I finally made it to eat dinner at the "new" Palomino tonight. I had heard mixed reviews from vegans, probably split about 50/50. Here's my experience, but feel free to share yours in the comments below.
So, let's start with the menu...it's almost completely different and a lot smaller overall. Here are the small plates or appetizers.
Of course I had to try the wings, so I ordered that as an appetizer and one of my friends had it as a meal. It's a much smaller portion than it used to be and no fries. The tofu wings were similar to the old ones, but there were two others that were more like soy chick'n. They had a little stick in them (instead of a bone) and reminded me of the wings from the Ste Martaen vegan food truck, if you're familiar with that. The sauce wasn't very spicy and the tofu was a little bland, but one of my friends said it tasted different last time she ordered it, so they may still be working things out. The vegan ranch sauce is pretty much the same as before. Overall, they were alright, but nothing I'd go out of my way for.
I kind of skimmed over the salad section because none of them had a (v) by them--they all had meat. So, moving on to the sandwiches.... I had heard good things about the Po-Boy, so my boyfriend and I both ordered that and one other friend got the Hot Fried Chick'n.
I really enjoyed the Po-Boy. It was black-eyed pea based falafel balls covered in coleslaw with a remoulade sauce. The pickle chips were similar to Honeypie's, but a little more vinegary.
A friend got the Hot Fried Chick'n and it had faux chick'n similar to the couple wings that were in there. She said it was OK, but kind of bland since it was only the faux chick'n and mayo. Sorry for the photo half way through eating it, but I almost forgot to take one!
Next up were the sides....three of us ordered a small order of fries and one got hush puppies. I forgot to get a photo of those, but I felt they were better than they used to be. The hush puppies came with a weird horseradish type dipping sauce that seemed more like a salad dressing, but they would probably be better with ranch or pinky horseradish.
My favorite part of the meal was the fries. I actually did not like their fries before at all, but these new ones are thin and crispy, just how I prefer fries to be :)
I was excited to see vegan hand pies on the dessert menu, but unfortunately they didn't have any available tonight. :(
So, overall, I think I have mixed feelings. I went in with the idea that this was a whole new restaurant, so I didn't want to compare everything to the old Palomino. One thing we all agreed on is that the food was way less greasy and we left feeling full, but not uncomfortable. It's definitely more pricey than it used to be, but it's not ridiculous compared to most restaurants. I will probably check back in over the next few months to try some of the other dishes and I'm hoping the fried pickles come back (these were my absolute favorite), but nothing really stood out too much yet. Anytime a restaurant starts with a new menu it takes awhile for things to settle down, so I'll keep an open mind and see how things progress.
Again, please feel free to share your comments here and if you want to share photos of your meals, you can definitely do that on Facebook. Thanks!
My boyfriend and I recently visited Minneapolis for a few days and I highly recommend it for a fun, super vegan-friendly vacation. Even the Hotel Minneapolis that we stayed at had cruelty-free, vegan toiletries by Pharmacopia! I took a bunch, of course. :)
If you don't have a car or if you just want to enjoy a bike ride through the city, you can even rent bikes for $6/day at Nice Ride MN--there are bike stations all over the city to make it super-easy!
Overall, you'll find lots of amazing food, tons of parks and lake activities, and some really friendly people. I've been to Minneapolis five other times in my life and each time I discover something new. This time, thanks to Mill City Vegan's advice, I got to try new restaurants and see new sights.
Pizza Luce, I love you. This was our first stop for a meal and I really had to stop myself from going back every day. I had eaten there in the past and remembered that it was good, but really--it's amazing! We started off with the Garlic Cheese Toast with their "Rinotta" cheese, which is a vegan ricotta made from cashews and tofu that I could just eat with a spoon. Our waitress saw me struggling to choose a pizza and suggested a half-and-half pizza. I got half of their current special, which was a Thai pizza with tofu and peanuts and all kinds of good stuff (on the left) and half of the Pizza Athena (one of their most popular) with spinach, tomato, kalamatas, artichokes, onions and garlic, with the Rinotta (which sits underneath the sauce). I tried my best to eat it all, but I was stuffed and cursing my hotel for not having a fridge or microwave in the room. They have tons of other vegan options including sandwiches, salads and desserts and they do also offer Daiya cheese as an option. They also have a bunch of locations, so there's always one nearby.
Next stop--Modern Times for breakfast! My boyfriend and I both had the Southside Hash with hashbrowns, organic onions, organic mushrooms, organic green peppers, and roasted jalapenos, topped with tvp chorizo, scrambled tofu, and poblano tofu cream. You also get some toast on the side. We both cleaned our plates--it was so flavorful and even though there were lots of hashbrowns, it wasn't greasy. The atmosphere is fun and quirky with nice people all around. They also have a full coffee selection and I got a huge mug of cafe latte with soy milk. A special shout-out goes to Kim K. for the recommendation.
