Today we announce the eighth annual Eater Awards, celebrating the chefs and restaurants that truly made an impact over the past 12 months. These are the establishments that have taken the food world by storm. Thank you to everyone who voted last week, and congratulations to the winners of the Readers’ Choice and Editors’ Choice awards. Read on to learn more about this year’s best of the best.
Restaurant of the Year
Jamie Malone, South Minneapolis
The renaissance of this neighborhood cafe, led by chef Jamie Malone, has been the most exciting dining experience of the year. Her food has redefined what casual French fare can be, while the room is blush-tinged, refined comfort. Malone began her chef tenure under different owners, but when she and this current team moved into the space, it evolved from neighborhood treasure to nationally recognized gem. The food served has an understated elegance, with just enough modern touches to make what was old new again, like a pike quenelle or the most-Instagrammed dish of foie gras served in a duck-foot egg cup, topped with creme fraiche and ribbons of lemon zest. From the wine list to the tiny golden spoons, every detail receives expert consideration.
Restaurant of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: Young Joni, Northeast
Chef of the Year
He’s the chef the Dalai Lama calls when he’s in town and the man who made Minneapolis a worldwide dining destination. His second restaurant, a French bistro called Bellecour, opened this spring. The restaurant actually lured the New York Times all the way out to Wayzata, and the review was a predictable rave. It would be easy for Kaysen to rest on his laurels or simply breeze into the dining room, glad-handing and playing the role of celebrity chef. Instead, he remains one of the hardest-working chefs in town, leading by example, continually creating personal cuisine, and mentoring the next generation of talent. Kaysen also gives back to the community. His Synergy Series, held at Spoon and Stable with megawatt star chefs, benefits charities like Appetite for Change and the Children’s Cancer Research Fund.
Chef of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: Jamie Malone, Grand Cafe*
**Editor's note: Due to human error the poll results shown are inaccurate. This poll was closed after the content rules required it to be closed after 24 hours. At the close of the poll according to contest rules, these were that Jamie Malone was chef of the year with 40% of the votes.
Design of the Year:
Chef Ann Kim and Conrad Leifur’s third restaurant was inspired by their mothers, Young and Joni. The couple worked with designer Milo Garcia of Studio MAI in Los Angeles to create a room that the Star Tribune described as “a seductive space that might be mistaken for a tech billionaire’s idea of a Hollywood Hills treehouse.” The room is filled with varying wood tones and astounding acoustics that somehow take a boisterous space and allow for ambient music to drift through without drowning out conversation. Above the wood-fire grill station is a wall of handmade tile that glints in the low light, capturing light and color like tropical fish scales. The gentle, golden light makes everyone and every dish all the more gorgeous.
Design Readers’ Choice Winner: Young Joni
Best Dive Bar Revival:
St. Paul’s Eastside
There’s been a resurgence of neighborhood bars in this year. Several highly experienced restaurant teams have taken familiar dives and brought them into the new age without losing any of the worn-in neighborhood charm. The former Schweitz Saloon was purchased by Thomas and Molly LaFleche and given a deep cleaning and the addition of a lovely outdoor patio. In the year before opening, Thomas worked at Saint Dinette as a student of its restaurant and bar graduate program. That study time means Brunson’s served top-shelf cocktails. The drinks and beer options are similar to what can be found in an upscale restaurant, but at blue-collar prices. The food includes perfectly fried house-made potato chips and ever-so-slightly elevated takes on bar-food classics, including burgers and road-trip worthy banh mi. Meanwhile, the integrity of the historic building, especially the antique bar, remain intact.
Dive Bar Revival Readers’ Choice Winner: Bull’s Horn Food & Drink
Bartender of the Year:
Marco Zappia made his bones working with Bittercube, the bar-consulting and bitters company that has created some buzzed-about bar programs. This year he branched out on his own to create remarkable vermouths for Grand Cafe, serving entire flights of artful, surprising flavor constructs ideally suited to the menu, all the while with his singular, laid-back charm. Recently, he kicked off his first solo full-bar project at Martina in Linden Hills, and the drinks are on par with anything mixed at top bars around the world. His way with flavors is immediate, familiar, and unforgettable.
Bartender of the Year Readers’ Choice Winner: Adam Gorski, Young Joni