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Shrimp bánh xèo at Banh Sizzle

It was like watching a Swiss watch work. Past the rows of vendors outside the Guthrie Theater, through the shrouded interior packed with goods and into the sun-dappled atrium of the Mill City Farmers Market, a couple manned a busy bánh xèo stand. A line of black crêpe pans are tickled by blue flames while a chef pours batter, lays bean sprouts at just the right moment, then folds the edges over into a perfectly cooked, crispy-edged dish. Each pan was in a different state of readiness, and she never lost sight of which one needed tending.

Bánh xèo is one of those dishes that's best served immediately. It tastes even better when eaten on a tiny plastic stool, folding lettuce and a handful of Thai basil and mint around the lacy, crisp-edged crêpe, dolloped with chili sauce before being plunged into a container of nuoc cham.

Banh Sizzle is the work of Hang and Jonathan Jauquet, and the two-person team operates with breathtaking precision. It's a crowd-pleaser of a dish, too — gluten- and egg-free for those with sensitivities. There's a vegetarian version ($10), but the shrimp ($13) was the choice I made and will be ordering again. (Joy Summers)

Saturdays at the Mill City Farmers Market, 750 S. 2nd St., Mpls.,

The Florentine bowl from Red Rabbit's new brunch menu.
The Florentine bowl from Red Rabbit's new brunch menu.

Sharyn Jackson, Star Tribune

Florentine bowl at Red Rabbit

Brunch, but make it Italian. That was chef Adam Lerner's task when designing the new brunch menu at Red Rabbit. The Italian restaurant, known for its wood-fired pies and pasta dishes, previously served incongruous eggy fare on the weekends: breakfast tacos and burritos and the like. But that breakfast burrito has now been replaced by breakfast stromboli. Pancakes? Made with ricotta in that wood-burning oven. Zeppoles instead of beignets. And a hash that's gone full Florentine, with wilted spinach leaves, blistered tomatoes, grilled artichokes and the crispiest breakfast potatoes that have been oven-roasted to the point of dehydration, smashed and then deep-fried. The $15.50 bowl of veggies is topped with two perfectly poached eggs, and pure liquid gold of a Hollandaise sauce.

It's the biggest menu change to come to Red Rabbit's two locations (North Loop and Grand Avenue) in its eight years, and that's thanks to Lerner, who came on board last year as corporate chef for both the Red Rabbit and Red Cow brands. He's done most of his tinkering so far at Red Rabbit, and now that brunch has been refreshed, he's turning his attention to Red Cow. Expect the burger spots to lean more into a California direction with French and Asian influences, Lerner said. Poke has already been added to the mix, and he's working on lettuce wraps and tempura fried veggies. All of that will be followed by, you guessed it, a new brunch. But make it burgers. (Sharyn Jackson)

788 Grand Av., St. Paul, 651-444-5995; 201 Washington Av. N., Mpls., 612-767-8855,

The gorgonzola pizza from Pizzeria Pezzo inside the Southdale Kowalski's.
The gorgonzola pizza from Pizzeria Pezzo inside the Southdale Kowalski's.

Nicole Hvidsten, Star Tribune

Gorgonzola pizza at Pizzeria Pezzo

You can thank Kowalski's for bringing Pizzeria Pezzo to Minnesota. The quick version: Jim Kowalski plucked Gary Bougie and his Chicago-style pizza-making skills from the Windy City and brought him to Minnesota, where they opened a pizzeria in White Bear Lake in 2014. In a cruel twist of fate, both Kowalski and Bougie died within about a year of making that deal.

Gary's wife, Keri Bougie, continued to run the restaurant with chef Mac Morrison and has added two more locations, the most recent in the new Southdale Kowalski's Market. Don't let the small size of the quick-serve outpost fool you; it's cranking out top-notch coal-fired and deep-dish pizzas, along with a handful of sides.

