True Stone Butter Blend ice cream from Butter Bakery Cafe
When I make it to Butter Bakery, it's usually mission-oriented: I have a craving for one of their buttery biscuits or chocolate chip cookies. This time, I was swayed by the ice cream counter, which has only a handful of flavors, all unbelievably smooth and rich.
And this time, as it was still morning, I got as close to breakfast ice cream as I could with their coffee flavor. It's a "long-timer," said owner Dan Swenson-Klatt. Back when he lived in Powderhorn Park in the late '80s to early 2000s, his family would host a neighborhood ice cream social before the park's once-famous July 4th fireworks. "Oh, so sad those days are long past," he reminisced.
Back then, he churned a Peace Coffee ice cream that was wildly popular with the neighbors, and then switched to True Stone dark roast after he opened the bakery in 2006. "It was a definite inclusion" when he moved the bakery in 2012 to its current location, complete with an ice cream case.
It remains a signature menu item. "We do our best to always keep it in stock for a blended cold brew shake, an espresso-over-ice cream dessert, or just for a straight up shot of coffee in a cone," Swenson-Klatt said.
If I could do it again (and I most certainly will), I'd get the cone, too. ($3 for a single scoop, $4.50 for a double). (Sharyn Jackson)
3700 Nicollet Av. S., Mpls., 612-521-7401, butterbakerycafe.com
Bacon cheeseburger and onion rings from Band Box Diner
When we started exploring the idea of iconic restaurants around the Twin Cities, there's a shortlist of buildings that appear as I scrolled through my favorite food memories. Band Box Diner, with its cheery white and red exterior, has always been one of those places. The first time I tried one of their onion rings, it was so hot I burned my fingertips — and I ate the scalding crust anyway. The onion smacked my chin; I had it coming.
When the diner announced recently that it was reopening, there was a collective cheer from fans who love a burger sizzled on a hot griddle before their hungry eyes.
Upon revisiting, it was obvious that the owners had invested some elbow grease in giving the diner a good scrub-down, but not much else has changed, thank the flat-top heavens.
Bacon cheeseburgers ($12) are still well done, buns warmed on the griddle. American cheese drips down over the thick strips and onto the bottom bun, holding it all together like the hardest worker on the crew. Onion rings ($3.50) are perfectly seasoned and make a short commute from the fryer to your plate.
Fans still jockey politely for the few seats inside. Staff is minimal, just owners Brad Ptacek and Heather Dalzen flipping burgers, dropping baskets of fries and taking orders as fast as they could. It was an impressive amount of plate spinning, and the room could not have loved them more for it.
There aren't too many of these places left — restaurants that have seen the passage of decades as customers float in and out through phases of their lives. It's good to have this one back. (Joy Summers)
729 S. 10th St., Mpls., open 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Wed.-Fri., 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Sat., facebook.com/bandboxeats
Taste of Jerusalem at Ansari's Mediterranean Grill
Growing up in a small town, eating out was rare. Eating anything globally inspired that wasn't made in our kitchen was even more rare. That's probably why I so vividly remember visiting the long-closed Minneapolis gem Abdul's Afandy with my dad and uncle. It was my first taste of Mediterranean food, and it made an impression.
There's still much to love about Mediterranean cuisine, even looking past the health benefits: the big flavors, vegetable-centric ingredients and, aside from the occasional slice of baklava, it's not too sweet. I could eat it every day.
Our latest find is Ansari's Mediterranean Grill in Eagan, which in addition to those big flavors has a really big menu. To get a good sampling, we ordered one of the four Tours of the Mediterranean. The Taste of Jerusalem ($21.99) was more than enough to share (or have leftovers) — a tahini mixed-greens salad, ultra-creamy hummus, saffron rice, chicken and kofta (minced meat) kabobs, gyros and my favorite, spicy falafel. A bowl of fluffy pitas and a trio of bright sauces were on the tour itinerary, too. I wouldn't hesitate to order any item on its own, but the tour did its job and took us on a flavorful road trip. If only it could have been along the Mediterranean. (Nicole Hvidsten)
1960 Rahncliff Court, Eagan, 651-452-0999, ansarisgrill.com
Budapest roll from Krown Bakery & Eatery
With October just sitting right there, it's obvious to those twitching to hang up the bat decor that Halloween is just around the corner. As a spooky season devotee, it's fun to visit Anoka — the Halloween Capital of the World™. All along main street, stores are already decked out with cute and creepy spooky decor. Second only to my deep love of gothic holiday shopping is that for cardamom-spiced baked goods, and the city's Krown Bakery & Eatery has some of the best around.
Founded in 2011 by Eva and Fari Sabet, the bakery was bought by Madison McCormick and Sharaya Mickelson in 2021. While the Swedish-spiced treats are as good as ever, the menu has expanded. There are sandwiches, retail space and a freezer with treats (like pasties) to take home.
One of their most popular dishes is the Budapest roll ($5.99), a divine baked treat that just happens to be gluten-free. A hazelnut meringue is wrapped around fresh whipped cream studded with orange slices and fresh berries. It's ethereal, light, nutty and plush. And, an absolutely heavenly counterpart to the devilishly fun spooky stuff we stocked up on in town. (J.S.)
530 W. Main St., Anoka, 763-427-0506, krownbakeryandeatery.com
Fried Egg Sammy at Edelweiss Bakery
A line is usually spilling out the door at Edelweiss Bakery, Prior Lake's charmingest business on its charmingest block. As the goodies disappear from the case, you can almost sense the tension as neighbors become frenemies vying for that last caramel roll.
But this cheery cafe also does savory, and there's more than enough to go around. There are a couple breakfast sandwich options, and owner Joe Lin suggested ordering the fried egg sammy ($10.25), his personal favorite. Two slices of the bakery's housemade wheat bread get slathered in guacamole on one side, basil aioli on the other. Under a pile of fresh veggies, there are two fried eggs — and thick rosemary maple bacon so good I'd order a whole plate of it next time.
As I was leaving, there was still one more sticky-sweet caramel roll in the case. Yup, I got that, too. (S.J.)
16186 Main Av. SE., Prior Lake, 952-440-2773, edelweissbakerypl.square.site