Review: Best Bean Dishes in the Lake Minnetonka Area

Legumes in every shape and guise.

We all know the schoolyard ditty about the magical fruit. As silly as it is, we should take those lyrics to heart, at least the part about “eat your beans at every meal.” Beans are indeed magical—full of fiber, antioxidants and protein; low fat; versatile; economical—and they come in umpteen tasty guises. Many beans belong to the legume or fabaceae family, which includes a few unlikely bean contenders like peas and peanuts. Other “beans” are called so simply for their distinctive oval shape.

From coffee beans and kidney beans to soybeans and jelly beans, chances are beans are a part of your daily life. Don’t be put off by the bean’s reputation for gas production; it’s possible to build up your bean tolerance by eating lots of them. The addition of spices and the combination of grains can also alleviate the effect. We’ve sampled nine local bean experiences that are well worth savoring.


YoYo Donuts and Coffee Bar

First things first: coffee! YoYo Donuts is serious about the coffee they serve to complement their addictively delicious donuts. Local bean roaster Dogwood Coffee Company delivers direct-trade fresh beans every week, and every cup is ground and brewed to order. (Direct trade is one better than fair trade, providing a better income for coffee farmers.) We tried a single-source bold coffee from the Fazenda Chapadau estate in Brazil, a smooth and slightly smoky brew that didn’t need the enhancement of sugar or cream. The walls of YoYo are decorated with exotic burlap coffee bean sacks for some armchair traveling while you sip. Up this month: Coffee from Costa Rica, Nerio Ramirez will be the dark roast in April. Full disclosure: Coffee beans are not part of the legume family, but as we learned, it can still count as a bean. $3.99/12 oz., $4.99 16/oz. 5757 Sanibel Dr., Minnetonka; 952.960.1800;


Sakana Sushi

Edamame are a bar snack in Japan that have become so popular in the United States that you can find them in salad bars at mainstream chain restaurants. Of all the legumes, soybeans have the highest level of protein and are used to make many kinds of meat substitutes, the most famous of which is tofu. Edamame are immature soybeans that seem to have nothing in common with that much maligned bland and pale “vegetarian spam.” They are buttery, sweet, toothsome and great fun to pop out of their fuzzy pod. The electric-green beans are lightly steamed; a simple dusting of coarse sea salt is all that they need. Kids love ’em, too. $4.95. 683 E. Lake St., Wayzata; 952.476.7000;


Falafel was first made in Egypt, but is now popular throughout Arabic and Mediterranean cuisines. Originally eaten as a meat substitute during Lent, falafel has evolved into the preferred fast food for college students and tourists worldwide. Christo’s offers a slightly more elegant version made from chickpeas—also called garbanzo beans—which are coarsely ground up with parsley, garlic, cumin and coriander. The balls are deep-fried till golden and crispy on the outside and served with a traditional tahini sauce, a sesame seed paste with olive oil, lemon and garlic. Christo’s freshly baked pita bread makes a nice wrapper; add some tomato and cucumber for color and crunch. A side of creamy cucumber-yogurt tzatziki is another tasty addition. Comes with French fries. $11.45 (dinner). 15600 Hwy. 7, Minnetonka; 952.912.1000;



Ike’s portions are reliably huge so you can enjoy a generous mound of bright green haricots verts (a.k.a. green beans) on this monster of a salad. The beans are quickly steamed to retain their crispness and color, and play a key part in the symphony of steamed baby potatoes, chopped tomato, red onion and hard-boiled egg. Ike’s take on the classic Niçoise salad substitutes sliced steak for the customary tuna; it’s cooked to order and arrayed on top of the pile of field greens. A slick of zesty mustard vinaigrette brings all the elements into harmony together. $24. 17805 Hwy. 7, Minnetonka; 952.681.7099; 

318 Cafe

This tubby wrap is stuffed with freshly scrambled egg, a smoky, slightly hot chipotle-flavored sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese and the stellar black bean and corn salsa that adds the requisite dose of texture and a big hit of flavor. Black beans and corn often go hand in hand; the addition of onion and cilantro make this combination delicious. It’s a vegetarian’s perfect meal for any time of the day, and it’s just $8; add chorizo ($2 extra) for a meaty kick. 318 Water St., Excelsior; 952.401.7902;

For some reason this appetizer is a classic, even old-fashioned, dish in many non-Chinese restaurants—perhaps because it is both simple and delicious. Green beans are sautéed with bacon in Szechuan sauce until slightly shriveled but still a bit crunchy. The final dish is liberally sprinkled with pretty sesame seeds. It’s impossible to eat just one, but that’s OK because it’s a good-for-you vegetable, right? $8.95. 685 Excelsior Blvd., Excelsior; 952.470.1800;


Gold Nugget

Magic Beans

Beans often step up to serve meat’s role; their soft texture make an ideal burger patty. Gold Nugget uses black beans and corn to make a Southwestern-themed vegetarian patty that’s as flavorful as any ground chuck, if not more so. It’s slightly cornmeal-crusted-crisp on the outside, soft in the middle, studded with lots of corn kernels and gussied up with buttery avocado, pepper jack cheese, shredded lettuce and fresh, bright pico de gallo salsa. $9.95. 14401 Excelsior Blvd., Minnetonka; 952.935.3600;


Famous Dave’s

Wilbur beans are relegated to the side dish section of the menu, but they are so rich and chunky they could handily serve as a satisfying main course. The tender white beans themselves are full of protein, and Famous Dave’s recipe boasts the addition of three kinds of meat—smoked pork butt, beef brisket and hot link sausage—which considerably amp up the nutritional factor and depth of flavor. Jalapeno peppers contribute a subtle kick, and Famous Dave’s signature barbecue sauce makes a sweet, soup-like base. Get some cornbread to dip in there and you’ll be in so-called hog heaven. $2.29. 14601 Hwy. 7, Minnetonka; 952.933.9600;

Bukhara Indian Bistro

Lentils, from the Latin word lens, are a staple in many ethnic cuisines, including Indian. Archeological evidence revealed that Neanderthal people ate lentils as early as 10,000 years ago, and it’s no wonder the food has hung around: The plants are staunchly drought-resistant and the beans are second only to soy in their amount of protein. Lentils are the main ingredient in dal, a mildly spiced dish that is as soupy and warming as all the best comfort food. There are dozens of different dal recipes in Indian cuisine; the one at Bukhara consists of yellow lentils slowly simmered with mild green chilies, cilantro leaves, garlic and a hint of cumin. The lentils break down to melt in your mouth. We loved soaking it up with a scoop of rice and lots of freshly baked naan, a warm, puffy flatbread (order separately). $8.99. 15718 Wayzata Blvd., Minnetonka; 952.476.7997;