Here are Star Tribune food critic Rick Nelson's suggestions for family dining.

BTTB: Blocks to the ballpark
$ inexpensive
$$ moderately priced
$$$ somewhat expensive
$$$$ expensive

 

BAR LA GRASSA

Pastas, bruschettas and family style entrees, served in an energetic setting and brought to you by Isaac Becker and Nancy St. Pierre, the husband-and-wife team behind the ever-popular 112 Eatery. Dinner only, and be sure to have a reservation, although you can take your chances and try for a first-come, first-serve seat at the long pasta bar. $$$, Blocks to the ballpark (BTTB): 7

800 Washington Av. N., 612-333-3837, www.barlagrassa.com

 

BE'WICHED DELI

Co-owners Matthew Bickford and Mike Ryan elevate the humble sandwich to an art form. Early game? Have the killer pastrami-fried egg sandwich for breakfast. Dinner? There's a short, inexpensive and tasty daily dinner menu. $$, BTTB: 7

800 Washington Av. N., 612-767-4330, www.bewicheddeli.com

 

BLACK SHEEP PIZZA

Chef/owner Jordan Smith turns out some of the city's most distinctive and delicious pizzas. Expect a wait. $$, BTTB: 5

600 Washington Av. N., 612-342-2625, www.blacksheeppizza.com

 

THE BROTHERS DELI

The Burstein family's casual breakfast-and-lunch joint is the place for overstuffed sandwiches -- if it involves corned beef or pastrami, order it -- at affordable prices. Located on the skyway level and open weekdays only. $, BTTB: 3. 50 S. 6th St., 612-341-8007, www.thebrothersdeli.com

 

CANDYLAND

Think about tooth decay another day and indulge in a Pecan Snapper or the city's best buttery, freshly made caramel corn. $, BTTB: 2 and 3

27 S. 7th St., 612-332-7752; and 811 Lasalle Av., 612-332-3220, www.candylandstore.com

 

CHIPOTLE

Everyone's favorite Mexican chain cranks out its football-sized burritos on the same skyway location at the Brothers Deli. $, Open 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. BTTB: 3

50 S. 6th St., 612-333-0434, www.chipotle.com

 

COSMOS

The high-design environs -- and equally contemporary menu -- at the Graves 601 hotel's high-end restaurant are in stark contrast to the ballpark's rowdiness. Weekend brunch is particularly pleasant. $$$$, BTTB: 1

601 1st Av. N., 612-312-1168, www.cosmosrestaurant.com

 

D'AMICO & SONS

The roomy, fast-casual (that means ordering at the counter) favorite offers appealing kid-friendly meals, including pint-size pizzas, pastas and and a half sandwich-salad combo, served with a cookie and milk or soda for just $4.59. Warning to weekend Twins fans: the restaurant stops cooking at 6 p.m. on Saturday and is closed on Sunday. $$, BTTB: 3.

555 Nicollet Mall (Gaviidae Common), 612-342-2700, www.damicoandsons.com

 

FIRELAKE GRILL HOUSE AND COCKTAIL BAR

At the Radisson Hotel's handsome ground-floor restaurant and bar, chef Paul Lynch focuses on locally raised ingredients and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. $$$, BTTB: 3

31 S. 7th St., 612-216-3473, www.firelakerestaurant.com

 

FOGO DE CHAO

The hugely popular all-you-can-eat Brazilian steakhouse chain is a magnet for beef lovers with unlimited appetites (lunch $26.50 per person, dinner $46.50). The salad bar ($19.50 at lunch, $24.50 at dinner) elevates the genre to new heights of extravagance. $$$, BTTB: 2

645 Hennepin Av. S., 612-338-1344, www.fogodechao.com

 

GLUEK'S RESTAURANT & BAR

Ignore the frat-boy customer base and drop in for the burgers, brats and the popular New Orleans-style Friday night fish fry (fried catfish, red beans and rice, hush puppies and cole slaw) for $11.95. $$, BTTB: 1.

16 N. 6th St., 612-338-6621, www.glueks.com

 

HARD ROCK CAFE

Don't be confused by the address: The rock-your-world chain, part of the dreary Block E complex, anchors the corner of 7th St. and 1st Av. N., across the street from Target Center. The menu is your basic burgers-chicken wings-nachos-smoked ribs template, dressed up with wall-to-wall rock-and-roll memorabilia. $$, BTTB: 1 600 Hennepin Av. S., 952-285-7625, www.hardrockcafe.com

 

IKE'S FOOD & COCKTAILS

Classic Americana -- shrimp cocktail, meatloaf, great burgers, ice cream drinks -- served in equally classic surroundings by a platoon of friendly, fast-on-their-feet staffers. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. $$, BTTB: 2

50 S. 6th St., 612-746-4537

 

JAMBA JUICE

The smoothie chain whips up its signature fresh-fruit drinks at two City Center locations: On the street level in the building's atrium, and on the skyway level opposite Brooks Brothers. $, BTTB: 2.

