Staff Directory 107226174

Amelia Rayno

Features reporter | Food, drink and travel
Recent content from Amelia Rayno
The Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., was one of the stops on Amelia Rayno’s Civil Rights tour.

A tour of civil rights landmarks reveals what's changed, and what hasn't

From Memphis to Atlanta, towns surrounding landmarks tell a story.
A man who calls himself King Pharoah overlooks a block of homes in Skid Row in Los Angeles..

L.A., El Salvador are mirror images of poverty

Thousands of miles separate two cities where injustice looks the same.
Though El Salvador had just three known cases of COVID-19 as of Monday, March 23, the government has implemented strict measures.

The pandemic abroad: When the airport closes before you can catch a flight home

Before it had confirmed cases of the coronavirus, El Salvador began responding swiftly and aggressively. I didn't make it out in time.
Almost 1,000 men, women and children were murdered in 1981 at El Mozote, El Salvador, by U.S. government-sponsored Salvadoran troops. A monument displ

The forgotten roots of — and responsibility for — a diaspora

Whatever it is the U.S. doesn't want today, it's a boomerang in part, as evidenced by a visit to the site of a 1981 massacre in El Salvador.
Amelia Rayno, not long ago the Star Tribune’s college basketball reporter, now couldn’t be much farther away from Minneapolis and the Final Four.

A special kind of madness: Following Final Four in Central America

Our former college basketball writer is nowhere near the event that once controlled her life every March. But she's doing her best to keep up, even if means some serious improvising.
Local coffee shops are taking hot chocolate to new (and tasty) heights.

Twin Cities chefs taking hot cocoa to a whole new level

With chocolate, the opportunities are endless.
Choose the right bubbly for New Year's Eve.

Bubbly made easy with this quick guide to the most popular sparkling wines

Champagne, Cava, Prosecco — our bubbly guide has you covered
A Vodskey bottle beside a "Copper Mule," made with Vodskey, fresh lime juice and Fever Tree ginger beer, as well as a "Wing in a Sling," back, with Vo

3 Minnesota distilleries concocting whiskey with bold new flavor profiles

Pop quiz: What does whiskey taste like? Characteristics that come to mind likely include rich and oaky, smoky and smooth. Spirits boasting notes of vanilla, caramel…
Restauraeur Kim Bartmann at Barbette in Minneapolis.

How Kim Bartmann became the Twin Cities' most unapologetic restaurateur

For three decades, she's remained relevant in a changing industry, now overseeing 10 different restaurants.
Falls Park in Sioux Falls, S.D.

8 great fall trips, from close to home in the Midwest to worldly escapes

Use this guide to plan your fall getaway.
A latte at Penny's in Minneapolis.

Charcoal is trendy ingredient at Twin Cities restaurants, but comes with risk

Welcome to the dark side of cocktails and lattes.
Amelia Santaniello cracked up after showing her husband, Frank Vascellaro, a photo of her a college friend had just emailed her. Frank had just announ

The Frank and Amelia show: Inside the marriage of WCCO's power couple

The duo behind the Twin Cities' No. 1-rated news show juggle nightly broadcasts, parenting and life outside the studio.
Mary S. Alton.

Mary Alton, longtime attorney, mediator and teacher, dies at 71

Hours before Mary S. Alton died following complications with emphysema, her son, Joseph, bent by the hospital bed. His brothers, Adam and Charlie, making the…

Does service in Twin Cities restaurants still matter?

How we dine out is changing, as fine dining turns casual and tableside service gives way to counter service, touch screens and even self-service.
The pinball machines at Mortimer’s remained, while much of the rest of the space was remodeled.

New, improved Mortimer's touts pinball, classic cocktails and live music

New owners have spruced up the Minneapolis dive bar.
Whole fish from Lat14 Asian Eatery in Golden Valley.

Lemon Grass owner to debut new Southeast Asian restaurant in Golden Valley

The new spot comes from the owner of a Brooklyn Park restaurant that is widely recognized as boasting some of the Twin Cities' best Thai food.
The scene at Hmong Village.

10 must-eat foods at St. Paul's two massive Hmong markets

From papaya salad and stuffed chicken wings to spring rolls and pho, the two St. Paul Hmong markets offer a taste of Southeast Asia.
Marilyn Wilhelm

Educator Marilyn Bangtson Wilhelm, a beloved 'Sarge' in the classroom, dies at 88

Several former students from more than 30 years back formed a group text to mourn her loss.
Mama Mia Pizza with porketta, Italian sausage, pepperoni and hot giardiniera from Iron Ranger.

New Iron Range-inspired restaurant to open on Grand Avenue in St. Paul

After closing Sunrise Market and Cafe, owner reopening space as a restaurant called Iron Ranger.
Surly and First Avenue collaborated on a new beer.

