They say you can’t go back.
Sometimes you can.
For Jake, this was his first trip back to Fargo since we lived there eight years ago. I’ve returned a couple of times since. Fargo was our home for two years, the first of several job transfers and first time away from home. Well, home-home. Our original home.
At first, I hated living in Fargo. Everything was different and felt smaller. There was that little toll bridge I kept finding at and train tracks that criss-crossed the city. By the end of our two years, we made good friends and found our favorite places. Leaving felt bittersweet.
Our recent drive to Fargo felt perilous. Semis speeding by created whiteouts as the snow fell and blew around us. Normally I’d plan a stop in a small town along the way. This time I grabbed a quick slice of pizza from a Casey’s.
People who haven’t been to a Casey’s don’t understand our cult-like excitement around the pizza. “It’s really good for gas station pizza,” we all exclaim. It is. Especially the breakfast pizza. I’d stack Casey’s against most pizza delivery chains.
One place that we returned to is Happy Harry’s, a North Dakota liquor store chain. We used to live in an apartment building near a Happy Harry’s and Red Pepper. Every Friday after work, we’d walk around the building to grab some drinks and a frozen Pizza Corner pizza from their cooler. When I returned to coordinate our move to Iowa, I ordered Red Pepper Everything grinders.
I had to stop and marvel at Happy Harry’s shelf of pre-packaged shots. This photo didn’t even capture the additional party packs. I suppose the NDSU campus is located down the street.
And for something new (to us), a meal at Everest Tikka House in the Moorhead blew me away. When I visited friends back in 2017, they took me to Himalayan Yak, the newer sister restaurant. I thought about it a lot. This meal was equally delicious. We ordered a variety of Indian and Nepalese dishes prepared with the care and intensity of flavor that make Himalayan and Gorkha Palace two of our favorite restaurants in all of the Twin Cities.
The momos at Everest Tikka House and Himalayan Yak are outstanding. Order the vegetable momos and you’ll want for nothing. The dipping sauce is both slightly creamy and spicy. If you have absolutely no palette for heat, I’m sure there’s options for you here, but you might have to try.
Friends warned us that the “hot” level made them want to take a walk around the parking lot outside. Jake ordered everything hot.
We dug into our meals so quickly that I only thought to capture the aftermath. From paneer tikka masala to okra, the vegetables were so fresh and portions plentiful. One of our friends ordered the chow mein – a huge platter of stir-fried noodles and meat with some lovely spices and heat. Even the medium tasted hot.
Someone ordered a glorious tandoor platter, loaded with plump pieces of meat. Everyone liked the pishwari naan stuffed with raisins and nuts. Entrees came with fluffy rice. We desperately tried to cool down our mouths with yogurt sauce and naan.
This is, by far, the hottest food we’ve encountered anywhere. And we ventured to Fargo to find it. A walk around the parking lot actually sounded good. They were right.
If we lived closer, we’d visit here all of the time.
Afterwards, we enjoyed a night-cap at Harold’s on Main, the new bar co-owned by Sean Tillman, Har Mar Superstar,(the Growler published a profile last October). The inside is dim and there are no televisions blaring. Walls are decked with wood paneling and grand wallpaper. Glowing light fixtures hang from the ceiling and bathroom faucets look like swans.
On this sub-zero evening, the hot toddy drink special hit the spot. Jake ordered “The Har Mar.” We both liked the flavor and balance. The only food option is Heggie’s pizza and I respect that. A young man celebrating his birthday walked around the bar with a box of sprinkle-covered doughnut holes, offering every single customer a treat.
Other highlights from the weekend include breakfast at Young Blood, a cider class and tasting at Wild Terra Cidery, lunch at Luna (their cheese case is magnificent), a home-cooked German-Russian meal prepared by our friend, and a tiny culinary school reunion at Nichole’s Fine Pastry (one of my favorites when we lived there).
I’ll always be grateful for the years we lived in Fargo. We grew-up here a lot. And we made good friends. Just like Casey’s pizza, people don’t understand my enthusiasm for Fargo if they haven’t experienced it. Here you’ll find people doing bold and interesting things, good food, and plenty to drink.
Above: Young Blood toasts topped with avocado and almond butter-jam on freshly-baked bread with hot cider and the most delicious, sweetened almond milk-coffee concoction.
Above: Tasting three types of cider at Wild Terra’s First Saturday Cider School.
More Fargo reading:
- 24 Hours in Fargo (April 2017)
- My Knoephla soup recipe
- My favorite snack stop between MPLS and Fargo: Tip Top Dairy Bar in Osakis, MN
- A profile by Jackie Varriano on the rogue Dairy Queen in Moorhead that serves whatever it wants.
- A post I wrote explaining my acquired taste for Red Pepper grinders (several of the other places mentioned are closed now).
I’ve been traveling to Fargo/Moorhead for 15 years and when I tell people how much I like the place, many will look at me like I’m nuts. I don’t know if it’s the stigma of the movie, the television series or what. But it’s like this oasis of food and fun along the Red River with no other significant town around it for 50 to 75 miles. It’s too bad for me that it’s a 9 hour drive one-way as I really like going there.
I always love spending time in Fargo! I’m hoping to get back sometime this summer and am definitely adding Everest Tikka House and Himalayan Yak to my must-visit list.
I have not had a Fargo experience, but I would love to go some weekend and eat/drink/tourist. I almost went to Concordia, and I think I would have really fell in love with the city.