Margherita pizza from Red Rocket Pizza Co.
Chalk this one up to surreal food experiences of 2020-2021. There I was, in a garage, eating hot-out-of-the-oven pizza on a picnic table, alongside shovels and ladders, with a "Ninja Turtles" movie playing in the background.
Chris Black and his cook, Chris Blair, spend most Sundays here, making wood-fired pizzas in an Italian oven that takes up a corner of the garage.
Black, a DJ, had to find a new way to occupy his time when clubs shut down last year. He turned to pizza, starting first on a tabletop pizza oven he'd been using as a hobbyist for about four years. Last summer, he seriously upgraded his oven and has been making preordered pies for tips ever since. He's hoping that by summer he'll have a food truck — it's currently being outfitted with a custom oven — and then he'll be off to events. Although, hopefully you'll still be able to catch him in his garage.
Black worked long and hard on developing a cold-fermented dough that yielded a pillowy, tangy crust. His herbaceous sauce is still evolving, he said, but it stands up nicely to toppings, such as the green olive-pepperoni-honey combo called Shorty.
Find Red Rocket on Facebook (facebook.com/RedRocketPizzaCompany) and place your order as early as you can — every single pizza is accounted for each Sunday (aka, no walk-ups). Then, pick a time, grab a seat at the picnic table and enjoy it while it's hot. (Sharyn Jackson)
2626 Plymouth Av. N., Mpls., email@example.com. Open noon-8 p.m. Sun. Order via e-mail or Facebook Messenger.
Steak lomito at DelSur Empanadas
Co-owners Nicolas Nikolov and Diego Montero are skilled in the empanadas-making arts (the one filled with sweet corn, red peppers and green onions is one of my current favorite vegetarian dishes), but they also know their way around the lomito.
"They're traditional sandwiches that you find in many places in Argentina," said Nikolov. "Particularly in Córdoba, where my partner Diego is from."
The sandwiches ($12 to $15) are enormous and easily shareable. They're made on round, house-baked rolls — light and squishy on the inside and slightly crisped-up out the outside, thanks to a quick toast on the grill — that are generously stuffed with layers of like-minded sandwich fillings: thinly sliced ham, a mild cheese, chimichurri-laced mayo, tomatoes, crunchy lettuce and an optional fried egg, which should be a requirement, because everything is better with a fried egg.
The most traditional version features grilled filet mignon — it's flattened in a press the duo hauled up from Argentina — and it's delicious. But I also crave the version that uses grilled chicken breast. It's a compelling alternative to the fried chicken sandwiches that are currently all the rage.
DelSur, which started as a food truck seven years ago and then landed its brick-and-mortar home in 2018, is expanding. Nikolov and Montero are going to be charter tenants in the Malcolm Yards Market (501 SE. 30th Av., Mpls., malcolmyards.com), opening in May.
"We're looking forward to being a part of the family that's going in there," said Nikolov. "Hopefully this year will be different from 2020, for everybody." (Rick Nelson)
14725 Excelsior Blvd., Minnetonka, 952-303-6081, delsurempanadas.com. Open 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Tue.-Sat.
Cinnamon roll cookie from Crumbl Cookies
I was on my way to Maple Grove to get cupcakes (Nadia Cakes, yum) and somehow came home with even more sweets. I'm a sucker for millennial pink, and a sign in the Fountains at Arbor Lakes complex caught my eye. Crumbl Cookies is a new (to Minnesota) chain that originated in Utah, and a changes-weekly menu of enormous, warm cookies is its signature offering at both the Maple Grove and Apple Valley outlets.
I couldn't choose just one from flavor and ended up leaving with two boxes. I underestimated how incredibly huge the cookies were and devoured this one way too fast, which totally ruined dinner that night. But I'm not complaining. I nibbled on the others throughout the rest of the week. I loved them all, in their own way. The piped chocolate buttercream frosting on a cookie that's supposed to emulate a cupcake. The chunky milk chocolate chips in the classic. And this gorgeous sugar cookie with an almost crispy cinnamon topping and a swirl of icing. I don't know when it'll be back on the menu, but there are bound to be other fun creations in the meantime. (S.J.)
11623 Fountains Dr., Maple Grove, 763-777-7527 and 15052 Gleason Path, Apple Valley, 612-474-4217, crumblcookies.com. Pickup and delivery Mon.-Sat.
Arabes tacos at El Travieso Taqueria
Taco has more than one meaning at El Travieso, Hector Ruiz's casual remake of his formerly fine dining spot Don Raul. There are the familiar crisped corn tortillas with a small pile of flavorful meat and crunchy fresh veggies on top. And then there are these Arabes-style tacos, which hail from the state of Puebla, where Middle Eastern settlers put their own stamp on the taco. They can almost resemble shawarma in a pita, but here, Ruiz rolls up any of his long list of proteins (lamb might be the most traditional) in flour tortillas and drizzles them with a sweet chipotle sauce.
That's not all. There are also discadas, which are popular in the state of Chihuahua. These sandwich a stew of chorizo sausage, onions, peppers and tomatoes, some cheese, and one of Ruiz's meats (or fish) between two flour tortillas. It's garnished with ground-up chicharrones. Basically, a next-level quesadilla.
Each of these taco formats accomplishes the same important thing: they deliver Ruiz's mouthwatering meats and other taco fillings right to you. I loved all the proteins I tried, but the carne asada, deep, almost-black bits of chopped skirt steak, won the night. (S.J.)
4953 S. Xerxes Av., Mpls., 612-922-9235. Dine in or takeout, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sun. A second location is coming soon to Wayzata.
Swedish fruit waffle at Krown Bakery & Eatery
On Saturday mornings, co-owners Eva and Fari Sabet host an uncomplicated brunch at their first-rate counter-service setup, and it's worth checking out.
While it's difficult to move beyond the beautifully composed pastries that line the bakery's counters — sweet buns filled with almond paste and whipped cream, spiraled roulades popping with a lavender-tinted black currant cream filling, braided beauties twinkling with sugar and scented with cardamom — my eyes finally landed on the actual brunch menu.
While sourdough piled with cold-smoked salmon and a runny-yolk egg was calling my name, the minute that I spied "waffle" I knew what I was ordering.
The Sabets use a crepe-like batter — no eggs, tons of butter and milk — and it produces a thin, scalloped-edged waffle that radiates all the right attributes: delicate, golden and tender. A savory variation calls upon bacon, arugula, sour cream and a sunny side-up egg, but after gazing upon all those pastries my appetite steered toward sweet ($11.99). But not too sweet: dollops of ruby-red raspberry jam and luscious whipped cream, plus lots of juicy berries. No maple syrup required.
The couple served their first waffles three years ago to celebrate Våffeldagen, aka Sweden's beloved Waffle Day. (That's March 25, for those who want to plan accordingly.)
"I'm not kidding you, we had a line out the door," said Eva Sabet. "I think we sold 150 waffles in three hours and we thought, 'Wow, why do this just once?' That's when we decided to do it on Saturdays."
The small space has a few highly coveted seats. I turned my brunch into a parking lot picnic and that worked just fine. (R.N.)
530 W. Main St., Anoka, 763-427-0506, krownbakeryandeatery.com. Open 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Sat. Saturday brunch served 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m.