Will work for beer: Twin Cities brands, breweries collaborate for special suds

Instead of coffee mugs, firms are promoting their brand name with customized craft beers.
The beef brisket at Spring Cafe in the Como Lakeside Pavilion.

5 new Twin Cities restaurants make their debut in a busy week for openings

From Parlour St. Paul to Grand Catch, there are suddenly a lot of new places to eat in the Twin Cities.
Cookbook author Alison Roman set social media ablaze with a cookie recipe.

Meet the baker behind the cookie that became a viral sensation

How kitchen wizard Alison Roman broke the internet.
Hyacinth is opening in Golden Fig’s former location.

New York chef returns to Minnesota to open Italian restaurant on Grand Avenue

Hyacinth will take over Golden Fig's old space in St. Paul.
Castle Danger brewery owners (from left) Clint MacFarlane, Jamie MacFarlane, Mandy Larson and Lon Larson hoisted the trophy.

Castle Danger, winner of the Ultimate Beer Bracket, basks in the glow of glory

We talk victory with Castle Danger, the brewery that downed Surly in our second Ultimate Beer Bracket.
Castle Danger is the winner of the 2018 Ultimate Minnesota Beer Bracket.

From 2018: Castle Danger is the Ultimate Minnesota Beer Bracket champion

The Two Harbors brewery's massive upset win over Surly crowns it king of Minnesota beers.
Lipstick Pig is opening in the former Legends Bar & Grill.

Former Legends Bar & Grill in Minneapolis to become barbecue restaurant

The former Legends building is getting new life, via some love from its neighbor.
Ike's Tavern Burger.

Coming to the plate: Target Field unveils new food options

The Twins concessionaires unveiled a variety of new and returning menu offerings to be served during the 2018 Major League Baseball season on Monday while the team was playing in Pittsburgh.
Tattersall Distilling’s Amber Aperitivo.

3 Twin Cities bars where you'll find the latest drink trend: Low-proof cocktails

Here’s the predicament: you’re meeting friends at a hot new bar and you want to partake — but you also have a 6 a.m. workout…
Beer bracket drama as reigning champ Schell's falls, Surly barely hangs on

Beer bracket drama as reigning champ Schell's falls, Surly barely hangs on

Surly beat rival Summit by only 57 votes to advance to the Foamy Four.
The new taproom at Finnegans.

Finnegans debuts new brewery and taproom in downtown Minneapolis

The charitable brewing company finally has its own facility after 17 years in business.
Just an hour northeast of Las Vegas, Valley of Fire state park offers gaze-grabbing vistas, peeks at wildlife and the opportunity to get lost. Photo b

Day trip from Las Vegas: Nevada's Valley of Fire State Park sparks a hunt for a hidden cave

On the hunt for a hidden cave in a red-rock landscape of strange, rugged beauty.
A smoking cocktail at Stillwater's Brick & Bourbon.

Bacon flights and smoking cocktails are star attractions at new Stillwater restaurant

The opening of Brick & Bourbon continues the food and beverage growth in the charming riverside town.
A drink sitting on the bar of Hai Hai in northeast Minneapolis.

Beyond the Irish pub: A neighborhood by neighborhood crawl for St. Patrick's Day

On March 17, we're all a little bit Irish, too many of us to fit into an Irish pub. But no worries, with this guide to interesting neighborhood venues to explore.
A look at the big contenders from last year's Ultimate Minnesota Beer Bracket.

Vote for your favorite Minnesota breweries in our Ultimate Beer Bracket

Last year Schell's shocked the beer scene, taking down Surly. What's on tap this year?
Schell's beer rose above the other state brews to win the 2017 Ultimate Minnesota Beer Bracket.

How Schell's beat out the favorites in last year's Ultimate Minnesota Beer Bracket

The state's oldest brewery stunned beer fans with upset after upset in our inaugural brewery competition.
Funk Grits is opening in south Minneapolis.

New south Minneapolis restaurant celebrates soul food, funk music

Funky Grits is expected to open April 1.
Tips to throwing a great Oscar party.

How to throw a star-studded, Champagne-filled, award-winning Oscar party

With just a little planning — and this script full of ideas — you can pull off your own star-studded affair.
The new canned beer by Surly Brewing and First Avenue.

Surly teams with First Avenue for nightclub's own new beer: +1 Golden Ale

The light-bodied ale will debut at the club on March 22.
Las Vegas lures travelers with cheap flights, cheap rooms -- and then charges them $7 for a cup of coffee. But Sin City can still be a deal once you a

How I lived it up in Vegas without breaking the bank

When you play your cards right, you can return from Sin City with money to spare.
Duluth’s new restaurant, Martha’s Daughter.

