I’ve eaten a lot of menus this year and, you know what? They were all pretty damn good. That’s saying something. Of all the brand new restaurants I’ve been to in 2015, I’m hardpressed to think of one I wouldn’t revisit. What I’m not hardpressed to do, however, is share my faves with you. If the plethora of new dining options seems daunting, use my list as a crib sheet. Pick one or two and make an effort to get out there and try something new. Oh, and stay tuned. 2016 is right around the corner and that means a heaping helping of new menus to eat.
You know how everybody can’t stop raving about the Parlour Burger? I’m over here like, HAVE YOU HAD THE BURGER AT NIGHTHAWKS?! I assure you my use of all caps is justified. This heavenly cheese-festooned meat party is sandwiched within what is likely my favorite bun of all time. Everything else I tried on the menu was great, but, frankly, after I ate the burger I blacked out the rest of my meal. For what it’s worth, I do seem to remember dessert (Blondie Frostbite — think a Blizzard unlike any you’ve gotten at DQ) sending me into a welcomed sugar coma.
Downtown Minneapolis is full of gimmicky dining experiences catering to people who care more about ambience than appetite. What it’s lacking, however, is an artful expression of both. Lucky for you, dear foodie, there’s Il Foro. Flooded with the ambiance of its historic architectural pedigree along with some of the best modern Italian cuisine you’ll find in this town, Il Foro is the perfect place for downtown date night. And happy hour. And casual weekend nosh. Make every effort to walk around the place, as well. The amazing art deco elements bring about a bygone era that’s just as delicious as the menu.
The Snake River flat iron steak is still on my mind. It’s been weeks, but I need it again. Along with the fried chicken sandwich on a pretzel bun that I missed on my first trip and was summarily tortured by after a friend inhaled one shortly on a subsequent trip. Another gem in a growing downtown crown of eatery elegance, Eastside makes the perfect pre-/post-Guthrie gathering place (and personal kitchen for anyone fortunate to live above the fun in the Latitude 45 building).
I have a sweet spot for anyone who opens a restaurant in South Minneapolis. Correction: I have a sweet spot for anyone who opens a GOOD restaurant in South Minneapolis. Chef Craig Ball gets high marks for bringing his international comfort food concept to my neck of the woods. You can quite literally take a tour of the globe via a menu rich with unique, yet utterly satisfying dishes, like the Chimichurri Philly, chilaquiles, and an eggs benedict all the way from Paraguay. Whatever you do, don’t miss out on the “donuts.” These sinful pockets of creme-filled pastry left a lasting impression on titillated taste buds.
You better have a pretty good reason to get me all the way out to Wayzata. Yes, it’s beautiful and, yes, it’s charming, but we’ve got charm in Minneapolis too. What Minneapolis doesn’t have, however? A Fat Burger. This beefy beauty is layered with bacon and onion jam, Fini cheddar fondue, Neuske’s bacon, and American cheese, all stuffed into a brown butter brioche bun. And it’s totally worth the drive. I can’t think of a better date night than noshing burgers (or steaks or any of the hefty menu’s worth of entrées) against the backdrop of beautiful Lake Minnetonka. OMG, I almost forgot the chocolate brownie sundae! Don’t forget the chocolate brownie sundae. You’re welcome.