In this vegan restaurants Minneapolis & St. Paul round-up, I cover plenty of places to keep you busy for a long weekend in the Twin Cities.
We’ve met up with our friends, Kristy and Chris, all over the country. They live in Southern California. We live in Iowa. So over the years we’ve rendezvoused in Portland (twice), Austin, and Chicago.
After months of trying and failing to work out a spot we could meet this year, we finally decided to squeak in a meet-up in Minneapolis just as 2017 was coming to an end.
Kristy and Chris had never been to Minneapolis before, and David and I always have a good time there. California was knee deep in a heat wave when we finalized our plans and they bought plane tickets. Kristy & Chris were hankering for somewhere they could put on sweaters and sip hot drinks.
Well, they certainly got that.
So they got to experience another record breaker – this time for record breaking cold. As we were heading into the weekend, I wondered if we’d made a terrible mistake, and they were going to be miserable the whole time.
Plus, I hadn’t counted on the fact that lots of businesses in the Twin Cities were closing for either New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, and/or the early days of the week the trip fell on…
I hoped we wouldn’t just be holed up in our rental cooking for ourselves and watching TV!
Luckily, Kristy and Chris were amazing about the weather. They were both born and raised in California, and they took the whole thing as an experience. What does -14 even feel like? Plus, there were enough places open over the time we were there, we still got a good sampling of the city.
Here’s a vegan restaurants Minneapolis & Saint Paul round-up to give you a taste. And if you’re planning a trip to the Twin Cities, it’s a good place to start for your itinerary.
J. Selby’s in Saint Paul, Minnesota
I’ve been hearing about J. Selby’s since months before they even opened. They did regular menu trials, and I followed along hungrily as people shared pictures on Instagram.
Since they opened, their menu has continued to evolve. And the steady stream of pictures has increased tenfold. Their vegan versions of a Blizzard & Big Mac are all over social media. They call their versions a SoyClone & the Dirty Secret, respectively.
Especially since the other vegan restaurants in the Twin Cities have closed (RIP Reverie & Ecopolitan), I’m really glad that J. Selby’s has picked up the slack.
J. Selby’s is located in St. Paul. They have regular hours during the week, and on the weekends they serve brunch from 8 to 2. Then they only have drink/dessert service from 2 to 3 while they switch over to their regular menu for the late afternoon & evening.
I figured when we got there at 2:30 that the place would be sparse. Not so. It was still busy from brunch, and the crowds only kept coming until the line was almost to the door once full service opened again.
I couldn’t decide between The Solo (prepared Dirty-style), which is a one-layer version of the vegan Big Mac, or a corndog. Vegan corndogs are a rare commodity, and so I didn’t want to miss out on the chance.
If I’d been able to visit a couple of times on the trip, I would have spread out my orders. However, they were closed on New Year’s Eve & New Year’s Day, which made up the bulk of our trip there. That meant I pretty much had one choice – order both. No regrets.
Kristy got the gluten-free burrito bowl. David & Chris got the standard double burger sized Dirty Secret.
I was amazed at the meltiness of the cheese on the Dirty Secret. They use Herbivorous Butcher provolone, as well as HB burgers.
After one bite of the sandwich, we were all racking our brains to think if we’d ever had a better burger. For David, the only thing that came close was the good burger at Bean Vegan Cuisine in North Carolina.
We all loved our meals, and I can’t wait to get back there again. If you’re going to the Twin Cities, make at least one visit to J. Selby’s.
Glam Doll Donuts
Glam Doll Donuts was also closing for a couple of days around New Year’s, and so we had to make the most of our vegan donut window of opportunity. There are a couple locations of Glam Doll Donuts.
(You can read about a previous visit and see their super cute 50’s aesthetic here.)
However, this time David fell on his sword for us and ventured into the frigid temps to bring back this gorgeous box of donuts.
Glam Doll offers both vegan & non-vegan donuts. Aim to go early in the day for optimum selection.
I’m always a fan of mild mannered glazed, but this time around the almond crème-filled & blackberry jam-filled were the two standouts.
Obviously, it’s not a trip to Minneapolis without a stop at Herbivorous Butcher, a fully vegan butcher shop selling vegan meats & cheeses.
(Read my full report on Herbivorous Butcher here.)
I got pastrami (my favorite), hickory bacon, pepperoni, and Cuban deli slices. But the surprise winner this time around was the chicken-style jackfruit that Kristy purchased. It’s a gluten-free option at the store that I’d never tried before.
