Colinary Tour of Minnesota: The Mediterranean

I bet Spitz Mediterranean Street Food goes through more napkins than any other restaurant in the city. The food here is hands on, fingers in, sauce-all-over delicious.

Specializing in doners (wraps) and french fry baskets loaded up and over with meats, veggies and, of course, sauce, Spitz also offers a nice little drinking atmosphere. I’m currently working on my second Castle Danger Cream Ale, a local craft brew from northern Minnesota, as I type this. The dedication to Minnesota beers is not only obvious; it seems like its the only option. A decent wine selection and a few different Sangria (?) flavors are also available to wash down that street car doner you’re currently struggling to hold together.

It’s located in that grey area between the University of Minnesota campus and the outer edges of downtown Minneapolis, across the Mississippi River on Central and Hennepin Avenues.

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I went for the Street Cart Doner, which was labeled on the menu as their most popular seller. Which to me begs the question, is it the most popular seller because it’s the best thing on the menu or because they labeled it as the most popular seller, thus enticing people to buy it, thus making it the most popular seller? Perhaps we’ll never know. I also ordered a side of waffle-cut sweet potato fries. I’m a sucker for anything waffle-cut.

The doner is served in a wax paper wrapper and cut in half. I found out too late that the best way to go about eating this guy is the tear off the wrapper as you eat it. But I’m just not that patient. I want my dinner and I want all of it. Right now.

The food is great. The lamb and beef combo is tender and soft, yet still a little juicy. The cucumber, tomato and green peppers (I asked for no red onions because I’m a sane human being) are noticeably fresh and crunchy. But the headliner of tonight’s performance is the garlic yogurt sauce that has fully infiltrated every square inch of this doner. Savory, just a touch sweet and resounding – it brings the tender meat and the crunchy veggies together. I was thinking about asking for a side of it as my drink order but there were other people in the restaurant.

Oh by the way I don’t know if I told you but this is an actual restaurant, not a street car. Just making sure.

The interior here is art-deco with abstract, colorful murals splotched over the walls. The main mural is a tribute to….wait for it…I bet you’ll never guess. Prince. They love that man up here. If intriguing, unique chandeliers are your thing then you need to come on down because holy smokes they’ve got the oddest light fixtures I’ve ever seen.

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One thing I’ve noticed about restaurants and taphouses in Minnesota is their commitment to games – which I appreciate. The couple behind me is duking it out over a game of Battleship while crunching on a fry basket. The dudes across the bar are playing Go Fish. There are several board games behind the bar ready to be used by the patrons. Meanwhile, I’m over here typing on my laptop like a loser.

Well I’m going to go now. This has been fun, let’s do it again sometime.

p.s. I scarfed y food down before I took a picture of it for you to see. I apologize for nothing.

p.p.s. follow my Instagram @thecolinarytour

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Good Karma at Casablanca Cafe

If you want a guaranteed weekend of delayed + cancelled flights, just go through the Atlanta Airport when “snow” is projected. I am able to make fun of how Atlanta deals with wintery conditions because I am living in the worst winter in America- Minneapolis, Minnesota. Although that is not what this post is about, it has to do with it because all I wanted was to escape the frozen tundra for a few days with my friend Emily, who is also a flight attendant. This is why we picked up a trip together that laid over in Ft. Lauderdale, FL!

With all of the odds not in our favor for this mini vacay, we somehow still made it about 7 hours late! We originally had plans to go to this cute restaurant on the water that night when we got in, but since we were so tired, we decided to stay at our hotel and get some rest. The next morning, we woke up and decided we would give this restaurant a try again. We were told that it was amazing with a great atmosphere. So, we requested our Uber. Now, Uber does this great thing now called “Uber Pool” were you literally carpool with another person who has a destination that is on your route, and its cheaper for everyone! I always like to do this because you meet new people and save money.

Side note: Emily is one of the most incredible people I’ve ever met. She has the ability to make everyone she meets feel so special and could probably strike up a conversation with a table.

So Emily starts a conversation with this nice man who from the looks of it, is on his way to work. He is wearing a chef’s outfit. We start talking about the crazy day we just had and about the unfortunate events that took place in the Ft. Lauderdale airport yesterday (our trip was a day after the heartbreaking airport shooting at Ft. Lauderdale International Airport). We told him how we are just looking to have a nice lunch near the water. He explains that he is the executive chef of Casablanca Cafe and he insists that we come try it out! We knew that our day was quickly turning around because this is the same restaurant that our manager told us to go to before leaving on the trip the day before. I am all about signs from the universe and if this isn’t one then I don’t know what is.

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As soon as we arrive to Casablanca, we follow closely behind Chef Marc who whisks us by the host stand, picks up a couple of menus and leads us up to the balcony which only has 3 or 4 tables. We sit down and as we are admiring the views and the food on the menu he says to us, “So, do y’all want to order from the menu or can I just bring y’all some food?” Emily and I looked at each other and smiled and both agreed- hell yeah, Marc, bring us the good stuff.

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Within a couple of minutes, our table was filled with these beautiful creations (that we later learned were not on the menu). We had shrimp, crab cakes, veal ravioli, kale salad, and chocolate molten cake. I can’t even begin to name all of the ingredients in these dishes because I would sound very uneducated on what is what, but here are some of the pictures of our mouth-watering meals.

Chef Marc hand delivered all of the meals to us and kept checking on us to see how we liked these combinations of ingredients, and I do have to say that each plate went back to the kitchen completely empty. We loved it.

After a full day of taking care of delayed and upset passengers, doing all we know to keep them happy, we were so grateful to be the ones getting treated like princesses. With the sun on our skin and an amazing view of the turquoise water, we couldn’t stop giggling and remembering that this is one of those times that the good karma was coming back our way.

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The best part? After the meal, we were waiting for our checks to see the damage we did, and Chef Marc told us all he wanted in return was a review on Trip Advisor. So you better believe we did just that! We finished this five course meal with espresso which was accompanied with the cutest stick of rock candy. It was just what we needed!

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Casablanca Cafe (and Chef Marc) refilled our spirits after a hard day of travel and emotions. With all the heartbreaking things happening in our world everyday, its hard to feel safe traveling as much as I do. But I believe there are still great people out there and Chef Marc proved me right. If you are ever in the Ft. Lauderdale area, I highly recommend giving Casablanca Cafe a try. I know Emily and I will be back.

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Me, Chef Marc + Emily