Mar 15, 2014

Top 15 Minneapolis & St. Paul Foodie Spots

If you are visiting Minneapolis, you won't be disappointed by the restaurants that we have to offer. Minneapolis is quickly joining cities like: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago on best restaurant lists. Keith and I love dining out. I mean, who doesn't? But we really love dining out. Since we met while working in a restaurant, it is only natural that food is a shared interest. We are lucky to have so many amazing options and new places are popping up almost monthly.

It was too hard for me to narrow this list down to 10. I forced myself to narrow it down to 15 so here are some honorable mentions here [click the restaurant name to redirect to their website and ΓΌber impressive menus].

{In my opinion}

Honorable mentions: The Happy GnomeRed Cow ▲ PiccoloHaute Dish

15. Lake and Irving (Uptown, Minneapolis)

Maybe the newest addition to Uptown -- this restaurant is fantastic. If you are familiar with the area, you know that parking can be a nightmare. No problems here...they have their own lot! Opened by two brothers who spent some time perfecting their culinary expertise in Hawaii and Napa Valley, the menu brings new meaning to the term "Asian Fusion." I've heard that the brothers aren't particularly fond of the term, but the island influence is definitely apparent in the menu. A great tap list and cocktail menu make this a spot I will definitely return to. Plus the location is only a few blocks from Lake Calhoun making this a must visit in the summer.

14. Butcher & The Boar (Loring Park, Minneapolis)

[Serious food halo in the left picture]

Definitely not vegetarian friendly. I have heard that this place has an amazing patio but I have only been there in the winter so I can't speak to it. I would say that this is a great restaurant for the winter though as the hearty meal is sure to put some meat on your bones (pun intended). I got the Smoked Beef Long Rib and it was literally (almost literally) the size of my femur. Not for the faint of heart. Great for large groups.

13. W.A. Frost (Cathedral Hill, Saint Paul)

Perhaps the best patio in the entire Twin Cities area. Perhaps the best wine list in the entire Twin Cities area. You know you have ordered well when the in-house sommelier brings your wine to you and asks for tasting notes. Keith and I read up on our wine facts at the bar while we waited for a table on the patio. And the patio is definitely worth the wait. The menu is totally approachable with options to share and plenty of selection.

12. La Belle Vie (Loring Park, Minneapolis)

La Belle Vie is the best place to blow your entire paycheck on a single meal in Minneapolis. Joking...kind of. Not the only French restaurant on this list and I hesitate saying that it is the best (but only because I am bitter I can't afford to eat here more often). For $75 - $145 (each) you can enjoy the tasting menu. For an additional $45 - $75 (each) you can add wine pairings. You can order from the a la carte menu but in my opinion, the best way to experience La Belle Vie is the tasting menu. If you go on a Thursday you can run across the street to the Walker Art Museum (Thursday's are free) so you won't feel as bad about spending so much money on dinner.

11. Pizzeria Lola (South Minneapolis)

Wood Fired Pizza at its best. Easily the most affordable option on this list and definitely worth a stop if you find yourself hungry in Minneapolis. I recommend you try the Kimchi Pizza (Lady ZaZa). Chances are, you haven't had kimchi on your pizza before, you may not even know what kimchi is. It is delicious. I guess you will have to take my word for it until you try it for yourself. Buy a ticket for the photo booth from your waiter/waitress and you'll have a fun and inexpensive souvenir to take home.

10. Tilia (Linden Neighborhood, Minneapolis)

We used to live near here and riding our bikes around Lake Harriet in order to get to brunch was maybe the best way to start a Sunday. I take that back...definitely the best way to start a Sunday. The menu changes often but you honestly can't go wrong here. I've been mourning the Poached Eggs and Corn Bread Waffle that used to be on the brunch menu but the Chilequiles come in a close second. The tap list is equally amazing and, well, the dinner menu speaks for itself.

9. Burch (Uptown, Minneapolis)

A relatively new spot to Minneapolis, Burch transformed an old pharmacy into a gorgeous restaurant space. Original floors and beams peek out to create a visually satisfying atmosphere. Take a step near the staircase for a scent inducing coma from the pizza oven in the basement. I have to admit that we haven't tried the pizza here yet...but the steaks are incredible! We were tempted to try the Certified Japanese A5 Wagyu but are saving it for another time. 4oz for $70? It's a wonder we don't get it every time we are here. I am planning to try it next time...if nothing else, to be able to say that I did.

8. Craftsman (Longfellow, Minneapolis)

The Craftsman features a variety of organic produce, naturally raised meat, poultry, seafood, and artisan cheeses from local farmers and coops. The menu changes frequently but there is something for everyone (even vegetarians). If you find yourself here, order the Craftsman Manhattan. It is a classic drink but it is done impeccably. I could eat the brandied cherries by the bowl full.

