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These Were Twin Cities Food Writers’ Go-To Comfort Meals at Local Restaurants in 2023

Seeking refuge in egg sandwiches, khao poon, and French fries

An assortment of Thai dishes on white plates on a black table, including khao mun gai (a chicken and rice dish), beef larb with lettuce, and a plate of dark red chiles.
Khao mun gai and larb at Hot Grainz.
Tim Evans/Eater Twin Cities

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 turned to for the ultimate comfort meals. Have thoughts to share? Feel free to add them in the comments.

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

I sought comfort in eggs, egg sandwiches to be precise. Having ordered them all over town, I have to say that the most thrilling comfort (yes, a thing) is the scallion breakfast burrito from Saturday Dumpling Co., but for a basic bitch Sunday morning go-to it’s the egg and cheese biscuit from Angel Food Bakery.

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

We travel so much that when we’re home we mostly just want to be home when it comes to comfort, but when we do need to step out, we like a no-nonsense no fuss experience so we often land at Eat Street Crossing. Everyone in our group can find something they like there from ramen to pizza, and I love the $25 wine wall with really decent selections. The patio is great and the playlist never sucks!

Em Cassel, editor and co-owner of Racket

The number of times I ordered takeout from Thai Curry on Nicollet after it opened earlier this year… let’s say it was far too many for someone in my tax bracket. Having a killer Thai takeout spot in your neighborhood is a really life-altering thing, turns out.

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

For lunch: Mi-Sant, for boba, lemongrass chicken banh mi, and coconut croissants. Just impeccable and delicious every time. But for dinner, and I write this fully aware that it’s sort of a ridiculous answer: Gyu-Kaku on Lyndale Avenue. I don’t think there’s another restaurant in the metro that so effectively combines hands-on entertainment (cooking thinly sliced pieces of steak and other meats right on your tabletop grill) with legitimately tasty food. The value’s great, too — it’s become one of our favorite places to take groups of 4 to 6, as we can get out for a little over $100 and have a delicious meal that is fun (sometimes hilarious, in fact) to create. It’s a seriously happy place when it comes to entertaining out-of-towners these days.

Golnaz Yamoutpour, @eatdrinkdish founder

Lake and Bryant Cafe in Uptown was my go-to restaurant for a comforting meal. It’s a cozy neighborhood cafe serving up breakfast and lunch dishes from around the world, and it never disappoints. Also, I love that they have plenty of seating and outlets for us remote workers out there.

Natalia Mendez, freelance writer and Eater Twin Cities contributor

This year, when I needed to feel cozy, I found myself at Pho Tau Bay a lot. It’s one of my favorite local pho joints, and it’s a nice place to bring a book and slurp or meet pals for lunch. Their broth is great, and the no-frills atmosphere is to my liking when I just want to dive face-first into a bowl of soup or chomp on some spring rolls solo and unbothered.

Macy-Chau Tran, freelance writer and Eater Twin Cities contributor

After moving back from four years in Thailand, it was a gift to find Hot Grainz, a Thai street food restaurant that did not tone down any of the smoky, spicy, and pungent flavors and aromas innate to Thai cuisine. Hot Grainz soothed my homesickness for Thailand, bringing me a taste of Chiang Mai to St. Paul.

Alex Lodner, freelance writer and Eater Twin Cities contributor

After a challenging few weeks this fall, I bellied up to the bar at Mara with a friend, where we shared a plate of their velvety, dreamy hummus. Topped with crispy chickpeas for texture and scooped up with za’atar-topped pita bread, it warms the heart and soul. My favorite hummus in town, hands down.

Stacy Brooks, freelance writer and Eater Twin Cities contributor

Parlour for an Old Fashioned and fries — one of the best parts of adulthood is that you get to eat fries for dinner.

Justine Jones, editor of Eater Twin Cities

On’s khao poon got me through a gnarly sick season this year, and Soul Lao’s crispy pork belly, with that perfect, perfect sticky rice, is the takeout I always reach for.