Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport
*In my Janet Jackson Voice* Minneapolis!! The Twin Cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul are a destination worthy of a visit, whether you find yourself here for a weekend getaway or mid-week for meetings, you’ll find that MSP is a vibrant city full of friendly people, excellent restaurants and a ever-evolving arts scene. While the winter season is not for the faint of heart nor the thin blooded, there are plenty of ways to warm up. Summers here are delightful, with nearby 10,000 lakes and the Boundary Waters a few hours to the North, it’s a veritable paradise for those who love the outdoors. The airport is about 20 minutes from the center of Downtown Minneapolis, positioned right between both of the Twin Cities.
OK hungry travelers, this airport is MASSIVE! Seriously massive- the airport hosts 120 Restaurants, Shops and Services. In 2017 alone, they have opened 15 new restaurants! The largest airline here is Delta, which runs a huge hub operation out of the main terminal complex. There are two terminals on separate areas of the airfield: The Massive Terminal 1, known as “Lindbergh” serves the majority of the airlines including Delta. Think of the main terminal complex as one huge horseshoe, connected in the middle by a skywalk that can help if you have to go from one side of the terminal to another. The much smaller Terminal 2 known as “Humphrey”, which serves primarily Southwest and Sun Country lies separately on the South Side of the airfield. There is a tram that runs along the longest portion of Terminal 1, which stretches on the North Side (Concourses A-E), which comes in handy as the terminal complex is nearly 1 mile long! Heads up- if you are arriving on a Delta Connection flight and connecting to a Delta Mainline flight, be prepared for a HIKE- up to 30 minutes ++ between gates, they are a huge distance apart, so use the Tram to your benefit!
Should you end up at MSP on an extended layover, I can promise you that there will be no shortage of ways to occupy your time- you can find yourself wandering the concourses for hours! So where to EAT? Here are my top picks:
Ike’s Food & Cocktails (Terminal 1, North TSA Checkpoint)
Once you pass through security in the Lindbergh Terminal, you’ll be met with a sensory overload, a Mall-like atmosphere with what may seem like endless options. Most prevalent is Ike’s, which you’ll find almost immediately. Ike’s has my heart for one main reason- THE PATTY MELT. Juicy beef, sweet & salty grilled onions, aged cheddar all between the most buttery and crispy-cheesy grilled parmesan bread- it is a total cheese explosion-heaven! Stick to this and you’ll love Ike’s. Stray from it, I make no guarantees, the menu is hit and miss. That said, the menu here is CLASSIC Midwest Fare, complete with Pot Roast and a “Mom’s Blue Plate Special” that changes daily for a taste of some home cooking while you’re on the road. Bonus points if you’re here in the notoriously bitter cold of Winter- Ike’s will warm you right up and contribute to your winter body!
Vino Volo (Terminal 1, Concourse C, Gate C8)
Ohhh wine, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…at this point I’d say it’s become a way of life and my blood type is about 80% Cabernet. I’m a big fan of Bold Reds, and will never run away from the chance to sample something new, so if there is a wine flight on the menu I am one happy camper. Vino Volo has just that- with several wine flights that will fit any Oenophile’s palate. This particular chain is becoming a bit easier to find with locations at several airports, so while it’s not unique to MSP, this location is one of my favorites. A great selection of wines includes bottles that you can grab to take home, and they include some regional specialties. Food is fresh and generally healthy, from light and delicious salads to cheese plates, including some to-go options. Find me here on a winter day with a flight of heavy reds, something to take the chill off!
Shoyu (Terminal 1, Concourse G, near the Entrance to Concourse G)
Japanese is on the menu at Shoyu, so as an Asian food fanatic, this is always high on my list for a visit to MSP. The menu has a few pan-Asian dishes, like the ever-present staple Pad Thai. I’ve said it before- Airport Sushi is a bit of a gamble, definitely not my go-to in the middle of a travel day. Shoyu is an exception- the sushi here is great and top quality, although I prefer to stop in for some Sush upon arrival, before leaving the terminal. Favorite dishes are the Spicy Pad Thai, Salmon Sashimi/Sushi, Pork Belly Buns, Mongolian Noodles and Chicken Potstickers. Shoyu makes all of their noodles and dumpling wrappers in-house. Better yet, the chefs do all of this in a glass-enclosed kitchen so you are treated to a show while you chow. This is a great option for a quality meal on the fly- you order and pay from an Ipad and service is very quick. Kanpai!
Take-Away: Recently there have been a few new additions that I’m eager to try out that come highly recommended: Lake Wine + Bar and Red Cow. Red Cow is actually part of a totally new food court area called “Food Truck Alley”, which is a pretty kick-ass concept for an airport! If E.T.A. fans have feedback, please share!
Bonus: Metro Transit offers a direct connection to both terminals at MSP. What’s great about this service is that it connects you not only to Downtown Minneapolis, but continues past the airport to the Mall of America! How’s that for modern mass transit? Pretty impressive. Fares range from $2-2.50 depending on time of day.