Jihye Chang

My favorite restaurants in Fargo-Moorhead area

Tuna Appetizer at Monk's Pub

Tuna Appetizer at Monk’s Pub

I have lived in Fargo-Moorhead area for about 1.65 years, and there are a few really good places for dining and having fun. One of my favorite restaurant is Sushi Time, and I found this place through someone’s blog. So I thought I would share my thoughts so that someone else can visit a great place in this area.

Silver Moon on Robert St – very well executed fine dining experience. It’s been open for less than a year (today is April 10 2009), but it seems to be thriving. Dessert menu was a bit disappointing but the duck dish (with campari infused sweet potato) my husband ordered was amazing. Great salad, great atmosphere, and great service. A bit loud, though. (no section or walls inside the restaurant, high ceiling, live performance. Hence lots of noise)

Update (January 25, 2010) – visited a few more times after posting this, including tonight. Still wonderful, some dishes are a bit too salty. My husband’s braised sort rib with gnocchi was wonderful. Still not happy with their dessert..

Update (April 2016) – Closed a while ago, and has been successfully turned over as “Mezzluna.” My friends (especially the Fargo Moorhead Symphony friends) seem to like it very much, and I would love to visit it sometime soon.

Stella’s (formerly Isabella’s)  – my favorite Italian place in town. Their food has a lot of garlic and a lot of tomato so some people may find it a bit strong, but I love it! Their appetizer tray, lasagna, seafood spaghetti, zuppa di pesce, and grilled sausages with peppers are fantastic. I also like their bread, especially when it comes fresh and warm from the oven. Nothing special, but good basic loaf to soak up oil, vinegar and lots of sauce from your plate. Nice chocolate cake and cheesecake for desserts. (Their tiramisu is a bit heavy on the alcohol side.) Service can be slow. Toscana is also an OK Italian restaurant in downtown, but they have very weird hours and their food tend to be really salty. I like their gnocchi and pea and ham spaghetti for a quick lunch. (Lunch pasta dishes are usually $7-8)

Update (April 2016): CLOSED! 

Usher’s/ Monk’s Bar – Best sashimi-grade tuna dish in town. (I tried sashimi tuna dishes in all the restaurants that I visited in this area.) They serve Tuna napoleon as an appetizer, and it’s $16 -But it comes with 6 big chunks of really good-quality tuna, slightly seared, with some spicy aioli and fried wonton wrappers. It’s better to order it from the Monk’s bar, not from Usher’s. You can have it as a main dish and add a soup or something, instead of ordering a main dish.  Good beer selection. Good atmosphere. Other dishes are OK. I love the atmosphere in the Usher’s dining room – nice wood interior with big windows.

Update: Monk’s Bar has Happy Hour from 3-6pm, and all the appetizers are half price. The garnish and presentation was different during this summer from the winter, but still delicious.

Maxwell’s – the best Creme Brulee in town. (And one of the bests I have had – creme brulee is one of my favorite desserts!) Main dish can be on the salty side. But they have great service and atmosphere. Special occasion pre-fix menu is fun, but maybe not that special. (And good things run out – we could not get the fried banana dessert on Valentine’s day.) Nice to place to try/ very good wine list.

John Alexander’s on Main Ave., Moorhead – right next door to the Juano’s. Nice atmosphere, nicely written menu. Their best meal and best deal is Sunday Brunch, not their lunch or dinner. (Hamburger and fish & chips are good, but other items may bring you a big disappointment.) I always have hard time deciding what to eat for brunch, and buffet is a bit too much for me. Here you can choose one from yogurt, granola and fruit sort of thing and then select your main dishes such as omelet and pancake.

HoDo – this place has a really nice feel to it, but their food is not my favorite. (It always seems to be trying too hard to be cool and the flavor of dishes is always off a little bit or lacking something.) I like their mini-desserts because of their fun size. Sorbet is the best choice. (Meyer Lemon sorbet was good.) Cool place to hang out and drink, although the bar area is a bit too loud for my taste.

Sarello’s in Moorhead, near the mall – I have been there only once, but it seemed to be popular and it was good. To me this restaurant was a bit over-priced, but the service was really nice and food was very well prepared. I had a seabass with cornmeal crust which was nice enough but not memorable like some of the dishes I had at the Silver Moon. I don’t even remember what my husband ordered here..! Nice bread and butter. It feels a bit boxy and crowded. (Probably because the space used to be an office.)

