Slice: Dining Out for Life 2013

Rena Sarigianopoulos and Sven Sundgaard from KARE 11 are Dining Out for Life for The Aliveness Project on April 25, posing here at Pizza Lucé, the top contributor for 2012. Photo by Hubert Bonnet

Rena Sarigianopoulos and Sven Sundgaard from KARE 11 are Dining Out for Life for The Aliveness Project on April 25, posing here at Pizza Lucé, the top contributor for 2012. Photo by Hubert Bonnet

Remember those days when the promise of a sticker reward was all the bribery needed to get you on your very best behavior? Dining Out for Life is on the horizon and it’s the best reason to eat at some of the best restaurants to help out those afflicted with HIV/AIDS. Morning, noon, and night chefs put out their very best, while the restaurants turn around and donate a portion of their profits to benefit the Aliveness Project. By eating out on this blessed day, you’re helping neighbors and you get a sticker! What could be better? Here are  a few fun spots to grab a bite to eat broken down by neighborhood. (For a full list of participating restaurants and the percentage of proceeds they’ll be donating, visit www.diningoutforlife.com/minneapolis

Various locations:

Pizza Luce. It’s easy to take Pizza Luce for granted. We’ve grown accustomed to their plates. Fresh pizzas packed with fresh vegetables, hot hoagies, and crispy salads are now delivered all over the metro and even up in Duluth. (This, if you haven’t been, their bar and band area is a great place to hang out while in the Twin Ports.) Luce is contributing 35% of dine-in lunch and dinner service. It’s a great reason to pop in and remember why this has long been one of the Twin Cities’ favorite pizza pies. I suggest you start with a little Ruby Rae action. www.pizzaluce.com

Duluth:

Va Bene. While the tourists flock to Canal Park, locals in the know to go this little gem on the shores of Lake Superior.  When the wind is right, their patio has some of the most beautiful views of this great lake. When the wind switches and those sub-zero temps roll off the frigid sapphire waves, the cozy indoor patio has plenty of glass windows for safe, warm gazing. The food is fresh Italian with some fantastic gelato. They will be contributing 35% of lunch and dinner sales. 734 East Superior Street www.vabenecaffe.com

Sir Benedict’s: This low-key sandwich shop used to be a gas station years ago. They keep their ties to the old ways by bringing in some of the area’s considerable music talent for a little picking and strumming in the evenings. During the day fans line up for their made-to-order sandwiches. Service is order at the counter and they will bring your food to you. If they happen to have it, do not miss their beer cheese soup – or their beer selection for that matter– they have a fabulous selection. Donating 35% of lunch and dinner. 805 East Superior Street  www.sirbens.com

Northeast Minneapolis:

Hazel’s Northeast has been a part of the Northeast neighborhood for over a year now, but it’s hard to imagine a time before them. The breakfast food has fans trekking in from all over the cities for their drunken banana French toast and brisket hash.  Lunch includes the Audubon, a serious sandwich filled with chicken, gooey cheese, bacon, and honey mustard on cranberry studded bread. Dinner is bistro fare with a little elegant goosing: lobster mac and cheese, Swedish meatballs or burgers. Donating 35% of breakfast, lunch and dinner. 2859 Johnson St. NE www.hazelsnortheast.com

Southwest Minneapolis:

Piccolo. There are chefs. There are chef-owned restaurants. Then there is Doug Flicker and Piccolo. Flicker’s masterful craft creates flavors and dishes that will send your heart a’flutter. He takes humble ingredients like pig trotters, pickled herring and stinging nettles and transforms them into elegant, fine-dining works of culinary art. It’s all done on modest-sized plates inside a comfortable neighborhood bistro. Best recommendation for a dish? Get them all. This is the perfect place for a romantic night, or for a group who appreciates great food. Donating 35% of dinner. 4300 Bryant Ave. S. www.piccolompls.com

Wise Acre Eatery. Other restaurants can partner with local farms for their products, but Wise Acre Eatery goes one step further. They own both the farm and the table. Ingredients they can’t grow are largely sourced from those who follow their sustainable practices. It’s a stunning spot if the weather is warm for enjoying the Tangletown Gardens view or tucking into cozy comfort dishes when the spring winds blow. It’s a great spot for a weekday – their simple homemade cranberry granola in yogurt and fruit is a delicious wake-up treat. Donating 35% of breakfast, lunch and dinner. 5401 Nicollet Ave S. www.wiseacreeatery.com

Whittier:

