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Local Dining Experts Share Their 2019 Restaurant Standbys

These were the restaurants that insiders know they can count on

A flour-covered chef presents a blistered crust with cheese and toppings
That pizza at Surly pairs well with the killer patio

In keeping with Eater tradition, look back at the year in dining with the help of those that cover the food world. We kick it all off with the restaurants we find ourselves eating at time and time again. These are the restaurants standbys for those that eat out all the time.

Sharyn Jackson of the Star Tribune, “Casual, kid-friendly mainstays like Yum! Kitchen, Sea Salt and D’Amico & Sons (bottomless wine!). I’ll say this every year: Milda’s Cafe for pancakes and pasties.”

Jess Fleming of the Pioneer Press, “Honestly, it’s a sad aspect of my job that I don’t really get to have standbys. Maybe someday when I’m an empty nester I will have time to go out to eat when it’s not work-related.”

Mike Marcotte of Twin Cities Live, “Butcher & the Boar. Bar Brigade. Hai Hai. Zelo. It’s my go-to spot for happy hour before seeing a theater show in downtown Minneapolis. Surly, their patio is top notch. Sushi Train on Nicollet Mall. It is a spectacle and a ton of fun with a small group of friends. Perfect for happy hour.”

Sarah Bumble and Em Cassel of City Pages, “Bull’s Horn, Tea House, Modern Times.”

Nancy Ngo of the Pioneer Press, The Commodore, iPho, Handsome Hog, Red Cow, Monte Carlo, Nightingale, Barbette, 112 Eatery, Lolito, and Matchstick.”

James Norton, food editor of Growler Magazine, “A quick top five would be Hai Hai (one of my favorite go-tos for everything from casual meet ups to big reunion feasts with far-flung friends), the eternally impeccable Meritage (still my number one date night choice), Patisserie Marc Heu (for weekend croissants and croissant doughnuts), Hello Pizza (for the closest thing to a great New York City slice around here), and Thai Cafe in St. Paul (whose beautiful and inexpensive Pad Thai is my feel-good lunch go-to.)”

Joy Summers, editor Eater Twin Cities, “Brunson’s Pub for stealing away on date nights or casual catch-ups with friends. Grand Cafe for feeling like an extra in an Audrey Hepburn movie. Ngon for pho. Rose Street Cafe on West 7th for breakfast and meetings.”

Hard Times Cafe

1821 Riverside Avenue, , MN 55454 (612) 666-0556 Visit Website

Butcher & the Boar

901 North 3rd Street, , MN 55401 (612) 886-1769 Visit Website

Surly Brewing Company

520 Malcom Ave. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414

Sushi Train

1200 Nicollet Mall, , MN 55403 (612) 259-8488 Visit Website

Grand Cafe

3804 Grand Avenue South, , MN 55409 (612) 822-8260 Visit Website

Hello Pizza

3904 Sunnyside Road, , MN 55424 (952) 303-4514 Visit Website


831 Nicollet Mall, , MN 55402 (612) 333-7000 Visit Website

Hai Hai

2121 University Avenue Northeast, , MN 55418 (612) 223-8640 Visit Website


410 Saint Peter Street, , MN 55102 (651) 222-5670 Visit Website