Sapporo is the sushi restaurant’s answer to the overly familiar neighborhood pub. If you need to be greeted warmly by a hostess and have your every need catered to in a reasonable time frame, I’m not sure it’s the place for you. There’s nothing wrong with those expectations, but Sapporo won’t meet them. Instead, the tiny staff—consisting of one waitress and the sushi chef Sam—will get to you in due time, and your drink order will likely be yelled across the restaurant.
As soon as you see the restaurant’s interior, you’ll realize it’s a playful joint. Keep yourself entertained while waiting for service by looking at the polaroids covering the walls and booths.
And keep that playfulness in mind as you realize Sam’s banter with the regulars is far more entertaining than the photos. Otherwise, you may be worried actual insults are being flung around rather than friends skewering each other. Heck, not knowing for certain is part of the appeal.
Sam, the sushi chef.
But I think the existence of a Crazy Sammy roll resolves that question pretty well.
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Last summer, the husband and I moved away from the Research Triangle Park area of North Carolina after spending eight years watching the cities expand and their food scenes skyrocket off the heat-charts. Seriously, the New York Times is obsessed with the place! So I was excited to head back for the weekend in mid-September—my head’s still spinning from the other side of the country over all the new foodie destinations that have sprung up just this past year.
While my husband gave a presentation at NC DevCon, I decided to spend my weekend exploring as many of downtown Raleigh’s newly opened spots as possible. Why Raleigh and not the rest of the Triangle? I had no car and was staying downtown. It’s that simple. I needed to focus on places I could walk to.
After our flight in, my first stop was Jose and Sons (327 W. Davie St.) for dinner. It’s the newest incarnation of one of my favorite Triangle restaurants, Jibarra, located in the fast-redeveloping Warehouse District right by the train depot.
Jose and Sons is now more Southern-Mexican fusion, whereas it had been pure upscale Mexican food in the past. While I remain skeptical about the value of $8 guacamole—
–and the shrimps and grits didn’t have nearly enough heat for me—
–I have to give solid props to the Booze and Mango cocktail.
That’s dessert in a glass, and it’s a beautifully balanced one, too. Vanilla rum, Grand Marnier, cream, and what Jose and Son’s calls a mango popsicle and I’d call a mango-flavored ice cube make for a worthy night cap.
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I’ve been to Minneapolis a number of times, but somehow, I hadn’t made it to neighboring St. Paul, the capitol of Minnesota. So on my last trip to the area, I was determined to spend an afternoon there. It didn’t make any sense to this wanderluster to be that close to the city and never step a foot in it.
And I am glad I did! As one native remarked as I was trudging my way up to the Cathedral of Saint Paul—
–it’s a city full of beautiful architecture and rich culture. Well, what he actually said is more beautiful and richer than Minneapolis, but I’m not willing to take sides on that debate. I will say that my afternoon traipsing through the downtown was full of awesome discoveries.
The first of them was in that picture—the Landmark Center. It’s gorgeous and is now used as an event space. The second was the statues of the Peanuts throughout the neighboring parks.
I honestly didn’t know Charles Schultz was from St. Paul. Happening upon little trivia tidbits like that is why I love exploring cities.
St. Paul Hotel
After a Dunn Bros coffee and checking out the Rice Park area, I decided it was time to hunt down that Cathedral, which took my breath away as I passed it on the bus into town.
So off I went, getting closer and closer.
Passing the Xcel Center
My stomach insisted on lunch before my journeying could continue, so I check out nearby Cosetta (2011 7th St.) a St. Paul institution.
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