Aug 022011

Cuisine: American
Restaurant Features: Bar, Live Music, Night Club, On-Site Parking
Location: St Paul, MN
Address: 1638 Rice Street  St Paul, MN 55117  651-331-0929
Hours: Daily 11am-
Links: Wilebski’s Website * Wilebski’s on Facebook * Google Map
Atmosphere: Located at Rice Street and Wheelock Parkway, Wilebski’s is located in a large building formerly occupied by Club Cancun.  Although they do serve food, the primary focus at Wilebski’s is the music and night life.  The center of the club is the stage and dance floor.  There are tables placed toward the back of the dance floor on evenings with live music performances.

There is another seating area upstairs, overlooking the dance floor.

There is also seating in the bar area.

Menu: Appetizers include French Fries, Onion Wings, Chicken Wings (BBQ, Buffalo, Dry Rub), and Mississippi Catfish Bites.  Chili is also available.

Caesar Salad is also available.

Sandwiches at Wilebski’s include B.L.T, Saucy Southern Chicken Breast, BBQ Pulled Pork, and Catfish Po’ Boy.

Burgers include Plain, California, Delta Burger (jalapenos and bacon) and VooDoo Burger (jalapenos, bacon, fried onions and fried egg).

Price guide: Appetizers $5-10  Sandwiches $7-10
What we ordered: My companions and I were at Wilebski’s to see a band play, and since we were hungry, we ordered some of the food.  Please excuse the terrible photos, I had no choice but to use flash.  The first item we ordered were the Mississippi Catfish Bites.  These were surprisingly really good! No doubt they were the frozen variety, but they were hot, thick and substantial.  The cornmeal breading on the outside was crispy and well-seasoned.

One of my companions ordered the BBQ Shredded Pork.  There was a substantial amount of pulled pork on the toasted sesame bun, slathered in barbeque sauce.  I did not try any of this sandwich but it looked good and my companion ate it quickly. Shredded BBQ Pork at Wilebski's Blues Saloon ~ St Paul, MN

We also got a couple of burgers, including the Delta Burger. This burger was thick, cooked medium, with fried onions, slices of fresh jalapeno, and chipotle mayo. According to the menu, the Delta Burger was supposed to have bacon on it, but mine came without. The french fries were hot and crispy, heavily seasoned.

Service: As I mentioned, we were at Wilbski’s to see a band play.  That being said, there was only one server covering the tables on the dance floor.  She was terrible and not because she was busy, it wasn’t a busy night.  She just didn’t seem to have a clue of how to wait on tables, like it was her first day ever doing such a thing.  Once, after flagging her down and ordering a beer, I waited 15+ minutes before getting my own beer at the bar.   I also ended up getting my own food from the food service window after seeing it sit there for nearly ten minutes.
Overall Impression: The food was actually much better than I was expecting, but I won’t be running back anytime soon.  Cool place to see a show but the sound system needs major improvement.
Wilbski's Blues Saloon on Urbanspoon

Jul 272011

Cuisine: Caribbean, Creole, South American, Spanish, Fish, Seafood
Restaurant Features: Bar, Happy Hour, Nightclub
Location: Northeast Minneapolis, MN
Address: 501 East Hennepin Avenue Minneapolis, MN 55414  (612) 331-3360

Hours: Mon-Fri 11am-2am  Sat-Sun 4:30pm- 2am
Links: Conga Latin Bistro Website * Conga on Facebook * Google Map

Atmosphere: Conga Latin Bistro is located in Northeast Minneapolis, at Hennepin and Central Ave.  The dining room takes up about half the space, with a colorful mural of conga drums gracing the back wall and two large, floor-to-ceiling wooden conga drums at the entrance.  There are mostly tables but there a couple of round booths along the outer wall that can accommodate up to six people.  It was very comfortable and had a very clean feel to it.

The bar and dance floor area take up at least half of the space, a very popular place on weekend nights when it turns into a nightclub.

