Go Beyond Pumpkin Spice with These Minnesota Fall Treats

By James Norton

The feel of fall food and drink isn't just one note: It's smoky, it's spicy, it's apple sweet, it's soothing and it's warm. All across Minnesota, restaurants, breweries, markets and coffee shops embrace the turning of the seasons with a barrage of harvest eats. Here's a small sampling of some tasty options from around the state.

Pumpkin Curry at Karta Thai, Minneapolis

pumpkin thai curry

Photo by Becca Dilley/Heavy Table

The team at Karta Thai bring real heat, spice and flavor to their food, and that bold approach carries over to one of their most beloved seasonal specials, the pumpkin curry. Served inside of a carved kabocha squash, this curry boasts a gentle heat and a supporting note of anise that complements and supports the chicken and squash that are the heart of the dish.

Jumpin' Pumpkins Beer at ENKI Brewing, Victoria 

enki menu board

Photo by James Norton/Heavy Table

Too often, pumpkin beer is either an aggressive spice bomb without a trace of squash flavor or a syrupy mess. Not so with ENKI Brewing's version: It balances gentle pumpkin flavor (drawn from real pieces of pumpkin, not a flavor additive), allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon with a gentle kiss of German hops.

The William Wallace at Duluth Coffee Co.

duluth coffee company

Photo by Becca Dilley Photography

Duluth Coffee Co. prides itself on having a good, strong, classic cup of coffee available for the enjoyment of the general public on a moment's notice, but it also serves up some mean seasonal specials. Autumn in Duluth means imbibing deeply of the William Wallace, made from Duluth Coffee Co. cappuccino laced with a Scotch-infused caramel sauce, apple bitters and a dried apple garnish.

Chestnut Crabapples (Developed by the University of Minnesota)


Photo by Sunny Augustine

These pale yellow apples, about 2 inches in diameter, don't look like anything special. But they taste delicious—nutty and honey-kissed, and great for eating, cooking or even making jams. They pop up regularly at farmers markets in Minnesota, which is no surprise: They were developed at the U of M in 1946.

We tried an apple ice wine made exclusively from Chestnut Crabapples from Milk & Honey Ciders in Cold Spring, and we were blown away. It's like the Midwest's answer to port: sweet, powerfully flavored, and silken in texture without being cloying or syrupy. (This cider isn't available to the public yet, but keep your eyes peeled.)

Oktoberfest Beer from Schell's, New Ulm 

enki menu board

Photo by Calla Bjorklund

Warm malt flavor, a pleasant and gentle spiciness and a copper-orange color give this traditional German beer style a real autumnal kick. And when it comes to brewing traditional German beer in Minnesota, no one has been doing it longer (or better) than Schell's in New Ulm. That isn't to say that Minnesota Oktoberfests begin and end with Schell's: The state's arsenal of close to 100 craft breweries offer a rainbow of fall flavors.

To find more dining options throughout Minnesota, visit the Food & Drink page.