New globally influenced restaurant opens in Duluth's former Original Coney Island

Martha's Daughter is the brainchild of a chef who has worked at the acclaimed Mission Chinese restaurants.
Bar Brigade squash pastry

You'll really want to eat your veggies at these Twin Cities restaurants

These days, produce is more fab than drab, with colorful, inventive and seriously tasty plates hitting menus.
Tasha Lauj, left, of St. Paul and Diane Aronson, center, of St. Louis Park pet Tinkerbell as Mona Pougiales gave a kiss on the head to Nani at the Caf

Kitties with a side of coffee: Minneapolis' first cat cafe opens

At the Cafe Meow, there is a coffee side and a cat room, where only 10 to 15 people are allowed at a time, so reservations are encouraged.
LoLo in Stillwater June 26, 2014.

LoLo American Kitchen owners opening new Southern-style restaurant in downtown Stillwater

Pearl & the Thief is expected to open this April.
A young girl stops to look for shells as the tide goes out on Anna Maria Island near sunset.

Spring in Fort Myers, Sarasota and Tampa offers more than baseball

Going to Fort Myers for the Twins' spring training? Here are some curveballs to expand your horizons.
New restaurant Holman's Table in St. Paul.

St. Paul Downtown Airport lands new restaurant, Holman's Table

The St. Paul airport is for private planes only, but the public can access the restaurant.
Bartender Nick Kosevich fixed drinks at Hewing Hotel's rooftop ice bar in Minneapolis.

Enjoy a real cold one at these 12 Twin Cities ice bars

Where else but the North serves up frozen cocktails at a frozen bar?
The owners of Tori Ramen are opening another restaurant in north Minneapolis.

St. Paul's Tori Ramen expanding to Minneapolis with upscale noodle shop

The new restaurant will go into the former Victory 44 location this spring.
Super Bowl stadium food: From New England clam roll to South Philly pork sandwich

Super Bowl stadium food: From New England clam roll to South Philly pork sandwich

Big-ticket holders will see some new items, plus old favorites for the Big Game on Feb. 4.
Vodka cocktails are back, baby.

What will you be drinking? 8 Twin Cities cocktail trends for 2018

Here's what's hot, and what's not, for the new year.
McCormick's Irish Pub in Wayzata.

We ignored an Irish pub in Wayzata – and its fans took us to task

When McCormick's was left out of a story on the Wayzata food scene, its popularity with locals became clear.
The Copper Hen owners are opening a new Minnetonka restaurant that will feature burgers and boozy shakes. Pictured is a burger from their current rest

Minnetonka getting new burgers-and-boozy-shakes restaurant by owners of Copper Hen

Eat Street's Copper Hen will debut its "brother" restaurant this summer, calling it Copper Cow.
Photographer Steve Henke helped arrange a custom made Japanese knife in Andrew Zimmern's hands for a photoshoot for Midwest Living at his studio in Go

High-profile openings, closings on tap for Minnesota restaurant scene

Coming With its refreshed look complete, Nicollet Mall will soon be getting a major new culinary landmark driven by a major local name. Andrew Zimmern…
Kristina Schultz, left, raised her martini to toast with friend Dana Barry as they caught up over dinner at CoV in Wayzata on a recent Thursday evenin

With lots of hot new restaurants, Wayzata is suddenly 'the place to be'

In the past year, five eateries and a boutique hotel have opened, transforming a once-sleepy suburb into a culinary destination.
Kristy Dirk’s newly opened Lucky Oven Bakery in south Minneapolis has a wall of retro Easy-Bake Ovens.

The classic Easy-Bake Oven is inspiration behind new south Minneapolis bakery

It's an ode to the humble beginnings of proprietor Kristy Dirk, who, like many pastry chefs, started her baking "career" with the culinary toy.
As Minnesota’s unofficially crowned King of Cold, entrepreneur Eric Dayton has built a reputation for loving and unapologetically promoting all thin

How Eric Dayton convinced Minnesotans — and rest of country — to embrace the 'North'

Eric Dayton wants all Minnesotans to take pride in our state's true North spirit
Substitute that pretzel necklace with meat. You'll be the talk of your tailgating party.

Step up your Vikings tailgating game with these insane 'meat necklaces'

Throw out those lame pretzels, and add meat to your gameday snack necklace.
Hasty Tasty's food will be centered around a wood-fired rotisserie and custom-made smoker.

