Food Bites

Where the Buffalo Roam

OK, admit it: You love—love!—red meat. But every time you so much as think about a big, thick, juicy beefsteak, the health police are on your case. Well, maybe it’s time to try the “other” red meat: buffalo (AKA bison—one and the same on the plate).

Our original Minnesotans, the Sioux, once lived where the buffalo roamed, and that meat carried them through a long, cold winter. Works today, too.

They were onto something. Grill it, stew it, fry it, even serve it tartare, and man, it’s tasty. As bonus points, buffalo boasts immense health benefits. Compared with beef, pork, or even shrimp and skinless chicken, for God’s sake, it’s lower in cholesterol, calories, and fat.

In fact, in cooking beef, you piously trim off those hunks of fat, and then drain more from the pan. In other words, you’re tossing in the garbage stuff you paid for.

Not so with buffalo, because it’s almost pure protein—no waste. That means it doesn’t shrink in cooking, either, so you get every ounce you paid for.

Plus, buffalo is raised right here in Minnesota, another bonus for us locovores. Our state boasts more than 200 buffalo producers, ranking us number two in the nation.

These brawny beasts spend their days eating grass, just like they always did, which means they’re not pumped up with additives and chemicals.

Want to test-drive before cooking it in your own kitchen? Here are several dining homes where buffalo roam:

Common Roots Last year’s big hit was a bison-wild rice meatloaf. This season, it’s Bourbon-marinated bison steak, served with cauliflower gratin, crispy leeks, and blood orange reduction, abetted by more Bourbon in the pan jus.

French Meadow The menu features bison, this time topping housemade papardelle noodles, Provençal-style, along with green olives, arugula, and Parmesan.

Hell’s Kitchen Ever since it opened, this café has served its signature bison Benedict, a regional remake of the classic, calling on char-grilled bison flank steak topped with poached eggs and a snappy tangerine-jalapeño hollandaise, all piled atop multigrain toast.

Mystic Lake Casino Going back to their roots, the Sioux who run this casino offer a bison burger at the Little Six and Tipi restaurants, and feature it seasonally on the buffet line, using meat raised by a tribal member. Worth the gamble!

Urban Eatery In the Calhoun Beach Club’s new establishment, look for a dynamite bison pot roast, livened with sweet potato mash and curried chickpeas.

Tangletown Gardens Owners Launch Wise Acre Eatery

In May, Scott Endres and Dean Engelmann, owners of Tangletown Gardens, will open Wise Acre Eatery across the street in the former Liberty Frozen Custard location, 5401 Nicollet Avenue, Minneapolis. It’s set to be the neighborhood place for eating fresh, sustainably-grown food arriving direct from the Tangletown Gardens farm in Plato, Minnesota.

Endres says, “It’s the ultimate farm-to-table eating experience. We will be the folks sowing the seeds, nurturing plants, and tending the animals in the morning, then delivering the harvest to our restaurant’s kitchen and market in the afternoon. It just doesn’t get any more local than that.”

For more information, visit

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