By Pat Evans and Joy Summers
You’re going to want to grab a snack. We’re thrilled to present our new restaurant guide! You may have noticed that, through the Taste Buds and Slice columns, we here at Lavender Magazine have been working hard to bring you the tastiest bites to be found around town. In the following pages Pat Evans and Joy Summers have gathered the best new restaurants that have opened since our 2013 New Restaurant Guide & Preview, as well as a few that have already opened this year. Plus, we have a special sneak peek at what’s to come…and a nice list of new breweries. So, you see, this isn’t the sort of thing to read on an empty stomach. Please settle in; enjoy a bite of the Cities’ restaurant scene.
A Cupcake Social
Another food truck opens a shop, A Cupcake Social sells their irresistible cupcakes inside here all year long.
3800 28th Ave. S., Minneapolis
Betty Danger’s Country Club: Preview
Expected to be a follow-up hit to Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge and Donny Dirk’s Zombie Den, Betty Danger’s Country Club is purported to feature more hit food and drinks that we come to expect from owner Leslie Bock (and a ferris wheel!).
2519 Marshall St., Minneapolis
BoneYard Kitchen & Bar
Southern fried charm shows up in abundance at this place that isn’t afraid to woo your stomach with some seriously hearty fare. Fried chicken, sweet tea, pimento cheese, hush puppies, and biscuits are all represented well on the menu. We can’t wait to celebrate a serious happy hour on their gorgeous patio.
2841 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis
Brasserie Zentral, Cafe Zentral, Foreign Legion Wine Bar: Preview
St. Paul’s perennial favorite spot to dine out, Meritage, is about to get a major sister complex in downtown Minneapolis. Russell and Desta Klein are opening a space that will have several components including a ground floor restaurant, skyway shop, and wine and cheese store.
505 Marquette Ave. S., Minneapolis
Burch Steakhouse and Pizza Bar
Fans of 112 Eatery and Bar La Grassa have another Issac Becker creation to choose from: Burch is a completely fresh take on the steakhouse. The James Beard Award-winning Best Chef and his wife, with business partner Nancy St. Pierre, are conjuring up new magic at the old Burch pharmacy location on Hennepin Avenue. The inviting redesigned space is urban chic and pulsates with an energetic vibe. Along with a wide range of steaks in both size and type, you won’t find any spuds with sour cream on top here. Starches come in the form of delicious dumplings such as gnocchi. Downstairs you can order from an impressive and diverse selection of pizza offerings.
1942 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis
The Buttered Tin
While there are most certainly comfort-food memories to be found inside, like sticky slices of coconut cake and a stroke-of-genius Easter dinner sandwich, everything is executed at a higher level than a home cook could ever hope to achieve. The restaurant, located in St. Paul’s Lowertown neighborhood, doesn’t feel like a throwback. The walls are the color of lemon buttercream, capped with chocolate-colored tin ceilings and filled with gleaming white accents. It’s elegant without being fussy.
237 7th St. E., St. Paul
Chef Shack Ranch
The ladies that led the food truck revolution in the Twin Cities have parked their big, red beauties outside of this new Seward brick-and-mortar location. Carrie and Chef Lisa give us comfort foods that are done as only they can and the kicky, rustic interior has us ready to settle in and stay a while at The Ranch.
3025 E. Franklin Ave., Minneapolis
Corner Table Projects: Relocation & Preview
I’ve already got my seat all picked out at the new incarnation of Corner Table which will be located in what was previously La Chaya Bistro in South Minneapolis. This elegant little neighborhood spot continues to evolve in their new space with handmade rustic wood booths and custom-made wallpaper. This space is even more suited for their stunning plates of delicious food. The patio will soon be lush and ready for basking season. Meanwhile, their former address won’t be vacant for long. Chef Thomas Boemer and Nick Rancone are transforming the spot into a low-country influenced casual hang with what I’ve been promised will be the best fried chicken in town. Boemer grew up in South Carolina and knows a thing or three about a biscuit. They’ll offer sit-down service, take-away, and even pre-made picnic baskets for your summer adventures.
4537 Nicollet Ave. S. (new location) and 4257 Nicollet Ave. S. (new concept), Minneapolis
Even before you take a bite of the French- and Mediterranean-inspired food, there is something satisfying about this fresh addition to the Minneapolis restaurant and bar scene. The place is gorgeous. Tall ceilings with spectacular sparkling chandeliers, herringbone wood floors, and a giant 25′-wide chalkboard menu spread high above the open kitchen are jaw-dropping. Think upscale French café but not too fussy. “We wanted this to be approachable but different,” co-owner Jacob Toledo tells me. “When someone says, ‘Oh my god, that bone marrow is amazing,’ I know we have hit it. We wanted to mix comfort foods with small special things that everyone can share.”