When you want to have good ribs or rotisserie chicken, Spitfire is a very nice place to visit. It’s locally owned and has a very pleasant, sporty, and comfortable atmosphere. Very good ribs and good desserts. Salad greens sometimes appear very sad and not-fresh, though. Doolittle is also nice for rotisserie stuff or other simple burgers and salads (Tuna nicoise salad is very good.) It’s spacious, friendly, and clean. Best of all, Doolittle’s kitchen is open until 11pm, which is rare in this area.

I also like Nichole’s pastry shop on 8th St. (off the Main Ave.) very much. It has really nice croissants and scones. Lunch sandwiches and salad are also reasonably priced and tasty. Nice tea selection and gelatos as well as beautiful chocolates (cocoa truffles!), but I don’t like their coffee too much. (They serve French pressed coffee. So it’s almost always fresh, but it’s just not my favorite type of coffee. Their espresso drinks are OK.) Their fruit pie during the spring-summer season is also nice. During the winter, check out the banana-cream pie and chocolate-sea salt-caramel tart -they are so yummy! Chocolate feuillentine is very good as well as chocolate caramel torte. I don’t like their cakes (vanilla cake, carrot cake, lemon curd cake, black forest cake are all OK but not great) or cookies that much, though. But it’s still one of the places in Fargo-Moorhead area that makes me happy. Very nice clerks, too.

Update (January 25. 2010) – Nichole’s is expanding!

One sad thing about being so far away from the ocean is that it’s really hard to get good sushi. Yuki Hana seems to be popular, but it is a mediocre place (or below mediocre) with overpriced items. Ingredients do not seem fresh (especially the teriyaki stuff – both meat and veggies) After a few visits, my husband and I decided not to go back.

Update (March 10, 2010): Yuki Hana has been closed for a while, but it will be open soon again. (Chef Sheng from Sushi Time got a job offer there.) Newly open Kobe’s is very popular, but I don’t like their sushi. It seems that the sushi rice quality is very poor, and the rolls are covered with too much sweet tasting sauce/ not enough fish in the rolls. My husband never wanted to go back after the first try, and I dragged him 3-4 more times. But now I know that I will probably not go back ever again.)

Another sad thing is that there is no decent Chinese restaurant in town, and there is no Korean restaurant. For Chinese food-cravings, I go to Little Szechuan in St. Paul. (My husband and I would make an excuse to go there!)

For Thai food, Leela on the 25th Ave. is nice, although it can be too sweet sometimes. Black and white slices are good as well as angel wings (pretty spicy). My husband’s favorite is their mango-duck curry and my favorite is basil stir-fry with tofu and eggplant. Fresh spring rolls and Pad Thai are better at Thai Orchid in Moorhead. I also like their Spicy Catfish, House Special Noodles and Thai fried rice.

Update (December 2009): Thai Orchid has changed their recipes for a lot of things. I like the old flavors of the Tom Yum and Yum Nua better. Also the fresh chili sauce is a lot more spicy. Still the Spicy Catfish is good as well as the fresh spring rolls are good.

I find it interesting that there are not many McDonalds or Wendy’s in town and there is no donut joint.  (Krispy Kreme went out of business last year!) But I suppose that’s a good thing.

I just wish someone will open a nice Korean restaurant or a noodle shop soon! The best location would be the Bison Block on the 12th..

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18 Responses to “My favorite restaurants in Fargo-Moorhead area”

  1. Josh | April 29th, 2009 at 9:50 pm

    I just found your blog while researching Fargo-Moorhead restaurants. My wife and I been living here for less than a year and still haven’t been able to eat at all the places we want to yet, including many on your list.

    I’m going to have to keep reading to get at all the other delicious morsels. Thanks for such a great primer on where to go – and where to avoid!

  2. Jihye Chang | April 29th, 2009 at 10:24 pm

    Welcome to the area..! I am glad you found my blog, and I hope you will find the information useful. Thanks for visiting, and thanks for the comment! 🙂
    Today I visited a new Japanese-Tepan yakki place called “Kobe” (on the 15th Ave SW) and it was quite good. I am not a big fan of tepan-yaki restaurants (the show gets old after once or twice and it’s always too salty), but this restaurant has very nice selection of appetizers.

  3. Char | May 14th, 2009 at 8:47 am

    It Kobe a real Tepanyaki – like table service?

