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The Twin Cities’ Most Exciting Restaurant Debuts of 2022

From Ethiopian fare to neighborhood bars revived

An assortment of cocktails on a table.
A cocktail lineup at Little Tijuana.
Gene Pease

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 newcomers on the scene that excited us in 2022. Have thoughts to share? Feel free to add them in the comments.

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

I think that Mr. Paul’s has lit an all-welcoming bonfire of fun in Edina, there’s a ton of good times to be had there.

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

Stepchld in Northeast has been a go-to of mine since it opened. It’s Ethiopian-around-the-edges but also global, hip, urban, and still manages to be affordable and welcome. Great wine list!

Em Cassel, editor and co-owner of Racket

Wrecktangle isn’t exactly a newcomer — their food hall locations have been around since 2019, I think? But their flagship, standalone, brick-and-mortar at Lyn-Lake is such a delight. The food is great; the vibes are unrivaled. I’ve spent more money than I care to admit in their little gift shop. Long live the grape ape!

Natalia Mendez, Eater Twin Cities contributor

I can’t get enough of Little T’s. From the delicious drinks to the generous portions of food to the chill atmosphere (I’m a sucker for dead media and a disco ball) there’s no way I wasn’t going to fall in love with that place. I dream about their crispy waffle fries and cool ‘n’ creamy, super savory french onion dip paired with a piña colada. I haven’t tried their brunch yet, but it’s on my to-eat list.

Trish Gavin, bar maven and Eat Street Crossing beverage director

Kalsada and their wildly different brunch. I love that place! Also, Little Tijuana’s, and very happy to see chef Janene Holig back on the scene with Bussin Birria Tacos at the MOA (even though I dread the mall).

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

I’d go with Mario’s, which represents a real thematic stretch for the talented team behind Estelle and also is a rare local spot that takes sandwich-making seriously. One of the best things about living in New York (as I used to, years back) is that your average pizza slice or sandwich is the equivalent of the best version almost anywhere else, and Minnesota has definitely struggled with mediocre sandwiches overall. Mario’s is giving it a serious go.

Ali Elabaddy, Eater Twin Cities contributor

Jamaican Caribbean Cuisine over in Falcon Heights is showing the sorely needed representation that has to be present in first-ring suburbs, and putting their all into family tried-and-true recipes for the masses.

Golnaz Yamoutpour, @eatdrinkdish founder

I was really excited for Guacaya Bistreaux, a Latin Caribbean tapas and cocktail bar in the North Loop with influences from New Orleans. They have been teasing us since 2020 on Instagram, and they finally opened in spring 2022. The Twin Cities hasn’t had a solid tapas bar in years and we definitely need more international cuisines to add to the expanding dining scene.

Alex Lodner, Eater Twin Cities contributor

Mara and Khâluna are both examples of how elevated food can be presented in a less intimidating way. I don’t miss the highbrow vibe of white tablecloths and stuffy service. This is new luxury dining and I am here for it.

Justine Jones, editor of Eater Twin Cities

I’m an unreasonably nostalgic person by nature and a sucker for a great comeback story, so I’m very happy about Little Tijuana. The food and cocktails are exceptional — and I also love when new bars don’t try for that indistinct sleek/fancy aesthetic we see everywhere, and instead opt for what’s fun and funky and maybe a little frayed at the edges. Every time I’m there I have to resist climbing onto a table and stealing that cute vintage fringed lamp hanging in the dining space.