One of my goals is to compile some sort of food guide for those who travel between the Twin Cities and Fargo.
The drive is notoriously dull, but I refuse to believe it’s devoid of any gems. Every time I make the drive, I want to stop in a different, small town and try a new truck stop or cafe. The ride is dotted with intriguing towns, many marked by majestic church steeples.
On this particular drive back to the Twin Cities, I stopped at Cafe 116 in Fergus Falls, MN for a light lunch. Cafe 116 notes that it makes its food from scratch and utilizes local foods and suppliers. At least three individuals have recommended this cafe and I remembered reading positive reviews in The High Plains Reader and Jihye Chang’s blog.
I rolled into Fergus Falls around lunchtime on Saturday afternoon and was immediately taken by the town’s cozy homes and plush, green trees. I easily located Cafe 116, about seven minutes from I-94. I had to pause to my breath after nearly being T-boned by an elderly couple who ran a red light, and forget to grab my camera.
The cafe is spacious and I sat at the window bar. At first glance, I was confused if I should order at the counter or wait for a table but was quickly assisted. I ordered a small pot of loose leaf green tea, $3, and browsed the lunch menu that offers cold and grilled panini sandwiches by the whole or half, soup of the day, a vegan burrito, and selection of salads.
I ordered half of a Cleveland panini, $5.25, made with prosciutto, red onion, apple, and mozzarella. For an additional $1, I substituted vegetables and homemade ranch dressing for chips. The half sandwich was petite but tasted of high quality. Nothing fancy, but the prosciutto and apple slices provided a pleasing salty-sweet sensation. The bread was crispy and scented with toasty Parmesan cheese.
Despite the up-charge, I was glad I substituted fresh vegetables for potato chips. The half sandwich and large serving of carrot sticks and pea pods made a lovely light lunch. I wouldn’t hesitate to return and also try their homemade ice cream or creme brulee.
I spent the rest of the day with my folks and we made spicy tacos.
On Sunday afternoon, my friend suggested a few of us meet at Wise Acre Eatery in South Minneapolis. C’s friend works there and she wanted to check out the restaurant for the first time. Last summer, I visited Wise Acre Eatery and didn’t have many positive things to say about the service. However, I have since visited Wise Acre twice for lunch, and have had positive experiences with food and service.
C’s friend stopped by often to check in, though we were served by a couple of individuals we did not know.
I kept it simple and ordered a cold press coffee, bowl of the daily chowder, and a side of bread with butter.
I genuinely enjoyed the flavorful chowder. It wasn’t too rich or too salty and I enjoyed the tender chunks of carrot and occasional piece of thick bacon. The chowder was covered in croutons, made from both flaky croissants and bread.
C’s friend brought us a trio of house made hot sauces.
I’m not sure if they are typically offered to customers but I kept dipping the croutons into the thicker sauce to the left.
Wise Acres was celebrating its birthday and surprised its customers with jars of custard.
We shared a trio of chocolate, vanilla, and cinnamon custard accompanied by caramel sauce, rhubarb caramel sauce, chocolate-covered cacao nibs, nut brittle. I suspect the toppings were an extra gift and I loved the rhubarb caramel sauce the most.
On the way back to the Twin Cities, I picked up some spicy, grilled beef salad from Bangkok Thai Deli for Jake and made one more stop at the Clearwater Travel Plaza. A couple of readers recommended stopping at Nelson Bros. Restaurant and Bakery for sandwiches made with freshly-baked bread. I was too full to try a sandwich so I grabbed a giant caramel roll. The employee confirmed the breads are baked in-house.
Since it was late afternoon, the outside of the roll tasted a little stale but the inside was still moist. The roll was covered in a thick layer of caramel and nuts but I did not taste any buttery richness. The caramel seemed to taste more like store-bought pecan pie filling. Sweet and corn-syrupy. Oh well. I used to work next to Isles Bun & Coffee which has become my gold standard for sticky buns. Isles Bun & Coffee emanates the sweet scent of butter and it’s better for that.
I plan to stop by again for one of the sandwiches but will pass on the baked sweets.
If you have any suggestions for food stops along I-94 between the Twin Cities and Fargo, I’d love to hear them.