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The Enduring Twin Cities Restaurants We Kept Coming Back to in 2022

Local dining experts’ go-to dining destinations in the past year

A small white dish of water fern cakes.
Water fern cakes from Hai Hai.
Bill Addison/Eater

It’s an Eater tradition to round out the year with a survey of local food experts — editors, writers, reporters, and a select few others — on the highs, lows, and surprises of the past 365 days in dining. Today, our panel looks at the enduring restaurants we returned to again and again over the course of the year. Have thoughts to share? Feel free to add them in the comments.

Stephanie March, food and dining editor of Mpls.St.Paul Magazine

Wow, that’s kind of a luxury to be able to carve out time for a favorite over and over again. But I probably hit up Malcolm Yards the most because it’s so versatile for meet-ups, quick hangs, and pop-bys, plus I always know I’m going to eat something I want. I used this eating space for a lot of reasons this year.

Mecca Bos, food writer, chef, and Hidden BIPOC Foodways founder

I’m always in awe of the tenacity of mom & pop powerhouses like On’s Kitchen, Thai Cafe, and Taqueria el Primo Taco Truck, which remains my favorite taco in the TC. Nightingale Minneapolis has been my neighborhood hang the entire decade that they’ve been open and I give them all the props for their enduring consistency and high standards for hospitality.

Em Cassel, editor and co-owner of Racket

Eater mentioned this in its best-of-2022 list, but this was the first year in a long time that felt… normal-ish? Which meant I did a lot of reconnecting with friends and loved ones while returning to regular status at some of the spots we fell out of touch with in the early days of COVID: Bull’s Horn, The Lowbrow, Momo Sushi. (Because the pandemic is absolutely still raging, most of these meals followed outdoor activities like dog walks on Pike Island or fat biking down by the River Bottoms; Cedar Inn’s streetside patio, for example, was the postgame spot for our rec league softball team.)

Natalia Mendez, Eater Twin Cities contributor

I spent more time than I expected bellied up at Black Forest Inn’s bar. Although a hearty and rib-sticking meal can easily be found within its darkened interior, I’ve always loved making a snacky dinner out of their appetizers. Lentil soup, a pretzel with cheese spread and a beautiful, lip-smacking grainy mustard, sauerkraut, herring... Wash it all down with one of their imported beers, and I’m in heaven. A friend turned me onto their house-made rhubarb liqueur this past year, and it’s the perfect way to end any visit there.

Trish Gavin, bar maven and Eat Street Crossing beverage director

For me, this has been a year mostly on Eat Street — Pimento Jamaican Kitchen, Pho Tau Bay, Marisa’s Market, and Christo’s. Also, Lake & Irving as well as Victor’s 1959 Cafe and sandwiches from Clancey’s.

James Norton, editor and co-founder of Heavy Table newsletter

Mi-Sant, On’s Kitchen, and Hai Hai seem to get most of my love when I actually have time to eat somewhere by choice — it’s not accidental, as the Southeast Asian food scene in Minneapolis and St. Paul is really top-of-the-heap nationally. I should also shout out Dominguez, which is such a humble, approachable neighborhood Mexican spot but also terrifically consistent and wonderful.

Golnaz Yamoutpour, @eatdrinkdish founder

I kept going back to some of my all-time faves like Lake & Irving, Boludo, Iconos Gastro, Chimborazo, and Monte Carlo — just to name a few.

Alex Lodner, Eater Twin Cities contributor

I love World Street Kitchen and Karta Thai for a quick bite, and Malcolm Yards for the Benjamin Bacon at Advellum (beware, it’s highly addictive). For a neighborhood bistro, Brunson’s in St. Paul and Tilia in Minneapolis are reliably delicious and welcoming. And absolutely everything on the menu at Red Wagon Pizza is worth a trip across the river for me.

Justine Jones, editor of Eater Twin Cities

My ultimate comfort dish is the seco de pollo at Chimborazo, so I find myself there often. Also: Keefer Court for sesame balls, Revival for a slice of not-too-sweet banana cream pie. I chose my current apartment based (mostly) on its proximity to Lu’s Sandwiches, and have no regrets.