Fun and food head to Lyn-Lake corner in Minneapolis with Hasty Tasty

A long-dormant corner of the busy Lyn-Lake intersection has been revived. Hasty Tasty (701 W. Lake St., Mpls.,, a restaurant and bar…
Pentair and Urban Organics are partners in this 87,000-square-foot indoor fish and produce farm in the old Schmidt brewery that provides greens and se

Winter doesn't faze 87,000-square-foot aquaponics farm in St. Paul

Three-plus months after debuting in its new, vastly larger location, Urban Organics continues to expand.
The night before Thanksgiving, also known as “Drinksgiving,” has become one of the year’s biggest drinking holidays. And Twin Cities bars, resta

How the night before Thanksgiving became the 'biggest drinking day of year'

Also referred to as Blackout Wednesday or Black Wednesday, Drinksgiving was coined about a decade ago.
At the main pool at La Perla, vacation-goers lounge in cabanas, sip frozen cocktails and cool off from the early autumn humidity.

Cancun-area travelers weigh concerns about tainted alcohol, violence

Playa del Carmen charms, despite the recent worries that have travelers thinking twice about visiting.
The former Sunrise Inn is now Bull’s Horn, serving a welcome change to the famed dive bar.

One of Minneapolis' last 3.2 dive bars reopens with new concept, stronger beer

Family photos hang on the walls. Longtime inside jokes have references on the menu. Nods to Doug Flicker’s past are everywhere at Bull’s Horn Food…
The former Nye's Polonaise Room in Minneapolis.

New cocktail bar and lounge will take over the former Nye's site in Minneapolis

A Nye's "regular" is opening Sonder Shaker, featuring a small menu of laid-back sandwiches and oysters to pair with the drinks.
Pepitos in south Minneapolis is facing a possible closing.

After 46-year run, Pepitos in south Mpls. could close following string of hardships

Beloved Mexican restaurant up for sale amid owner's health struggles.
Patrons in the open seating area of Lake Wine Kitchen + Bar in the MSP Mall in the Lindbergh Terminal.

What's the rush? MSP Airport offers many reasons to linger

We’ve all experienced the maddening roller coaster that is airport security. One day, you speed through the screening machines in 15 minutes flat. The next,…
Select Oyster Bar in Boston was a new find in a familiar city.

From the Travel Desk: Joys of reliving a former stamping grounds

It was the kind of experience I travel for. Each dish, artfully composed, was better than the last. The togarashi-spiced salmon crudo. The chimichurri octopus.…
It's time for beer and a game of hammerschlagen.

Prep the hammerschlagen! Your guide to Oktoberfest parties in Minnesota

Not every international holiday is embraced by Minnesotans. There's something about Oktoberfest, though — and we suspect it's the beer.
Chef Sean Sherman is making plans for two local restaurants.

Waterfront restaurant by 'Sioux chef' company to open on original Fuji-Ya site

Owamni: An Indigenous Kitchen will open as the featured full-service restaurant in the first phase of the upcoming Water Works project on the Mississippi River.
Doughnuts from Sift Gluten Free.

Sift Gluten Free bakery opening brick-and-mortar location soon in south Minneapolis

South Minneapolis is poised to get a new gluten-free bakery and a new juice bar. Sift Gluten Free (4557 Bloomington Av. S., Mpls.,
Crepe & Spoon is opening later this year in Minneapolis.

New frozen treat emporium with vegan ice cream and crepes coming to Mpls.

Crepe & Spoon is set to debut sometime in December.
The moon passed in front of the sun for a total solar eclipse visible from Farmington, Mo.

Eclipse fever? Next total solar phenomenon will be visible from U.S. in 2024

The sailboat we were on drifted further into Cape Cod Bay as the clear skies slowly became hazy. My travel companion and I were just…
A 20-pound ice cream cookie sandwich at Truck Park in St. Paul.

Indoor food truck restaurant opens in St. Paul with 20-pound ice cream sandwiches

The new 8,000-square-foot Seventh Street Truck Park houses various food trucks serving different menus.
Mandy Abdo Sheahan has long been a force in the Twin Cities restaurant scene.

Big Fat Bacon purveyor 'commands the room' from her wheelchair

A Maplewood businesswoman takes a "brains-on" approach to running the Big Fat Bacon booth at the fair.
A rolled ice cream dish from Sota Hot & Cold in St. Paul.

Mesmerizing rolled ice cream craze arrives in Twin Cities with 2 new shops

The rolled ice cream craze has officially hit the Twin Cities, and it's doing so with a bang as two specialty shops for the trendy food are debuting this weekend in St. Paul.
Chef Sameh Wadi at Seven Steakhouse in Minneapolis.

Seven Steakhouse gets a makeover thanks to acclaimed Minneapolis chef

Sameh Wadi of World Street Kitchen and the former Saffron has revamped the massive restaurant's menu and look.
At Mortimer’s at Lyndale and Franklin in Minneapolis, Darlene Rasmussen, left, a customer of 35 years, and Donna Hatton, 20 years, celebrated a frie

Top restaurateurs in Twin Cities see gems in old dive bars

The trend of top-notch chefs embracing the bars comes as costs of outfitting a commercial kitchen rise, casual dining grows in popularity and a hunger for nostalgia builds.