2923 Girard Ave. S., Minneapolis
Daily Diner Frogtown
Not only is this a nice spot for an updated diner menu, but it also employs some members of the Frogtown community who are rebuilding their lives through Union Gospel Mission.
615 University Ave., St. Paul
Eat Street Buddha Kitchen Lounge
The erstwhile Azia space on Eat Street still has that flash of contemporary Asian flare, but these guys are running their own show, serving sushi and so much more.
2550 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis
Did your mom ever tell you not to miss breakfast because it’s the most important meal of the day? Mine sure did, but I’m pretty certain she never thought about chasing it down with craft beer. Mimosas maybe—but at least that calls for some orange juice. The Freehouse microbrew restaurant in the Minneapolis booming North Loop is the newest spot in the Twin Cities where you can start and end your day with three squares and some suds. Serving up breakfast is nothing new to Stephanie Shimp and business partner David Burley of the Blue Plate restaurant group. For decades, their delicious take on the morning meal has been luring customers to their other successful Twin Cities restaurants: Highland Grill, Edina Grill and The Lowry. Shimp and Burley know how to deliver notable neighborhood hot spots, but this is the pair’s first foray into the brew pub realm.
701 Washington Ave. N., Minneapolis
They’ve got the same menu, but the spiffed up interior at the new St. Paul location of The French Meadow is worth a visit. Located near the Macalester campus, it’s a great spot for neighbors, students, professors, and anyone else looking for some good organic grub.
1662 Grand Ave., St. Paul
Glam Doll Donuts
Donuts to the late night lurkers! Fried dough fans are loving their traditional and quirky takes.
2605 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis
Hammer & Sickle Vodka Bar
Russian food, vodka, and some unfortunate menu jokes about Chernobyl.
1300 Lagoon Ave., Minneapolis
For pizza lovers it doesn’t get any better than this for a crave-worthy selection of pies. The sensational chef/owner Ann Kim started with Pizzeria Lola and continues at this new location in the Sunnyside neighborhood of Edina. Designed for by the slice selection (but you can order a whole pie as well), the variety of options to choose from is impressive, from the straightforward Rita with tomato sauce, basil and fresh mozzarella to the more complex—but equally delicious—Adobo chicken. This place had me (excuse me, Jerry McGuire) at hello!
3904 Sunnyside Rd., Edina
Peter’s Grill has faded into Minneapolis restaurant history, but this new spot at that address is ready to carry on the comfort food tradition. They are now open and have breakfast available all day long and made with local ingredients, as well as a full bar.
114 S. 8th St. (old Peter’s Grill location), Minneapolis
This spot from Chef Jim Christiansen (our former cover boy) and Lorin Zinter is edging ever closer to opening. The two once worked together at La Belle Vie, which is surely a good proving ground for running a restaurant well. This casual neighborhood hang will have a full bar to pair with Christiansen’s fantastic fare.
2702 Lyndale Ave., Minneapolis
Although they still weren’t open when we went to press, this new brick-and-mortar version of the beloved food truck should be ready to serve you sit-down arepas any moment now. I can’t wait to get a taste of co-owner Birk Stefan Grudem’s cocktails (he used to work at Town Talk Diner and Bradstreet). Plus, his beautiful partner, Christina Nguyen, has some of the best taste this side of a runway, so we know the room will be a stunner. The menu will be filled with reasonably priced and sustainably made Latin American dishes. If this isn’t one of the best restaurants of 2014, I’ll eat my hat (doused in their homemade tomatillo salsa).
3501 Nicollet Ave. S., Minneapolis
Honey & Rye Bakehouse
A new neighborhood bakery in St. Louis Park, we’re charmed by their honor-paid baguettes by the door and in hardcore love with the fresh-baked sweets.
4501 Excelsior Blvd., St. Louis Park
House of Curry
We’re hard up for authentic Sri Lankan food in the Metro Area, and this new spot is hungrily filling that hole. Fans are flocking from all parts of town to try this new spot.
3420 150th St. W., Ste. 119, Rosemount
Izzy’s outgrew their St. Paul location and built themselves a factory—complete with tasting room—near the shores of the Mississippi River.
1100 2nd St. S., Minneapolis
Sarah and Sam Peterson, two siblings, teamed up with former Fuji Ya chef Hide Tozawa to open this sustainable seafood spot. They serve sushi, ramen, salads, yakitori, hot dogs, and more. Try the flying squid with Kewpie mayo.
