While many restaurants seem to come with an expiration date, there are a few special eateries, often still run by the family who originally opened it, that stand the test of time. These are the steaks, pizzas and cheese-stuffed burgers that define dining in the cities.Read More
11 Icons of Twin Cities Dining
The steakhouses, pizza shops, Italian markets and pancake alleys that stand the test of time
1. Murray's Steakhouse
It's no coincidence that the best eateries that stand the test of time are family owned. No one cares for the customer like those who have been raised in the hot kitchens and helping stock these perfectly worn bars. Murray's treats everyone like a VIP. The boast that the steaks are so tender they yield to a butter knife are no joke. The dining room maintains the 1946 charm, but brings this beauty into the modern age.
2. Monte Carlo Restaurant
The hum of the Monte Carlo's neon sign has remained a constant inside the fast-changing North Loop neighborhood. While this part of town now plays host to the hottest new eateries in Minneapolis, this steadfast crew continues to pour classic martinis and serve Cobb salads. The exquisite dining room and mirrored wall behind the bar lends elegance to every evening, while the side patio remains one of the best places to enjoy our briefest season.
3. Jax Cafe
There is a babbling brook where guests can fish for their own dinner, an historic bar with stained glass; a classic service style and enormous cuts of prime rib inside the dining room. Jax Cafe is classic Minneapolis dining. Whether celebrating a special occasion or just toasting a Tuesday night with a properly mixed Manhattan, Jax has been serving Minneapolis fine dining since the 1940’s.
4. Kramarczuk's East European Deli
If only they sold that glorious perfume of the Kramarczuk's in a bottle. Rye bread, garlic-potent Polish sausage, cabbage and all manner of pungent spices emanate from this historic deli and restaurant on Hennepin in Minneapolis’ Northeast neighborhood. When it opened in 1954, Kramarczuk’s mainly served the Eastern European immigrants of the neighborhood, but this institution pulls in fans from all over the Twin Cities, and the world.
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5. 5-8 Club
Another other iconic eatery that serves the Juicy Lucy. Note the spelling difference. They've brought "i" into the mix, as it, "I need to get down there now that this burger craving has been activated." Both restaurants lay claim to the original cheese stuffed burger, but the main difference here is size. No one is leaving without big-time burger action at the 5-8, plus variety is king on this menu. . Opened at the peak of Prohibition, the 5-8 Club was a speak-easy. In the 50's the burger of note was introduced.
6. Matt's Bar
A cheeseburger by any other name is an inferior animal. Inside this working class bar, first opened in 1954, the menu is limited. Get the Jucy Lucy, maybe add onions, consider a side of fries to eat while waiting for that molten hot cheese to settle down.
7. Al's Breakfast
Who doesn't love finding a special, secret space inside the city? Every year new diners discover Al’s little alley occupying diner in Dinkytown. First opened in 1950 by Al Bergstrom, fans have been crowding into this narrow space for stacks of perfect pancakes ever since. Part of the fun is taking in the show of short order cooking and the no-nonsense interaction between the servers, customers and cook.
8. WA Frost & Company
St. Paul's Cathedral Hill neighborhood is steeped in old world charm and elegance. With its stone walled basement, roaring dining room fireplace and the burnished wood bar diners could imagine themselves as visitors of another age.
9. Mancini's Char House & Lounge
The red leather booths in the the lounge feel more like sitting on the throne of a swinging era. The Mancini family's history is wound into the tapestry of St. Paul history - so much so that when the family patriarch passed away, West 7th was closed for the solemn procession. Dinner inside the steakhouse begins with a complimentary pickle tray and ends with one last bite of a seared meat in salt and peppery crust.
10. Cossetta's Italian Market & Pizzeria
After a multi-million dollar expansion this restaurant complex bares little resemblance to the quaint family market that began this St. Paul tradition. However, take a moment to peruse the pictures inside. These aren't just stock photos, but cherished memories of the family that still operates this business. Grab a wide slice of pizza or a hoagie the size of your head downstairs, hit up the swank Louis' with the gorgeous rooftop bar view, shop the market stocked with imported goodies and fresh baked breads and finish every visit with a trip to the dessert wonderland downstairs.
11. Mickey's Diner
There was a time when these dining cars dotted the countryside. Now, only a handful remain. The 1930's built car in downtown St. Paul has all the charm of yesterdays with thick chocolate malts, burgers topped with a thin slice of orange cheese and breakfast served all hours of the day.