Best places to eat wild rice

Since it’s wild rice season in Minnesota, here are a few of our favorite places to enjoy this nutty grain also known as Mahnomin:

Clearwater Travel Plaza’s fritter French Toast and wild rice sausage.

Savory wild rice sausage
Clearwater Travel Plaza, Clearwater, Minn.
This bustling, impressive pit stop on I-94 south of St. Cloud built a huge fan base with its homemade fritter bread French toast. It’s accented beautifully with plump, savory wild rice sausages made down the road at McDonald Meats in Clear Lake. You can grab a to-go package at the plaza or at the meat market.

Sweetest bowl of wild rice
Hell’s Kitchen, Minneapolis, Minn.
Owner Mitch Omer serves hand-harvested wild rice in a bowl with dried blueberries, craisins, real maple syrup and cream. He found inspiration for Mahnomin Porridge reading through fur traders’ journals. Hell’s makes tasty, zippy and creative soups and sandwiches, but we lust most for the breakfast menu’s lemon ricotta hotcakes and toasted bison sausage bread made with coffee, currants and pie spices. Sadly, they no longer serve breakfast at Hell’s in Duluth’s Canal Park.

Cozy Red Paddle Bistro at Gunflint Lodge

Wild rice on pizza? You bet.
Coho Cafe & Bakery, Tofte, Minn.
Get ready for an earthy, savory and unforgettable blend of shitake, button and portabella mushrooms with locally made wild rice sausage on the cafe’s Call of the Wild pizza. There are plenty of surprising and tasty twists on familiar foods in this hip, kick-back gourmet cafe nestled along the Lake Superior harbor.

Best wild rice soup
Red Paddle Bistro, Gunflint Lodge on Minnesota’s Gunflint Trail
I’ve had plenty of good creamy wild rice soups over the years but one of the most delicious and unexpected ones was here. The colorful walleye chowder blends nutty wild rice with tender bits of walleye, sweet corn and tangy sun-dried tomatoes. The setting–a warmly glowing wood-paneled restaurant overlooking the indigo blue of a winter’s night–doesn’t hurt.

Quivey’s Grove

Tastiest wild rice side dish
Quivey’s Grove, Madison, Wis.
One of my all-time favorite meals was at this historic stone carriage house on the outskirts of Madison, Wis. Steeped in history, the owners let historic meals influence their entrees such as trout, tender beef and pork chops. What I remember most was the complex savory-sweet nicely textured wild rice side dish. It blends sage, coriander, celery, red pepper, chicken broth and tangy bits of dried cherries.

There are surely more amazing wild rice meals across the state. Please feel free to comment and share your favorites.

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