Not too much to report from my first Minneapolis trip (White Castle isn’t exactly FTC material, but I was happy to finally try their burgers from a brick and mortar rather than from a grocery freezer case), but my vegetarian hosts did take me to some interesting spots.
The Herbivorous Butcher is a vegan butchery, a seeming contradiction in terms. But their “meats” and “cheeses” are inventive and tasty. They have a traditional deli and meat case, with cold cuts and items to take and grill, as well as a short list of sandwiches to grab-and-go. I tried their Italian cold cut to get a wide sampling of their deli offerings. The sandwich, on a very tasty hoagie, included vegan versions of pastrami, capicola ham, pepperoni, and mozzarella with a tangy vinaigrette. Pickled cherry peppers were also tucked inside. Very tasty, and even more so when I ate the second half later in the day (the flavors had a chance to marinate). I tried a bite of my friend’s daily special, a hot panini with vegan pastrami, gouda, kale, sautéed mushrooms, and mushroom mayo on a whole grain roll, and it was a delicious umami bomb. For the fake-meat phobic, it might be best to skip Herbivorous Butcher, but as an equal opportunity eater, I really enjoyed their alternative deli offerings.
They also took me to Hard Times Cafe which, as music subculture kinda person who is money conscious, I really appreciated. The cafe has a punk-rock, DIY feel and offers affordable vegetarian fare. Semi-self serve. You write down your order, pay the cashier, pick it up at the counter, and bus and scrape off your dishes once finished. I had the vegetarian biscuits and gravy. No subtle, nuanced flavors, but stick-to-your-ribs diner food. The gravy had a good consistency, with plenty of mushrooms, and it wasn’t too salty. The biscuits were giant, both fluffy and hefty. The dish was topped with fresh tomatoes and green onions, a nice counterpoint to the richness of the meal. There was also a vegan option. A huge plate of food for around $5.
During my lunch breaks I tried Zelino Deli in downtown, twice. The freshly baked bread they use for their sandwiches and as a soup & salad side had a nice chew. Standard offerings done well, with high quality ingredients. Cold sandwiches are grab-and-go. Salads made to order. Daily lasagna. Depending on the weekday, there are some additional hot dishes.