Culinary Spotlight

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Fargo’s Food Scene

A Decade of Transformation

By Eric Watson

I think that ten years ago many folks may have considered Fargo a bit of a culinary wasteland. I suppose some still do. The chefs of Fargo are kind of the Rodney Dangerfield of the culinary world; we don’t seem to get much respect.

With that being said, two of the worst meals I’ve ever had in my entire life were in Paris and New York City. Sounds crazy I know, but when you decide to seek out a restaurant without the recommendation of a local or fellow food enthusiast, you may end up with a disappointing dining experience. It’s funny how when you think of a place like Paris, it’s hard to imagine that bad food exists. On the flip side I think much of the country would have a difficult time imagining that good food exists in Fargo. The fact of the matter is that you are always better off when you dine based on a legitimate recommendation. Fargo, like many cities, is full of great restaurants you just need to understand how to navigate around the bad ones.

Ten years ago, a handful of chefs and restaurateurs decided to pioneer a brand new food scene in the upper Midwest. Considering the short growing season, we’ve done a great job of adopting a “farm to table” mentality. Fresh seafood is flown into Fargo several days a week and food distributors have realized that area chefs are hungry for fresh ideas. Not to mention our restaurant patrons are food cultured now more than ever and demanding better every year.

A newcomer to Fargo has a lot to experience in a culinary scene. Incredible house made pastries and espresso at Nichole’s, attentive service at Sarello’s, trendy concepts at the HoDo, exotic ingredients at the Asian Market, exciting mixology at Mezzaluna or a Humpty Dumpty burger at JL Beers. (For god’s sake, we have like a thousand sushi options now!) We’ve even dabbled in Thai and Indian. It’s true; our food scene isn’t quite there yet. We still have our work cut out for us, but I have no doubt that we will get there. The last ten years have brought amazing improvement in our culinary community. Imagine what the next ten may bring. Our food scene has great momentum and shows no signs of slowing anytime soon.

All of my friends and former co-workers in Colorado thought I was crazy when I told them I was moving to Fargo. “Why in the world would you move there?” “Do you know how cold it is there?” Honestly, I was terrified of what may happen to my career when Sara and I moved here, but I was wrong. I am amazed by the tremendous economic opportunity that exists in this region. So, to all my friends back there in Colorado, not to rub it in or anything, but … Haha!

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