Back in 1996, a little movie called Fargo it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and then quickly went on to garner a slew of awards and inspire a TV series of the same name. He put the North Dakota town on the map, even if he sent the message that big fur hats, wacky speech patterns and new uses for a wood chipper were all the rage.
But in the last 25 years, Fargo has become a city that can show off some impressive offerings, especially when it comes to food. It’s a busy Midwest destination for weekend getaways or a quick stay while heading to larger centers like Minneapolis or Chicago. Let’s take a look at what’s on the menu, in no particular order.
1. Aztec Plaza
Tucked away in a residential neighborhood in West Fargo, the modern lines of the Plaza Azteca building are not what diners expect when it comes to that authentic Mexican food experience. But take a step inside and those familiar sights, sounds and smells will quickly have you craving your favorites.
What to order in Plaza Azteca
The fresh tableside guacamole is a delight with Hass avocado, jalapeno, tomato, red onion and lime, plus unlimited hot potato chips. It is a far cry from the liquid premade guacamole that has become popular in so many restaurants and is an absolute steal at only $10. The tacos are the best with the shrimp variety stealing the show. They come three in a plate with rice, black beans, chile de árbol salsa, and fresh lime.
2. Wurst Coffin Hall
Communal tables and benches, plus a downtown warehouse vibe, have made Wurst Bier Hall a favorite with locals and travelers alike. There are over 40 local, regional and seasonal beers on tap, plus a delicious menu of classic German dishes, some of which get a modern update. There is also a second location in West Fargo.
What to Order at Wurst Bier Hall
No one would blame you for ordering the Bavarian pretzels and only the Bavarian pretzels on each and every visit. They arrive at the table hot, with beer cheese dip or marshmallow fluff, though seriously, get the beer cheese dip for chrissakes! And ask for an extra pretzel to make it an order of four, otherwise there will be arguments. The glazed ham sandwich is a winner, and for heartier appetites, go for spaetzle macaroni and cheese with Hawaiian sausage.
3. Jasper Hotel Lounge
Let’s talk a bit about the Jasper Hotel, a boutique space in historic downtown Fargo that’s everything a chic hotel should be with fine furnishings, ultra-comfortable beds, big, gorgeous bathrooms, and it’s also pet-friendly. Its charms include the warm and welcoming lounge, bar and restaurant called Rosewild on the main floor that you practically order a drink before heading upstairs.
What to order at Jasper Hotel Lounge
Tequila aficionados can’t go wrong with the Sparkling Paloma made with reposado tequila, cherry, lime, and grapefruit soda. Another success is Centralita, with Appleton Estate, Havana club, amaretto and pineapple. There is also a selection of dry bars, a trend that is becoming more and more popular. Non-alcoholic selections include the Smashless made with blood orange, demerara, lemon and soda and the Marigold with cranberry, pineapple, lemon juice and rosemary.
4. rhombus boys
You’ll be forced to grab a crayon and start scribbling on the paper tablecloths at Rhombus Guys Pizza. Go for it! What started as a smoothie stand at the farmer’s market has become a favorite pizza destination in the Red River Valley, now with year-round locations in Grand Forks and Fargo and a seasonal store in Mentor. And what about the name? That smoothie stand was designed to be a compact cube and ended up as a diamond.
What to order at Rhombus Guys Pizza
Start with the beer cheese made with sticky cheddar, smoked gouda and Iconic Blonde Ale, served with a heaping stack of fries. From the Originals menu, choose the T-Rex, a meat lover’s dream with pepperoni, sausage, Canadian bacon, beef and bacon, and lots of mozzarella. At the far end of the other spectrum, Gorgonzola Pear features caramelized onion, pear, obviously, and three cheeses. It is topped with thyme, arugula, walnuts and a balsamic reduction once it comes out of the oven. While beer is a no-brainer with the pizza, try the Rose 99. The cocktail is a tribute to the late Betty White and is upbeat and fun, just like her.
5. Kroll Restaurant
Their motto is “sit down and eat,” and that’s exactly what you’ll want to do inside Kroll’s Diner. The retro diner looks and feels like it’s straight out of a movie set with neon overhead, a lunch counter stacked with covered pie trays, and glossy vinyl seating. Background sounds are provided by the sizzling grill and the hum of the smoothie machines. The family business has been around since 1969 and now has four locations in North Dakota.
What to order at Kroll’s Diner
The menu is huge, starting with an all day breakfast and ending with a root beer soda. For breakfast, skillets are the best here. The Cajun version includes kielbasa, onions, green bell peppers, hash browns, Cajun seasonings, and lots of cheese. German specialties take center stage later in the day with their famous “lumpy yellow soup” called knoephla (a thick concoction of chicken and dumpling) followed by a fleischkuechle, a deep-fried meat-filled pie served with a side of cottage cheese. But if you want a real meal for dinner, order the Patty Melt, a simple burger on a grilled sourdough bun topped with American cheese and sautéed red onion, and my favorite.
6. The boiler room
There is a secret lane in downtown Fargo called Roberts Alley behind Broadway where some of Fargo’s best restaurants are located. And it is here that you will find the entrance to The Boiler Room. As the name suggests, it is in the basement of a restored building and is a favorite place for late night snacks, cocktails, brunches and lunches. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into an old-fashioned speakeasy – there’s something a little off-kilter about the place, but it’s so comfortable you’ll want to stay alone for one more cocktail.
What to order in the boiler room
The signature Scotch eggs are a must: hard-boiled, sausage-wrapped, fried, and served with spicy maple aioli. And if you’re really hungry, the Glazed BBQ Meatloaf with Bourbon Sauce, Mashed Potatoes, and Creamed Corn will remind you of Sunday dinners at Grandma’s. And since we’re in the Midwest, Marge’s world-famous Hotdish might be in order. It’s a heaping order of ground bison, mushrooms, green beans, carrots, and demi-glace; topped with cheddar cheese and of course cheesy tater tots.
7. Sandy’s Donuts
It all started in 1983 when Sandy Ostlund found himself on the cusp of a career change. Her mom had taught her how to make delicious buttermilk donuts, and they were always a hit when she made them for family and friends. Sandy’s Donuts was born! Today, they serve more than 10,000 donuts daily from three locations.
What to order at Sandy’s Donuts
It is best to opt for one of Sandy’s favorite boxes. Choose from three assortments, with or without nuts. Are you ready? Box #3 includes
- red velvet oreo
- Double Chocolate Cake
- Lemon and blueberry cake
- Homer Donut (pink sprinkles)
- raised oreo
- German Bred Chocolate
- Dark Chocolate Bavarian Bismark
- cranberry bismark
- White Frosted Long Johns
- cinnamon pretzel
- Birthday cake
- Fried Cinnamon with Peanut Butter
Summer lasts all year at The Silver Linings Creamery in downtown Fargo. The 14 percent butterfat is likely what makes all of their traditional (strawberry) and ready-to-use (chili roasted pistachio) flavors taste so good. Do you want a German chocolate cake milkshake? Or a double cone of Fruity Pebbles – it’s for breakfast, you know. The lineup is forever changing and includes sorbet and vegan options as well. The blueberry basil is not to be missed. And don’t forget to take a photo in front of the mural that puts angel wings with ice cream cone on everyone.
It’s the official snack of North Dakota and far beyond. Dot’s homemade pretzels are consumed at the rate of 1,588,824,896 each year. That’s a lot to eat for a snack that started in Velva, North Dakota. There’s no telling if the original or newer Southwest Seasoned flavor is best, but the good news is that a party-sized bag of each should settle the debate.