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The Biggest Shockers in Twin Cities Dining This Year

We did not see that coming.

The locally stocked bar at The Commodore.
Katie Cannon

Like the end of a bender, it’s time to pause and look back at 2016 and consdier the successes and surprises of the year. As is Eater tradition, we asked some of the top tastemakers and food writers to tell us about their best, and worst, meals of the past year.

Today we ask, what was the biggest surprise in 2016 dining?

James Norton, editor Heavy Table

“PinKU. It seemed initially to just be a sort of a workaday "let's bring Japanese street fare into the quality assembly line world of Chipotle" effort, but the food is so tasty and beautifully executed that it has become a mainstay for my family. It's delightful.”

Sue Zelickson of Minnesota Monthly Magazine and founder of the Charlie Awards:

“The Commodore.”

Behind the Art Deco Doors of The Commodore
1930’s glamor at The Commodore.
Katie Cannon

Frank Haataja of The Minnesota Skinny

“I don't know if it was a surprise, but it was to me: hearing Vincent Francoual joining CARA and bring his Vincent Burger to Cooper Pub turned Cooper from ‘what's that?’ to one of my top two hangout spots.”

John Garland, editor The Growler

“I thought we were reaching critical mass with ramen houses, but every new shop manages to find a niche (a different preparation, flavor, neighborhood) and there’s very little overlap between them.”

Deliciousness at Spitz.
Luke Marshall Johnson

Molly Mogren, Hey Elenor

“I absolutely loved my meal at Spitz! Casual and inexpensive, but so delicious. Those street cart fries gotta be laced with something.”

Nancy Ngo, the Pioneer Press

“El Jibarito Food Truck that debuted in downtown St. Paul this summer. So much Puerto Rican goodness coming out of that food truck. Especially love the El Jibarito sandwich, the mini fried plantain cups (Tostones Relleno) and empanadas.”

Jason DeRusha, WCCO and Minnesota Monthly

“The utter failure of restaurants with a lot of seats. Scena in Uptown (which I really liked) opened and closed; Parella didn’t last long; Salt Cellar in St. Paul also bombed.”

Mike Marcotte, Local Guy About Town for KSTP, Twin Cities Live

“The restaurant scene is cutthroat, but gosh, there were a lot of places that shuttered their doors this year. Fortunately, there are new ones popping up every week.”

Alex Lodner, contributor Eater Minneapolis

“We continue to see restaurants opening by the dozens and still fill seats. Do it right and they will come.”