Longfellow Neighborhood: Three Favorite Dining & Drinking Spots

Don’t ever refer to the Lake Street-Marshall Bridge as the Marshall Avenue bridge in the presence of Minneapolis residents.

Jake’s born and raised in St. Paul. He couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.

During my young adulthood, I lived in Minneapolis. I loved the lakes and the rose garden and how the streets predictably followed a grid. I never felt lost. Both of us spent most of our time in our respective cities and rarely crossed the river unless absolutely necessary.

Now we’re officially St. Paul residents who live here the Minneapolis-St. Paul border. St. Paul is known for being boring and wanting to stay that way. We find ourselves grumbling about our college student neighbors’ occasional late night bonfires and road construction detours routing too many cars down our quiet city street. It feels like a very St. Paul thing to do.

Two of our close friends are passionate Minneapolis residents. We fuss about crossing the river to visit each other, but we do it anyway because of friendship. The Longfellow neighborhood is our happy meeting spot. It’s also home to a few of our favorite restaurants. Here are three:

Himalayan Restaurant

Himalayan is one of our favorite, go-to restaurants since moving back to the Twin Cities. It’s operated in Minneapolis for at least five years, moving from the Seward neighborhood to this current location in 2015.

Here’s why we love Himalayan so much:

  • The food is just so good. The sauces taste so complex and flavorful and deep.
  • If you request “extra spicy,” the restaurant will make your dishes extra spicy.
  • The staff is really kind. Once when I was waiting for a pick-up order, I saw the owner warmly greet a family with a young child. He graciously over a beautiful Tibetan singing bowl and encouraged them to use it.
  • If you order food to-go or for delivery via a delivery service, you’ll find the staff packages it so carefully.
  • Their lunch buffet is concise, but the dishes are made freshly in small batches. One thing to note is that the buffet entrees are less spicy. Enjoy all of the chutneys, pickles, and sauces.

Caveat: Check that you are ordering delivery or pick-up from Himalayan on Lake Street, not the fast-casual Dinkytown location. We accidentally ordered from the Dinkytown location via Amazon Prime. The menu is smaller, we couldn’t customize spiciness or order chutneys and raita online, and everything tasted blander. The garlic naan was just as good, though! 

Sonora Grill

I haven’t branch out from the shrimp tempura tacos here because I like them so much.

This taco is a simple combo of crispy shrimp in a spicy batter, shredded cabbage, cilantro aoli, and jalapeño slices in double corn tortilla.  Each taco is generously stuffed enough that you can create two tacos from one if you separate the tortillas.

My typical order is a margarita, plus two shrimp tacos (really, four).

My dining companions’ food has always looked good. Someone always orders the Elote. And the eggplant fries are like magic.  My general mindset here is that I don’t branch out and I don’t share.

If you can make it at happy hour, enjoy many of the dishes and margaritas at a discount. 

Merlin’s Rest Pub

The truth is that we’ve mostly come here for drinks. When you order drinks, they’ll hopefully greet you with, “Would you like to see our Scotch Bible?” Merlins offers 330 Scotch whiskeys and 100+ Irish whiskies.

The whisky bibles can help you choose ones based on flavor profile, region and price. During on visit, the individual serving our table was extremely knowledgable about the whiskies. We named price range and flavor profiles and he found perfect matches.

The food menu includes British pub food like pasties, fish and chips and Ploughmans platters. Once our friend ordered the sticky toffee pudding.

“Does anyone want to try my sticky toffee pudding?” he asked the table.

All of us were too full from Himalayan’s lunch buffet, so we declined.

“Good!” he said chipperly, and polished it off. I swore that I would order it on one of our next visits.

So, there you go. A few of our favorite restaurants. Feel free to share your thoughts below!

The Places:

Himalayan Restaurant
2910 E Lake St
Minneapolis, MN 55406
(612) 332-0880

Sonora Grill
3300 E Lake St
Minneapolis MN 55406
(612) 722-2500

Merlin’s Rest Pub
3601 E Lake St
Minneapolis, MN 55406
(612) 216-2419

3 Comments

  1. These all look like excellent choices. Sometimes polite and friendly workers can take a good place to a whole new level. Also, yessss to the extra spicy dishes.

  2. Yum. As always you tantalize me with your lovely pictures and glowing descriptions of flavors and more. The Whiskey Bible sounds like a great way to go if you have no idea about the different kinds of whiskey. And once you find a place you love like these—the travel is worth the trip, right?

  3. Yum! I haven’t been to any of these, but Merlin’s has been on my list. I’m definitely considering himalayan.

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