Na’s Thai Café
Clients who are fans of the Purple One will be thrilled with a pilgrimage to Paisley Park. After paying homage to Chanhassen’s most revered resident, head east on Highway 5 to Na’s Thai Café, a two-minute drive from Prince’s palatial aluminum-clad compound. Start with a glass of wine, the exceptionally good egg rolls, and fresh miang kham (lettuce wraps) while you peruse the kaleidoscopic menu of Thai specialties including kaiyaang (lemongrass-marinated chicken), goong paradise (shrimp coconut curry) and more.
Paisley Park, 7801 Audubon Rd., Chanhassen, 952-227-1400; Na’s Thai Café, 566 W. 78th St., Chanhassen, 952-949-1125, nasthaicafe.com
Rainbow Chinese Restaurant & Bar
Clients who ascribe to the axiom that out-of-this-world Chinese food is usually found in out-of-the-way places will enjoy a trip to Rainbow Chinese on Nicollet Avenue. Situated on the unprepossessing end of Eat Street, the Rainbow has a red-tiled roof, a purple awning and lush plantings that give it the feel of a San Francisco neighborhood café. Score a couple of red leather-topped stools at the bar and order a round of Shanghai sidecars, the five-spice calamari, Mongolian beef, spicy pork with cilantro, and shrimp with tamarind sauce, followed by fortune cookies for good measure.
2739 Nicollet Ave., Mpls., 612-870-7084, rainbowrestaurant.com
After a day of meetings in the hard-edged, glass-and-steel structures of downtown Minneapolis, flip the script and take your clients across the river to St. Paul’s historic Summit Hill neighborhood. Admire the elegant Victorian mansions on Summit Avenue and then stroll over to quirky, colorful Grand Avenue, where independent bookstores, boutiques and cafés happily co-exist with a curated selection of neighborly national stores. Join the crowd of regulars at India House, a cozy restaurant filled with the incomparable fragrance of exotic spices. Order a feast of samosas, garlic naan, chicken tikka masala, shrimp vindaloo with raita, mango chutney and papadums for all.
758 Grand Ave., St. Paul, 651-293-9124, indiahousemn.com
El Burrito Mercado
Clients who love Mexican culture, with its focus on family, food, music and festivities, will be delighted by an invitation to El Burrito Mercado in St. Paul. Even the four-minute drive from downtown is fascinating, as the Lafayette Bridge spans vintage railyards and the Mississippi River. Take a spin through the market and shop for Mexican spices, salsas, sauces and souvenirs before sitting down to dinner in the café. Order a couple of noche de Acapulco, a 1970s spring break-style cocktail made with tequila, rum and fruit juices, followed by the queso fundido en molcajete (Spanish for warm melted cheese dip), ensalada de nopalitos (fresh cactus salad with jalapeno dressing), mole tradicional (chicken in a savory ancho chile and chocolate sauce) and finish with flan.
175 Cesar Chavez St., St. Paul, 651-227-2192, elburritomercado.com
The Rabbit Hole
Clients with a taste for Asian-fusion food with a frisson of whimsy will be charmed by happy hour at the Rabbit Hole, a Korean-American gastropub in the colorful Midtown Global Market. Check out the Art Deco exterior of the historic Sears and Roebuck building before browsing in the indoor farmers’ market/foodie paradise. Slide into a booth at the Rabbit Hole and order a round of cocktails and the Harold and Kumar poutine, Rice Rice Baby (tender brisket with kimchi and fried rice) and Van Damme Good Brussels sprouts.
920 E. Lake St., Mpls., 612-236-4526, eatdrinkrabbit.com