3758 Nicollet Ave. S., Minneapolis
Chef Hector Ruiz continues to dominate Grand Avenue with his third restaurant on this stretch of South Minneapolis. The menu focuses on fresh Mexican fare. Check out the masa (naturally gluten-free) empanadas.
4750 Grand Ave. S., Minneapolis
Lake & Irving
Two brothers returned to Minneapolis from running successful restaurants afar to try their hands at the Minneapolis restaurant business. The room is both wide open and cozy, with an easy neighborhood vibe that makes me long for the days when I lived nearby. The food is both approachable and elevated with a little Hawaiian twist. Somehow, word hasn’t yet gotten out that they have one of the best weekend brunches in town. Let’s just keep that between you and me.
1513 W. Lake St., Minneapolis
The masters of fiery spice have added a third location to the Little Szechuan empire with this new spot near the U of M.
Stadium Village, 304 Oak St. SE, Minneapolis
Lyn 65 Kitchen and Bar: Preview
Ben Rients, formerly of Restaurant Alma, will be opening a casual eatery and bar soon in Richfield. Also just announced, the cast will include Travis Serbus (formerly of Butcher & the Boar) running the bar and craft cocktail program and Jason Sawicki, another longtime cook from Restaurant Alma.
6439 Lyndale Ave., Richfield
Marin (pronounced like Marin County in California) is the sister restaurant to Mill Valley Kitchen. Owner Craig Bentdahl and Chef Mike Rakun believe that dining should leave eaters feeling good. Rakun explained, “We’ve all left restaurants after eating a meal that tastes delicious, but you walk out feeling not so good.” Their goal is to create consciously aware dishes. Ingredients are sustainable, handled in a way that preserves their integrity and nourishes diners. Each menu item has the caloric stats listed as well as if they are vegan or gluten-free. To do all this without relying on the chef rule that “fat is flavor” is incredibly ambitious. Instead they utilize all kinds of other flavor enhancers – like pureed vegetables to create that same velvety mouth feel that is usually created by artery-clogging oils. Nuanced flavors are played with using different spices and chilies. They mainly cook with heart-friendly olive oil.
901 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis
Mattie’s on Main: Preview
The owners of our beloved Wilde Roast Cafe, Dean Schlaak and Tom DeGree, with Brian Gilligan, are in the midst of some major renovations at this neighboring riverside spot in Minneapolis. Once they’re finished, the restaurant will shine with a huge patio, cabaret stage space, and a dazzling cocktail and food menu.
43 Main St. SE, Minneapolis
World-renowned chef Gavin Kaysen is leaving Cafe Boulud in New York City and heading home to Minnesota. One of the most earth-shaking bits of food news is that this bold-name culinary star is heading for the Minneapolis. The space will be inside one of the historic buildings in the North Loop and is expected to open in late 2014.
Nico’s Taco and Tequila Bar
The two-story house on Hennepin has found new owners with the chef/owner Alejandro Victoria (who also has Amore Victoria). Nico’s Tacos and Tequila Bar is serving authentic recipes from Chef Victoria’s homeland in Michoacan.
2516 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis
Long considered the best sushi to be found in the Twin Cities, they’ve expanded to a lively Uptown location with a great happy hour and Japanese whiskey selection.
1354 Lagoon Ave., Minneapolis
An entire pasticceria (Italian pastry shop) was imported from Italy into Cossetta’s new concept. Cakes, chocolate, pastries, gelato, and all manner of addictive confections are found inside.
211 7th St. W., St. Paul
Pig Ate My Pizza
The Travailians do pizza. An experience for all of the senses—especially the stomach—you should try the Piggy Pie on brioche crust.
4154 W. Broadway Ave., Robbinsdale
Everyone’s favorite edible handwarmers have found a permanent home. From the owners of the Potter’s Pasties truck, they’re now serving the savory goodies wrapped in pie crust for take-away inside.
1828 Como Ave. SE, Minneapolis
Prairie Dogs: Preview
What began as a pop-up is fast closing in on a permanent home. Craig Johnson (formerly the chef at Spill the Wine) and experienced restaurant consultant/chef Tobie Nidetz are creating craft sausages and hoping for an Uptown address. Watch their Facebook updates to find their fare.
Public Kitchen & Bar: Preview
Run by first time restaurateur Carol March, this Lowertown spot will be situated between Barrio and Bin Wine Bar with beautiful views of Mears Park. We expect a full bar and lunch and dinner service with a summer opening date.
