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This article is the first in a series on Mpls.St.Paul Magazine celebration MOA 30th birthday. Join us as we ride through some of our favorite memories from the last 30 years.

It is said that taste and smell can be one of the most important keys to unlocking your most powerful memories. Have a milkshake and go back to the ice cream shop from your childhood. Smell the cinnamon roll and be transported to your grandmother’s kitchen. Mall of America has its own unique tastes and smells that remind us of what we love about MOA and why. Join us on this sensory journey down memory lane as we look back at 10 delicious restaurant treats that hold a special place in our mall-loving hearts. Get ready to sharpen your palate, loosen your belt, and get hungry.

one. When Rainforest Cafe came to Mall of America in 1994, it was the first store of the popular chain. Now in second place at the mall, the bustling restaurant is decked out with animatronics like Julius the Juicer, a 25-foot boa constrictor, and a 14-foot Nile crocodile. No trip to this jungle is complete without a volcanic dessert. Think warm chocolate brownies with gooey vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce – it’s an adventure you won’t want to miss. 306 South Avenue

2. Is there a more perfect pairing than shopping for custard? We think not. bearded dad known for its world-famous desserts, especially the gooey and delicious cream puffs. It was originally a small bakery in Osaka, Japan, but its location in the Mall of America is the only place in Minnesota where you can find the perfect combination of two-layer layer cake and whipped vanilla custard filling. Appetizing, indeed. 375 Northern garden

3. When Masu Sushi and Robata Opened at MOA in 2012, the food court has received a major upgrade. The Japanese restaurant has evolved into one of the most conspicuous stops for the conscientious shopper with discerning tastes. It serves a variety of sushi and varieties of ramen, soba and udon noodles. We still dream of udon with short ribs – see for yourself why. 344 South Avenue

four. Everything about Baking Betty sure to bring a smile to your face. First, a nice welcome from the owner, Emily Osterberg, who welcomes you. Then there’s the decadent flavor that flits around, conjuring up dreams of sugar, Nutella, s’mores and more. And finally, the food itself. The only horror you will face is choosing between Pug Chow, a peanut butter cookie dipped in chocolate, peanut butter and rolled in Chex Mix and powdered sugar, or Buckeye, a chocolate cookie filled with a creamy peanut butter mixture topped with a topping. Guitar chocolate. Good luck! 392 Western Market

5. When you combine two of Minnesota’s most noteworthy neighborhoods – America’s Mall and State Fair – you know you have a recipe for success. State fair of cottage cheese curds Twin City Grill (LIFETIME MOA), a must try on your food adventure. You’ll get the grilled cheese wow factor without the shoulder-to-shoulder crowds. 130 North Garden

6. You don’t want to waste a day – there is too much to do – but it’s nice to take a break from the abundance of shopping and entertainment in the mall and relax in Margaritaville Jimmy Buffett. As the only place in Minnesota, the family-friendly destination opened in 2016, and with every winter of sub-zero temperatures, we’ve been grateful for a tropical respite. It’s hard to turn down a cheeseburger in heaven, and even harder not to get stuck in one of Buffet’s songs. 344 East Broadway

7. Willy Wonka has nothing on Sweet Escape aka sugar factory. Kids and parents alike flock to the whimsical, brightly colored candy land. Young children can’t fight the rush of sugar that accompanies rich drinks like a coloring milkshake, but parents are usually too busy with their alcohol-filled lollipop-smoking cups to notice. This is truly fun for the whole family – the only person who won’t enjoy this sweet stop is your dentist. 206 South Avenue

eight. Mall of America is no stranger to celebrities, but when Buddy Valastro Cake Boss led Bakery Carlo at the Mall of America in 2017, he added not only face but taste to his famous list. Known for their delicious lobster tails and cannoli treats, the bakery is located in the only location in the Midwest, so it’s only natural to put shopping second and Italian pastries top. 60 East Broadway

9. Who remembers when Hollywood came down to our big mall and Planet Hollywood opened in 1993? Although the restaurant closed in 2003, we will never forget the Cap’n Crunch breaded chicken fingers. Crispy and slightly sweet breading will forever remain in our culinary memory as the perfection of chicken fingers.

ten. This may be new to the MOA line of goodies, but don’t discount the lasting impression. duck donuts will do on your mouth. After announcing the Mall of America’s new location in 2019, the donut shop delayed opening until December 2021. Thankfully, the donut shop has kept its promise by delivering a breakfast of champions to your morning shopping spree. 382 Western market

Tucci Bennuch, one of the mall’s original restaurants, may have closed after 25 years, but its memory lives on in our hearts and our taste buds. It’s hard to forget Tucci’s famous baked spaghetti, which uses ricotta cheese and alfredo sauce to speak directly to our carb-loving hearts. We also miss the faux Italian country decor and the phenomenal people watching the food on the restaurant’s “patio”.

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