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Quick Bites: Sandwiches, Huge Flavors, and Cocktails

Two great eats, two stellar drinks: Esker Grove, LoLo in Hudson, the Original on 42nd, and Smith & Porter


Four restaurant nuggets for the price of one today—first two covering food, then drinks.


I love sandwiches. The Original on 42nd is making really good ones. Two chefs who both worked at the late Heartland in St. Paul are running this spot in the old Colossal Cafe on 42nd and Cedar. But don't expect anything too crazily cheffy. These are classic sandwiches, although each is made with a twist.

Photo by Jason DeRusha

We loved the sofrito turkey PLT (that is pretty cheffy)—turkey breast, pancetta, with this delicious chive mayo. Ours was served on white bread. And the muffuletta sandwich is also delicious—nice red-pepper-and-olive salad, salami, ham, mortadella, all from Red Table Meats. Both sandwiches were huge, both $13.

Photo by Jason DeRusha

It's cash or check only. And the restaurant is tiny, so we drove our sandwiches to the Fulton Beer Tap Room and ate them on the patio. Perfection.

Smith & Porter: Some friends of mine who live near the Guthrie dragged me to Smith & Porter, and I'm glad they did. But I had some concerns: It's on the ground level of a senior living complex (was it going to be bland and soft food?) and its name reminds me of Porter & Frye. But they have a talented chef, Kai Phanthavong, who's cooked at Zander Cafe, Masu, Tiny Diner, and Libertine—and the food ranged from solid to excellent.

We really loved the Lamb Laab Toastada—the lamb with a nice funk and spice thanks to the fish sauce and chiles, plus a brightness from lime and mint. Phanthavong is heavy on the flavor. The shrimp scampi was extremely spicy (the shrimp poached in chili oil), and the shishito salsa verde on the salmon a la plancha packed a serious punch. Surprising, right?

Photo by Jason DeRusha

I really liked the wild mushrooms and farro cooked en papillote (in paper) and the Caesar salad made out of Brussels sprouts. The prices are very reasonable (that salmon being $24) and this is a welcome addition to the Mill City area. 428 S. 2nd Street, Minneapolis


Esker Grove: It's summer, and you should be checking out the newly renovated Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. And you should be walking across the street for a drink and a bite at Esker Grove in the Walker Art Center.

Photo by Jason DeRusha

The menu is divided into traditional cocktails and contemporary takes on those classics. Both French 75s are great. I love the classic Sling cocktail—and the Golden Ratio cocktails, too.

LoLo in Hudson: I've written about LoLo in Stillwater before, but the outpost in Hudson just opened—and it's gorgeous. Similar great food, prepared in a bigger kitchen and served in a bigger dining room.

Photo by Jason DeRusha

The cocktails are designed specifically for Wisconsin. I especially enjoyed the Cobra Verde, a vodka cocktail with green chiles and habanero shrub. Yes, I ordered a vodka cocktail and I liked it. 175 S. 2nd Street, Hudson

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Minnesota Monthly's Taste Blog answers your restaurant and dining questions, dishes on latest discoveries, reflects on breaking news, and generally brings the plate to the page with a skilled crew of experts: Learn more about the Taste bloggers.

Have a food-related question? Email rfischer@mnmo.com

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