The 5 best things our food writers ate in the Twin Cities area this week

Greg at Wrap

All the wrapped-up sandwiches at Graze are named after people who are significant to the owners, and judging by this monster contained by a bright yellow tortilla, Greg's a wild man. How else could someone decide that Flamin' Hot Cheetos, shredded lettuce, salami, tomato aioli, ricotta, pepperoni, provolone, banana peppers and romaine all belong in one giant bite?

It makes sense that this "too much is just enough" mentality comes from the same folks who gave us Wrecktangle, the dishy thick pizza that launched a sensation. The Wrap, which serves all handhelds, started as a pop-up in April, but is now a permanent fixture at Graze Provisions + Libations food hall.

Each wrap ($16) starts with a giant sunshine-colored handmade flour tortilla. The result is a gargantuan meal that is a powerhouse of flavors and textures. The tortilla has flaky, rich layers with a satisfying tug of resistance with each bite. The Cheetos are spicy and crunchy against the cool, crisp lettuce and rich, creamy cheese. Greg is something special. (Joy Summers)

520 N. 4th St., Mpls.,

Steak and pierogies from 3 Squares Restaurant

People had opinions about Maple Grove proudly declaring itself the "Restaurant Capital of Minnesota" last week. Say what you will about that bold statement from Experience Maple Grove, but it got people — including us — talking about and supporting the city's restaurant scene.

We landed at 3 Squares Restaurant, the breakfast-through-dinner spot from Blue Plate Restaurant Co. The menu covers a lot of ground, with bites for both adventurous eaters and burger lovers. We met at the halfway point with steak and pierogies ($24.95). The (very tender) steak was properly cooked to medium, and topped with a lively Szechuan sauce that woke the taste buds. And the pierogies were stuffed with creamy cheddar potatoes and deliciously seared, providing great textural balance and making me wonder why I don't seek out pierogies more often (what's not to love about carb-filled carbs?). The trio of dumplings were served on a smear of creamy horseradish sauce, which pulled double duty as a dipping sauce for the steak and the tempura onion tangles that accompanied it.

As a bonus, we were there on trivia night and took second place. The prize was a 3 Squares gift card, sealing a return to the Restaurant Capital of Minnesota. (Nicole Hvidsten)

12690 Arbor Lakes Pkwy. N., Maple Grove, 763-425-3330,

VFW Meat Raffle pizza at Bode Gray's and the Brass Hat

With friends visiting from the East Coast last weekend, I wanted to give them a taste of some of Minnesota's essential cultural quirks. It was too rainy to hang out by a lake, but the weather was perfect for a pile of pulltabs, a cornhole tournament and a meat raffle. We found all of that (and an incredible burger from Station No. 6) at an American Legion in Roseville.

The theme of the weekend continued 45 miles away, at a Waconia restaurant that occupies a former VFW. A group of people that includes seasoned restaurateurs and a former teacher opened Bode Gray's and the Brass Hat a little over a year ago after renovating the veterans' club down to the studs.

The main level is Bode Gray's, a date-night-worthy Italian restaurant. Downstairs is the speakeasy-ish nautical-themed cocktail bar the Brass Hat (there's a separate entrance at the back of the building). You can get any of Bode Gray's appetizers and wood-fired pizzas at the Brass Hat, including one that pays homage to the restaurant's bones.

The VFW Meat Raffle ($20) tops a 12-inch pie with a bright red sauce, two cheeses and, in the spirit of the Upper Midwest's unique form of charitable gambling, three kinds of meat: pepperoni, fennel sausage and Canadian bacon. The restaurant even donates $1 from every sale to the local VFW, so just like the real deal, your meat consumption is for a good cause. (Sharyn Jackson)

125 W. 1st St., Waconia, 952-444-0795,

Veggie sandwich at Herbst Eatery & Farm Stand

St. Paul's farm-fresh restaurant Herbst is almost a year old, and when I ducked in for a recent midday check, it seemed like it's growing into exactly what it wanted to be. During the day, the sweet farm stand off to the side of the restaurant is open for business. In addition to a selection of beautiful, handcrafted wares, there are a couple of grab-and-go food options. The sandwiches are really something special: Served on freshly made focaccia straight from the oven next door, they set the stage for what's in the dining room.

The vegetable sandwich ($9) encapsulates everything wonderful about having a restaurant fed by a farm collective. Each ingredient is given loving attention: marinated white sweet potatoes, lacy layers of cheese, handfuls of brightly dressed greens, shaved red onion and a generous swipe of nutty, chunky Romesco sauce. The result is a vegetarian sandwich that packs a hearty wallop without resorting to substitutes.

There are also giant chocolate chip cookies sprinkled with a smattering of salt that, on the two days I stopped, were still warm from the oven. But eat your veggies first. (J.S.)

779 Raymond Av., St. Paul, 651-340-0254,

Tiradito of the day at Guacaya Bistreaux

I hadn't been back to Guacaya Bistreaux since it opened nearly two years ago. Back then, still in the thick of the pandemic, there was only outdoor seating and little interaction with staff, just ordering from a limited menu using a QR code on my phone.

Things have changed, and chef/owner Pedro Wolcott is encouraging everyone to get reacquainted with his one-of-a-kind restaurant for Latin and Caribbean food by way of New Orleans. The tropical setting inside is open to all. The menu has expanded to a long list of tapas and entrees. And put your phone away (except for pictures, of course); the QR codes are gone. And I'm glad. I'm not sure an online-only menu ever could have conveyed the complexity of the tiradito of the day.

Our server described it as a kind of cross between sushi and crudo, Peruvian style. Wolcott truly redesigns the dish on a weekly basis based on what comes into the kitchen. "It's like 'Chopped,'" he told me. A surprise basket of ingredients, a ticking clock, ready, set, cook.

The night I had the "Chulada," a rainbow of beet-cured salmon and cod studded the riceless maki roll like a jeweled brooch. (It was $13 but the price can change.) Topped with caviar and set in a pale yellow pool of aji amarillo sauce, it reminded me of a science class poster showing the cross section of a cell and all its colorful components, all held together by a membrane of nori. On visuals alone, this dish would sweep the Science Olympics.

There are more newer items on the menu, alongside Wolcott's greatest hits — the Peruvian-style ceviche, the churrasco (grilled skirt steak), the maiz á la plancha. Brunch just launched, and so has a cocktail menu from Nick Kosevich of Earl Giles. When the weather allows, head out to the vibrant patio on Washington Avenue for a selection of slushies and charbroiled oysters and let the good times roll. (S.J.)

337 Washington Av. N., Mpls., 612-345-4981,