In addition to all of the exciting and official new fair foods announced this week for the 2022 Minnesota State Fair, there's one more dish that we'll be lining up to order. Al's Breakfast, the James Beard Award-winning classic eatery in Dinkytown, will be packing up its spatulas and heading to the Hamline Dining Hall. Inside the 125 year-old institution, Al's owner Alison Kirwin will even man the griddle, serving the iconic original and blueberry pancakes.
Hamline Dining Hall is one of the last dining halls remaining at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. Begun by a group of church women in 1897, the hall's core menu hasn't changed much, continuing to serve Swedish Meatballs, baked chicken and hamloaf. Located at 1667 Dan Patch, Hamline Dining Hall will serve fairgoers beginning August 25 through Labor Day.
New Grand Avenue restaurant offers giant egg rolls and more
The much anticipated new Vietnamese restaurant Em Que Viet is now open on St. Paul's Grand Avenue. The restaurant (1332 Grand Av., St. Paul) is a little sister to the other Que Viet restaurants and bakery, owned and operated by Maria Nguyen and Brianna Le.
You'll find the famous giant eggrolls (a State Fair tradition), a small space for baked treats and a menu filled with plenty of traditional Vietnamese dishes.
The restaurant front has been festooned with cascades of faux wisteria and painted white. There's a takeout window as well as seating inside and a sidewalk patio.
Viking Bar now West Bank's first Kenyan restaurant
Tamu opened this weekend at 1829 Riverside Av., Mpls., former site of the Viking Bar. The new eatery from George Ndege (who goes by the moniker Chef Jojo) will share the foods he grew up with in Kenya such as mild curries, samosas and a selection of vegan dishes. The restaurant takes its name from the Swahili word for delicious or tasty.
Have beer, will travel
If you need an excuse to visit Duluth, maybe the 10th annual All Pints North festival on July 30 in Bayfront Festival Park will do the trick. More than 100 Minnesota breweries, brewpubs and cideries will be offering samples (nonalcoholic and gluten-free, too) along with food trucks and vendors, live music and more. The festival is from 3:30 to 7 p.m. (only for those 21 and older) and will be held rain or shine. Tickets are $65; sober-driver tickets are $15; buy yours at mncraftbrew.org/event/all-pints-north.
Party time at Smack Shack
After a two-year hiatus, Smack Shack is holding summer parties at both locations.
First is Lobsterfest on July 23 from noon-6 p.m. in the parking lot of the Bloomington restaurant (3801 Minnesota Drive). The event is free with food and drinks available to purchase. There also are a limited number of $75 tickets available to a lobster boil. There also will be a chance to visit with the Maine Lobstermen's Association to learn about their sustainable fishing practices.
Next up is the Crayfest block party next to the North Loop Smack Shack (603 Washington Av. N., Mpls.) Aug. 6 from noon-7 p.m. featuring live music, all-you-can-eat crayfish boil and beer and hurricanes. Tickets for the 21+ event are $75 in advance, $80 at the door.
For more information and tickets for both events, go to smack-shack.com.
Date night at Midtown Global Market
On Thursdays this summer, Midtown Global Market vendors Moroccan Flavors and Eastlake Craft Brewery are offering date night packages that include a starter, two entrees and a bottle of Eastlake barrel-aged beer. The meal also includes two organic dates for dessert. Cost is $45 for two; no reservations needed, just head to Eastlake Craft Brewery between 6 and 9 p.m.
In other market news, July 23 is the Global Salsa Cook-Off. Market chefs will prepare their own takes on salsa, competing for the title of Best Salsa of 2022. Sample the salsas from noon-2 p.m. and vote for your favorite. (Winners will be announced on social media.) Cost is $15; samples are limited, so reserve your spot at midtownglobalmarket.com.
The market is at 920 E. Lake St., Mpls.