Joy Summers is the go-to for what’s new and to be known on the Twin Cities’ restaurant scene. Here she’s culminated a list of eateries for you to put on your radar, some of what’s developed in the last year as well as what we have to look forward to opening sooner than later.
First of all, I dare you to find a better view than the one from the 6 Smith patio. Second, the extensive menu and fantastic drink list make it hard to want to eat anywhere else on a warm day. Follow their Facebook feed for the Fat Pants Friday specials. These decadent offerings shouldn’t even be gazed upon without an elastic waistline.
294 E. Grove Ln., Wayzata
Agra Culture Kitchen & Press
This emerging chain proves that eating healthfully doesn’t have to be boring.
3717 W. 50th St., Minneapolis
2939 Girard Ave. S., Minneapolis
Minneapolis Institute of Arts at 2400 3rd Ave. S., Minneapolis
Betty Danger’s Country Club
Finally, a country club for the rest of us! This is the stuff twisted plaid dreams are made of, with a dedication to kitsch that could only come from the same team that gave us Psycho Suzi’s. This summer the revolving patio (that looks suspiciously like an enormous ferris wheel) will be the spot for an outdoor cocktail. Speaking of cocktails, the margaritas are not to be missed and they have a boozy slushy machine! The cuisine is described as “Mexi-Hampton” which means no shortage of fried flour tortillas or spice.
2519 Marshall St., Minneapolis
The new Birchwood Cafe is much like the old one in soul. They remain great champions of local farms and the community, there is just way more room for the cooking. The new dining room is more comfortable, but the chef’s ability to spread his wings makes for even tastier food (if that’s even possible). I’d still hang my hat on this being the best turkey burger in town, too.
3311 E. 25th St., Minneapolis
Bogart’s Doughnut Co.
Who doesn’t love a donut? These fried wonders have grown up from a stand at the Kingfield farmers market to the one-handed treat that had opening crowds lining up early every day to raid. The crowds have calmed down (no more waiting for your donut), but the creative flavors and beautifully executed classics are still worth getting up early to eat.
904 W. 36th St., Minneapolis
This might just be the best new spot for a business lunch in downtown Minneapolis (it definitely is in this part of town). The speck spaghetti is nothing short of a plate of perfect comfort food — so mind-bogglingly simple that it’s just stupid good. The schnitzel is a savory balance of crispy, juicy, crunchy, and salty. Cocktails are sophisticated and the wine list is enough to work oenophiles up into a froth. The happy hour and dinner menus are just as elegantly satisfying.
505 Marquette Ave. S., Minneapolis
Did you know that Colombian-style hot dogs include crumbled up potato chips as a topping? Discover this and other useful bits of food trivia by winding your way through the new menu at Cafe Racer. Try the carrot soufflé and see what I mean.
2929 E. 25th St., Minneapolis
Cook St. Paul
Who knew what the average American diner was lacking was a dose of Korean flavor? This east side breakfast and lunch spot has the hunger-banishing classics like crispy hash browns and gloriously meaty bacon. But they also have dishes augmented with the pickly fire known as kimchi. The Korean rice bowl with slow-braised short ribs has already garnered a near-religious following. Baked goods like the mammoth cinnamon roll are made from scratch (by owner Eddie Wu’s wildly talented wife). Speaking of Eddie, order his eponymous drink: the Eddie Wu is a combination of Gray Duck Chai and lemonade that’s kicky and refreshing.
1124 Payne Ave., St. Paul
This sleek wine bar has fast become a go-to happy hour and date night destination. The wine list is just astounding and the way that you can order (by the sip, carafe, or bottle) allows a curious drinker to sample a wide selection of varieties or fall in love with a new favorite. The food menu is modest, but great for noshing and grazing with gorgeous cured meats and a funky, fantastic cheese selection.
105 S. 5th St., Minneapolis
Half Time Rec – Paddy Shack
For a fine dining chef, Jack Riebel certainly does well with bar food. The new Paddy Shack inside Half Time Rec is better than your average dive bar menu. The corned beef and cabbage topped chips (fat french fries to us Yanks) is the kind of dish you’ll dream about long after they’re gone. The mammoth burger and snappy hot dogs are also divine. There isn’t much not to love about this new menu.