They give the jackfruit a good char, and it makes the jackfruit have a smoky quality and good, dry texture. I can be hot and cold on jackfruit, but this application seriously won me over. I’ll be buying it for myself next time.
I’ve been meaning to return to Jasmine 26 since I visited several years ago. I still think about the banh xeo I had there (Vietnamese crepe).
Since the last time I was there, they have added V’s and GF’s to the menu for easier ordering. I love that! (Restaurants have a lot to gain when they add & label vegan options.) It made the whole ordering process so much easier – especially since we’re all vegan & Kristy is gluten free too.
We started with salt & pepper tofu (above) and egg-free egg rolls (below) to share. They brought them to the table along with three vegan sauces for dipping.
Then I decided to try something new since I was feeling I could use some more fresh vegetables in my day. I went with the banh tam with tofu.
It included rice noodles swimming in a coconut milk sauce, plus a fresh vegetable mix on the side. Before eating, you stir it all together to get fresh crunch in every bite.
David ordered the yellow curry. The pineapple in the dish sealed the deal for him.
It was so cold outside that he decided to combat the cold outside by ordering it as a 4 in terms of heat (on a scale from 1 to 5). He was seriously going through the water, but he loved the flavor. I took a bite, and the spiciness was no joke for sure!
One evening after visiting the Spoonbridge & Cherry at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, we wanted somewhere to warm up. So we headed to Stanley’s Northeast Bar Room.
Stanley’s has the feeling of your standard sports bar, but they have a few vegan options on the menu.
Two of the options include Korean ribs from Herbivorous Butcher – a sandwich and tacos. We chose the latter option, which came three to a serving. Kristy rounded it out with a big basket of sweet potato fries, one of the few gluten-free vegan options.
The Korean ribs are some of the best things Herbivorous Butcher sells. But I think Stanley’s could utilize them in the tacos a little better. The ribs are thinly sliced in the tacos. So you lose some of the flavor on the exterior glaze. The seitan mostly tasted of oil.
It has so much going for it, I wish they cut it into bigger pieces, so that you could really taste it.
My luck with French Meadow has been hit & miss. The first time I went there back in 2010, I was blown away by their gnocchi. Then all subsequent visits were underwhelming.
One place French Meadow thrives is with its ambience. The quiet, twinkling lights on the wall add to a dim and moody atmosphere. They also have lots of clearly labeled vegan and gluten-free options. Luckily, this time French Meadow totally delivered in the food arena too.
We started with the earth wings – a.k.a. barbecued cauliflower (above). I’ve had cauliflower wings countless times – at restaurants and at home. So I wasn’t expecting anything extraordinary. However, these wings were really a step above.
The cauliflower was done on the inside to the point of falling apart, but without being wet or watery. The outside had a crisp, crackling edge around it, and the sesame barbecue sauce was saucy and sticky in the best way.
For my main course, I ordered the zen bowl, and I added tofu as well. I’m glad I did, because the marinated and browned tofu was the star of the show.
This fresh bowl with hummus, guacamole, and rice was packed with so many greens that by the time I was finished eating, it still looked like I hadn’t even started. It’s definitely large enough for sharing! All of the delicious kale & micro-greens were just what I was craving after a weekend of comfort food.
David had the spa bowl with big bites of tofu, edamame, and vegetables tossed with toasted sesame dressing. There were mmm’s all around.
The Bad Waitress
We tried to go to Modern Times before heading out of town. (Their migas were calling me!) But even on a Tuesday morning, their wait time was still 20 minutes.
Since Kristy & Chris had a plane to catch, time was an imperative. So we left and went to The Bad Waitress instead.
The Bad Waitress is a non-vegan diner, coffeeshop & bar with vegan options. You write down your order at the table, and then drop it off & pay at the counter.
Three of us ordered the Heavy Pedal, a tofu scramble with choice of add-ins, and David opted for the Amsterdam hash with tofu.
The tofu scramble was too turmeric heavy for my tastes. (I could opt out of turmeric altogether on a scramble, or at most, a pinch for color.) However, the hashbrowns were spot on.
(Kristy was trying to get out of the light for the picture of them, but it looks like she’s trying to photo bomb the hashbrowns instead. Haha!)
David’s hash had good flavor, and the tofu was lightly seasoned. Next time around, I’d probably go with that instead.
But the biggest plus of the place was its adorable diner/movie poster motif. It felt like something straight out of Back to the Future.
With that, we ended our Twin Cities getaway. Even in the bitter cold, there was still so much to see and do. I can’t wait to get back there again – but maybe in the spring next time.