RESTAURANTSThe Twin Cities food scene burns hotter than a wood fired grill.
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Regardless of season, the diverse Twin Cities culinary scene provides ample year-round, indoor and outdoor spots to dine for every budget and taste. Even locals have a hard time deciding where they choose to empty their pocketbooks and fill their bellies with the plethora of restaurants to choose from. With award-winning chefs and restaurants, hole-in-the-wall eateries, and beloved mom-and-pop signatures, it’s no wonder that we have been named “America’s next great food city” by Saveur magazine.
We owe our success on the culinary forefront to some of our local favorites that have been around before the trendy restaurants came to town. Al’s Breakfast is reportedly the narrowest restaurant in Minneapolis, but this 60-year-old diner continues to serve up big taste with its bacon waffles and massive blueberry pancakes. Both Matt’s Bar and 5-8 Club claim invention rights to the cheese-stuffed burger that ranked on TIME’s list of the most influential burgers of all time; whether you choose the Jucy Lucy at Matt’s Bar or the Juicy Lucy at 5-8 Club, you can’t go wrong. Mickey’s Diner, which you might recognize from appearances in “The Mighty Ducks”, “Jingle All the Way” and “A Prairie Home Companion”, has been serving up savory burgers, old-fashioned malts and breakfast 24 hours a day for nearly 80 years.
Winner, nominee or eagerly awaiting to be discovered, the restaurants in the Twin Cities are home to countless culinary creators and innovators. Minnesota native Gavin Kaysen—a Food & Wine Best New Chef, James Beard Rising Star Chef, Michelin Star recipient, and former executive chef at Café Boulud in New York—provides sophisticated dining in a homey atmosphere at Spoon and Stable. Locals and visitors line up at the 19th century-old horse-stable-turned-eatery to enjoy seasonal cuisine focused on roots of local Midwestern culture with the technicality of classic French cuisine.
Headed by another Food & Wine Best New Chef, Jim Christiansen, Heyday continues to generate much-deserved attention. Here you will find original, creative and exquisitely flavorful fare in shareable portions that highlight traditional Nordic roots. Libertine, a meat-centric spot, brought affordable, hard-to-find cuts to Uptown; Tongue in Cheek began offering ambitious eats on St. Paul’s east side; Coup d’État was another successful venture by the guys behind Borough and Parlour; and Travail and The Rookery, a two-for-one fun dining concept is proving better than ever.
Although we pride ourselves on traditional northern cuisine, there are many places in the Twin Cities where local meets global. Minneapolis’ Eat Street is exactly how it sounds. Here you can eat your way through 17 blocks of Nicollet Avenue lined with Asian, German, Greek, Latin and Middle Eastern restaurants. Try the Black Forest Inn, El Nuevo Mariachi, Evergreen Chinese, Harry Singh’s Caribbean, Jasmine 26, Jerusalem’s Restaurant, Pho 79, Tibet Kitchen and more.
If you want even more international flavors, visit the Midtown Global Market where fare from all continents come together under one roof. Sample East African cuisine at Safari Express, Korean food at Rabbit Hole, or Spanish and South American cuisine at Sonora Grill. For more of a taste of Latin America, head to District del Sol in West St. Paul. The neighborhood is home to the best Cinco de Mayo festival in the cities, as well as excellent, authentic food at El Burrito Mercado.
Saint Dinette in Lowertown serves everything from gourmet seafood dishes to delightful bologna sandwiches, while Minneapolis’ Pizzeria Lola offers one-of-a-kind Korean-inspired pizzas that raise the bar on wood fired pies. From the owners of Muddy Waters in Uptown, Dark Horse Bar & Eatery delivers healthy bar food in Lowertown. The Salt Cellar is another successful venture in the nearby Selby area, and recent renovations have perfectly preserved the 1920s feel of the iconic Commodore Bar and Restaurant.
For curbside service, food trucks take to the streets from late spring through fall and will even re-emerge during the milder winter weeks. These kitchens on wheels cook up everything from burgers and báhn mì to sushi and po’boys. Some food trucks have become so popular that they added brick-and-mortar spots, including Smack Shack, Hola Arepa, Foxy Falafel, Vellee Deli and O’Cheese. If you’d rather cook up something of your own, the Minneapolis, St. Paul and Mill City farmer’s markets have a wide variety of local, tasty and always fresh supplies during the warmer months.