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Carved venison at In Bloom
Photo courtesy of Tink Social

The 38 Essential Twin Cities Restaurants, Winter 2019

The best places for duck carnitas, roasted things, pineapple fried rice, and more

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Carved venison at In Bloom
| Photo by Photo courtesy of Tink Social

The Eater 38 answers the often-asked question, “Can you recommend a restaurant?” This highly elite, alphabetically sorted list covers Minneapolis and St. Paul (inside the perimeters, loosely), spans myriad cuisines, and collectively satisfies every restaurant need in the Twin Cities. Every couple of months, we’ll be adding pertinent restaurants that were omitted, have newly become eligible (restaurants must be open at least six months), or have stepped up their game. For those looking for the hottest new restaurants, check out the Eater Twin Cities Heatmap.

We say so long, for now, to Travail, Pimento Jamaican Kitchen, The Kenwood, Mancini’s, and World Street Kitchen. Look for them on our neighborhood guides. Fresh for winter, we welcome In Bloom, Lat14, Popol Vuh, we welcome back Handsome Hog and Lyn65.

Restaurants are listed by location, from North to South.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Hai Hai

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2121 University Ave NE
Minneapolis, MN 55418
(612) 223-8640
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This Southeast Asian restaurant feels like vacation with vibrant pops of blue and green in every shade and a seriously strong wallpaper game. Dishes are spicy, funky, sweet, and fresh with tons of herbs. Order the Hanoi sticky rice and the stuffed to the gills banh xeo, a crispy Vietnamese crepe. Prices are affordable, drinks are fun. See if you can spot the old stripper pole: it’s impossible to believe that Christina Nguyen and Birk Grudem’s new restaurant used to be a dive bar strip club, but they kept one small piece of the old days.

Tropical vibes in Northeast
Kevin Kramer / Eater Twin Cities

2. Popol Vuh

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1414 Quincy St NE
Minneapolis, MN 55413
(612) 345-5527
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Exquisite Mexican fine dining from chef of the year, José Alarcon and owner Jami Olson in North Minneapolis is one of the most sleek and cozy dining rooms for tucking into the four course tasting menu to travel through duck carnitas, nopales salad, fish from the wood fire and grilled steak with sauces with fathoms of flavor. The attentive, whip-smart servers make each bite and sip all the more enjoyable.

Kevin Kramer/Eater Twin Cities

3. Young Joni

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165 13th Ave NE
Minneapolis, MN 55413
(612) 345-5719
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Young Joni’s pizza is really good, but the restaurant is so much more than a simple pie shop. The menu also includes small plates like house-made Thai sausage lettuce wraps and Japanese sweet potatoes topped with undulating bonito. Order at least a couple of kinds of pizza like the classic pepperoni and La Parisienne: prosciutto, gruyère, ricotta, brown butter, caramelized onion, arugula, and pickled mustard seed. Save room for Minnesota-approved church lady basement bars and stop by the photo booth in the back by the bathrooms for remembrances of the fun times.

Photo by Katie Cannon

4. Gardens of Salonica

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19 5th St NE
Minneapolis, MN 55413
(612) 378-0611
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Even on a cloudy day, there's something about the interior of this restaurant that still feels like a sun drenched afternoon. Maybe it's the lively lemon spiked Greek soup, or perhaps it's the malt vinegar over the herb flecked, crispy fries. Chef owner Anna Christoforides sources ingredients locally and whips them into Greek favorites like the tyro, a spicy blend of feta, peppers and garlic served with fresh, hot pita bread or the lamb as tender as a spring morning.

5. Brasa Premium Rotisserie

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600 E Hennepin Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55414
(612) 379-3030
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Brasa began with the radical idea that soul food can also be good-for-you food. Inspired by South American cuisine, the menu centers mostly around long, slow-roasted meats adorned with house-made accents like vinegary hot sauce and pickled onions. The bright colors and concrete floors give the room a boisterous vibe. Everything is naturally gluten-free (except the sandwiches).

6. Spoon and Stable

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211 N 1st St
Minneapolis, MN 55401
(612) 224-9850
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From the moment it was announced he was coming to town, it’s been impossible to have a conversation about the local restaurant scene without mentioning New York expat Gavin Kaysen. Spoon and Stable continues to be one of the hottest, hardest to get restaurant reservations in the Twin Cities, years after opening. The modern, Nordic dining room seems especially appropriate for winter dinners. Always save room for Diane Moua’s heavenly and artistic desserts.