33 S. 6th St., 612-332-5292, www.jambajuice.com

 

M&S GRILL

McCormick & Schmick's handsome steakhouse-American grill sibling also features a moderately priced happy hour (4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday), with a flurry of items in the $1.95 to $4.95 range. One caveat: All diners must purchase a minimum $2.50 beverage. No problem: Ask for kiddy cocktail versions of the bar's made-from-scratch drinks. $$$, BTTB: 3

M&S Grill, 50 S. 6th St., 612-333-2345, www.mccormickandschmicks.com

 

MCCORMICK & SCHMICK'S

There are lots of bargains at this always busy seafood chain, including 10 weekday lunch entrees under $10, a three-course Sunday dinner for $19.95 and an ever-changing roster of happy hour deals (4 to 6:30 p.m. daily, 9 to 10 p.m. Friday and 10 to 11 p.m. Saturday) that range from $1.95 to $4.95. $$$, BTTB: 5

800 Nicollet Mall, 612-338-3300, www.mccormickandschmicks.com

 

MCDONALD'S

Downtown's only Golden Arches isn't easy to find: it's buried on the fourth floor of Gaviidae Common, next to Neiman Marcus. $, BTTB: 3

555 Nicollet Mall ( Gaviidae Common, fourth floor), 612-341-9475, www.mcdonalds.com

 

MISSION AMERICAN KITCHEN

It's all about contemporary comfort food -- love those deviled eggs -- at downtown's hottest business lunch destination (dinner is an easier impromptu walk-in). The bar puts out a swell -- and popular -- happy hour, served 4 to 6 p.m. and 8 to 10 p.m. Closed Sundays. $$$, BTTB: 4

77 S. 7th St., 612-339-1000, www.missionamericankitchen.com

 

MOOSE & SADIE'S

Inexpensive, counter-service breakfasts, lunches and weekend brunches (and early weekday dinners; doors close at 8 p.m.). Love the huevos rancheros, the BLT and chef Susan Muskat's beautifully made bars (if there's a brownie in the case, order it), cookies, muffins and rolls. $, BTTB: 4

212 3rd Av. N., 612-371-0464, www.mooseandsadies.com

 

MURRAY'S

Splurge on the famous Silver Butter Knife Steak (28 oz. for two, $94; 42 oz. for three, $135), a glorious strip sirloin carved tableside by some of the city's most endearing and enduring waitstaffs. Or drop into the bar for a classic cocktail and a few nibbles of the kitchen's equally famous garlic toast. $$$$, BTTB: 2

26 S. 6th St., 612-339-0909, www.murraysrestaurant.com

 

OAK GRILL

Give the family a taste of Macy's old-school, 12th-floor dining refuge, the place for classic American department store fare (chicken pot pie, wild rice soup, meatloaf, almond-crusted walleye), served with a smile and a popover. There's a decent kids' menu too. $$, BTTB: 4

700 Nicollet Mall, 612-375-2938, www.macys.com

112 EATERY

One of the city's toughest reservations is the place for everything from an inexpensive bacon-egg-harissa sandwich ($7) to a lobster with sweet potatoes and grits ($35). $$$, BTTB: 3

112 N. 3rd St., 612-343-7696, www.112eatery.com

 

PIZZA LUCE

It's two restaurants in one: a fantastic (and inexpensive) sold-by-the-slice counter, and a full-service restaurant and bar featuring pastas, salads, hoagies and, of course, pizzas. Check out the gluten-free menu. Weekend brunch and late-night hours, too. $$, BTTB: 2

119 N. 4th St., 612-333-7359, www.pizzaluce.com

 

SAFFRON RESTAURANT & LOUNGE

Take the family on a contemporary journey through Morocco and the Middle East, via the fertile imagination of chef/co-owner Sameh Wadi, he of the "Iron Chef America" competition. $$$, BTTB: 3

123 N. 3rd St., 612-746-5533, www.saffronmpls.com

 

SAPOR CAFE AND BAR

A serene respite from the ballpark's craziness, with an around-the-world menu in the dining room, and a small cache of bar-food favorites in the lounge. $$$, BTTB: 4

428 Washington Av. N., 612-375-1971, www.saporcafe.com