Why have just one meal when you can try a bit of everything by sharing? Two local restaurants offer their take on a spread for four that’s meant to be shared or served family style. Here are some tasty-sounding meal ideas that start with appetizers and end with delicious desserts.
La Cocina de Ana
Take-and-bake style La Cocina de Ana has fresh, authentic Mexican food to fit every palate. Orders can be taken ahead of time online or over the phone. Otherwise, there is a variety of dishes on hand in the refrigerated case daily. Ana Rayas, who owns the restaurant with her husband, Luis, lays out this meal:
A small order of pico de gallo is enough to feed four and don’t forget to grab tortilla chips for dipping. It’s a light opener with its fresh diced tomatoes and onions with cilantro, spices and lime juice. “It’s made with fresh veggies, the lime makes it just super bright and tasty, and there’s a little cilantro in there, so it’s not as spicy but it has a little bit of a kick,” Rayas says. No need to limit it as an appetizer either. It can be added to tacos, meats or other main dishes.
Simple and mild, Pollo con Adobo is a layered, casserole-style dish prepared with shredded chicken breast and house-made adobo sauce. All of the sauces are made from scratch—Rayas does not use any thickeners, just vegetables. “The sauce ends up being a bit sweet and tart, and with cream and cheese and chicken it makes for a very tasty meal,” Rayas says. A medium Pollo con Adobo has four generous servings. Rayas recommends
a side of rice and corn because “alone it’s a little lonely.”
“Everyone loves flan,” Rayas says. The creamy, luscious vanilla custard baked with a caramel sauce is served cold.
The small size will feed four.
With a plethora of flavors to choose from, owner Len Muehleisen offers this meal:
To open, share some chicken satay and spring rolls. The chicken satay is a Thai street food, with strips of chicken marinated on a stick, deep fried. It is served with two different sauces: a peanut sauce and the Thai Table sauce, which is clear with bits of vegetables and seasonings and a flavor on the sweet side. To balance the chicken satay, the fresh spring rolls offer another flavor profile because they’re not deep fried. The rolls are filled with pork, shrimp, lettuce and rice noodles and come with two dipping sauces, one dark and one clear, both with a sprinkling of peanuts on top. With two rolls per order each cut in half, each person would have half a roll.
Muehleisen recommends moving into the main course with Tom Yum Soup. He adds that it’s good with shrimp and can be a little bit on the spicy side for Minnesotans. The default level of spice is medium. “That’s the max for most Minnesotans, but it’s good during winter months. People love it when they have ailments, since it has lots of herbs and spices.” Not only that, but the soup is served in a metal container with fire underneath to keep it warm—just scoop it into four bowls to share.
A second main dish to split is the Pad Thai, Thai Table’s most popular meal. This noodle dish can be served with tofu, mock duck, chicken, beef, shrimp or scallops and comes with zero spice, but people can have it spiced up if they want.
The third entrée in this variety meal would be Masaman curry with beef, Muehleisen’s favorite. This is the restaurant’s only dish with potatoes, and features tomatoes, onions, peanuts and a tasty sauce with a mild spice level. To round out the table, try Pad Puk, a seven-vegetable stir fry with shrimp or chicken with no spice, though you can add more when you order.
Don’t forget to complement the dining experience with an authentic beer if you’re so inclined. Singha Thai beer, brewed in Thailand and probably the most popular beer there, Muehleisen says, is the only Thai beer on the menu. Traditionally, not much wine is served in Thailand, so beer provides more authenticity with your meal.
The sticky rice with mango is popular and there are three kinds of ice cream: mango, roasted coconut and ginger. The ginger is an unusual flavor for ice cream and goes well with the Thai food, as they use a lot of ginger in the main dishes. To continue the meal’s sharing theme, order the three flavors and try them all!