Photo by Katie Cannon

7. Lat14 Asian Eatery

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8815 7th Ave N
Golden Valley, MN 55427
(763) 400-7910
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Chef owner Ann Ahmed cooks the food from all around the 14th parallel, which means delicious versions of pineapple pork fried rice, lumpia, Bangladeshi beef curry, and a banh mi tartine all happily exist on this endlessly devourable menu. The dining room is a comfortable mix of modern chic with cozy touches from soothing dark grays and pops of lime green velvet and cool white subway tile. It’s been lamented so many times, that it’s become part of the restaurant’s narrative, but it really is hard to believe this used to be a Perkins.

Lat14 [Official]

8. Kado no Mise

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33 N 1st Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55401
(612) 338-1515
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This sushi restaurant in Minneapolis’ North Loop neighborhood from chef Shigeyuki Furukawa is the pinnacle of Japanese cuisine in the Twin Cities. Upstairs is the city’s only kaiseki restaurant and a special whiskey room bar, both of those are open with limited hours. However, it’s downstairs at Kado No Mise that locals settle into the serenity of the minimalist room, banked by windows in the North Loop.

Perfect for grazing and basking in the golden sunlight
Kado no Mise / Facebook

9. Restaurant Alma

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528 University Ave SE
Minneapolis, MN 55414
(612) 379-4909
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Chef and owner Alex Roberts' Restaurant Alma has managed to become a crown jewel of Minneapolis fine dining with a constant evolution of locally-sourced foods, second-to-none wine list and intimate surroundings. The low, warm light and cool dark upholstery lend to the intimacy of the room. The tasting menu set up can be ordered as a progressive meal, or dishes ordered a la carte. Try the duck two ways and save room for Carrie Riggs’ phenomenal desserts.

Photo by Katie Cannon

10. Murray's

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26 South 6th St
Minneapolis, MN 55402
(612) 339-0909
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A throwback to a bygone era still Murray’s Steak is still famous for its butter-knife steak, the steak so tender you could practically cut it with a sharp word. The room retains the 1940’s sway from when the family-owned institution first opened. It’s still a popular spot for downtown workers to stop for happy hour or lunch with hearty meals and sweet post-work cocktail specials.

11. Zen Box Izakaya

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602 S Washington Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55415
(612) 332-3936
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Chef and co-owner John Ng has traveled all over Japan to feed his ramen obsession and brings all those flavors back to our chilly little burg in his ramen specials. The room is poppy Japanese decor and the staff always shouts a welcome greeting when you enter this izakaya. That neighborly good-time vibe, along with the endlessly munchable bar snacks like the chicken kara age make it an essential Minneapolis hang. This is an ideal stop before catching a show at the nearby Guthrie theater.

Photo by Joy Summers

12. Cook St. Paul

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1124 Payne Ave
St Paul, MN 55130
(651) 756-1787
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By day this unassuming little diner is a breakfast and lunch touchstone with its house-made Doritos, irresistible Korean short rib rice bowls, and fat stacks of pancakes. Then, on certain evenings, owner Eddie Wu uses his diner to promote start ups by opening the kitchen to pop-ups. Cook not only delivers a great restaurant, but serves as an incubator for the next generation of tastemakers.

A breakfast and lunch joint every day and host to some really fun pop ups
Cook St Paul/Facebook

13. Monello

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1115 2nd Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55403
(612) 353-6207
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This serene getaway within bustling downtown (an easy walk from the Convention Center) should be a destination for anyone that loves pasta, cocktails, and great wine. The easy elegance of the dining room match the vibe of the Hotel Ivy its located in. Dishes are artfully composed, but full of comforting flavors. Check out the pre-theater dinner deals before heading to Orchestra Hall.

Always get the pasta
Monello / Facebook

14. Brunson's Pub

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956 Payne Ave
St Paul, MN 55130
(651) 447-2483
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Bar culture is part of the fabric of Minnesota. Brunson’s Pub is a slice of St. Paul’s Eastside that is a perfect example of why that is. Bartenders behind the historic bar are ready with a regulars drink whether it’s a local beer, something to please a mixology fan or a simple bump of something stiff. Food is bar fare, but better. Pulled bacon tops a towering monster of a buger, chicken wings are actually succulent thighs tossed in a sweet, salty, spicy rub, and deviled eggs that would make a mama proud. Owners Thomas and Molly LaFleche along with chef Torrance Beavers have built a community gathering spot for the ages.

Burgers and more in a quintessential Minnesota bar setting
Brunson’s Pub/Facebook

15. Bellecour

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739 Lake St E
Wayzata, MN 55391
(952) 444-5200
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Gavin Kaysen, the nationally lauded, James Beard Award-winning chef’s second Minnesota restaurant is as perfectly French as it is Minnesota-nice. The front bakery sells astounding crepe cakes, croissants, and other treats by day. In the evening, the softly-lit restaurant opens to serve moderately-priced French bistro fare.

