Eating the ‘Veggie’ Way in Grand Forks

By Jenni Gleason

There is good news for vegetarian diners, as recent studies show that a diet of plant based food can actually lower blood pressure.

Vegetarian plates these days offer many different options and, what’s more, there are a wealth of gourmet restaurants and variety of menus to choose from in the Grand Forks area and across North Dakota, meaning that veggies can enjoy a whole range of dishes prepared and cooked locally.

News for Vegetarians

Grand Forks Herald published a story from Reuters about the new study, which shows that cutting out meat and eating plenty of vegetables, legumes, fruit and also dairy, can have a positive effect on your health. The research was carried out by the National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Center in Osaka, Japan. Vegetarians were found to have a lower blood pressure than meat eaters. The ideal diet involves low fat and high fiber content, which can be found in vegetarian meals, making them perfect for staying fit and healthy. Researchers emphasized that it is the plant-based foods that are low in sodium and high in potassium, which lowers the blood pressure.

Typically, ‘individuals who adhere to vegetarian diets are likely to use fewer processed foods’, stated the article, making their diets naturally healthy. As we become more aware of dining on fresh, locally prepared food, our knowledge of how bad processed food can be for us is growing, and we are taking care of what goes onto our plate.

Nutrition

Food from plants is healthy for us, but how do we make sure we are getting enough nutrition from it? The vitamins and minerals may be difficult to absorb. In order to avoid deficiencies from a vegetarian diet, Kwikmed.org advise diners should make sure they pick from a range of different foods ‘which are naturally rich in micronutrients’ so that their bodies are getting enough goodness to stay healthy. Wholegrains, nuts, seeds, pulses, fruits and vegetables are a great way of ensuring you will absorb enough nutrients, and vegetarian plates served in gourmet restaurants offer a variety of goodness to address just this. Protein, surprisingly, is present in many more foods than we realise; not just in meat, so most of us consume enough without realizing it. Pulses and wholegrains are particularly good sources of protein. The key is to include a variety of foods and the right levels that your body needs to consume, perhaps focusing on iron, calcium, zinc and vitamin B12.

Vegetarian Restaurants in Grand Forks

Whatever you want to eat, from lunchtime snacks to evening gourmet meals, Grand Forks has a wealth of vegetarian eateries to satisfy your hunger pangs.

Amazing Grains Food Coop serves up a terrific menu of soup and homemade bread; it has a hotbar and a deli too and is a popular choice for locals and visitors to the area. Located in the heart of Grand Forks, the food is preservative free, without any other additives, so you know you are getting a healthy bite to eat. Many of the foods here are organic, and the bakery also offers organic meat and chocolate.

At Dakota Harvest Bakers you can sit down to a sandwich or choose from a variety of soups, including vegan options, as well as a healthy salad. The menus here are changed frequently.

On Washington Street, why not stop for a bite to eat at the Pita Pit. Here they serve very fresh made to order pita sandwiches, with the Garden, Falafel and Hummus options being popular among diners. You can choose the vegetables and sauces you would like to go with your lunch, and vegetables include hot peppers, green and black olives, alfalfa sprouts, tomato, lettuce, mushrooms and pickles. Pita Pit prides itself on providing quick meals that are tasty but also healthy, ‘an exciting alternative to fast food restaurants’, which is why it uses a soft pita bread as a base and gives you a choice of some delicious fillings, including cheeses.

The Blue Moose Bar and Grill, on 507 2nd Street, East Grand Forks, is a popular venue for both meat lovers and vegetarians. Choose from pub cheese snacks or spinach con queso, made with creamy pepper jack cheese and spinach and served with tortilla chips. There are stuffed jalapenos to taste, onion rings and an olive and cheese platter for two to share, sautéed zucchini and squash and basil garlic artichoke hearts for vegetarians to enjoy at this great restaurant.

Grand Forks has a wide variety of restaurants, offering something for everyone, and the vegetarian eateries, with their range of mouth-watering dishes, are proving very popular.