I couldn't resist the Gorgonzola: the earthy cheese is combined with mozzarella and cream for a rich, funky base and then topped with crispy prosciutto and sweet Italian figs and doused in a tangy balsamic reduction ($10 for a 6-inch, $20 for 12-inch). The crust will please both thin- and thick-crust lovers, thanks to the puffy edges and right amount of char.

There's also plenty of seating (inside and outdoors), so immediate gratification can be yours. (Nicole Hvidsten)

324 Southdale Center, Edina, 952-697-4224; 8505 Valley Creek Road, Woodbury, 651-300-3080; 2143 4th St., White Bear Lake, 651-788-7844;

Biscuit Cowboy rides into town with fresh biscuits and tantalizing breakfast sandwiches at the Linden Hills Farmers Market.
Biscuit Cowboy rides into town with fresh biscuits and tantalizing breakfast sandwiches at the Linden Hills Farmers Market.

Joy Summers, Star Tribune

The Walton at Biscuit Cowboy

There was a hot minute when we seemed poised for a biscuit revolution. But the wave crashed, the biscuits broke and we were once again left with only a few crumbly entries into the buttery-fingered hall of fame.

If Biscuit Cowboy's initial success is any indication, the metro area is ready for a biscuit comeback. "Last year we launched at Fulton Farmers Market and the reception vastly exceeded our expectations," said co-owner Matt Zittlow. He's partnered with best friend Nick Hanks to launch the popular pop-up. (Nick's mom, Sue, helps them assemble the sandwiches.)

"The idea started almost 10 years ago," said Zittlow, who plans his travels around the food available at the destination. "On one trip to Seattle, my wife and I randomly visited a spot that specialized in biscuit sandwiches. The sandwich we had was amazing." Newly obsessed, he returned home and launched a quest to find and bring the biscuit sandwich of their dreams to Minneapolis.

At last Sunday's market, the menu included two breakfast sandwiches and one simple biscuit with strawberry jam. We got them all, but it was hard to share the Walton ($12). White cheddar oozes over the side of the craggy biscuit edge, clinging to the fried egg and griddle-crisped prosciutto. Finished with a dollop of aioli and just enough spinach to count as healthy, it's an eye-opener worthy of summer city adventuring. (J.S.)

Sundays at Linden Hills Farmers Market, 2813 W. 43rd St.; Saturdays at Fulton Farmers Market, 4901 Chowen Av. S., Mpls.;

Elk skewers at Wakpa Bar, a pop-up from Owamni.
Elk skewers at Wakpa Bar, a pop-up from Owamni.

Sharyn Jackson, Star Tribune

Elk skewers at Wakpa Bar

Wakpa is the Dakota word for river, and the new Wakpa Bar outside the Water Works Pavilion in Minneapolis embraces an up-close view of the Mississippi. The new open-air snack bar is an extension of Owamni, which is just upstairs, and you'll find a few crossovers on a tight menu of casual fare that, as always, showcases Indigenous North American ingredients.

This gorgeous spot along the river was previously home to the Tatanka food truck (the precursor to full-service Owamni). Now, it's occupied by a collapsible tent, a wall of beer taps, and a smattering of tables and chairs to relax and take in the rolling, rippling river view.

The food, in takeout containers, is walked down by a server from Owmani. My friend and I sipped La Doña Cerveceria's Doña Fria lager ($8), snacked on a granola-like mix of seeds and nuts ($6), and shared the elk skewers ($18), which are grilled in a salty-sweet garlic and squash aioli glaze and served on fresh and crunchy turnip and carrot slaw.

You can also get Owamni's bison or mushroom birria tacos, smoked turkey legs, popcorn and crickets, and bean dip with smoked walleye, which, if you haven't made it to Owamni proper yet, can give you a good taste of what to expect from the James Beard Award-winning restaurant. Reservations are still competitive in the main space, although easier now with patio season adding 40 outdoor seats for walk-ins on a picturesque terrace looking out over that same spectacular river. (S.J.)

420 S. 1st St., Mpls., 612-444-1846,