6th Street, St. Paul
The Rabbit Hole
Thomas Kim and Kat Melgaard are in a whole new world. It’s one that includes a beautiful new room, built almost entirely by their four hands, a restaurant that suits the unique neighborhood, perfect for both the punky bike gangs that build those sky-high mobile art installations and the 9-5 works from nearby offices. The two first arrived in Minneapolis from Los Angeles with the idea to open a hip little restaurant where they could put Melgaard’s keen eye for design in play with Kim’s considerable culinary chops. After a successful run as a food stall, The Left Handed Cook, in Midtown Global Market, Thomas and Kat shifted all of their time and talent to a new full-service restaurant and bar located at MGM as well, The Rabbit Hole. It’s proven to be wildly successful with craft cocktails to satisfy the happy hour and late night crowds alike.
Midtown Global Market, 920 E. Lake St., #101, Minneapolis
The old Blockbuster Video store near 50th & France has been transformed into a very stylish burger joint and more. Owner Luke Shimp, formerly of Blue Plate Restaurant Company, has used his considerable experience to great effect here. As the name implies, Red Cow has a vast array of burgers from beef to bison . One of the memorables: the 60/40…60% angus beef with 40% ground bacon. Talk about a protein punch, I felt like I could run a marathon after eating that one! Seared tuna and cheese curds along with made-from-scratch soups give the menu variety and depth. Wash it all down with one of the dozens of wine and beer choices, many of the suds are on tap.
3624 W. 50th St., Minneapolis
Relevé Champagne Lounge
There’s a new happy hour hot spot in downtown Minneapolis and it’s inside the bar at Cosmos. The new Relevé pours a whole ton of different kinds of bubbly wine. You can mix your own champagne cocktails or remain a purist. The menu allows you to go high-brow with caviar or low-brow with flatbread pizzas—guess which way I went?
Graves 601 Hotel, 601 1st Ave. N., Minneapolis
Chef Hector Ruíz has a lot on his plate. The busy chef and owner of Café Ena and the newly opened Rincón 38 and La Fresca is a hands-on businessman, pouring himself into his restaurants. Ruíz is an established Minneapolis restaurateur. Rincón 38 has a worldly appeal with a neighborhood feel. The menu features dishes like bacalao, fried salt cod fritters, a popular Spanish snack and a great dish for pairing with beer (or sangria – the El Meson recipe is in full effect here) as well are queso frito – fried cheese and patas bravas, fried potatoes. There are quite a few local brews on tap and a well-selected wine list. There are a number of very affordable glasses and bottles on display.
3801 Grand Ave. S., Minneapolis
Saint Dinette: Preview
J.D. Fratzke and Tim Niver have built something very special at The Strip Club Meat & Fish in St. Paul. Diners and drink enthusiasts visit from far and wide for their locally sourced dishes, modern supper club vibe, and singular hospitality. Now the duo are heading down the hill to open a new joint in Lowertown, right next to the farmers market. Niver told me it will be “upscale flannel.” I’m not sure what that means, but I’m hoping there will be poutine. I’m donning my best plaid shirt and starting a line right now (even though they’re still under construction and we’ve likely got some more waiting to do).
280 E. 5th St., St. Paul
Summer got a little brighter and a whole lot tastier last year when husband-and-wife duo, Doug Flicker and Amy Greeley, along with business partner, Chele Payer, opened this sleek beachside concession stand on Lake Nokomis. Flicker is, of course, the culinary powerhouse behind Piccolo in Minneapolis. The menu isn’t outside of the beachside ordinary with hotdogs and cheese curds, but they’ve also got the best horchata in the Cities as well as Indian fry bread and a killer local beer selection. After a shortened season last year, we can’t wait to see what they’ll be serving this summer.
4955 Nokomis Pkwy. W., Minneapolis
Seventh Street Social
The West 7th neighborhood got a classy new joint in the remade Casa Vieja spot. Burgers, fried chicken, ribs, and cocktails are all familiar classics with a contemporary twist. Get the salt and pepper fries with cheese curds and pot roast gravy.
2176 W. 7th St., St. Paul
Smoke in the Pit
Barbecue comes to the Powderhorn neighborhood. Take-out only, get some ribs, chicken wings, beef brisket, and more.
3733 Chicago Ave. S., Minneapolis
Not much is yet known about this forthcoming North Loop spot, except that it will be run by one of the former owners of Babalu. We are intrigued.
Washington Ave, Minneapolis
The handsome fellows of the best cheap eats inside Midtown Global Market have expanded down East Lake Street. The new Sonora Grill is a full-service restaurant with an expanded menu and a full bar.