Rhombus Guys Brewing Up Something Special

It’s exciting news from some of Grand Forks’ most successful restaurateurs, the guys behind Rhombus Guys.

After starting small in nearby Mentor, MN, bringing some serious slices to Grand Forks and then to Fargo, Matt Winjum and Arron Hendricks are upping the game considerably.

Hendricks and Winjum will be using their recently-purchased Opera House building space in Grand Forks to house a micro-brewery, or brewpub.

That is according to a job posting on BrewingWork.com

“There are fewer than 10 breweries in the entire state of North Dakota; this is a huge opportunity to be part of something very special.”

According to the posting, the Rhombus Guys are working with architects on a feasibility study for the space, just around the corner from their super successful pizza joint.

This is big news.

There currently isn’t a place in Grand Forks doing onsite brewing, so this is a very smart move by Hendricks and Winjum, in my opinion. There are already some people doing similar projects in Fargo, but the GF market is still wide open for something like this. And it will likely be incredibly successful, as the previous endeavors by these two have been.

We’re still quite a ways from knowing what sort of food will be served alongside the brews, but count on it being tasty.

It’s great that they are deciding to invest more and take a chance on something new in Grand Forks. We need more entrepreneurs like Hendricks and Winjum.

What’s on Your Snow Day Menu?

As the snow keeps piling up in Grand Forks on this first real winter storm of the season, I’m wondering: What’s on your dinner menu?

Leave a comment below.

For me, something like a hearty soup or stew really hits the spot, especially after shoveling out the driveway or digging out the car.

The great thing with soups is that you can really just throw in what you’ve got and it will turn out delicious most of the time.

Have a ham hock just waiting in the freezer? Combine it with any beans you’ve got and slowly simmer it for as long as you can. The hock will slowly fall apart, releasing its deliciousness. Finish a steaming bowl with a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce and it is the perfect antidote to freezing cold.

Stay warm, friends.

Combining ‘Drunken Noodle’ and ‘Little Bangkok’ is a Bad Idea

I’m a little worried.

Dave Scheer, the co-owner of Little Bangkok and Drunken Noodle in East Grand Forks, says the two restaurants will soon be combined into one, in the Drunken Noodle location (the former Applebee’s location) right along the river in EGF.

Scheer told the Grand Forks Herald: “The Drunken Noodle space isn’t being used very well… The college crowd didn’t find us as attractive as we thought they would.”

According to the article, the restaurants will be combined in the early part of next year.

A sushi bar is set to be put into the stage area in the Drunken Noodle this Wednesday, so the restaurant will be closed for about a week. Call ahead to check if it’s open over the next week and a half.

To me, this is a terrible idea.

The plan Scheer and co-owner Thamrong “Keng” Dechawuth had is a good one: Bangkok is a bit more up-scale in a modern and chic setting, while Noodle is cheaper, with (obviously) more noodle dishes aimed at a younger crowd.

But would you want to go to a restaurant that is actually two different restaurants, ordering off of two different menus? It just seems to me to be diluting the identities of the two restaurants, mostly Little Bangkok, which has been pretty successful.

But Drunken Noodle, on the other hand, has struggled. Along with other restaurants competing around town like Shing Ya and Fuji in Grand Forks, Drunken Noodle and Little Bangkok are pretty much competing against each other, and just a few blocks away too. Maybe Scheer and Dechawuth read the market wrong and there just isn’t demand for another Asian restaurant.

Perhaps a better option would be to keep the successful Little Bangkok in place at its current location and call it quits with Drunken Noodle, rather than sacrificing Bangkok to try to save Noodle.

I sincerely hope this doesn’t doom both places.

We’ll see.

Grand Forks Native, Twin Cities Chef and Author John Michael Lerma Passes Away

I’m sad to report that John Michael Lerma, a familiar face in both Grand Forks and the Twin Cities has passed away after a long illness.

According to a Facebook post by his partner, John Michael was taken off of life support and died this afternoon “in no pain.”

