Sunnyside Drive

There’s an area around 44th and France that is full of ambiguity – are we in Minneapolis? Are we in Edina? One thing, however, leaves no ambiguity: the food.

Just off this intersection is a small street called Sunnyside Drive. The food on Sunnyside Drive is as delicious as the street name is cute. Next door to one another are two iconic and delicious Minneapolis institutions.

The first, Convention Grill, is an old classic.

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Convention Grill has been serving old style burgers, fries, and malts since 1934. Darn, it is good! I went with a friend for lunch. I got a burger and she got a grilled cheese:

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We also shared a half basket of fries (this is huge – I imagine the full basket would serve four people easily):

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I couldn’t resist the malt menu, so I ordered a peppermint shake.

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This was, unfortunately, a disappointment. Half the glass was filled with Andes mints. I would have preferred more milky goodness and less minty chew. Previously mentioned friend ordered a hot fudge sundae which is unpictured (but very good!).

In contrast to Convention Grill, the second place of yum on Sunnyside Drive is a relatively new addition to the Minneapolis food scene.
Hello Pizza is the baby sister of Pizzeria Lola, offering a more casual atmosphere, pizza by the slice, and easy walk up service.

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The inside of Hello Pizza is an interesting mix of cafeteria and traditional New York slice shop – all with a healthy splash of color!

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The pizza choices range from basic to exciting (artichoke hearts, piquillo peppers, and organic pulled chicken).

I ordered a slice of veggie and a slice of the artichoke special, and my dining partner ordered two slices of ‘Hello Rita’ (the classic margherita).

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Can you tell you prefers more inventive toppings? 🙂

In case you are judging me, I did not visit these restaurants back to back. Nor did I even visit them in the same week! I would not, however, frown on such behavior.

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Highland Grill

This morning I had eggs again for breakfast. Instead of making eggs plain though, I cooked them into some Bob’s Red Mill 10-grain cereal. I got the idea from my roommate who made savory oats a couple weeks ago. For this breakfast, I cooked 1/4 cup of 10-grain cereal with slightly less than 1 cup of water. After cooking for a couple minutes, I added in one egg, one mini-babybel cheese wedge, a roasted tomato, and 1 tablespoon of pesto. I served it with a sliced banana.

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This breakfast was very good and I will definitely make again. The savory cereal was very satisfying, and the eggs really thickened the whole dish.

For lunch, I met a couple friends at the Highland Grill in St. Paul – which seems to be a favorite eats spot for almost everyone I know in St. Paul. Highland Grill serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and they have a nice combination of creative meals and comfort food dishes.

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The atmosphere inside is casual and comfy – as evidenced by the fact that all of their coffee mugs are unique and similar to something you might find in your own cupboard:

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Every day there are featured dishes. Today it included buckwheat pancakes, a fried chicken sandwich, cajun pork chop with risotto, and chili prawns:

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In addition to featured dishes, there is also a daily deal. Tuesday’s deal is half price on all bottles of wine. Obviously, too good a deal to pass up:

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After much deliberation (and by that I mean wondering if I should maybe order something ‘healthier’)*, I decided to order Peter’s burger. The burger came with sweet-mustard pickle relish, a fried egg, ketchup, grilled onions, and sourdough bread. I ordered it with sweet potato fries:
*see below for further explanation

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One of my lunch companions ordered the fried chicken sandwich special with a side salad:

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The other ordered buckwheat pancakes with a side of fruit:

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Everything was delicious! This is a great spot for any meal of the day.

Going back to my wondering if I should order a ‘healthier’ option…
Often when I go out to eat, I feel a slight sense of anxiety regarding the calories and fat in the meal. When I was struggling a lot with my eating disorder, I would often try to get out of eating meals I didn’t prepare for myself. Or, if I did eat out, I would try to stick with salads or things that didn’t include extra sauces or oils. I would stress out about butter or oil being added to bread or meat, and would try to alter my orders to make them as low-caloric as possible.

Now, I realize that eating out should be something enjoyable. Yes, a meal at a restaurant will almost always have more calories and fat than one that I prepare for myself at home, but I will also have the added enjoyment of dining with friends, testing out a new restaurant, and trying a meal that I would not ordinarily eat or prepare for myself.

When selecting what to order at a restaurant now, my primary goal is not to determine what will be the ‘healthiest’ but, rather, what sounds the best to me and what will be unique. I know that if I choose the ‘healthiest’ item for its calorie count and lack of added fats, I am not truly being healthy but am instead letting unhealthy rules and restrictions make decisions for me. When I was in recovery from my eating disorder, one of the most important things I learned was that health is about lifestyle – not about one meal or one day or one workout. Real health is understanding that it’s okay to have sweet potato fries and a burger once in a while, and it’s okay to enjoy that meal while dining with great friends and not feel guilty afterwards. Hallelujah, amen. 🙂