1013 Front Ave., St. Paul
Located on Lyndale Avenue in the space previously occupied by Sunnyside Up Café and a laundromat, Heyday was created by culinary powerhouse restauranteurs Jim Christiansen and Lorin Zinter.
“We thought we were opening a really good restaurant,” explains Zinter. “But the feedback we’ve gotten from our peers in the food community has been really overwhelming and humbling. We’ve had chefs, sous chefs and general managers coming in and raving about the food and the space. It makes us feel really wonderful.”
Christiansen admits the hardest question he keeps fielding is about the style of food. “I like the description of a Minneapolis bistro,” he says. “There’s definitely a French influence, but even more so a casualness to the restaurant. And that I hope translates to the food as well. Great quality ingredients with some fun put into it.”
—by Pat Evans, “Taste Buds with Pat Evans,” Issue 498
For some, their love is like a red, red rose. For me, it’s more like a crispy, tender arepa stuffed with anything Christina Nguyen deems fit to cook. From the tropical, breezy room to the wonderful patio to the friendly service, I cannot get enough of this place. The cocktail program is second to none and I haven’t even mentioned that this is the brunch service that packs the eaters in on weekends. If this restaurant was a person, I’d marry it and live the rest of my days in a sunny, happiness haze.
3501 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis
Hot Indian Foods
One of the most consistent complaints I’ve heard about the ethnic food options in Minneapolis is that there just isn’t enough good Indian food. Well, get yourself on down to Midtown Global Market and feast upon these heavenly spiced dishes served street-style. Everything is easy to grab and eat quickly, but you’d be wise to savor these layers of seasonings.
920 E. Lake St., Midtown Global Market, Minneapolis
Kyatchi led the charge to revitalizing this corner of South Minneapolis (Five Watt Coffee and the soon-to-open-Nighthawks have followed). Dishes include sushi, sashimi, brothy bowls of ramen, and some ballpark-inspired hot dogs.
3758 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis
This diminutive cozy spot quickly became a neighborhood destination in this already-rich restaurant area. Experts know to start every meal with an order of the perfect guacamole. Avocados dream of growing up to be mashed inside this kitchen.
4750 Grand Ave. S., Minneapolis
Where Uptown used to seem to be obsessed with Thai food, the dish of the moment is now tacos. With a pack of margaritas and a patio that invites guests to settle in for a good, long afternoon, this taco spot is a welcome addition to the 55408.
30 Water St., Excelsior and 2901 Lyndale Ave, S., Minneapolis
Le Town Talk Diner & Drinkery
This historic diner has been all dressed up with a chic French flair. The food is French comfort food, not too fancy, but miles above greasy spoon fare.
2707 E. Lake St., Minneapolis
The latest offering from Tim McKee and Parasole is a meat lovers paradise. Whether you prefer a giant hunk of perfectly seasoned meat or to take a shot of bourbon down a bone liberated from its marrow, they have it covered.
3001 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis
Lyn 65 Kitchen and Bar
Ben Rients, Jason Sawicki, and Travis Serbus are not above spending over 24 hours straight inside their new restaurant that’s drawing food fans to Richfield. Since the opening of Lyn 65, fans have gushed about the cocktails, praised the food, and proved they’re willing to wait in line and sample whatever the team deems worthy to serve them.
Rients and Sawicki met while working the line at Restaurant Alma. The restaurant is widely regarded as one of the best in Minneapolis. Chef and owner Alex Roberts has received numerous accolades including the prestigious James Beard Award for Best Chef Midwest. It was inside Alma’s kitchen where the two young chefs honed their appreciation for sourcing the best ingredients available and preparing them in ways that accentuate the flavors. This is where the dream was hatched. It was with the blessing of the entire restaurant crew and some unpaid consulting help from Chef Roberts that the duo began to piece together the rough idea that would become an independent restaurant with a tasting menu, well-chosen wine list, Neapolitan-style pizzas, and bar food.