Menu: Appetizers at Conga Latin Bistro include Empanadas, Chicken Croquettes, Calamares a La Romana, Seafood Ceviche, Plantain and Shrimp in Garlic Sauce, Grilled Shrimp and Avocado Plaintain Tapas, Green Plantain Tapas, Chicken Wings, Habanero Chicken Wings, Fried Chicken, Chicken Tenders, Sweet Plantains with Queso Fresco, Yuca xon Mojo, Burrito Cubano, Tacos, Nachos and Cheese Platter, and French Fries in Garlic Butter.

Soups offered include Black Bean, Asopao de Mariscos, Asopao de Pollo, and Soup of the Day.

Salads offered are the House, Cesar, and Avocado Mango Salad.

Rice dishes at Conga Latin Bistro include Arroz con Pollo, Arroz con Camarones, Arroz con Vegetales, and Arroz con Mariscos.

Entrees include Jamaican Chicken, Pollo Al Ajillo, Pollo Isabel, Bistec Encebollado, Chicken Parmesan, Pork Tenderloin with Mofongo, Filet Mignon, Ropa Vieja, and Pernil (roast pork).

Seafood entrees include Tilapia in Curry and Coconut Sauce, Shrimp in Garlic Sauce, Spicy Shrimp Creole, Shrimp Victoria, Halibut in Garlic Sauce and Broiled Salmon in Brandy.

Specialty Dishes at Conga Latin Bistro include Churrasco Argentino, Parrillada Argentina, New York Steak with Shrimp in Garlic Sauce, Steak and Scallops, Halibut a la Mar, Seafood Stew, Paella Valenciana, Paella Marinera.

Desserts include Flan, Tres Leches Cake, and Rice Pudding.

Price guide: Appetizers $5-12  Entrees $10-20  Paella $40-50  Desserts $4-5

Happy Hour:

  • Mon-Fri  5-7pm

What we ordered: I visited on one of the hottest days we’ve had this summer and nothing sounded better than an icy, frozen drink so I ordered a Pina Colada (2 for 1 during Happy Hour).  It was refreshing and tasted like a non-alcoholic pina colada.  Seriously, I don’t think it had any rum, which was a shame.

One of my companions ordered a Mango Pineapple Margarita.  This drink was sweet and slightly tart, not too strong.

We started with the Ceviche appetizer.  This was a nice mix of chunks of shrimp, fish, clams marinated in lime juice then tossed with tomatoes, onions, peppers, and cilantro.  Light, refreshing and tangy, a perfect appetizer for a hot day.  Served with a side of tortilla chips that may have been Tostitos.

We also ordered the Habanero Chicken Wings.  There were six giant, breaded wings that were tossed in a spicy habanero sauce.  These wings were not saturated with sauce like buffalo wings often are, which is probably a good thing because they were much spicier!  Great if you like a lot of heat, if not, they were served with a side of ranch dressing to help cool them down.  The order was also served with a basket of french fries.

My companions and I ordered all of our entrees to share. One of the entrees we ordered was the Shrimp Victoria.  This was a delicious, but interesting dish consisting of 7-8 peeled shrimp swimming in a creamy sour cream and wine sauce with thinly sliced mushrooms.  It was served with white rice.

Another dish we ordered was the Pork Tenderloin with Mofongo, which came highly recommended by our server.  The center of this dish was the Mofongo, made of fried, crushed plantains with olive oil and garlic.  The pork tenderloin was cut into eight bite-sized pieces, then seared and served in a dark wine sauce with sauteed onions.

The last entree we tried was the Arroz con Mariscos.  The dish of rice was seasoned with Saffron, then tossed with bots of rice, peas, olives and onions.  The rice was tossed with small pieces of Mussels, Shrimp, Halibut, Clams, Crab and Calamari, which were all overcooked.  We all liked the flavor of the rice but wish the seafood would’ve been tender as it should be.

Service: We had no problem getting a parking space on the street outside the restaurant on a very hot weekday afternoon, nor did we have any problem getting a table.  In fact, we were a few of the only customers at the time we arrived and had our pick.  Our server was nice, but spoke with a strong accent and had a few problems communicating with us.  Our food and drinks were taken care of in a reasonable amount of time.