The serene garden room overlooking the patio
Katie Cannon/Eater Twin Cities

16. Burch Steak & Pizza Bar

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1942 Hennepin Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55403
(612) 843-1515
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James Beard Award winning chef Isaac Becker’s Burch is a fresh, modern take on the beloved Midwestern steakhouse with a vast selection beef including grass-fed and corn finished steaks of all kinds. This is also a fine place to simply order all the side dishes, like the standout sea beans with crab or little dumplings. If none of those options fit the evening, there is also an entire pizza restaurant covered in subway tile and dark, private corners in the basement serving thin, fire charred crust.

Crab and seabean salad from Burch Steak
Joy Summers/Eater Twin Cities

17. Ngon Vietnamese Bistro

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799 University Ave W
St Paul, MN 55104
(651) 222-3301
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At the first sign of a sniffle, Mom might fire up the chicken soup, or a doctor might suggest a trip to the drug store, but a Minnesotan knows that a steaming bowl of pho from chef owner Hai Truong’s Ngon Bistro is in order. Inside this airy, butter-colored Vietnamese eatery on University Avenue, all of the ingredients are conscientiously sourced. Not only is the brothy, choose-your-own-adventure topped pho the stuff of legends, but the rest of the menu demands exploring: from the crispy shelled rabbit dumpling in a coconut curry sauce, to the beautifully stocked full bar, to the creative nightly specials.

Ngon Bistro pho
Photo: Ngon Bistro / Facebook

18. Handsome Hog

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203 6th St E
St Paul, MN 55101
(651) 340-7710
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This slender restaurant with the plush booths is the home base for Top Chef’s new breakout star, Justin Sutherland. This is where the chef first led the kitchen. (He now runs the entire restaurant company that once hired him.) This is the spot to try the hearty Southern fare Sutherland is building a white-hot career upon. Don’t miss the bourbon cocktails, especially the Old Fashioned. Pair it with the chicken n’ waffles: chicken wings on little waffles with honey cayenne pepper, bourbon maple syrup and pickled plums.

Lucy Hawthorne/Eater Twin Cities

19. Saint Dinette

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261 East 5th Street
St Paul, MN 55101
(651) 800-1415
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In this  sleek, cool and modern room. Chef Adam Eaton’s menu traces French settlers throughout the America’s, meaning dishes start in Canada and head down to Mexico - it’s a crazy idea that somehow works. Just try the bologna sandwich, shrimp and grits, and churros to see what we’re talking about. Service is fresh, easy and always attentive under Laurel Elm and if you are a fan of cocktails, this is list is some seriously fun drinking.

A look inside Saint Dinette
Photo by Katie Cannon

20. Manny's Tortas

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Midtown Global Market, 920 E Lake St #125
Minneapolis, MN 55407
(612) 870-3930
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Manny Gonzales’ tortas are exactly what a hand-held food should be. Hot items like griddled meats and a swath of creamy beans are layered on the bottom, separated by a gooey layer of cheese from the crispy lettuce, tomato, shreds of raw onion, pickled jalapenos, avocado, and chipotle mayo. The toasty bread imparts a satisfying crunch before unleashing the onslaught of tangy, spicy, salty, savory flavors. Grab them from this stand inside Midtown Global Market or the other counter located in Mercado Central, also on East Lake Street.

21. Meritage

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410 St Peter St
St Paul, MN 55102
(651) 222-5670
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One of the most romantic dining destinations in the Twin Cities is Meritage in downtown St. Paul serves chef Russell Klein’s classic French fare. Step into the zinc-topped bar, casual side for a feast of bar snacks like the confit, smoked wings or a selection of raw seafood. For a slightly more formal experience, continue into the dining room with its white and black tiled floor and comfortable maroon booths, it’s classically Parisienne. Order the moules frites and cassoulet.

Outside downtown St. Paul’s favorite French restaurant
Meritage/Facebook

22. Iron Ranger

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1085 Grand Ave
St Paul, MN 55105
(651) 487-1913
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It’s a taste of Northern Minnesota’s mining country right on Grand Avenue. The tender slow-braised porchetta has the exact right mix of dried herbs and garlic cooked up in that grandmotherly way. The slim bar and Iron Range-specific decor like mining tools and Hamm’s sign  make it an ideal spot to grab a midday sandwich or meet a buddy for a local beer over nachos on a cold, dark evening.

