The Regal Rival at Hola Arepa. Photo by Birk Stefan Grudem.
Patriotism swells in the heart of Americans at the beginning of the trumpeting music heralding the Olympic games. With each medal earned, I’m more fascinated by the athletes, their stories, the triumphs, and the painfully awkward moments. Before the games come to a close, get into these three places for a taste of Rio.
Hola Arepa, the Regal Rival
In Brazil, the national drink is a caipirinha made with cachaca—a local variation on rum. The name roughly translates to “country bumpkin,” but I’ve found the city mouse answer to that humble cocktail. At Hola (my touchstone for all things deliciously South American), they are running a limited drink special using cachaca and dragon fruit. Dragon fruit are those crazy pink pod looking things with the white flesh and tiny black seeds (pictured above). This insanely delicious drink is utterly refreshing and garnished with those beautiful alien looking fruits. It’s bright, tart, and beautiful. Pair it with a patio and you’ve reached maximum summer perfection. Get it before it’s gone! holaarepa.com
MidNord Empanadas Spicy Brazilian Chicken
Empanadas are found all over, and arguably, every culture has their own take on a dumpling. The ones made at the MidNord truck draw inspiration from South America and become perfect curb-side meals. Bubbly, crispy, crusty dough is wrapped around tender, smoky chicken with a mellow heat that slowly builds into a blessed kind of flavor fever with each progressive bite. Find them for lunch in downtown Minneapolis most days. Plus, Thursday the truck rolls into Indeed Brewing at night and Friday they will be at Bauhaus Brew Labs. midnord.com
Cedar + Stone Urban Table Tostones
Now, where to watch the games: if your couch is getting a little dull, head over to this beautiful Bloomington spot with giant TVs and an elegant room. I’ll admit, I had a little bit of fun at their expense when Jason and I reviewed them for the magazine, but I genuinely love this room and their food and bar. Oh, the bar. Here they have several Olympic inspired cocktails, including a traditional caipirinha (it’s kind of like a margarita without the salt) plus, they’re serving tostones (fried plantains) with a shrimp studded guacamole. The fried, crispy, flat, but just barely sweet, mostly salty chips are perfect TV viewing munchies. marriott.com
If you want to see more of my favorite Rio-inspired dishes, check me out on Twin Cities Live with the full run down.