Whether we’re celebrating with friends and family, going out for date night, or just simply too lazy to make dinner at home, dining out is an important part in all of our lives. And how could it not be with the incredible array of restaurants throughout the Twin Cities? Now we can dine out for a cause. Dining Out for Life is an annual fundraising event that raises money for AIDS service organizations. Local restaurants can donate anywhere between 20 and 100 percent of their profits to The Aliveness Project in Minneapolis. And all you have to do to make an impact is go out for a meal on April 27 — maybe you’ll see Kare11’s Sven Sundgaard and Rena Sarigianopoulos out there as they get people excited to dine out and do good!
Lush Food Bar – 100%
Known for its drinks, food and dancing, Lush Food Bar will be donating 100% of their profits to AIDS organizations through Dining Out for Life. Their famous homemade guacamole is reason enough to check it out, not to mention the convenient bar food, which includes all of the staples: quesadillas, nachos and wings. A small vegan menu is also available, along with a full menu ranging from a variety of burgers to a giant chocolate chip cookie. Located on Central Avenue in Minneapolis, Lush should definitely be on every foodie’s list.
The Finnish Bistro – 100%
A cafe of many hats, The Finnish Bistro is another great stop on the Tour de Dining Out for Life. Their menu is seemingly never ending with a long list of wines, desserts, a gluten-free menu, all-day breakfast and a dinner menu. Famous for their bistro cakes, this St. Paul cafe will make you feel like you’re traveling the world through your stomach. From their Finlandia cake to their Italian Chocolate Almond, you’ll want to taste them all. Stop in for a meal or drop by to pick up a treat to take home. Either way, you’ll want to come on an empty stomach.
Stewart’s – 50%
Brunch, lunch, dinner and cocktails; Stewart’s does it all. Located in St. Paul, Stewart’s covers all of the bases. Egg sandwiches, rice bowls, lobster macaroni & cheese and, of course, adult ice cream sandwiches make the trip well worth it. If you’re interested in trying something different, Stewart’s will not disappoint. Their Pannekoeken dessert brings Dutch cuisine to the streets of Minnesota with a pecan streusel, blueberries, lemon zest and creme fraiche ice cream. Is your mouth watering yet?
Al Vento – 35%
A universally loved cuisine, Italian food can be found nearly everywhere. However, it seldom reflects the quality of real, authentic Italian food. Al Vento sets the stage for a whole new level of Italian scrumptiousness. Inspired by the foods of southern Italy, Al Vento offers classic Italian favorites that are both original and reasonably priced. With a variety of bruschetta, homemade mozzarella and a list of pastas longer than the drive to their location on 34th Avenue in Minneapolis, rest assured that you will not go home hungry.
BANK Restaurant – 35%
Located in the Minneapolis Westin, BANK Restaurant has a lengthy menu for every meal. With breakfast foods including fruit smoothies, homemade granola parfaits and blueberry pancakes, you can start the day off right with food that is both healthy and delicious. For lunch or dinner, options like burgers, shrimp tacos and vegetarian wellington will make your next date night as tasty as it is romantic.
Blackbird – 35%
Swedish pancakes, spicy peanut noodles and burnt caramel pudding? Yes, please! The palate of Blackbird is a Minneapolis treasure with entrees that will make breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner the greatest parts of your day. Located right in Nicollet Mall, Blackbird is as convenient as it is delicious. Not to mention, it can be reserved for special events and occasions. If you’re an early riser, stop in for a breakfast of their famous Norske, tofu or vegetable scrambles.
Muffin Top Cafe – 35%
Ever wanted to be a member of The Breakfast Club? Well, now you can. And it’s a lot tastier than the ’80s flick. Muffin Top Cafe offers rewards to members of their Breakfast Club, which is free to join. When caramel almond croissants, a variety of coffee beverages and, of course, their famous muffin tops are included in the perks, there’s no reason not to be a Breakfast Club member. Loring Park’s Muffin Top Cafe has a long list of flavor shots to keep any coffee drink interesting including English Toffee, peach and apple pie.
The Hilltop – 30%
If you need a reason to leave the city, I think I’ve found one. Located in Edina, The Hilltop offers breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. Start off with pancakes, build-your-own burgers or cranberry orange chicken. Finish your delicious meal with their famous pecan pie or one of their many cocktails. The Hilltop’s Happy Hour includes discounts on beer, wine, cocktails and even quesadillas.