7. Meritage (Downtown, Saint Paul)

Meritage offers French cuisine and a charming atmosphere. Downtown Saint Paul is the perfect location for this restaurant and was recently voted North America's Best Romantic Getaway (for good reason, too). If you are visiting in the winter I recommend you start your night with an outdoor skating session at Wells Fargo Winter Skate. A stroll through the park after your meal will leave you feeling the love. If you have never tried oysters, now is your chance. Meritage has the best selection and the best quality of oysters that I have found in the state. Keith and I once started and ended our meal with oysters here. Dessert? Sure. After our second round of oysters. They are that good. I have to mention that brunch here is phenomenal too. Who doesn't love starting the day with house made beignets and a champagne cocktail?

6. Bachelor Farmer (and Marvel Bar)

The Scandinavian in me beams with joy whenever I think about this restaurant. That being said, don't forget to order a warm popover with honeyed butter. The menu changes seasonally so I can't guarantee what you will find...but I can guarantee that you will love it. I have yet to try Sunday Supper but from what I is a must. Don't forget to make a stop at Marvel Bar below the restaurant for a drink while you are waiting for a table.

5. Borough (and Parlour)

Arrive about an hour to an hour and a half before your reservation and grab a drink downstairs at Parlour. If you are lucky, you will score an over-sized chair in a quiet corner to cuddle next to your honey. Do yourself a favor and skip the wine. The cocktail list is exquisitely designed. You don't want to miss out! The menu upstairs will not disappoint either. Again, it changes seasonally so eat here and repeat often. As often as possible. We started with a cauliflower dish downstairs and went straight to the second course when we got upstairs.

4. Origami (Sushi)

Origami is our favorite sushi spot in the cities (and the only sushi spot to make this list). Keith loves sashimi and this place has incredibly fresh fish. It's hard to imagine that anywhere in the Midwest could offer fresh ocean fish, but this place has it. There are 2 locations: Uptown and Downtown. We almost always go to the Downtown location but if you are visiting, Uptown may be the better choice for you. Uptown is lively (especially on the weekends and in the summer) so you'll love walking around, bar hopping, window shopping, even catching a movie (here or here). Or if you are in Uptown during the day, the Chain of Lakes is nearby where you can rent everything from a bicycle to a kayak or even a paddle board and enjoy the free public beach and miles of bicycle trails. The Downtown location is in more of a business district so there isn't much to see nearby.

3. 112 Eatery (Downtown, Minneapolis)

This place is one of the original foodie spots in Minneapolis. When I say 'original' I mean that it has been around for a while...before the big 'foodie' craze took over our fine city (and thank goodness it did). 112 is known as an industry spot because they serve a full dinner menu until closing (1 AM on the weekends). Keith and I have been here more than once for dinner after midnight. For a few years, it was our only late-night option. I recommend the Tagliatelle with Foie Gras Meatballs and you should probably get the full size because I guarantee whoever you are dining with will have a hard time keeping their fork out of your dish.

2. Bar La Grassa (North Loop, Minneapolis)

Bar La Grassa is brought to you by the same people who brought us #3 and #9 on this list. I'm telling you, these people know how to do food. I can best describe the food here as "Authentic Northern Italian." Traditionally, when you think of Italian food you probably think of: spaghetti, meatballs, baked lasagna, etc. This is not what you will find here. I can promise that you will never think of Italian the same and you will yearn for the food here long after you have returned home. You absolutely can't leave without trying the Soft Eggs and Lobster (bruschetta) and the Gnocchi with Cauliflower and Orange (vegetarian). Again, order the full size. You have seriously never tasted cauliflower so good. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

1. The Strip Club Meat & Fish (Dayton's Bluff, Saint Paul)

Our favorite restaurant, number one on our a strip club? No, no, no...this isn't what you are thinking. You won't find any topless dancers here. Just amazing meat and fish. Not only is the food the best you will find in the Twin Cities, but the entire dining experience is top notch. The restaurant is pretty small so try to make a reservation if you can. This place is known for their stellar cocktail menu and incredible bartenders. Your tab can add up fast here so if you are on a budget I recommend you stop in for lunch (or weekend brunch) instead. If you are a vegetarian, it is probably better that you avoid this spot. Even the carrots are poached in duck fat.

I can tell that I am going to need to do another restaurant post. I left out some of my favorite burger spots and cheap eats! Not to mention the amazing (and numerous) brew-houses and food trucks.

What list would you like to see next?

XO, Bev

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