Overall Impression: We had a decent experience at Conga Latin Bistro.  The food we tried was good, and while I wouldn’t say it was great,  I would definitely get the ceviche again.
Conga Latin Bistro on Urbanspoon
Conga Latin Bistro Reviews in Minneapolis

Jun 222010

Cuisine: Mexican
Restaurant Features: Bar, Happy Hour, Nightclub,
Locations: St Paul and Minneapolis, MN
Addresses & Maps:

St Paul– 235 E 6th Street St Paul, MN 55101 651-222-3250

Minneapolis– 925 Nicollett Mall Mpls, MN  55403 612-333-9953

Hours: Mon-Thur 11am-1am   Fri 11am-2am  Sat & Sun  4pm-2am
Links: Barrio Website * Barrio Facebook Page

Barrio St Paul -Outside
Atmosphere: The St Paul location is in lowertown, on E 6th St and Wacouta, next door to The Bulldog and across the street from Mears Park.  The space is big and open, with wooden floors and festively decorated walls and bistro tables throughout.  On the eastern wall there are also a couple of large, semi-circle booths that can seat up to six people.  The western wall has a very long bar running the length, holding at least 125 varieties of tequila in addition to the popular liquor brands they carry.

Menu: Tacos and Enchiladas include Pork Carnitas with Serrano Chile Salsa, Red Chile Enchilada with Chorizo and Fried Egg, Fried Mahi Mahi Taco with Citrus Cucumber Pico de Gallo, Grilled Skirt Steak with Roasted Poblanos, Potato-Chorizo Taco, Chicken Enchilada with Salsa Verde and Crema, and Spiced Shrimp Taco with Tomato-Mint Salsa.

Small Plates include Barbeque Pork Sopes, Diver Scallop Ceviche, Black Bean & Chicken Tostada, Fresh Corn Chowder, Jicama & Citrus Salad, Crab Empanadas with Salsa Verde and Avocado, Potato Sopes with Goat Cheese and Red Chile, Tequila-Cured Salmon with papaya and Avocado, Mushroom Quesadilla, Sugarcane Skewered Tequila Shrimp, Queso Fundito with Tortillas, Spicy Crab Soup, and Guacamole.
Price guide: Tacos $3.50-4 Small Plates $7.50

Happy Hour: 2-6pm Mon-Sat   10-Midnight Sun-Thurs

  • Small Plates $5:   Black Bean & Chicken Tostada,  Fresh Corn Chowder, Queso Fundito, Chips & Dips
  • Tacos $5:  2 Pork Carnitas, 2 Grilled Skirt Steak, 2 Potato Chorizo
  • Specialty Drinks $5: Barrio Margarita, Sangria, and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
  • Pitcher of beer $12:  Dos Equis, Summit Extra Pale Ale, Miller Lite
  • Carafe of Barrio Margarita $18
  • $1 off Rails

What we ordered: We started with a couple of the Happy Hour appetizers, including the Queso Fundito.  The hot, melted Mexican cheese was baked with green chiles and then served in the hot cast iron skillet with a side of warm flour tortillas.  Delicious but cools quickly and the cheese starts to harden again so eat it while its hot! Especially yummy with salsa or even guacamole.

We also ordered the Chips and Dips, which came with a large bowl of hot, thick crunchy corn tortilla chips, three different salsas and fresh guacamole.  Each salsa had a unique flavor and ranged in spiciness from mild to hot.  I loved the habanero one especially but the salsa verde was especially yummy too.

I also had a Barrio Margarita.  Tart and strong, just the way I like my margs. Have I mentioned how much I like margaritas? They are my all-time favorite drink.

When I saw that they had fish tacos, I knew I had to try them even though they were deep-fried.  Oh so glad I did, they were wonderful! The crunchy batter actually made it easier to eat the fish because it didn’t flake apart like fillets often do.  There were two mahi-mahi fillets in the order for $3.50 and I was able to make two tacos with the extra tortilla.  What a deal! I loved the fresh pico and jalapenos that topped the tacos, and also the crunch from the cabbage.

I also ordered the Carnitas (to-go for lunch the next day).  The pork was moist and flavorful, shredded yet tender.  They were served on white corn tortillas and topped with the traditional cilantro and onions, and salsa verde.  Try ’em, you’ll like ’em!