  4. Jihye Chang | May 14th, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    Yes – Kobe is a real Tepan-Yaki (Hibachi) place with a big steel cooking-area in front of you.. Fire show and all that. And that is the only thing I would order there. They have a large sushi and good-looking appetizer menus, but their rolls were too big without much fish slices, rice was gummy, and covered in too much sweet sauce. Appetizers are OK but small in portion and you can find better appetizers elsewhere with that price. Their tepan yaki meat, veggies, and fried rice are fair enough. (just like any other tepan restaurants in small cities.) Service is good, and they did try to make it a more “upscale” place. I have not ordered their nigiri sushi, but I don’t think I will go there for sushi.

  5. niton | May 25th, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    how many time have u been to kobe? i think yuki hana and kobe are very good asian cuisine..www.areavoices.com/foodcritic/?blog=51474..thanks

  6. Jihye Chang | May 26th, 2009 at 5:06 am

    Hello niton – I have been to Kobe three times, once with a large group of people and ordered a bunch of different appetizers. Appetizers are OK but not good enough for me to order again. Their Hibachi is fair, but it’s not my favorite type of food. Yuki Hana is just not good in my opinion. I visited that place about 6 times with different friends, and was disappointed every single time. (It is pricey, vegetables are not that fresh, sauces that they use for Korean dishes do not taste good, and my husband just does not like that restaurant at all)
    I think it’s also personal taste. I have been to much better Japanese/Korean restaurants and I would rather cook at home than going to those restaurants..

  7. Lisa | August 15th, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    Hey, there! There is an awesome doughnut shop on Main Ave in West Fargo called Sandy’s Donuts…

    Get there early on Saturday mornings before they sell out!

  8. Jihye Chang | August 15th, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    Hi – thanks for the comment! Someone on Facebook told me about that place, too. I will try it out next Saturday.. 🙂

  9. Jason | September 21st, 2009 at 2:44 pm

    Couple updates…Yuki Hana is now closed and Drunken Noodle is open now on NP Ave next to the Sports Bar.

  10. Jihye Chang | September 21st, 2009 at 4:59 pm

    Hello Jason – thanks for the comment. Yes Yuki Hana is closed..I shall update that. I wrote about the Drunken Noodle in my “Fargo’s Newest Excitement” posting. I like their Ba Mee Gaeng a lot! And Drunken Noodle #2 is open at the old Saffron restaurant’s location!

  11. Kathleen Cox | November 7th, 2009 at 8:16 am

    I came upon your site accidentally after my husband mentioned your husband’s violin concert this past week. We just started our 3rd year in Fargo and are always excited when something new opens up! You are right about Chinese, I think we have tried every place in town, and now drive to the cities when we are desperate. It was also nice to see your write up on Bloomington, as that is where my husband and I met (Runcible Spoon was our first date.) I am most intrigued by some of your personal recipes, since I have found myself learning to make more of the things I used to eat when we went out. I look forward to checking back and getting the perspective of another Fargo newbie! :o)

  12. Jihye Chang | November 7th, 2009 at 8:54 am

    Hello Kathleen – thanks for your message! I met my husband in Bloomington, too, while we were both doctorate students at IU School of Music. It’s so nice to meet someone who knows the Runcible spoon. 🙂 We are also in our 3rd year in Fargo, and I am still hoping that somebody will open a decent Chinese restaurant..!

  13. September | November 10th, 2009 at 7:18 am

    If you haven’t tried Sandy’s Donuts on Main Ave. & Sheyenne Street in West Fargo, then you are missing out on the best donuts around. They also serve wonderful sandwich lunches.

  14. Joe Wallevand | April 1st, 2010 at 6:17 am

    I just figured out who you were, Jihye. With your time “here,” the Asian name, and keyboard header, the obvious jumped out at me. Though we haven’t heard any of your performances, we have very much enjoyed Ben’s presentations. Welcome to the area and thanks for the gastronomic commentary.

  15. autoversicherung vergleich | October 18th, 2010 at 12:44 am

    last week our class held a similar talk on this subject and you show something we have not covered yet, appreciate that.

    – Kris

  16. Jihye Chang | October 18th, 2010 at 10:27 am

    Hello- I am glad you found something new on my blog !

  17. It Took A Year To Get To Maxwells - Jeni Eats | April 20th, 2016 at 1:49 pm

    […] and pianist Jihye Chang provides her thoughts on Maxwells in a post written when she used to live in the Fargo-Moorhead area. Her documentation […]

  18. Jihye Chang | April 20th, 2016 at 4:29 pm

    Thanks for the ping, Jen! This really made me want to blog again about foods and stuff.. I am trying Instagram for fun these days. I may post a few things about Tallahassee… we will see. Great to hear from you!

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