From fast casual to fine dining: eating well at Mall of America®

Everything about Mall of America® (MOA) is supersized, from the 500+ stores to the number of annual visitors (40 million). A day of shopping and playing in this mega complex is bound to work up a supersized appetite, and Mall of America® delivers big. It’s got something to tempt everyone, including casual burger joints, irresistible sweet shops and sleek temples of fine dining. Whether you’re traveling with kids, looking for a quick bite, kicking back at happy hour or romancing your significant other over candlelight and fine wine, it’s easy to satisfy your cravings. Here are our top choices for a memorable MOA meal during your stay at the Radisson Blu Mall of America.

Rain forests to treat seats: MOA for families

 © iStock.com /BlueOrange Studio

With on-site attractions like Nickelodeon Universe, SEA LIFE Minnesota Aquarium and the LEGO Store, MOA is a must-see for families. A top dining stop after a day of play is the Rainforest Cafe, which packs a one-two punch of kid-pleasing food and entertainment. Highlights include interactive animatronics—such as a giant croc named Nile—a “Wild Bunch” activity book, and dishes like Jurassic Chicken Tidbits and Lava Mud (chocolate pudding packed with Oreos and gummy worms).

Kids of all ages are also wowed by the grill acrobatics at Benihana, where flying shrimp tails and smoky eruptions from a “volcano” of onion rings make for a memorable meal. The Japanese steakhouse fare gets high marks, too.

Looking for a more low-key experience? Give the doll lovers in your family a thrill at the American Girl Bistro, where dolls sit pretty in their own “treat seats,” complete with miniature cups and saucers.

Show-stopping decor and special occasions: MOA for couples

© iStock.com /kzenon

For couples craving alone time and a fine meal out, it’s hard to beat the Radisson Blu hotel’s FireLake Grill House & Cocktail Bar, a stylish and serene reprieve from the mall hustle. In the amber-lit dining room, FireLake serves some of the city’s most creative American food. The menu includes bacon-wrapped quail eggs, asparagus risotto and a range of expertly grilled meats, all complemented by a well-curated wine list.

Prefer Italian? Celebrate amore over lovingly crafted classic Italian dishes at Tucci Benucch. Locals and visitors alike are drawn to the restaurant’s warm ambience, handmade pasta sauces and fresh-baked bread from a local bakery.

Another great date spot is Twin City Grill, which features roomy booths made for two, an ultra-relaxing atmosphere and well-crafted comfort food, such as Northern Lakes walleye fish fry, meatloaf with gravy, and salt and vinegar fries. Pair your meal with a classic cocktail or a local beer.

 

Martinis and mini sliders: MOA for the happy-hour crowd

© iStock.com /tomorca

Almost every restaurant and bar in Mall of America® has its own happy hour, generally from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and often 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends. Over at Cantina Laredo, the happy-hour house margaritas and bar plates are nearly half off, and on Sunday, you can get mimosas and bloody Marys for just a few bucks each. Ready for a party? Head to Cadillac Ranch for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Happy Hour, with deeply discounted drinks and bar snacks, such as guacamole, mini fish tacos and mini pulled-pork sliders. If you’re feeling brave, end your happy hour with a ride on the mechanical bull.

Pita bowls to fast-casual Japanese: MOA for a quick lunch

If you’re looking for a quick lunch or food to take out, the usual fast-food suspects are definitely in the house. But MOA has some envelope-pushing alternatives, as well as one of the world’s hottest fast-food brands in Shake Shack, the New York phenom that manages to make delicious food—all-American burgers, fries and shakes—that is both fast and responsibly sourced.

In the mall’s Culinary on North food court, which opened in 2015, fresh choices abound, including the Middle Eastern-inspired Naf Naf Grill, with build-your-own pita bowls; Little Tokyo, for fast-casual Japanese cuisine; the Melt Shop, offering artisanal grilled-cheese sandwiches and old-school milkshakes; and Piada, named for the flatbread, where Italian is given the fast-food treatment.

For dessert, follow the sweet scents flowing from Cupcake, whose chef took home top prize in Food Network’s Cupcake Wars in 2012. Go with a classic (the Betty Crocker, with pink vanilla frosting) or gourmet (Pumpkin Cream or Mexican Hot Chocolate).

Cover image © iStock.com /EzumeImages

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