortes. When the weather is nice, guests can sit outside to enjoy Finnish eats and listen to the wind whisper about its recent trip to Europe.