After being full of delicious breakfast, we headed out to Ethique Nouveau--an all-vegan boutique in Minneapolis. What a great store with even greater people! They had a wide variety of vegan products including food, jewelry, handbags, ties, pet food/treats, clothes, beauty products, books and so much more. And guess what? All the proceeds go to their local animal rights group called the Animal Rights Coalition. That totally helped me feel justified in buying a bunch of stuff :) I had a great conversation with the woman working there that day (of course I'm a dummy and forgot to ask her name) and they were getting ready to set up their booth at the gay pride parade. (P.S. Minneapolis is VERY LGBT-friendly too, which just makes me love them even more.) If you visit, this place must be on your list of things-to-do.
I go to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden every time I visit--you'll find it just outside the Walker Art Museum. It's so relaxing and beautiful, especially on a nice day. I didn't get to go to the Walker Art Museum this time around, but I highly recommend it if you have the time.
The Stone Arch Bridge was new to me this time and probably one of my favorite things in Minneapolis! Not only can you walk the bridge and see St. Anthony Falls, but there are lots of fun trails around the park that offer you different points of view and great hiking opportunities. You almost forget you're in the city and then if you look up, you can see the Pillsbury Flour mill above the trees.
We hit up the Seward Cafe for dinner and it was probably the healthiest meal I had the whole trip, but still delicious. I ordered the Beans & Greens (upper rt photo) which was great northern beans topped with organic kale & red onion served with vegan coleslaw and cornbread. They had me at "cornbread," but the whole thing was tasty and a nice departure from all the other food we ate on the trip. I also got the fried plantains with an amazing cilantro white sauce. The restaurant has a cool, co-op feel--probably because they are the oldest collectively owned business in town. The seating area is pretty big, but you order your meal at the counter and they call you when it's ready.They have been open since 1974 in the Seward neighborhood, which is near the Milwaukee Avenue Historic District--some cool old houses built in the late 1800's that we got to see as we walked around the area.
We did get to stop briefly at the Mill City Farmer's Market on Saturday and pick up the one vegan-friendly item I could find--Veggie MoMo from Gorkha Palace. It was a dumpling with spinach, cabbage, onions, garlic, and ginger. Looking at their website, it seems they do have other veggie options at their restaurant as well, but they had only MoMo at the market.
After hearing that the delivery drivers at Galactic Pizza wear super-hero costumes, we had to check them out. They had a nice location with comfortable booths and fun super-hero decor. And, yep, we got to see a guy get ready to deliver a pizza in the whole get-up with cape and tights. Aside from the fun atmosphere, they have lots of vegan pizza options using Daiya cheese. I got the Pizza Bianca with garlic sauce, artichokes and sun-dried tomatoes. They have a thin crust, so I almost finished my little pizza :)
We decided to take a boat cruise on the Mississippi River through Twin Cities Boat Cruises. Unfortunately the river was 8 feet higher than normal, so we weren't able to go through the locks by the falls, but it was still a nice ride and we got to learn a lot about all the bridges going over the Mississippi.
The Triple Rock Social Club always reminded me a bit of Palomino (before they changed). It's sort of a grungy, bar atmosphere, but they serve up large portions of delectable vegan food that's probably not too healthy, but who cares?
They also have some great drinks (vegan white russians!) and beers, and they're also a music venue.
We started out with a bowl of vegan garlic mashed potatoes with gravy. To quote my boyfriend speaking to the waiter, "These are so f%&*ing good!"
I also ordered the BBQ vegan po' boy which was made with mock duck (this is big in Minneapolis--it's just a style of seitan), fried potatoes, and a really good sauce. I barely made a dent, but it was so good. I hear they also have an outstanding brunch. They don't have their menu posted online, but rest assured--there will be something you will want.
One night we went to Psycho Suzi's Motor Lounge, thanks to a recommendation by my coworker Sara. It's a huge establishment and it was PACKED. We were lucky to find one empty table off to the side, but the wait to sit on the deck by the water was up to 3 hours at one point! This is an immense tiki bar, which also serves food. I didn't even realize until I got home and looked at their take-out menu that they offered vegan pizza (with Daiya cheese)! I could have stuffed my face even more ;) Well, we decided to share the tiki bowl, which of course, comes on fire and with tons of fruit floating in it. It was very good, but strong. We took it slow and enjoyed watching all the drunk people.
Last food stop was Hard Times Cafe for breakfast. They don't have a regular website and there's another chain restaurant with that name in the area, so make sure not to get them mixed up. They have tons of great vegan options here, including amazing bakery which you can see below (raspberry-chocolate chip muffin). I love biscuits and gravy, so I ordered the Vegan Biscuit Breakfast (I think that was the name). It came with a full plate of hashbrowns--do you see that underneath everything?? It's insane. There was also an excellent tofu scramble, fluffy biscuit and vegan gravy. I took a nice picture before I dumped the gravy all over my plate and dug in. It was delicious. This is another sort-of quirky place where you order at the counter and they call you up when it's ready. The people were really nice and I even bought a cool "Hail Seitan" sticker from them on the way out.
Our very last stop was at Lake Harriet to rent a paddle boat and enjoy the last bit of vacation. They have a variety of rentals including canoes, stand-up paddleboards and more. This is also a great place to rent a bike or just take a walk around the lake.
We had a great trip and ate tons of outstanding food. Minneapolis is a perfect place to get away for the weekend (or more) knowing you'll have high-quality vegan food and a variety of activities from hiking and boating to bars and clubs!