Butter Bakery Cafe – 25%
This next stop in Nicollet Mall is known for delivering meals of all of your favorite foods without any of the bells and whistles of fancier restaurants. Famous for their biscuits, you’ll definitely want to try Butter Bakery Cafe’s biscuit sandwich. Piled high with eggs, veggies and bacon, ham or sausage, the biscuit sandwich is served on a warm buttermilk biscuit. If you’re looking for something on the sweeter side, the eclair and blueberry scones will leave you craving more.
The Lowry – 25%
Dine out on the town–Uptown. The Lowry, located in Uptown, is famous for their burgers, oysters and eggs. All of which can arguably be paired with their whiskey. I recommend the chicken sandwich, which is layered with Wisconsin cheddar, basil mayo and lettuce on a fresh ciabatta bun. Their famous baked pear crisp and banana cream pie will end your meal on a note just as delicious as it started.
Pub 500 – 25%
Pub 500 is a hotspot of Mankato for all food lovers. Appetizers include poutine, edamame, and pub pickles, which are perfect to enjoy with a cold beer. Sandwiches like the black bean burger, salmon BLT and beer battered walleye sandwich are all reasons why Pub 500 is on the map. Enjoy the sinful dessert platter of Budino, bread pudding and chocolate mousse, which is perfect for sharing (or not).
5-8 Club – 20%
If you’re a fan of Travel Channel, you’re a fan of 5-8 Club. Home of the award-winning “Juicy Lucy”, a cheese-filled burger featured on Man vs. Food, Food Wars and 101 Tastiest Places to Chow Down, 5-8 Club is the perfect mix of classic bar small plates and comfort food. With three locations in Maplewood, Minneapolis and St. Paul, 5-8 Club is one of the most beloved treasures of Minnesota. I definitely recommend trying the Juicy Lucy to find out what all of the hype is about–it surely won’t disappoint.
Hell’s Kitchen – 20%
“Damn good food” isn’t their slogan for nothing. Hell’s Kitchen, located in Minneapolis, serves sandwiches, burgers and even breakfast all day–yes, really, ALL day! The ham and pear crisp sandwich is Hell’s Kitchen specialty. Featured in “50 Best Sandwiches in America”, the ham and pear crisp sandwich has slow-roasted smoked pit ham, melted Swiss and Fontina cheeses, and poached pears. If you’re a chocolate-lover, the bleeding heart brownie is loaded with raspberries and gooey chocolate. It might be called Hell’s Kitchen, but that’s definitely a match made in heaven.
Red Rabbit – 20%
If you’re anything like me, you’re always in the mood for pizza. Red Rabbit, located on Washington Avenue in Minneapolis, has an endless array of pizzas with unusual yet delicious ingredients. From pancetta and salami to yukon gold shreds and lemon, Red Rabbit redefines pizza. Oysters, pasta and shareable plates are also on the menu, so whatever mood you’re in, there’s bound to be something for you.
Rustica Bakery & Cafe – 20%
Ice cream, cookies and freshly baked bread, Rustica Bakery & Cafe has it all. Recognized in Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, The Today Show, James Beard Foundation and Time Magazine, Rustica Bakery & Cafe will more than satisfy your sweet tooth. Located in Minneapolis, Eden Prairie and the Mall of America, you have a reason to make multiple stops for a pastry, scone or cookie that will hit the spot.
Sparks – 20%
Whether you’re looking for a classic burger or something new and not-so-simple to pronounce, Sparks is a restaurant in Minneapolis that you’ll want to check out. From choripan to cauliflower za’atar, Sparks has a menu brimming with unique finds and delicious tastes. The olive oil cheesecake is a dessert you’ll definitely want to save room for. With red wine jelly, roasted grapes and vanilla, the flavors will explode in your mouth and leave you making plans to return soon.
Republic – 20%
Voted among the top 100 beer bars in Draft Magazine in 2013-2016, Minneapolis’ Republic is a great spot to enjoy a meal or kick back with a cold one. Their duck and brown butter bison burgers are some of their most popular menu items, not to mention the chocolate ganache torte and key lime pie for my fellow sweets lovers. Famous for their beers and ciders, you won’t want to pass up the drink menu. Flavors like raspberry, honey and cherry will transform the way you see beer bars.