Eating at the RNC

Destination: Twin Cities RNC Crawl

Well fed and hung over at the
Republican National Convention

By James Norton

Congratulations, 2008 Republican National Convention staffer or protester! You’re headed for Minneapolis-St. Paul, which, as far as you know, is a random collection of Targets, Burger Kings, and featureless convention centers up near the Canadian border. Indianapolis, but bigger. Dubuque, but not as churchy. Detroit, minus the blight.

Plus Lutherans.

But guess what? There’s also really good food here. Besides the local fried walleye, wild rice, and smorgasbord, you’ll find tasty evidence of the Twin Cities’ robust Hispanic (heavily Mexican), South Asian, Somali, African American, American Indian, and Eastern European communities. There’s real soul food, Ethiopian stews, pho, tacos al pastor, and even—thanks to the magic of early-morning air delivery—decent sushi.

Volunteers at the convention traveling on a budget should have no problems eating well. The real food, the food that defines this place, is affordable, assuming you know where to look. Here are some fine restaurants that offer good value while showing off the Cities’ ethnic diversity and cosmopolitan flair, along with some great bars, both cocktail lounges and beer-drinking establishments. (Despite a Prohibition-era hangover that keeps us from buying booze at the grocery store or the liquor store on Sundays, the Cities really know how to throw one back.)

James Norton writes the weekly À la Carte dining column for the Minneapolis alt-weekly City Pages. He’s also the coauthor of an upcoming book on Wisconsin’s master cheesemakers. His Supertaster column appears on CHOW every Monday.

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