Loaded Avocado Toast from Brim
If ever there was a January kind of a restaurant, it's Brim. The Bde Maka Ska-adjacent spot, which focuses on healthful, gluten-free, farm-fresh food, sees an uptick of interest this time of year, said co-owner Katie Sidoti. "I think everyone's feeling like treating their bodies right and doing a restart," she said. "It's fun to see people reinvigorating their eating choices."
To help kick off those resolutions, Brim is offering Wellness Kits, an assortment of their meats, vegetable-rich sides, bone broths, juice shots and more. (There's also a plant-based option.) The kit comes with three or four days' worth of meals for $135, or six to seven days for $199. Brim started the program last year, and it was so popular that they had to bring it back, Sidoti said. "It's not specific to a diet, but just to nourish your body more in a holistic way instead of depriving or limiting."
The kits, which will be available through spring, need to be preordered for midweek pickup. Or, try something off the menu. The Loaded Avocado Toast, on griddled gluten-free focaccia from Minneapolis' Sift Gluten Free bakery, was a highlight ($15). Served with chunks of cucumber and tomato, drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil and a cashew dill sauce, and topped with crisp heritage bacon and microgreens from Fiddlehead Farms in Andover, it makes January eating feel like July. (Sharyn Jackson)
2919 Knox Av. S., Mpls., 612-261-0506, brimrestaurant.com. Open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Tue.-Fri., 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Sat. and 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sun.
The Bold North at Third Space Cafe
The vibe inside the new Third Space Cafe calls for peeling off the layers, cracking open a laptop and settling in to work for an hour or two. The coffee shop/cafe is the work of Erin Ryan-Mosley, who after years of working in the industry, wanted to open her own place that serves a casual food menu with treats and healthy options, along with a serious — but not too serious — coffee program.
The coffee comes from St. Paul's True Stone, and the baristas, especially flavor maven/manager Meaghan Williams, make beautiful beverages. (She's even won awards for her adorable latte art.) The Bold North ($6) is a tart, fizzy blend of coffee, Fever Tree tonic and a housemade lingonberry tonic, garnished with a sprig of rosemary. It perks up the senses and is a clever twist on the burgeoning trend of espresso/tonic. The seasonal specialty will be on the menu through the end of January.
A bonus: With the ample space right by the intersection of Lyndale Avenue and Lake Street, Ryan-Mosley is also working on ways for the cafe to serve the community. When I visited, they were hosting an evening of candlelight yoga. (Joy Summers)
2930 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls., 612-353-5677, thirdspacempls.com. Open 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Tue.-Sun.
Rotisserie chicken dinner from Over the Coals Rotisserie
On a warm (for January) night this week, the intoxicating scent of roasted poultry wafted over Victory Memorial Parkway, as lovely a setting as can be to wait about 10 minutes for a whole rotisserie chicken. The meal — and that gorgeous aroma — came from Over the Coals Rotisserie, a food truck from former restaurant workers Dan and Erin LeClair. After spending 2020 out of work, the husband-wife duo launched this venture in 2021.
"We wanted to be able to provide family meals, larger portions, and a la carte sides — to be able to cater to not necessarily the street food crowd or the bar crowd," Dan LeClair said. "We wanted to specifically be a kind of neighborhood joint."
On the night I stopped by, families were strolling up to the big red truck to pick up dinner, which mainly consists of supremely juicy chicken — they make their own brine and rub — that's been rotated for 45 minutes over mesquite coal and hickory wood on a truck-based contraption that can cook 32 birds at a time. You can get just the chicken ($18), or make it a meal with slaw and peppery potato wedges ($28). Add a couple of sides, too: buttery blistered green beans for the win.
Follow them on social media to find out their up-to-date weekly schedule. Or just follow the scent. "We have so many people seek us out because they could smell it from their house," Erin LeClair said. (S.J.)
Sweet Potato Kale Hash at Highland Grill
The light and airy Highland Grill — the original diner in what's now the Blue Plate Restaurant Co. — perfectly suits the cozy Highland Park community. Stopping in for breakfast after dropping the kids at school has been a long-held tradition, and the hearty sweet potato hash is one of my favorite ways to kick off the day: perfectly cooked vegetables, big hunks of sweet Italian sausage, zippy guacamole and an egg any way I like. Leave off the toast and the whole dish is gluten-free and fuel for a productive day ahead. (Joy Summers)
Highland Grill, 771 S. Cleveland Av., St. Paul, 651-690-1173, highlandgrill.com. Open 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Sun.-Thu., 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Fri.-Sat.
Rainbow Bowl from Hawaii Poke Bowl
Good news: The fast-casual movement has trickled down to poke bowls. This Minnesota-based mini-chain opened its first location in Apple Valley a few years back, and its most recent in Uptown just a few months back. And at all of them you'll find flavorful combinations of bowls — both raw and cooked — to suit almost any tastes.
Bowls have five components: proteins, mix-ins, toppings, flavor and crunch. My pick, and the pick of nearly everyone who came in behind us, is the Rainbow Bowl ($13.95). It starts with a base of rice or greens, adds ahi tuna, salmon and marinated tuna for proteins, toppings of crab salad and avocado, and green onions, edamame and cucumber mix-ins. A Japanese citrus dressing, wonton chips and sesame seeds pull it all together. There's a lot going on, but in a good way — the explosion of tastes and textures was a welcome wintertime lunch.
If none of the dozen existing combinations pique your interest, there's also an option to create your own. For maximum safety and efficiency, order ahead online and just swoop in to pick it up. But during this cold snap, be sure to add a bowl of miso soup ($2.50) for warmth. You won't be sorry. (Nicole Hvidsten)
Locations in Apple Valley, Eagan, Richfield and Uptown Minneapolis, hawaiipokeusa.com. All locations open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.