3300 E. Lake St. (second location), Minneapolis
The Sparrow Cafe
This adorable neighborhood café with the stunning sparrow mural serves up delicious organic and fair trade coffee, pastries, soups, and sandwiches.
5001 Penn Ave. S., Minneapolis
Spill the Wine: Relocation
It was never Katie Greeman’s dream to open a wine bar. It was just that everything fell so perfectly into place. Now, with the move from the original location into a space that used to be a cycle shop, this incarnation of Spill the Wine somehow feels just like it was meant to be here and exist in this time. The interior is filled with reclaimed wood, refurbished tables and delicate touches. The room is wide open, accented by art from a local artist. The bar is supported by giant wine barrels. A dark wood ladder allows staff to access higher stashed bottles. The entry way is marked by a small couch with color-popping accent pillows and an aquamarine water dispenser. When the weather is warmer, the windows along Bryant will open up and soon there will be a pergola-topped patio out back with sixteen seats.The food is conducive to hanging out, plenty of small plates to share.
901 W. Lake St., Minneapolis
Spyhouse Coffee Northeast
Spyhouse Coffee continues to dazzle with their third location, a wide-open room filled with light and rough-hewn wood where they continue to serve their excellent coffee.
945 Broadway St. NE, Minneapolis
Sushi Fix began its life as a food truck serving up Edo-style sushi on the streets of Minneapolis. Seafood fans took note of the exceptional quality, perfectly prepared rice, and the irresistible enthusiasm of chef/owner Billy Tserenbat. Now, even those who fear to travel outside of the inner city are making the trek to Wayzata to dine on his scrumptious sushi dishes (and maybe a little nip of his fantastic saké collection). They’re only open for dinner and it’s worth the drive if you aren’t lucky enough to live in the Western ‘burbs.
862 E. Lake St., Wayzata
Terzo Vino Bar
The Broder family continues their domination of this neighborhood with their latest restaurant. An elegant, cozy room with an astounding menu and glorious wine list, it’s an instant classic. Whether wading through the house-made salumi, sampling crusty bruschetta, or lingering over a whole roasted branzino, the entire menu is worth exploring—even better if you bring friends who like to share. This is another charming gem that enhances this zip code thanks to this talented family.
2221 W. 50th St., Minneapolis
Tongue in Cheek: Preview
The one-time chef of W. A. Frost, Leonard Anderson, alongside Ashleigh Newman and Ryan Huseby, is opening a new restaurant on the Eastside featuring only sustainably raised meat and produce. They expect to be open some time in June.
989 Payne Ave., St. Paul
The Torpedo Room Tiki Bar (at Eat Street Social)
In the throes of the polar vortex, there was no better place to give Old Man Winter a proper “F U” than inside this room at Eat Street Social. Now, emerging from the cold, we can flock to the place that’s adorned with tiki paraphernalia with a cocktail list that is both whimsical and deadly serious. Right down to their house-made spiced rum, every concoction is deliriously fun to quaff and layered with sophisticated flavors. No matter the outside weather, I love sucking down one of their mint julep-inspired snow cones. Food includes interesting items like a steamed bun stuffed with Spam.
18 W. 26th St., Minneapolis
Town Hall Lanes
The Town Hall Brewery folks bought a bowling alley! They’ve got their same astounding selection of beer and satisfying grub that fans have come to expect.
5019 34th Ave. S., Minneapolis
On Facebook: Town Hall Lanes
Travail and The Rookery
The new location is just a couple of storefronts down the street from the original Travail-turned-Pig Ate My Pizza. They demolished two buildings, but the new restaurant space is housed within four walls. (It’s next to Walgreens, which wouldn’t be of note, except that this is how everyone in Robbinsdale describes it: two shops down, on Main Street, next to Walgreens.) The new Travail is really two restaurants. One is a fine dining party where you might have popcorn or bread thrown at your head. Travail nightly has a tasting menu where the chefs stretch their creativity. The Rookery features craft cocktails and a slew of small bites at reasonable prices. Both are an occasion for a foodie celebration.
4124 West Broadway, Robbinsdale
Hand-harvested tea is augmented by a few vegetarian and vegan-friendly dishes, like a lovely curry soba noodle soup.
2111 E. Franklin Ave., Minneapolis
Yard House is a successful national chain that has opened a new location at The Shops at West End in St. Louis Park. Featuring American food, a multitude of draft beers, and classic rock, it’s a comfortable and convenient location for fine fare and beer in the West Metro.
1665 Park Place Blvd., St. Louis Park