One of my companions ordered the Jicama Salad, which was a basic salad with thin strips of Jicama.  Have you had Jicama? It is kind of like a potato, starchy and very mildly flavored.  This salad was not a big hit.  At least not the jicama!

Another companion ordered the Tequila Shrimp Skewers.  There were 3-4 large shrimp impaled by the sugarcane skewer, topped with asparagus.  I did not try these but it looked great!

Another companion ordered the Chicken Enchilada, topped with salsa verde, fresh Mexican queso, and raw onion.

Service: I met with a group of friends during Happy Hour, arriving before the crowd when I could still find an open meter on the street.  After 4:30 meters are free.  There were still many tables to choose from and we picked one near the door.  Our server gave us Happy Hour menus and told us that dinner doesn’t start until 5.  Our drinks arrived pretty quickly and we ordered a couple of appetizers.  We had to ask for dinner menus so that we could order once dinner officially started.  Later as our meals were coming out, they brought each item out separately, spaced apart in time.  We thought that was strange, not sure why they couldn’t wait and bring them all out at once? Our group was there for several hours and we didn’t see our server very frequently.  We were not ordering many drinks so the server stepped back and let us have our social time (I will assume that is what she was doing, rather than just ignoring us).
Overall Impression: The atmosphere was great and so was the food.  The food menu is somewhat limited but they have over 125 different tequilas!! The service could be better but like I said, I think our server was just letting my companions and I enjoy our social time.  I’ll definitely be back.
Barrio Tequila Bar on Urbanspoon

Mar 232010

Cuisine: American, Bar & Grill, Chicago-Style
Restaurant Features: Bar, Happy Hour, Patio, Nightclub, On-Site Parking
Location: St Paul, MN
Address: 788 Grand Avenue  St Paul MN 55105 651-291-2525
Hours: Daily 11am-2am
Links: Wild Onion Website * Wild Onion on FacebookGoogle Map

Atmosphere: Located on Grand Avenue in St Paul, Wild Onion is a full-service restaurant that also moonlights as a nightclub.  During the day, Wild Onion is a casual, relaxed restaurant that has become a popular place for lunch by local residents, shoppers, and also people who work around St Paul.  The restaurant is fairly large and has many tables and booths around the edges of the space.  The brick walls have a variety of beautiful original canvas paintings hanging about.

At night the Wild Onion turns into a really fun place to hang out with a large, centrally located Bar and dance floor.  Most nights there is a DJ playing after 8pm so it can be quite loud, as expected.  Very popular with the 21+ crowd, especially local co-eds, birthday celebrations, and bachelor/bachelorette parties.

Menu: Appetizers at Wild Onion include Singapore Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Nachos, Walleye Fingers, Grilled Chicken Quesadilla, Cheese Curds, Onion Rings, Sesame Seared Ahi Tuna, Pot Stickers, Italian Fries, and Chicken Wings (Double Diamond, Buffalo, Wild Fire, Baked Cajun Wings, and Asian Battered Wings).

Soup and Salad options include Mixed Green, Caesar, Black and Blue Shrimp, Wild Onion Signature Chopped Salad, and Buffalo Chicken Salad.  Soups include French Onion, Chili and a Soup du Jour.

Chicago-Style Specialties include Chicago Hot Beef Sandwich, Chicago Dogs, Hot Italian Sausage Sandwich, Michigan Ave B.L.T., Windy City Fettuccine, and Spaghetti and Meatballs.

Sandwich options are BBQ Pork, French Dip, Walleye Fillet, Reuben, Widow-Maker Club (chicken, bacon, avocado and spicy Scorned Woman sauce), Prime Rib, Bad-to-the-Bone (shaved ham with sauteed peppers, jalapenos and onions), Turkey Melt, Superheater Sandwich (grilled chicken with pepper jack, habanero peppers and diamond sauce), and Turkey Burger.  Tortilla Wraps include Thai Chicken, Fresh Veggie, Walleye, Tijuana Chicken and Blackened Ahi Tuna with Avocado.

Wild Onion also has a variety of burgers (served with kettle chips) and sliders including Original Beef Sliders, Walleye Sliders, Blackened Chicken Sliders, Grand Avenue Burger, Chipotle Pepper Jack Melt, Juicy Lucy (stuffed with Swiss cheese), Onion Mac, and the Steakhouse Burger.

