By Pete Nielson
Black Friday has come and gone. I thankfully did not go out shopping on the busiest shopping day of the year. I also did not get trampled, shoved or otherwise accosted by any other persons out enduring the savings that is Black Friday. This also means that I have one less week to find all the gifts on my list. To avoid the crowds, I decided to head to downtown Fargo for some unique gift opportunities.
Admittedly I am a procrastinator. I do enjoy some good window-shopping but that’s usually all the further that my shopping ambition goes. I just can’t decide and it becomes very exhausting looking for the perfect gift. But there are truly unique gifts in the downtown shops, along with clothing and art that you just won’t find anywhere else in the F-M area. So after a long day of not deciding on anything to buy, I now need to decide on place to recharge and regroup. This I can handle. I absolutely love food. I enjoy all sorts of dining from fast food to fine dining, and luckily enough I can have it all in just a few short blocks along Broadway.
There are many choices in the downtown area and each is as unique as the shopping list I am trying to avoid. Depending on my mood and appetite you can find me at any one of the following restaurants. I chose these three to write about because they are all perfect places to get a great meal and relax while enjoying some ofdowntown’s best food.
The first to make my list is JL Beers. The service is fast and the menu simple, not too many choices to add to the confusion of the holiday shopping. Well, that is until you get to the beer selection. I’ve got to say that I don’t mind stressing over the huge selection of beers. The burger menu is straightforward ala carte burgers. I dig the Humpty burger with the works. You just can’t beat this protein over load. The hand pattied burger with a fried egg, add tomato, bacon, fried onions and cheese. A side of fries and a little siracha (best condiment ever) finishes the basket.
Now all I need to do is figure out what beer I want. The beer menu is very descriptive and helpful for navigating the world of beers that JL’s has on tap and in its coolers.
Building a burger basket and a beer, you can easily keep inside of the most stringent of budgets. The menu is a build your own menu so add fries or not depending on how hungry you are. This is a must location if you want a great burger and beer. Due to the small size of the shop, you may need to wait for a seat, but this gives you plenty of time to get to know other guests or to figure out what beer you want to have.
I don’t always feel like a burger, so next on my list is the Green Market, a quick couple of blocks from Broadway. The Green Market is a truly great addition to the downtown food scene and one of my favorite places to enjoy a truly varied cuisine.
Andrea has done a superb job of locally sourcing as many products as possible and the menu is vegan- and vegetarian-friendly. I’m a fan of any menu that can feature vegetables as a main course and do it well. The Green Market has accomplished this many times over. It also has many options for the carnivore. The menu changes weekly, daily and with the seasons.
The must-haves when dining at the Green Market include starting off with the cheese plate and socca cakes. Peter does a wonderful job of finding the best cheeses and the socca cake, when available, is a pan-fried, spiced chickpea cake, which is just delicious.
Carnivores will be happy to know that the menu often features locally sourced lamb, beef and bison. I suggest the Bison Tenderloin with Anchovy Butter, medium rare of course.
The Green Market offers “small plate dining” so you can mix and match all the dishes on the menu. I have yet to leave anything but completely satisfied with the portions and the price. You can find dishes on the menu ranging from 4 to 14 dollars and the Green Market offers beer and wine.
Monte’s is a must visit over the holiday season. This staple of the downtown area has never disappointed me. The featured cabernet by the glass is a go-to libation for me every time I visit. Grab a table in the dining area or sit at the bar. It wont matter—the service is always outstanding.
I suggest the wild mushroom soup and a plate of Monte’s Swedish meatballs for the perfect combination of comfort foods after a chilly evening of shopping. If you would like something a little more adventurous, look towards the specials menu or just ask the staff.
I like having the servers explain the menu items to me, not because I can’t read but because I am sucker for a well-described menu item. With a fully equipped bar you are sure to find a cocktail to enjoy. The atmosphere is always very comfortable and the service is never over the top. The perfect place to really sit back and enjoy some time with a loved one or the poor sap that went shopping with you.
No matter if you take one of my selections for recharging or you find another for dining. Remember that it’s not how much you spend over the holidays but how you spend your time. Relax and enjoy yourself.
To view this article at The High Plains Reader