—by Joy Summers, Issue 506
Mattie’s on Main
Some new memories are about to be made on the river in Minneapolis. Storied St. Anthony Main is beginning a new chapter by turning back the page to its bawdy past. Restaurateurs Dean Schlaak and Tom DeGree of Wilde Roast Cafe along with longtime friend and business partner Brian Gilligan are embarking on a new culinary adventure.
They’ve opened Mattie St. Clair’s House of Spirits on Main Street, or “Mattie’s On Main” for short, in the 5,800 square foot space formerly occupied by Kikugawa. Think modern saloon meets gastropub. And Le Cordon Bleu-trained Executive Chef Adam Icard is eager to meet the challenge. “We didn’t just want to have simple bar food like wings,” he insists. “Dean wanted to have a gastropub type feel to the menu, so the other 2 chefs and I approached this by deconstructing some familiar things and making them completely different. We even make our own condiments from scratch.”
—by Pat Evans, “Taste Buds with Pat Evans,” Issue 497
Mon Petit Chéri Bakery
Another farmers market stand success story. This one involves freshly baked morning treats, like sticky rolls and scones that have moved inside an adorable little neighborhood café in Seward. The expanded menu also includes savory breakfast and lunch options.
2401 Franklin Ave., Minneapolis
Peppers and Fries
Burgers and burritos star on the menu inside this new Longfellow eatery. It’s a gorgeous space to while away the summer days with a burger, a pile of fries, and a cold beer inside this space with the garage door windows rolled back. The peanut butter and spicy jelly-topped burger is the kind of weird you’ll want to get to know better.
3900 E. Lake St., Minneapolis
Now open (and available for neighborhood delivery), this hot dog spot in the former Gray House location might just be the perfect pairing for the neighborhood. Sausages aren’t so much made as crafted, packed with flavor and topped with chef-inspired ingredients. It’s a great place to hit with the kids or a crowd of friends for a casual night out. Just don’t forget to save a little room for dessert. The Sebastian Joe’s ice cream malts demand your full attention.
610 W. Lake St., Minneapolis
Public Kitchen + Bar
It’s hard to believe this beautiful room was once a boring office space. It’s clear the high ceilings, arched windows, and gleaming wood with rustic touches was waiting to house a restaurant. Dining with a view of nearby Mears Park never gets old. The menu is packed with classic dishes given the Public twist like a classic Caesar salad, pasta, and chicken, with desserts like crème brûlée and (an oddly brown) banana cream pie.
229 E. 6th St., St. Paul
Red Wagon Pizza Company
The beloved pizza truck from the Linden Hills Farmer’s market has found a permanent home at the edge of Edina and Minneapolis. The blistered crust and gooey cheese translates well into this welcome neighborhood addition.
5416 Penn Ave. S., Minneapolis
The second venture from the team behind Corner Table has a bunch of Northerners singing Southern-style praises. Really, we don’t like to brag, but the crispy fried goodness inside the ’70s sleek stylized space might just be the best taste of the South this side of the Mason-Dixon line. Collards are savory, twinged with a hint of vinegar. Mac and cheese swims in cream sauce beneath a crackling, crisp crust. Hush puppies so good you’ll want to slap your mama. You know, if we need that sort of thing up here.
4257 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis
You’ve heard of Tex-Mex, but how many spots boast Arizona-Mex? This spot serves a chimichanga there is no shame in loving. The entire menu is fresh and comforting. This restaurant is a crowd-pleaser.
5309 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis
It’s hard to remember the days before The Strip Club Meat and Fish, when the Maria Avenue restaurant wasn’t a Twin Cities dining destination. Where did we get our poutine? Craft cocktails? House-made tonic or grassfed steaks? J.D. Fratzke and Tim Niver are finally ready to unleash another new restaurant for us to wrap our heads around. Saint Dinette is slated for a mid-soon (May?) opening in the Rayette Lofts building in Lowertown. The food is inspired by all the places the French have settled in the new world. That’s everything from the French fur trappers to Creole cooking. Adam Eaton will run the kitchen and the first few bites of what he’s been working on at their recent pop ups have been extraordinary. Laurel Elm will run the front of house.
