La Casita 

I have to say, I really love La Casita Mexican Restaurant. With locations in Columbia Heights, Roseville, Coon Rapids and Waite Park – I’ve heard it called the best Mexican restaurant in the Twin Cities, so I’m not alone in my conclusion. Casual with no wait, open and airy, festive atmosphere, bold colors, fun waitstaff and incredible food – yep, right up my alley! La Casita has been part of a lot of people’s histories as they have been coming to this Cantina-style place since they were kids. I only recently found them and fell fast. I could say that it’s the happy-hour salsa bar, or the grande prickly pear margaritas that are about the size of me – both true – but it’s actually because I really, really love their food. Baja tacos, fajitas, enchiladas, chimichanga, carnitas,… and don’t even get me started on the deep fried ice cream! Huge portions and a free dinner on your birthday?! Sign me up!  Do you have a  favorite Mexican restaurant?

Guidant John Rose Minnesota OVAL

Photo Dec 09, 11 20 03 AM

This past Friday was the #Minnstameets_Oval. An event put on by Minnstameets and Roseville Visitors Association at the Roseville Skating Center that is connected to the Guidant John Rose MN OVAL. It included a viewing of the state’s largest yarnbomb #KnitTheOVAL, ‪#‎OVALumination by the amazing Knitteapolis, a chance to win Minneapolis / St. Paul hats from MSP Clothing and also several gift cards from Rosedale Shopping Center . We drank hot cocoa and feasted on holiday cookies from the Minnesota Lottery  all while wearing Christmas sweaters and scratching holiday-themed lottery tickets. Minnstameets always knows how to throw a party. Since I was there, braving the cold (see my face, that’s my ‘I’m freezing my lips off’ face), I spent my time watching everyone skate and adding the OVAL to the #mnbucketlist. It’s actually pretty interesting. It’s 110k sq feet of refrigerated ice. Used for hockey, bandy, figure skating, speed skating, in-line skating and recreational skating, the OVAL is at home in the Roseville Skating Center. Built in 1993, they see national and international speed skating competitions and get really involved in the local community. If you haven’t been, I suggested checking it out this winter.

Pizza Lucé

Photo Dec 06, 8 33 22 AM

Friday night, serendipitously, a few of us crossed off Pizza Lucé from the #mnbucketlist. With eight locations including Uptown and Downtown Minneapolis, Duluth, Hopkins, Richfield, Seward/ University, St Paul and the new location in Roseville (mentioned by Visit Roseville MN during the amazing #minnstameets_oval), most were surprised that I had never been. I mean, they’ve had a Block Party that just celebrated 12 years, I ought to have. Everyone raves about this place and truth be told, I didn’t realize that they had originated in Minnesota. And I’m certainly glad they did! Although the name suggests, they are known for more than their pizza and to make sure it was up to par, we tried most of it. Bruschetta, pasta, pizza, you name it. They even have vegan and vegetarian options, and they deliver. This location has lots of room and makes for a great hangout. Any favorite locations I should try? [photos by @rebeccazenefski]

Davanni’s

Davannis MNBucketlist

I love pizza so much that I drag (usually willingly) my closest friends and even my Mom, pictured above, to any place that gives me my fix. I can’t help it, I have a thing for a good Italian food. So when I found out that it was Davanni’s 40th anniversary this month, I was pretty excited. I mean, to be honest, I didn’t know it had been around that long and also I didn’t know that it started in Minnesota. And I really ought to know these things! Anyway, did you know that they were actually the first to offer hot hoagies in the Twin Cities? Originally called Pontillo’s Pizzeria, Davanni’s first location, off Cleveland and Grand in St. Paul opened October 1st, 1975, they later changed names in 1983. I decided to check out the newly remodeled Edina location, which will be having a Grand Re-Opening / 20th Anniversary celebration on this Saturday. If you want to go, you can meet the owners, get special deals, play trivia, lots of samples AND Indeed Brewing will be tapping a special cask ale from 5-8pm.

I went early so I could see their new bar (lots of craft beer and wine), the new renovations and the overall revitalization of their brand. Let me jump ahead, I was really impressed! It’s definitely not the dark walls, dim lighting and cramped quarters that I often encounter with restaurants that have been around forever (40 is forever for me). The design is bright, modern, and incredibly inviting. The staff was what really made the atmosphere for me, though. Attentive, friendly, great with suggestions and they actually like their jobs, which isn’t always the case in the industry. I’m going to attribute that to being a privately held company and constantly trying new ideas, from nutriment to innovation.

Now let me get into the food.

Davannis MNBucketlist

We devoured all different kinds of salads, sandwiches, beer and dessert. Hey! We are eaters, and also sharers, so we had to have a little of everything! And the pizza? Deep dish, flat bread, thin crust, white sauce, red sauce, you name it – we tried it. The crowd favorite was the Southwestern Chicken Salad, the Turkey Bacon Chipotle Hoagie and the Artichoke Chicken Pesto Flatbread (see, they are trying new things!). I was partial to the Veggie Hoagie and Garlic Cheese Bread. Needless to say, their Chanhassen location (their 22nd store) will get a little too much of my attention in the future. With the Twin Cities bursting with really great pizzerias, the new changes from layout to menu, to keeping the forever favorites like the New York style pizza and pasta and using their own bakery for bread and desserts, I know that Davannis will have a home here for at least another 40 years.

WANT A GREAT DEAL: When you order online, you can get a 10% discount when you use the code “ANNIVERSARY” at checkout through Saturday, October 31. Otherwise in-shop through the end of the month, a regular pop (it’s Minnesota, we say Pop) is only $1.

 A few recent articles: Star Tribune + Minneapolis/St Paul Business Journal + KARE11