“He was the center of my life for 16 wonderful years and he will be greatly missed. I will always love you my dear sweet JM. It was his wishes to not have a funeral but a gathering of those who loved him. As soon as I can arrange a place and time I will post so all those who are interested can attend,” the post read.

John Michael was a guest on WDAZ News at 5 with Terry Dullum and a regular addition to the Twin Cities Live program on KSTP. He wrote the cookbook “Garden County” and was known for his vidalia onion pie.

While I never met John Michael in person, I corresponded with him via social media and felt like I knew him.

I’m sure many people will miss John Michael and his amazing warmth and humor.

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Get Yer Timbits! December Opening Eyed for GF Tim Horton’s

It’s exciting news for the Canucks among us and others who just love a good, hot cup of coffee and delicious donut: The new Tim Horton’s location in Grand Forks should be open by the middle of December.

There’s no official open date yet, they tell me, but that should be coming along soon.

Timmy’s started serving coffee at the Ralph Engelstad Arena last weekend.

The location is just east of the Alerus Center and in a brand-new strip mall on S. 42nd St.

Take some time to bone up on the menu before the opening. I’d recommend a ten pack of Timbits and a large coffee to stave off the cold.

I’ll let you know when I get a firm opening date.

Bad News: ‘Chacherz’ Looks Like it’s Closed

Bad news, everyone.

After some quick shopping this morning, I was looking forward to bringing my visiting sister to Chacherz in the Grand Cities Mall. But as we walked closer, we noticed no activity. Walking up to the small restaurant across from Rumors Bar, it was gated, with a “for lease” sign on it.

It looks like my beloved Chacherz is closed once again.

Chacherz

It was the best and most authentic Mexican fare in Grand Forks or East Grand Forks. There were home-cooked Tex-Mex specialties and tortillas made in house. I loved the dive-y aspect of the place, eating on Styrofoam plates with plastic utensils, an ice cold can of Coke in hand to wash down the deliciousness. Alas, the place is no more.

With the also-great Mi Mexico closing a while back as well, we’re certainly hurting when it comes to good Mexican food in town. Over in East Grand Forks, Casa Mexico does a fine job and it’s the place I would recommend (the only one, really) to someone visiting from out of town.

One thing, though, that really needs some thought from those of you who might be entrepreneurial: Grand Forks desperately needs more food trucks. In Fargo, for instance, there are quite a number that serve great burritos, authentic tacos and one truck even does Italian food.

My heart is heavy to report the demise of Chacherz. Perhaps the rent was too high and the owners are planning a re-opening? I don’t know. If you do, write a comment below and calm our collective despair.

RIP Chacherz.

Costumes, Dinner and Wine in Winger, Minnesota!

I’ve never been to the Depot Cafe & Bakery in Winger, MN, yet but I’ve been checking out their Facebook updates for a few weeks.

I’ve been impressed with the quality of the food and baked goods they’re putting out.

If you can make the relatively short drive to Winger to check the place out, there’s a wine-paired dinner (with costumes) coming up next week.

Dinner includes three courses, costumes and live music for $30 per person. Reservations are required. It looks like it’ll be a fun event and a chance to support a great local restaurant.

The event starts at 7 p.m. at the Depot Cafe and Bakery, 18 N Borud St.

 

Panera is Here

So after an agonizing few months, Tuesday marked the first day that the Grand Forks Panera was open for business.

To be honest, I don’t really understand the enthusiasm, so that’s why I’m asking you: Did you check out Panera yet? Will you be a regular? What’s good, what’s bad, what are you looking forward to trying?

Leave me a comment.

Grand Forks ‘Panera’ Location Opening October 8

While Fargoans have just had their Panera Bread hankerings quenched with the opening of the first North Dakota location, Grand Forks fans will have to wait a bit longer.

I just heard from a local marketing coordinator for Panera that the Grand Forks location will open on October 8 at 6 a.m.

So get ready.

The store at the former Taco Bell location on 32nd Ave. S. right in front of Wal-Mart has a drive-thru, so getting your fix will be even faster.

 Check out the full menu here