Way back in 1996, a little film called Fargo premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and then quickly went on to collect a bunch of awards and inspire a television series of the same name. It put the North Dakota city on the map, even if it sent the message that big fur hats, quirky speech patterns, and new uses for a woodchipper were all the rage.
But over the last 25 years, Fargo has evolved into a city that can show off some impressive offerings, especially when it comes to food. It’s a busy Midwestern destination for weekend getaways or a quick stay while en route to bigger centers like Minneapolis or Chicago. Let’s have a look at what’s on the menu, in no particular order.
1. Plaza Azteca
Tucked into a residential neighborhood in West Fargo, the modern lines of the Plaza Azteca building aren’t what diners have come to 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 At Plaza Azteca
The fresh tableside guacamole is a treat with Hass avocado, jalapeño, tomato, red onion, and lime plus unlimited warm chips. It’s a far cry from the runny premade guacamole that’s become popular in so many restaurants and is an absolute steal at only $10. Tacos are tops with the shrimp variety stealing the show. They come three on a plate with rice, black beans, chile de árbol sauce, and fresh lime.
2. Wurst Bier Hall
The communal tables and benches plus the warehouse vibe of the downtown location have made Wurst Bier Hall a favorite for locals and travelers alike. There are over 40 local, regional, and seasonal brews on tap plus a mouth-watering menu with classic German dishes, some of which get a modern update. There’s a second location in West Fargo too.
What To Order At Wurst Bier Hall
No one would blame you for ordering the Bavarian pretzels and only the Bavarian pretzels at each and every visit. They arrive at the table warm, with either beer cheese dip or marshmallow fluff — although, seriously, get the beer cheese dip for goodness’ sake! And order 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, choose spaetzle mac 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 furnishing, ultra-comfy beds, big and beautiful bathrooms — and pet friendly too. Its charms include the warm and welcoming lounge, bar, and restaurant called Rosewild on the main floor that practically begs for a nightcap before heading upstairs.
What To Order At Jasper Hotel Lounge
Tequila aficionados can’t go wrong with the Sparkling Paloma crafted with reposado tequila, cherry, lime, and grapefruit soda. Another hit is Centralita, with Appleton Estate, Havana club, amaretto, and pineapple. There’s also a dry bar selection, a trend that’s 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, lime juice, and rosemary.
4. Rhombus Guys
You’ll be compelled to grab a crayon and start doodling on the paper tablecloths at Rhombus Guys Pizza. Go for it! What started as a smoothie stand at the farmers market has become the favorite pizza destination in the Red River Valley, now with year-round locations in Grand Forks and Fargo and a seasonal shop in Mentor. And what about the name? That smoothie stand was designed to be a compact cube and ended up much like a rhombus.
What To Order At Rhombus Guys Pizza
Start with the beer queso made from gooey cheddar, smoked gouda, and Iconic Blonde Ale, served with a heaping pile of chips. From the Originals menu, go for the T-Rex, a meat lover’s dream with pepperoni, sausage, Canadian bacon, beef and bacon, and a whole lotta Mozzarella. At the very far end of the other spectrum, the Gorgonzola Pear features caramelized onion, pear — obviously — and three cheeses. It’s topped with thyme, arugula, walnuts, and a balsamic reduction once it comes out of the oven. While beer is a no-brainer with pizza, give the Rose 99 a try. The cocktail is a tribute to the late Betty White and it’s zippy and fun — just like her.
5. Kroll’s Diner
Their slogan 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 lights overhead, a lunch counter stacked with covered pie platters, and sparkly vinyl seats. Background sounds are provided by the sizzling grill and whirring milkshake machines. The family biz has been around since 1969 and now has four locations throughout North Dakota.
What To Order At Kroll’s Diner
The menu is massive, starting with an all-day breakfast and ending with a root beer float. For brekkie, skillets are tops here. The Cajun version includes kielbasa, onions, green peppers, hash browns, Cajun seasonings, and plenty of cheese. German specialties take center stage later in the day with their famous “lumpy yellow soup” called knoephla (a thick chicken and dumpling concoction) followed by a fleischkuechle, a deep-fried, meat-filled pastry served with a side of cottage cheese. But if you want a true diner meal, order the patty melt — a simple hamburger on grilled sourdough bread topped with American cheese and sautéed red onion — and my fave.
6. The Boiler Room
There’s a secret lane in downtown Fargo called Roberts Alley behind Broadway where some of Fargo’s best restaurants reside. And it’s here you’ll find the entrance to The Boiler Room. As the name suggests, it’s in the basement of a restored building and a favorite spot for late-night bites, cocktails, brunch, and lunch too. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into an old-time speakeasy — there’s something a little forbidden about the location, but it’s so comfy you’ll want to stay for just one more cocktail.
What To Order At The Boiler Room
The signature Scotch eggs are a must — hardboiled eggs, wrapped in sausage, deep fried, and served with spicy maple aioli. And if you’re really hungry, the barbecue glazed meatloaf with bourbon sauce, mashed potatoes, and creamed corn will make you remember Sunday dinners at grandma’s place. 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 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. His mom had taught him to make mouth-watering buttermilk donuts, and they were always a hit when he made them for family and friends. Sandy’s Donuts was born! Today, they serve up over 10,000 donuts daily from three locations.
What To Order At Sandy’s Donuts
It’s best to go for one of Sandy’s Favorites boxes. Take your pick from three assortments, with or without nuts. Are you ready? Box #3 includes
- Red Velvet Oreo
- Double Chocolate Cake
- Lemon Blueberry Cake
- Homer Donut (Pink Sprinkles)
- Oreo Raised
- German Chocolate Raised
- Dark Chocolate Bavarian Bismark
- Blueberry Bismark
- White Frosted Long John
- Cinnamon Pretzel
- Birthday Cake
- Peanut Butter Fried Cinnamon
Summer lasts all year long at The Silver Linings Creamery in downtown Fargo. It’s likely the 14 percent butterfat that makes all their traditional (strawberry) and out-of-the-box (chili roasted pistachio) flavors taste so darned good. Care for a German chocolate cake shake? Or a double cone of Fruity Pebbles — it’s for breakfast, ya know. The lineup is forever changing and includes sorbets and vegan options too. Blueberry basil is not to be missed. And don’t forget to get a photo in front of the mural that puts ice cream cone angel wings on everyone.
It’s the official snack of North Dakota and well beyond. Dot’s Homestyle Pretzels are consumed at the rate of 1,588,824,896 each year. That’s a lot of munching on a snack that started in Velva, North Dakota. It’s a toss-up whether the original seasoned or newer Southwest flavor is best, but the good news is that a party-sized bag of each should settle the debate.