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The Cities’ Most Exciting Restaurant Debuts of 2023, According to Local Food Writers

A retrospective on (many of) 2023’s biggest and brightest openings

A number of paintings collaged on a wall; a large window with a counter below it and a long booth on the other side of the room.
Baba’s Hummus House, on Lyndale Avenue.
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 newcomers on the scene that excited us in 2023. Have thoughts to share? Feel free to add them in the comments.

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

Sorry but it’s a tie for the Anns. I’m all in on Ann Ahmed’s Gai Noi and the buzzy tables jammed with people who just keep ordering and drinking more, making a gustatory meander out of an evening. And I’m here for Ann Kim’s revision and relaunch in Uptown with Kim’s, we all need more kimchi on top of our ham and cheese sandwiches, please.

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

I’m so proud of the team at Oro. Nixta was such a special treat for our city to have, and now that they have a sit-down spot, what more could we ask for? Their food is world class, and I mean that.

Em Cassel, editor and co-owner of Racket

I probably won’t be the only one on this list to talk about how much I love Marty’s Deli, but nonetheless. Marty’s Deli! We are not a sandwich town generally speaking, and then here comes Marty’s — a revelation on focaccia. I love the embedded-in-the-neighborhood location and the laid-back vibe and the breakfast sandwich. And the fact that they have a notary on hand once a week for all your official paperwork needs. (Also: a shout out to the deli sandwiches at the new South Lyndale Liquors!)

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

At this point in my life and career, I’m often more intrigued by simple, classic food done really well than boundary-pushing fine dining. With that in mind, Baba’s Hummus House is an exciting debut — clean, classic, timeless Middle Eastern fare (including some of the best falafel I’ve eaten locally and remarkably good hummus and pita) presented in a tremendously stylish but comfortable setting.

Natalia Mendez, freelance writer and Eater Twin Cities contributor

Hands down, Oro by Nixta. I can’t say enough good things about chefs Gustavo and Kate Romero and the culturally important — and delicious — things they’re doing with corn. There’s nothing like it in the Twin Cities, and they’re really showcasing the depth, complexity, and versatility of Mexican food.

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

Despite the growing immigrant/refugee population from Myanmar and Thailand in the Twin Cities, Myanmar, Karen, and Burmese cuisine has yet to come to mainstream attention. When Mandalay Kitchen opened up in St. Paul, I was super excited to find a Karen-owned restaurant with an explicitly Burmese menu and Burmese tea house culture and food. I feel like Mandalay Kitchen has the potential to really put Burmese and Karen food on the map for Minnesotans.

Alex Lodner, freelance writer and Eater Twin Cities contributor

My expectations were sky high for Herbst in St. Paul, and it did not disappoint. The hyper seasonal menu is always full of delicious surprises. Do not skip the desserts!

Stacy Brooks, freelance writer and Eater Twin Cities contributor

The Indigenous Food Lab in the Midtown Global Market. Owamni is wonderful, but for most of us it’s a special occasion spot — it’s great to have Indigenous cuisine available at a more budget-friendly price point and in a convenient counter-service format. The adjacent market is also really cool, so many neat products from Native-owned companies and makers.

Justine Jones, editor of Eater Twin Cities

So many! Besides those we highlighted in the Eater Awards this year, I loved seeing Muddy Tiger doing a full Marathi menu; Mandalay Kitchen dishing up mohinga; Soul Lao going brick-and-mortar; Francis hitting a nerve with vegan diners in Northeast; Baba’s bringing Lyndale Avenue a casual/accessible/delicious dining option; the Camden Social reimagining an essential neighborhood tavern... Mogi Bagel and Dahlia have done such amazing stuff as pop-ups. Shoutout to Harry Singh’s, too, for making it out of restaurant purgatory. We need you.