261 E. 5th St., Lowertown, St. Paul
Salsa a la Salsa (formerly BoneYard)
The third location of the down-home Mexican eats is every bit as good as the others, but the expanded menu and bar are a perfect fit for the Uptown address. I’m just waiting for the weather to warm up enough to spend an afternoon lounging on that patio feasting on enchiladas.
2841 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis
Spoon and Stable
Everybody wants a reservation at Spoon and Stable. For good reason. It’s the hottest new restaurant to pop onto an already scorching-hot restaurant scene. From the moment lauded chef and native son Gavin Kaysen first announced he was leaving NYC and the helm of Café Boulud to open his very own restaurant in Minneapolis, countless foodies, critics, well-wishers and nosy neighbors have hoped to snag a table at this, the latest in a slew of much-anticipated restaurants. According to Kaysen, since they began taking reservations in November, the phone has not stopped ringing. Off the hook.
The beauty of the Spoon and Stable menu lies in its versatility. You can adventure eat your way across it, sharing several dishes from each of six areas currently on the winter menu. Experiment. Be bold. Who knows when you’ll get another reservation. As always, Chef will happily course out any combination for you.
Conversely, you can selfishly indulge in a singular bowl of soup and an entree, leaving the table completely satisfied.
—by Bradley Traynor, “Eat the Menu with Bradley Traynor,” Issue 512
Surly Brewing Company
Chef Jorge Guzman’s menu beautifully compliments the full-flavored beers that Surly built a reputation upon. The spectacular new brewery serves food worth lingering over. Start with the hot fries, loosen your belt, and settle in for some serious eats.
520 Malcolm Ave. SE, Minneapolis
The Copper Hen Cakery & Kitchen
In just a few short years, Nicollet Avenue has become a road map of where the Twin Cities food scene is heading. From mole to pho noodles, the flavors of the world are just steps away on the Minneapolis avenue aptly called “Eat Street.” One of the newest stops on this global culinary adventure is The Copper Hen Cakery and Kitchen; a hip and yet cozy farm-to-table bakery and restaurant owned by Danielle Bjorland and her husband Chris.
“We really wanted to return to the roots of good home cooking which begins with the farm,” she explained. “So, we decided on a made-from-scratch menu, we don’t source anything that isn’t homemade and we buy local as much as possible.”
—by Pat Evans, “Taste Buds with Pat Evans,” Issue 499
The Salt Cellar
This modern take on an old-school steakhouse had a bit of a shaky start. The food was great, then it wasn’t. The service was friendly and then it wasn’t. Now, everything seems to be smoothing out. The bar menu is a welcome addition to the neighborhood with a tasty burger and crave-able french fries (order them with a side of cochon sauce). The dining room works for hosting parents or date night, slightly formal, but not too fancy that jeans are out of place. Skip the cocktails and dive into the fantastic wine list.
173 Western Ave. N., St. Paul
More tacos for Uptown! (I wasn’t kidding about that.) The former Spill the Wine restaurant space has added a pile of tacos and authentic Mexican cooking alongside a full bar.
901 W. Lake St., Minneapolis
Tongue in Cheek
The revitalization of the Payne neighborhood got another boost when Tongue in Cheek opened. My favorite time of day to visit is happy hour when small bites are ridiculously affordable (like a couple of dollars) and you can order small, super-cheap sips of all of their crafted cocktails. Dinner is chef-ed up takes on standard comforts including a wonderfully decadent burger.
989 Payne Ave. S., St. Paul
Remember when the skyway restaurants were all up in arms about the food trucks? Well, now the food trucks are finding homes, and some are actually in a skyway. The Vellee Deli spot has brought a welcome makeover to a former Taco Bell space and brought along their Asian-Mexican fusion menu. It’s every bit as good as you remember from last summer. It’s just now you don’t have to jockey for curb space.
Former Taco Bell space, Baker Center, Minneapolis
Workshop at UNION
The great return of Stewart Woodman, the chef who gave us Five, the original Levain, and Heidi’s, serves as the steward of Crave’s culinary program. Inside this hodge-podge-decorated spot he tests dishes and menus; it’s his creative workshop. The food melds the everybody-pleaser style of Crave with a flash of downtown Minneapolis hip-kid cool. When it works, it’s a fun ride.
731 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis