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Uncle Harry at the Sandwich Room

After 18 years at the pinnacle of park concessions, Sea Salt did something new last month: the Minnehaha Falls spot for fish and seafood added a sandwich stand. The Sandwich Room is located inside the pavilion, on the other side of Sea Salt's kitchen, where for the past few years the eatery sold beer and wine to help alleviate some of the mega-long lines at the main counter.

"At some point we were like, well, we should think about putting some type of food capabilities in here," said Kait Ziemer-Davis, one of Sea Salt's three owners. They just had to figure out what to serve. Co-owner Bill Blood had the answer, Ziemer-Davis said. "He just has this sandwich obsession, so from the beginning Bill was like, sandwiches — it should be sandwiches. We were like, sure, we'll figure it out as we go. And then Bill came with just this beautiful array of sandwiches that had, I think, always been in his brain."

The menu hints to the endless combinations Blood has devised. There's a #1 and a #2, followed by a #4, #10, #28 and #30. "That is Bill letting everybody know that he has infinite amounts of sandwiches," Ziemer-Davis laughed.

The combinations, while seafood-free, match the rest of Sea Salt's concept of "simple, basic food with a little added touch to it," Ziemer-Davis said. Each sandwich (all $15, except a kids' basic ham and cheese for $8) is served on Patisserie 46 bread, and meats and cheeses are only the beginning of what's possible when it comes to fillings. I loved the sweet-salty-spicy-smoky-crunchy harmony of the #1, Uncle Harry, which combines grilled slices of sausage containing smoky brisket burnt ends, pimento cheese, sweet pepper slaw, arugula, bacon-habanero jam and a squirt of Cry Baby Craig's hot honey. The others are equally well thought out. By the time you get to the #30, the Nateorious P (named after this guy), you're looking at roasted pork loin, cheese curds and "million dollar sauce."

The first few menu items will probably stay put, with others rotating in and out. It's all a way to make sure there's something at Sea Salt for everybody — even non-seafood-eaters. (Sharyn Jackson)

4825 Minnehaha Av. S., Mpls.,

A fresh sandwich that perfectly complements a gorgeous patio meal at French Meadow in St. Paul.
A fresh sandwich that perfectly complements a gorgeous patio meal at French Meadow in St. Paul.

Joy Summers, Star Tribune

The Rachel at French Meadow Bakery & Cafe

One of the great moments of summer bliss is realizing you've been sitting on the same patio with a dear friend for a couple of hours and the conversation never dipped, even for a moment. We were still chatting between last bites at St. Paul's French Meadow, tucked off Grand Avenue, its back patio built into a little secret garden eatery. Lined with flower boxes of annuals and mostly sheltered from the midday sun by umbrellas, it really is a lovely place to sit a spell.

French Meadow opened as the area's first organic bakery in 1985, but the menu has since expanded by leaps and bounds. The East Side outpost has an all-day menu, but I still love a bread-based dish. The Rachel ($16) includes Ferndale turkey with cabbage pulling double duty: in a tangy sauerkraut and a bright, purple slaw. The buttery, toasty bread is studded with seeds, and there's a good amount of melted cheese pulling everything together. It's a gorgeous kind of picnic, without having to spread a blanket. (Joy Summers)

1662 Grand Av., St. Paul;

Get your strudel frozen and ready to bake at Ruhland's Strudel Haus making the rounds at area farmers markets and events.
Get your strudel frozen and ready to bake at Ruhland's Strudel Haus making the rounds at area farmers markets and events.

Nicole Hvidsten, Star Tribune

Spinach-artichoke strudel from Ruhland's Strudel Haus

I didn't want to ruin a perfectly good piece of strudel dodging raindrops at Eagan's Market Fest. So I did the next best thing: bought a take-and-bake "strudelwich" to heat up at home.

