Chris and I flew out and spent our first married Christmas visiting family and friends in Minnesota and Wisconsin, many of whom were unable to make it to the wedding. We planned our itinerary carefully, packing each day full of people and plans. It was a targeted four-day trip that went as smoothly as anyone could have hoped.
We spent an afternoon with one of my dear friends from middle and high school, chatting with her and her husband and playing with her adorable kids.
We caught up with some of our oldest family friends and marveled over how long we’ve all known and loved each other.
We laughed with aunts and uncles, met cousins’ significant others for the first time, and shared great food and stories. It was perfect.
On our last night there, as we were decompressing after Christmas dinner with my dad and his girlfriend, Chris looked up from his phone. “Our flight was cancelled.”
I had spent our entire visit very cockily relaying to our hosts how, despite the two-foot dump they’d experienced, we’d only received a light coating of snow one night that was gone the following morning. So, people of New York, I take full responsibility for the storm that shut down the city and left us stuck in Minneapolis for an additional four days. Karma’s sort of a bitch like that.
Fortunately, we were stuck in a metropolitan area, which gave us something to explore in between Chris working remotely and me shopping for underwear to get us through our extended stay. As it turns out, Minneapolis and St. Paul offer some great gluten-free options, which I thought I’d share in case you ever find yourself
stranded in enjoying the Twin Cities area.
850 Grand Ave
St. Paul, MN
A Minnesota-based chain (we actually visited their Woodbury location) offering steaks, walleye, and chicken enchiladas. The wood fire cooking imparts a smoky flavor to their meats. Towels are provided in lieu of napkins. Ask for their gluten-free menu. Also good to note: they have a location at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport—you know, in case you have a 3-hour flight delay too.
The Melting Pot
80 South 9th Street
Who doesn’t like fondue? This chain can be found all over the U.S., but my first and only visit was to this downtown Minneapolis location. Check out their gluten-free menu, and they’ll make your fondue with cornstarch instead of flour. Just be sure your gluten-eating dining partners don’t dip their bread until after you’re finished.
The Old Spaghetti Factory
233 Park Ave
I thought this was a local hotspot, but after reading a post by Shauna from Gluten-Free Girl & the Chef last year, I realized that this too is a chain—and one much celebrated by its devotees! Like most chains, the food isn’t fabulous, but it’s hard to complain when you’re slurping down big plates of gluten-free pasta and emptying carafes of Chianti with a boisterous group of family and friends.
36 Dale Street S
St. Paul, MN
This would be the restaurant where my mom and I stuffed ourselves silly prior to finding my wedding dress. I just couldn’t resist meeting up with her for another plate of enchiladas and a tall margarita—this time with my husband in tow. Everything here is delicious, and, while they don’t offer a specialized menu, corn tortillas, rice, and beans make it easy to do Mexican gluten-free.
4457 42nd Ave South
A sort of unexpected restaurant tucked a couple blocks into a mostly residential area. Chris taught me how to play pool while I nursed a Bard’s and we waited for our gluten-free pies. They pride themselves on their locally-sourced and homemade toppings. The thin, crispy crust is tasty, but it definitely lets those toppings shine. If you’re a meat-eater, the “Carnivore” is killer.
119 North 4th Street
Their website touts their pizza as the best in Minneapolis, and I can easily count their pies among my top 3 favorite gluten-free. If they were in New York, it’s likely that we’d place an order once a week. We made our way here from our hotel through the skyways (skyways are genius, by the way—take time to explore them if you visit) and brought the pies back to enjoy while watching the Jets and trying for hours to get a hold of Delta. Their crust is light, crispy, and flavorful, and the toppings are excellent. Something that I miss about the Midwest: nearly all pizza places offer green olives to top their pies. A favorite combo of mine—done very well by Pizza Luce—is green olives, mushrooms, and pepperoni. You’re welcome.
That should cover at least a few lunches and dinners! If you have a sweet tooth, the Twin Cities is also home to a couple of bakeries offering gluten-free options. For now though, you’ll need to consult Google on those. Unfortunately none of them were very close to our hotel, and I didn’t get a chance to visit. Guess I’ll just have to put them on our “Snowed Out of NYC” list…for the next time I decide to get smug.