Spring break: It's so close you can practically taste it.
But if the only ticket out of town you can afford is a ride on the Green Line, don't despair. Instead, take your taste buds on vacation. Yearning for Mexico, Hawaii, the Caribbean, or beyond? We've got you covered.
Maya Cuisine, 1840 Central Ave. NE, Minneapolis If you're longing for Mexico: Maya Cuisine's handmade corn tortillas will make it impossible to ever go back to the plastic-wrapped grocery store version, and there's a self-serve fresh salsa bar where you can garnish your tacos to your heart's content. But what makes this Mexican joint stand out is the plaza-style dining area, complete with a fountain, cobblestones, and faux building facades. So grab a tray of generously portioned and reasonably priced tacos or tamales -- the rajas poblanas con queso (poblano pepper and cheese) tamales are particularly noteworthy -- and pretend you're dining south of the border.
Psycho Suzi's Motor Lounge, 1900 Marshall St. NE, Minneapolis If your sights are set on the South Pacific: Granted, the atmosphere at Pyscho Suzi's is more 1950s tropical kitsch than authentically Hawaiian, but by the time you've finished your first tiki drink you won't know the difference. Grab a couple of friends and try the Eruption in Paradise, served in a smoking volcano-shaped mug, or go classic with a mai tai. Although the menu offerings tend more toward typical bar food than Polynesian fare, at least the Grain Belt-battered cheese curds and deep-fried Snickers will bring back fond memories of the warmer days of State Fair season.
Victor's 1959 Café, 3756 Grand Ave. S., Minneapolis If you wish you could travel to Cuba: Although the long-icy U.S./Cuban relationship seems to be thawing, you still can't hop an impromptu flight to Havana. Instead, enjoy some vibrant Cuban food at Victor's 1959 Café, where the graffiti-covered walls and lively Latin music instantly transport you from the wintery landscape outside. On the food front, try the refreshingly tart and tender lechon asado -- pulled pork slow roasted in lime juice -- and the fried sweet plantains, which taste something like caramelized French fries. If you're visiting for dinner, consider making a reservation -- with only 10 tables, this island of paradise fills up fast.
Harry Singh's Original Caribbean Restaurant, 2653 Nicollet Ave. S., Minneapolis If you want to cruise the Caribbean: Sample some Trinidadian food at Harry Singh's -- the island's cuisine is shaped by its diverse population, and includes East Indian, African, and Creole influences. The restaurant's signature dish is platter-sized, paper-thin roti, wrapped around your choice of filling. Vegetarians should try the potato and chickpea curry, a warming dose of Caribbean comfort food, and for meat lovers, the jerk pork packs a satisfyingly spicy punch. By the end of your meal, the zippy calypso music will have you dancing in your seat.
Cossetta Pasticceria, 211 W. Seventh St., St. Paul If you fantasize about a Mediterranean getaway: If your spring break aspirations tend toward the transatlantic, indulge in a sweet treat and espresso at Cossetta Pasticceria. The elegant pink marble surroundings and the expansive case of cookies, cakes, and tarts inspire the sophisticated version of kid-in-a-candy-store giddiness, and just when you thought it couldn't get any better, there's a case of gelato at the end. Many of the desserts come in miniature versions, so you can either exercise self-restraint or try a little bit of everything. Sure bets include the bite-sized Key lime pies, cannoli, and gianduia (chocolate hazelnut) gelato.
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