Handmade Pizza options include Four Cheese, Wild Onion Combo and Buffalo Chicken.

Entrees at Wild Onion are the Bricked Chicken, Dijon Marinated Sirloin, Steak Frites )fries topped with Bistro steak and Bordelaise sauce), Canadian Walleye, Steak and Eggs, and Szechuan Chicken Rice Bowl.

Price guide: Appetizers $7-9  Salads $5-12 Sandwiches/Burgers $7-9 Pizza $8-12  Entrees $10-16

Happy Hour: Monday-Friday 3:30-6:30pm

  • $1 Off Domestic Bottled Beer, Cocktails, House Wines
  • $1 Off all 20 oz. Mugs
  • $2 Small Plate Menu available in Bar Area
  • $2 Off all Martinis, Manhattans and Gimlets

Weekly Specials:

Monday- Hot Chicago Beef Sandwich $6.99, $2 Off All Steaks and Wings, $1 Off All 20 oz. Mugs, Shake Dice for Drinks @ the bar, Super 34 oz. Mugs – $5.50 Domestics, $6.50 Imports

Tuesday- Birthday Specials

Wednesday- $9.97 Steak or Chop Plate.  Choice: A 10 oz NY Strip or 12 oz Bone-in Pork Chop  served with house salad and signature cheesy scalloped potatoes.

Thursday- (Italian Night) Porketta $9.49, Fettuccine Alfredo $7.49, Chicken Parmesan $7.49, Macaroni and Cheese $7.49, Spaghetti & Meatballs $7.49,  $2 off glasses of wine

Sunday- $3.50 Build-you-own Bloody Mary Bar (11am-3pm), $6.99 Signature Burgers (5-11pm),

What I ordered: I did not want to order a full meal for lunch so I opted to get the chicken quesadilla appetizer.  Very flavorful choice! The two large flour tortillas were stuffed with bites of grilled white meat chicken, roasted sweet corn, sauteed peppers and onion, cheddar and jack cheeses, and then grilled until everything was hot and melted.  The tortillas were a crispy golden brown and slightly buttery, then topped with chipotle ranch, sour cream and crumbled Mexican cheese.  It was served with sliced fresh peppers, salsa, and chopped greens on the side.

One of my companions ordered the Ahi Tuna and Avocado Wrap.  This wrap had Sushi-grade yellow fin tuna seared rare and wrapped inside a tortilla with shredded carrots, avocado, tomato, wasabi and a white-balsamic vinaigrette. Served with a side of avocado ranch and fresh fruit.  (Comes standard with kettle chips or you can upgrade to fresh fruit or french fries for $1.50 extra)

Another companion ordered the Veggie Wrap with fries (upgrade from standard kettle chips).  This wrap included Lettuce, tomato, cucumber, avocado, green and red onions with Swiss cheese. Tossed in a white balsamic vinaigrette and served with a side of avocado ranch.

Another companion ordered the Juicy Lucy, which was stuffed with Swiss cheese and served on a toasted bun.  I didn’t try it but it looked great and my companion enjoyed it very much.

Service: Our visit was on a Friday for a late lunch but we were luckily able to find a parking spot in the attached lot.  As soon as we arrived we were greeted by a friendly hostess and then seated.  Our server was patient as we took our time looking over the menu, and offered a few suggestions to make ordering easier.  It took at least 20 minutes for our meals to be served, but drinks were filled in a timely manner.
Overall Impression: The Wild Onion is a happenin’ place to eat or drink on Grand Avenue, with good food and great birthday specials.  Check out Wild Onion at night with a group of friends if you’re looking for a fun place to dance and have cocktails.
Wild Onion on Urbanspoon

Feb 282010

This is an update to the original review I wrote in March 2007.  Time for an update!

