I am a dining room skeptic. Yes, I went to Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia and loved DiNic’s Broccoli Rabe Sandwich. Grand Central in Los Angeles is cool, as is Chelsea Market in New York, but Minnesota’s efforts have left me on the edge. I want more variety in St. Paul’s Keg and Case, I want better quality and a better vibe in both Graze and North Loop Galley, I want to know why I should go to a fancy food court instead of a real local restaurant.
Enter the market at Malcolm Yards.
Over the past two months each of my friends have asked if we can meet there. They heard of Chef de Bellecour killing him with a Korean fried chicken sandwich, or the burger they never had time to order from that ice cream parlor in Minneapolis. The list went on: the veg-focused restaurant, celebrity dosa, empanadas, sushi, Joey Meatballs hand-made pasta. Malcolm Yards offered so much variety at such a high quality.
Cycle from the University of Minnesota campus or park your car in the shade of the Surly Destination Brewery, and you’ll be ready to explore in a few easy steps. You basically open a tab by swiping your credit card, then you’re given a card that you use at the nine independent restaurants, the cocktail bar, and the wall of beer, wine, and cider to pour. Deposit your card at the end of your visit and you’re done, with an additional 18%. There is no tip – the extra pays for the market staff who also clean your table – and the prices are clear.
Make sure you get this Bebe Zito Beef and Bacon Burger, and I’d have double for $ 9. With excellent pickles and an incredible special sauce, it’s a smooth, oily decadence. Balance this burger with a stop at Advellum, where Chef Michael Shaughnessy (who helped Ann Kim open Young Joni) knows how to extract flavor from vegetables. Order the Lotta Love Bowl ($ 14), made with brown rice and quinoa and a ton of seasonal vegetables in a pineapple-turmeric chutney. You can add protein to anything, if you have to, but don’t sleep on the Benjamin Bacon ($ 15), two mung bean pancakes topped with maple-glazed pork belly and bok choy kimchi. Breakfast for dinner has never been so good.
Abang Yoli’s Fried Chicken Sandwich sells out almost every day with its incredibly crispy breast coated in sweet and spicy gochujang sauce, topped with coleslaw and pickled vegetables. The chicken marinates for a day, then is coated in buttermilk batter and fried twice to make it even crispier ($ 12). You can get it outside of the bun as well, for a KFC knockoff that would make the Colonel proud.
You also can’t go wrong with the Indo-Nepalese street food at MoMo Dosa. The crepe dosas, created by the team behind Indian mainstay Gorkha Palace, are feather light with just a hint of trim. The masala is the traditional choice with a spicy potato spread, but I loved the earthy side of the curry leaf dosa ($ 9). Try the ground bison momo ($ 13), a steamed dumpling served with two different chutneys: tomato and cilantro mint.
Chef Josh Hedquist makes delicious, crazy pasta at Joey Meatballs. How he makes these handmade gnocchi with your choice of sauce (go to butter and garlic) for $ 11 is a mystery to me.
You may know DelSur Empanadas from the food truck or the Minnetonka spot, and it’s a great addition to the Malcolm Yards mix. And it’s the same with Jeff Rogers’ Detroit-style Wrecktangle pizza, which debuted in the North Loop and offers a pe
Crisp, caramelized focaccia-like crust that can easily serve three. With roasted corn, queso fresco, and tajin aioli, check out the Wrecktangle-inspired pizza on the elote ($ 20).
If you fancy a plate of charcuterie, Sunday offers Red Table Meat Co. and local cheeses. I also liked the sleepy kick of a sandwich with half Japanese egg salad, half albacore tuna salad ($ 6.50). BaGu Sushi can have the most delicious dish on the market with sake ceviche ($ 12): raw salmon sliced in a citrus sauce plus spoonfuls of edamame, fish roe, and cilantro. I was there one day when the team rolled a whole tuna behind the counter and started breaking it down.
All cocktails are available for quick service and consistent execution, and longtime Twin Cities bar genius Nick Kosevich has captured every seller’s vibe with a signature cocktail. The Argentinian Sour with Fernet and Prickly Pear is particularly noteworthy ($ 12).
Somehow, Patricia Wall, owner of Malcolm Yards, makes all of these separate restaurants one unified space. The open industrial feel of this abandoned factory building and much of the preserved PG-rated graffiti gives the room the cool quotient. But what brings this place together is the extremely high quality of food from each vendor. It’s funny. It’s alive. Maybe that will be enough to make me a food hall for good.
501 30th Ave. SE, Minneapolis, malcolmyards.market