The Gon and Killua Ribs at Staff Meeting

I had come to Staff Meeting with ramen on my mind, but wound up in an "I'll have what he's having" moment when I saw a stainless-steel tray towering with ribs.

A customer's buzzer had gone off, and when the customer came to pick up his food — those ribs — from the counter at this new Eat Street Crossing food hall vendor, I recognized him as a chef with a restaurant of his own in Minneapolis. When I see a chef order something at another's restaurant, that's usually a sign to get it. And at Staff Meeting, feeding chefs is kind of the point.

"That's an old Vegas buddy," Staff Meeting chef Louross Edralin told me as the tray of ribs was carried off. A huge grin peeked out from under his signature twirly mustache.

Edralin was a longtime Las Vegas chef, and had a moment of stardom on Season 4 of "Hell's Kitchen." But he recently left Vegas for greener (yet still concrete) pastures at the end of Eat Street, opening Staff Meeting with Thai Nguyen (formerly of Italian Pie Shoppe).

Staff Meeting's pan-Asian comforts are inspired by Edralin's post-shift dinners with his teams in Vegas, where a 12-hour work night would often end with deep bowls of ramen, wings, loaded fries and the kind of story swapping that makes co-workers bond. It was at dinners like those that Edralin and his old Vegas buddy had undoubtedly crossed paths many times, and it appeared to be a happy reunion made happier by these Hawaiian-style pork ribs ($16.95), braised to fall-off-the-bone oblivion and garnished with crispy onions and a mop of scallions.

The ramen would have to wait for next time. (Sharyn Jackson)

2819 Nicollet Av S.., Mpls.,

Egg rolls from Her Flowers Deli at MidCity Farmers Market

Tucked back between the clanging busyness of University Avenue's Green Line and the St. Paul rail yard is a little corner of a neighborhood that has sprung a brand-new farmers market.

MidCity Farmers Market debuted in early June in the industrial setting, and there's a delightful selection of small makers producing a tidy selection of things to shop and eat. Among them is Her Flowers Deli, which sells fresh produce from their farm as well as a few cottage food items. (The small, family-run operation embarked on its first season in May.) The egg rolls are $2 each or six for $10. I decided on a happy medium of three with a variety of stuffings. There's mushroom and chicken, but I was knocked out by the shrimp: plump little guys stuffed into rolls with cabbage, bean thread noodles and carrot shreds. Each the size of a finger, they made a great snack.

The homemade dipping sauces are packed with flavor, too. The nước chấm was steeped with springy fresh carrots that gave it a vegetal sweetness amid the salty funk. But my favorite was the spicy sauce. The pepper has such a bright, fresh-picked crispness that the first bite is almost cool in the mouth, but the creeping heat shows up. Mingled with cilantro, juicy lime acidity, savory fish sauce and just a bit of round sweetness, it's an everything kind of sauce, meaning I want this on everything. (Joy Summers)

MidCity Farmers Market, Little Canada Farmers Market and on their Facebook page.

Sesame Street cocktail from Meteor

This $14 cocktail from Meteor could change my mind about some things. For one, there's a Mai Tai-meets-alley-cat situation that shouldn't work together, but does. Second, I thought I disdained most tiki drinks, but slurping this made me want to don a caftan and gesture grandly while talking about landscaping on the lanai. It tastes like living my best summer life.

This is also how I continue to find new reasons to fall in love with Meteor. Classic cocktails are flawlessly poured while new flavor combinations continually push the boundaries of creativity. The Sesame Street comes in a tin can as an ode to Oscar the Grouch, which made bartender Mike Hidalgo almost giggle as he explained it. The drink is piled with pebble ice like a typical tiki beverage, but seasoned with just a bit of toasted sesame orgeat. The savory edge is enhanced by pasilla pepper liqueur that mingles with a combo of rums, Genever and a healthy amount of freshly squeezed lime juice. Topped with mint, it's absolutely the drink of the summer, served in a cold, dark space. (J.S.)

2027 N. 2nd St., Mpls.,

Club sandwich at Jax Cafe

Summer is savoring a club sandwich ($18) on a flower-filled patio, beside a babbling stream. While my tomatoes are still solidly in the "hopeful" stage of growth, the ones on Jax Cafe's club sandwich are at peak ripeness. Because after an astonishing 90 years in business, the kitchen, staff and the family that continues to run it really know what they're doing.

Outside on the truly spectacular patio, large family groups walked in and out of the restaurant for photo ops. It's an idyllic setting right in the heart of the city. Everyone seems to have a favorite order — whether it's an occasion-ready slab of prime rib or a dainty popover with a pat of sweet cream butter. For this visit, the sandwich stacked with a hefty portion of sliced turkey, thick bacon, perfect lettuce, that glorious tomato and a reasonable amount of mayo on whole grain bread (plus fries) was a meal hearty enough to save half for home. A classic in every respect. (J.S.)

1928 University Av. NE., Mpls.,

Pastries from Paris Baguette

Paris Baguette is new to the Twin Cities, but you'd be forgiven for thinking it's been here a while. That's thanks to a recent mini-surge of French-style bakery chains opening. First was Tous Les Jours, a South Korean French-Asian bakery that opened last year in Richfield. Next came Sweet Paris Creperie & Cafe, a Houston-based company that came to Woodbury in 2023 and just opened a second Minnesota location at Mall of America.

Now, Paris Baguette has landed in Maple Grove. Originally from South Korea, Paris Baguette has about 100 U.S. locations. The operation and menu are similar to Tous Les Jours. The pastry cases are serve-yourself and stocked with classic French pastries, Instagrammable laminated dough hybrids (like the croissant doughnut) and Asian-inspired treats like red bean buns and mochi doughnuts.

I helped myself to several. Favorites were Paris Baguette's Chocolate Supreme ($5.49), which is based on a New York City pastry that first went viral in 2022. It's a round of croissant dough, wound tightly into a puck and filled with airy chocolate custard cream. I also enjoyed another New York-viral pastry you still don't see much in Minnesota: the Croissant Donut (aka Cronut), filled with coffee cream ($4.99). And, having gone to Portugal earlier this year, I was so pleased that Paris Baguette is making a convincible pastel de nata (egg tart; $3.69). There were so many choices in front of me, I forgot to try the most obvious one: the baguette. (S.J.)

7855 Elm Creek Blvd. N., Maple Grove,

Next week, the Taste team will take a break from eating out to barbecue with our families and prepare for the Taste of Minnesota on July 6 and 7. Stop by and see us at the Star Tribune booth.