Ready for delicious discoveries? Adventures aren’t only for the great outdoors or far off destinations. Sometimes they are on your plate! Expand your palate and find a new favorite dish with tempting, outside-your-usual cultural restaurants, proudly showcasing ethnic diversity.
Visiting for a few days? Mix and match these local best-loved cultural eateries. They might not all have websites or prominent storefronts, but they’ve secured spots in hometown hearts (and the true city insider’s dining rotation).
Good morning, bakery perfection. Owner David Napolitano started making breads at home and selling at farmer’s markets. Today, Breadico is dishing out 10+ artisan breads, such as Muffaletta (Sicilian style), Prairie French (nine grains with fennel), or the crowd-pleaser Raisin Bread (cinnamon swirls come standard).
Plum’s Cooking Classes: A kitchen equipment shop with cooking classes in a gourmet, teaching kitchen will deepen your love of culinary favorites. On the rotation of instructors, David teaches breadmaking basics, including baguette and ciabatta recipes.
Activity Idea: Coffea
Coffea offers three locations to sip some of the best bean brews (and plaid-clad hipster viewing!) in the region. With world-wide products offered, Coffea serves up everything from Double Black Espresso to Jasmine Tea. Original art on the walls, sunny sipping spots, and comfy corners for brainstorming abound in each location.
Lam’s flies under the radar with stellar seasonal pho soup and crisp banh mi sandwiches and enough heat to make you sweat (if that’s your thing.) Compare pho at Pho Quynh, in an even more humble corner, but with broth that holds up a strong showing in the savory-and-satisfying test.
Strawbale Winery, set in an idyllic farmyard setting complete with chickens, has a tasting room built with bales of straw. Live music, Sangria Sundays, and the Summer Porch Series on Thursdays mean you should pull up a lawn chair and relax in the sun awhile. Or Prairie Berry East Bank has a delightful patio, small plates menu, and is well-known for fruit wines such as Red Ass Rhubarb and Buffaloberry Fusion.
Located downtown in a neighborhood nook, Sushi Masa regulars swear by the sashimi Mori and the cozy atmosphere. Not a seafood fan? Big Rig BBQ, a former award-winning food truck, has a permanent home serving up melt-in-your-mouth beef brisket and swoon-worthy pulled pork.
Tucked in a lower-level office building, Josiah’s has a cheery, light-filled coffee shop and espresso-based drinks. Their gooey-good caramel roll is a true town treasure. Kaladi’s has a fiercely loyal following dedicated to its outstanding omelets, breakfast burritos, and savory waffle selection.
Activity Idea: Farmer’s Market at the Falls
Farmer’s Market at the Falls on Saturday mornings (May through October) offers the best in local produce, garden flowers, meats, and homemade baked and canned goods. North of downtown, this open-air eating opportunity warrants its own visit and a seat in the park to savor your finds.
A hidden gem, Jacky’s has multiple Guatemalan eateries with knock-your-socks-off margaritas and delectable tacos. A beloved hole-in-the-wall eatery in downtown, Mama’s Ladas has the city’s most highly sought after enchiladas (and offers takeout). Feeling adventurous? Behind a Mexican grocery store is quirky Nikki’s with quick-built, faster-eaten burritos and taco combo plates.
Activity Idea: CH Patisserie
You don’t have to wait until after the meal to satisfy your sweet tooth. Indulge in homemade European-inspired pastries, cakes, and candies, like macarons, tarts, bon bons, and caramels at this downtown gourmet dessert shop owned by Chris Hanmer, winner of Bravo's Top Chef: Just Desserts.
How about a trip East? Shahi Palace offers authentic Indian cooking, including tandoori dishes and naan. The butter chicken is an herb and tomato wonder, just saying. Or Sanaa’s Gourmet has more gluten-free, veggie-lover dishes like Hummus or Eggplant Mosakaa with Walnut Sauce!
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