Cuisine: Italian
Restaurant Features: Bar, Live Music, Nightclub, Sunday Brunch, Student Discount
Location: Minneapolis, MN (Dinkytown)
Address: 327 14th Av. SE. Minneapolis, MN 55414 612.378.4849
Hours: Mon – Thu: 11:30 a-9p      Fri – Sat: 11:30 a- 11p       Sunday: 11a-9p
Links: Loring Pasta Bar Website * Loring Pasta Bar on FacebookGoogle Map

Atmosphere: The inside of the Loring Pasta Bar is not only super cool, but breath-taking and romantic as well. Located inside a beautifully renovated building in Dinkytown (formerly known as Gray’s Drug Store) , the Loring Pasta Bar is an amazing site to see.  Ceilings are 2-3 stories high, with an upper-eating area overlooking the court-yard style main dining room.  Large trees and beautiful plants line the perimeter (glass windows are often opened or removed during summer months to really give you the feeling of eating outdoors.).  They also have live music every night from 6-9pm, usually in the form of a jazz band.

Besides having additional tables for dining in the upper level, there is also this cute little romantic lounge.

Menu: Appetizers include Artichoke Ramekin, Ciabatta Bruschetta, Fried Calamari, Pan Fried Potstickers, and Spicy Tuna Sushi Roll.

Salad options are the House Salad, Caesar Salad, and Salade Sauvage.

Pastas on the menu seem to change frequently and may include Beef Shortribs Farfalle, Fettuccini Carbonara, Spaghetti and Meatballs, Roasted Chicken and Mozzarella Ravioli, Linguini with Clam Sauce, Mushroom Penne, Cheese Tortellini Classico, Cheese Tortellini Nuovi, and Mac N Cheese.

Menu entrees also seem to change at least seasonally and may include items such as Seared Sea Scallops, South American Beef Tips, Grilled Salmon, New York Strip, Beef Tenderloin, Osso Buco (Braised Veal), Blackened Catfish, and Shrimp or Chicken Vegetable Stir-Fry.
Price guide: Appetizers $8-9 Salads $5-7  Pasta $13-17  Entrees $16-23

Student Discount of 30% with Valid Student I.D. (Excluded 6-9pm Fri & Sat)

Special Events:

  • Salsa Dancing every Friday and Saturday night 10pm $8/10  (18+)
  • Live Music from 6-9pm every day

Sunday Brunch Buffet: $10.95/Students $15.95/Adults

  • Items change weekly but always include a variety of breakfast items, lunch items, pastas, desserts and fresh fruits.

What we ordered: We started with an order of Bruschetta, a savory mix of  roasted red peppers, chopped golden tomatoes, fresh basil and fresh mozzarella, topped with a balsamic sauce, all sitting on little toasts of ciabatta.  The four pieces didn’t go far but everyone enjoyed it.

I ordered the Cheese Tortellini Nuovi after much deliberation and asking the server for suggestions.  A pleasant choice!  The bowl-sized portion of tortellini was bathed in an enticing cream sauce, rich in flavor from a mix of spices.  The pasta was topped with sliced prosciutto and toasted pine nuts, a symphony of textures.  Oh Heavenly pasta!

One of my companions ordered the Spicy Tuna Roll, a large order of 9 pieces.  The roll had raw tuna, avocado, cucumber, spicy mayo, carrot and rice.  Served with a side of edamame ( wasabi and ginger too, of course!)

Another companion ordered the Roasted Chicken with Mozzarella Ravioli.  The raviolis are hand-made and tossed in a Napolitana sauce (concassed tomatoes, roasted garlic, basil, and extra virgin olive oil).  The bowl was topped with a serving of roasted chicken and freshly grated cheese.

We were celebrating a birthday that night and so one of my companions enjoyed this Chocolate Souffle with Vanilla Ice Cream.

Service: It was very busy on this Saturday night and parking can be scarce; options are metered parking or pay lots.  I ended up parking in a lot a few blocks away.  We had a reservation for a fairly large group and they were able to seat us all promptly.  Our server was really efficient at serving a large group.  Our visit extended over a couple of hours as we enjoyed our food and company, with food and drink served throughout the time.
Overall Impression: I enjoyed my visit to the Loring Pasta Bar just as much (if not more) than my first visit three years ago.  The atmosphere is really cool and they have a variety of pastas and entrees on the menu.  Seems like it would be a cool place to come for Salsa dancing on Friday and Saturday nights.
Lakeside Club on Urbanspoon