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 most heartbreaking closures of 2023. Have thoughts to share? Feel free to add them in the comments.
Stephanie March, food and dining editor of Mpls.St.Paul Magazine
They are all heartbreaking, but I can’t believe we don’t have Foxy Falafel anymore and I actively miss Lowry Hill Meats.
Mecca Bos, food writer, chef, and BIPOC Foodways Alliance founder
I think restaurants come and go, and I think that closures are natural. The East Lake Street White Castle was kind of a shock — it’s a touchstone for a lot of people and the changing landscape and inevitable subsequent gentrification of the city is more of a heartbreak than any one restaurant closure.
Em Cassel, editor and co-owner of Racket
September was a tough month for me: We lost Eastlake Craft Brewery, which became a favorite watering hole as soon as I moved to the Twin Cities, and Tracy’s Saloon, of which I can say the same (and add that I enjoyed so many nights there after broomball games over the winters). It does help soften the blow a little to know that A Bar of Their Own will be heading for Tracy’s space.
James Norton, editor and co-founder of Heavy Table newsletter
On a personal basis, I was really sad to see Bad Waitress shut its doors for good. My wife and our son used to go on “breakfast dates” there when he was four or five years old, and he lived for their French toast. Fond fond memories.
But more generally, I kind of can’t believe Naughty Greek isn’t around anymore. That felt like a place that was going to get franchised — the pork gyro was crazy good, they took delivery competently into their own hands, dessert was excellent, and it really did some things that few if any of its competitors were able to pull off. Tasty food in a slick package.
Natalia Mendez, freelance writer and Eater Twin Cities contributor
For my personal history, I shed a few tears when Tracy’s closed. A friend of mine passed away, and I used to meet there for burgers or wings and beers (he’d get ciders), and it always reminded me of him. They had a cilantro lime wing sauce that I loved, and it was such a great neighborhood spot for food and drink.
Macy-Chau Tran, freelance writer and Eater Twin Cities contributor
I am so heartbroken with the closure of Manila Sizzling Wok, a Filipino staple of the Twin Cities. Not only was it delicious, it allowed Filipino food to be accessible and affordable to many, with its no frills, deli-style dining and takeout. I will miss the crunch of crispy pork belly, the buzz of titas filing in and out, and the array of homey, comforting soups and stir fries.
Alex Lodner, freelance writer and Eater Twin Cities contributor
Ngon Bistro closed its doors on University Avenue in St. Paul in July. While it was not necessarily my go-to Vietnamese spot (mostly due to the higher price point than most), that patio was unmatched in the area and its modern take on classics was a welcome addition to the neighborhood for over 16 years.
Stacy Brooks, freelance writer and Eater Twin Cities contributor
Walkin’ Dog, a tiny hot dog and snack stand in the Northstar Center food court, for purely nostalgic reasons — but don’t all of us have a restaurant that we’ve bonded with? I used to work in downtown Minneapolis at an office job that wasn’t a good fit, and at the time I was also dealing with some heavy things in my personal life. When everything felt too overwhelming I would take a 15 minute break and head to Walkin’ Dog for a box of popcorn. It was something like 75 cents, and it always made me feel better. Although I left that job several years ago, I would make a point of getting a box of popcorn from Walkin’ Dog whenever I found myself downtown. I miss being able to do that — besides the sentimental draw, it was really good popcorn!
Justine Jones, editor of Eater Twin Cities
I’m sentimental to a fault, so closings always get me, but I was especially sad to see Fasika and Lowry Hill Meats close this year, and I’m crossing my fingers that Appetite for Change can find a new home for Breaking Bread Cafe. Twin Spirits Distillery is a heartbreaker, too — I have many sweet memories of post-Chimborazo nightcaps there, and the staff were doing such great things with fresh herbs in the greenhouses, witchy moonshine distilled on the full moon, etc. The space was always cozy, unpretentious, and welcoming.