Nightingale. Step inside this chic spot and you would never guess that it used to be a little grocery market. It’s all about the small plates and killer cocktails here. It’s a perfect spot to grab a bunch of friends and load up the table with dishes for snacking and sharing. Make sure at least one of those plates are the mammoth sized spicy, sweet wings. Their cocktails are superb sippers, especially their take on the Sauzerac with just the right amount of bitterness. Best of all, they’re open late, for you night owls, serving dinner until 1 am. Donating 25% of dinner. 2551 Lyndale Ave. S. www.nightingalempls.com

Photo by Hubert Bonnet

Photo by Hubert Bonnet

Uptown:

Chino Latino. The pretty young things continue to flock to this Uptown hot spot. Cocktails garnished with plastic monkeys and Dendrobium orchids never go out of fashion. The plates still sizzle with worldly flavors. Right now they’re also featuring Street Sheets, special chef-crafted menus from different hot zones around the world. Spring is Cuba, so they have ropa vieja, slow roasted flank steak, and Cuba Libres (rum and Coke with a lime). Donating 25% of dinner. 2916 Hennepin Ave. www.chinolatino.com

Uptown Cafeteria and Support Group. Hopefully, Thursday is warm enough for them to open up all those lovely windows onto Lake Street. This is always a fabulous spot for happy hour with the opportunity to watch the passersby just like the good ol’ days of Figlio. This kind of food makes it hard to leave hungry. Graze through the fried goodness from their bourbon and black pepper wings to the crispy crab fritters. Donating 20% of dinner. 3001 Hennepin Ave (entrance at Lake Street and Girard) www.uptowncafeteria.com

Downtown Minneapolis:

Manny’s Steakhouse. This steakhouse is a perennial pick as the best in the cities for good reason. This is a serious meat selection. Dry aged, beautifully marbled steaks the size of your head are cooked to perfection. It’s not just the meat that comes king-sized, side dishes serve two and the Maker’s Mark whiskey doused bread pudding can feed your whole family (but no one says you have to share). Donating 25% of breakfast, lunch and dinner. 825 Marquette Ave. www.mannyssteakhouse.com

Black Sheep Pizza. The coal fire imparts a unique flavor to the blistered, yeasty crust on this pie. Toppings are straightforward – no gimmicks here, just high quality, simple food. The meatball and ricotta with garlic is studded with tender, mild meat and creamy cheese on bright tomato sauce with a snappy little kick from the garlic. While there, don’t forget to eat your greens! The Farmer’s Market salad takes advantage of whatever ingredients are in season, lightly dressed and always packed with flavor. Donating 35% of dinner. 600 Washington Ave. N. (also at 512 Robert Street in downtown St. Paul) www.blacksheeppizza.com

St. Paul:

Joan’s in the Park. St. Paul’s Highland Park neighborhood has fallen hard for this sweet little gem. We love their steaks and have signed up for the fan club for their delicious crab cakes. The warmly lit space is just what this part of town was missing. There are nooks and crannies for romantic dates, a bar for a little casual conversation and comfortable seating for in-depth, serious conversations. The service is as warm and as inviting as spending an evening in Chef Susan Dunlop and Joan Schmitt’s home. Donating 20% of dinner. 631 Snelling Ave. S. www.joansinthepark.com

Muffuletta. This neighborhood restaurant is always serving something seasonal and comforting. Whether sitting on their gorgeous patio sipping a little white wine or tucked into the cozy dining room, there is always a perfect seat to match your mood. The seasonal menu uses a lot of ingredients from local sources, like the Wild Acres duck served with fingerling potatoes cooked confit, paired with black kale and a mole sauce. They also have a couple of classic dishes that haven’t changed through the many years they’ve been open – like the crispy fried calamari or their beer cheese soup. Donating 20% of lunch and dinner. 2260 Como Ave. www.muffuletta.com

Salut Bar Americain. This brasserie is a casual neighborhood spot with a distinctive French American flare. Their fries that arrive with a side of ultra lush, herb flecked Béarnaise sauce are a must order on any visit. While the menu is packed with Parisian-style fare, like the steak frites and mussels, many take a sharp left turn into fusion territory. The frogs legs are fried and tossed in Buffalo sauce – tastes like chicken! This is another St. Paul spot with a great patio, perfect for watching the foot traffic on Grand Avenue. The bar is a nice spot for happy hour – where you can fill up on food for only a couple of bucks and the dining room is mellow, romantically lit for quiet evenings for two. Donating 20% of lunch and dinner. 917 Grand Ave. (Also located at 50th and France in Edina.) www.salutbaramericain.com

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