The pocket-size strudel ($8) comes wrapped in the parchment you'll need to bake it. Big enough to share, it's filled to the brim with spinach, feta, artichoke hearts and roasted red peppers. There's more cheese with mozzarella, ricotta, provolone and Parmesan, plus a boost of flavor from lemon, garlic and herbs. Just brush the top with an egg wash, bake for 30 minutes and an out-of-the-ordinary, supremely flaky (and delicious) dinner is on the table with little effort. (Hot tip: You can also bake it in the air fryer, sans parchment, for 15 minutes.) Serve with a salad or a side of hummus if you're feeling it. A note of caution: The strudel is frozen solid, but the corners might break if you jostle too much (see picture).

The goods come from St. Paul-based Ruhland Strudel Haus, led by Tom Ruhland, which started baking up "love on a plate" in 2002. A fixture at markets, art fairs and community events, they make more than 45 varieties of sweet and savory strudels. We also picked up a frozen bread pudding-stuffed strudel ($18). It sounds like it shouldn't work — so many carbs! — but boy, oh boy, it does. (Nicole Hvidsten)

Go to for the farmers market schedule, or order online for pickup and local delivery.

A saucy good mess of a fried chicken sandwich from Flo's Eats that's worth chasing down this summer.
A saucy good mess of a fried chicken sandwich from Flo's Eats that's worth chasing down this summer.

Joy Summers, Star Tribune

Chicken sandwich at Flo's Eats

"What is that?" I was parading my little paper boat like a "Bridgerton" debutant through the park when a man stopped me. Clutched in my eager grip was a hard-to-decipher dish: sauce oozing from every layer, curves of warm cheese and an appendage that likely was a porky outpost of bacon, but it was difficult to tell. What I had was the humbly named chicken sandwich ($17). I had no way of knowing what I was getting myself into when I ordered, but the result was a flavor bomb of goodness courtesy of a man named Flo.

Flo's Eats is a food truck that I found in downtown Minneapolis on a lucky lunch break near U.S. Bank Stadium, but it prowls around metro-area breweries like so many mobile eateries. Flo is Isaac Flomo, who operates the sleek black truck and, along with a team of other chefs, creates these munchie-crusher dishes.

What's really going on in there is a breaded and fried chicken breast dipped in barbecue sauce, placed on shredded lettuce with toppings of bacon, two slices of cheese, a tumble of caramelized onions and a liberal dousing of Flo's secret recipe fry sauce. All together, it's a dish worthy of the envy it inspires. (Joy Summers)

Sweet Potato Poboy from ParraLily food truck
Sweet Potato Poboy from ParraLily food truck

Sharyn Jackson, Star Tribune

Sweet potato po'boy from ParraLily food truck

There's a schoolhouse-red food truck going around town that gave me a touch of déja vù when I saw it parked outside a brewery. Chef Shack was the first thing that came to mind; the pioneering food truck is known for that signature color. But this truck was ParraLily, operated by chef and former restaurant manager Christine Peterson.

It turns out, Chef Shack is very much in the DNA of Peterson's sandwiches-and-fries truck. After 20 years in kitchens, including Palomino, the Bulldog NE and the Lexington, she had been contemplating launching her own food business for a while. So when the Chef Shack proprietors put most of their trucks up for sale in 2020, Peterson decided to buy one.

"I felt like it was time to finally take the plunge," she said. She spent the summer working for Chef Shack and learned the ins-and-outs of the food truck world before making the purchase. "It was a nerve-racking wild ride to start my own business but I figured if I am going to work this hard for someone else why don't I do it for myself?"

Her husband, Andy Peterson, does most of the cooking, and the menu is short: two po'boys (catfish and sweet potato), a hot dog (topped or plain) and a meatball hoagie. A basket of hand-cut fries ($5-$7), which can come plain, seasoned with dill or Cajun style, is the only side.

The sweet potato po'boy ($12) is ParraLily's effort to make a po'boy vegetarian. Thick yet soft slices of the tuber are dusted in blackening spices to give the sandwich a little kick that's mellowed by cold, crunchy iceberg and roasted poblano tartar sauce. It comes on a crusty sub roll. Andy Peterson landed on the combination. "We tried it one night," Christine said, "and never looked back." (Sharyn Jackson)

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