Passover begins at sundown this Wednesday, April 5, and ends after nightfall on Thursday, April 13. A major Jewish holiday, Passover celebrates the Israelites’ exodus from ancient Egypt — typically, families gather the first night to share a traditional seder dinner (for some, two seders are observed). Seder dinners often feature dishes like matzo ball soup, brisket, potato kugel, and tzimmes, a fragrant stew that’s sweetened with prunes. Central to the meal is the seder plate, with small, symbolic servings of egg, horseradish, parsley, shank bone, and charoset (a paste made with nuts and fruits).
Matzo, a crackly flatbread that’s baked before it rises, is omnipresent during Passover: It represents the unleavened bread eaten by the Israelites during their exodus from Egypt. (Chametz — food made with wheat, rye, barley, spelt, or oats that’s come into contact with water and been allowed to rise — isn’t eaten during the holiday.) Here are a handful of Twin Cities restaurants offering hearty, chametz-free Passover menus this year, with both take-out and dine-in options.
Yum! Kitchen and Bakery is offering Passover dishes and accompaniments for takeout from all three of its locations: St. Paul, St. Louis Park, and Minnetonka. Grab matzo ball soup in quart or bowl form, and pair it with a four-pack of golden-brown popovers, or a half-pint of chopped liver. Big salads with snap peas, grape tomatoes, and watermelon radishes will help feed a large gathering, and desserts like coconut macaroons and chocolate almond treats are available as well. Yum! Kitchen and Bakery is also offering single matzo balls, matzo granola, and matzo toffee — a great snack for the eight days of Passover when chametz is off the table.
First established in 1949 by Cecil and Faye Glickman, Cecil’s is the Twin Cities’ oldest Jewish deli, a historic mainstay on Cleveland Avenue in St. Paul. Classic matzo ball soup is available at all times of the year, and customers can find gefilte fish in jars on the deli’s grocery side. Starting April 5 and running through the end of Passover, Cecil’s is also making its sandwiches available on a matzo meal bun. Try the Sasha, made with hot brisket pastrami, a fried egg, and the punchy “bird sauce” Cecil’s has made in-house for 40 years.
The Brother’s Deli is a great spot for a hot chametz-free meal. Pair a plate of thick-sliced pastrami with a popover and a steaming bowl of matzo ball soup. During Passover, the deli also offers a number of picks off the sandwich menu (an extensive one with six variations on corned beef) on a popover instead of bread.
Crossroads serves perhaps the most extensive Passover menu in the Twin Cities. This year’s menu hasn’t been shared quite yet, but expect dishes like matzo ball soup, borscht, gefilte fish with beet horseradish, and chopped chicken liver. For meats, Crossroads typically offers dishes like short ribs, lamb shank, beef brisket, and flanken. Round out a seder meal with bakery treats like popovers, macaroons, or Passover sponge cake. (Dining in? Try the salami and eggs served pancake-style alongside hash browns and a popover.)