Porketta nachos
Kevin Kramer/Eater Twin Cities

23. Grand Catch

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1672 Grand Ave
St Paul, MN 55105
(651) 348-8541
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Massive shrimp, mussels, crab legs and more are served straight from the pot and doused in buttery sauce inside this rollicking fun restaurant on Grand Avenue. Stop by the custom-made blue and white wallpaper, the green wall or the winking neon crab for an Instagram opportunity. Don’t miss the astoundingly good fried chicken sandwich and the hysterically named cocktails, like “I love your microwave,” Or “Naked Horseback: or whatever you’re into.”

Inside the good times at Grand Catch
Kevin Kramer/Eater Twin Cities

24. Matt's Bar

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3500 Cedar Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55407
(612) 722-7072
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This neighborhood dive bar is ground zero for a true Juicy Lucy experience. The cheese stuffed burger was possibly invented here (an easy argument to start with a Minneapolis resident is who makes the best). Slide into a booth or one of the spare, wood-laminate topped tables and patiently wait for that cheese to cool before biting in. There’s a reason the locals sport Matt’s Bar t-shirts that warn, “Fear the Cheese.” It is no joke, molten hot inside a simply seasoned, no frills burger.

25. Hola Arepa

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3501 Nicollet Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55408
(612) 345-5583
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At this vibrant, beachy feeling restaurant that’s heavy on the turquoise decor, Venezuelan-style arepas hold center stage. Chef Christina Nguyen follows her whims, stuffing these fluffy corn cakes with braised meats, veggies, and other ingredients. Birk Grudem’s cocktails are affordable and filled with bright tropical flavors. The weekend brunch has become the stuff of cheap-eats legend.

Arepa haven
Hola Arepa/Facebook

26. Pajarito

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605 7th St W
St Paul, MN 55102
(651) 340-9545
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Chefs Tyge Nelson and Stephan Hesse bring their fine dining background to this casual Mexican restaurant on St. Paul’s West 7th Street. Salsas and sauces are made entirely from scratch, like the irresistible cashew and chile de abról salsa served with their just-fried tortilla chips. It’s special enough to impress a first date, but casual enough for jeans and a t-shirt.

27. Grand Cafe

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3804 Grand Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55409
(612) 822-8260
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This new iteration of the old neighborhood cafe blends Escoffier-era French fare with worldly influence. From the beautiful place settings of mixed vintage China to the well worn wood floors, everything about this room suggests comfortable, easy elegance. Begin with a glass of something bubbly and an array of chilled shellfish before moving onto the unmissable roasted chicken.

Isabel Subtil/Grand Cafe Facebook

28. In Bloom at Keg & Case Market

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928 7th St W
St Paul, MN 55102
(651) 237-9630
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Not only is this grand room in the corner of Keg & Case Market a stunner, with the mix of concrete and lavender velvet beneath a dangling, ever-changing light installation, it’s also peak Minnesotan with an improbably awesome rustic-chic-delicate food. Chef Thomas Boemer cooks all of the food over a 20-foot wood-fire hearth that’s like a steampunk centerpiece in the middle of all the fancy surrounds. Whole venison legs are slowly roasted over the fire, sourced from a special network of farms the restaurant has built, only to be served shaved with other little roasted sweet and savory bits and garnished with small edible flowers. Pair with the wine co-owner Nick Rancone had made especially for the restaurant or the bar’s pitch-perfect negroni.

Kevin Kramer/Eater Twin Cities

29. Mucci’s

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786 Randolph Ave
St Paul, MN 55102
(651) 330-2245
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Welcome to the world of Tim Niver hospitality. The master of front of house service always dreamed of making a red sauce joint just like this. Recipes are inspired by his mother’s kitchen and deliciously executed by chef Chris Uhrich and his team. Stop by on weekend mornings for massive doughnuts or dough-scuits — yes, that’s a cross between a biscuit and a doughnut and it’s just as crusty, decadent as you’d expect.

Photo by Katie Cannon

30. Revival

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4257 Nicollet Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55409
(651) 340-2355
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Revival’s Southern-style fried bird is simply doused in buttermilk, dredged through heavily seasoned flour, and fried to a golden brown. The Tennessee Hot refuses to play Minnesota nice with a delirious burn and cacophony of spices with plenty of cayenne pepper. Inside the original location the room is cozy, surrounded in bright wallpaper, and always filled with a cross-section of Minneapolis residents from all backgrounds and tax brackets.

Some like it hot at Revival
Photo by Joy Summers

31. Tilia

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2726 W 43rd St
Minneapolis, MN 55410
(612) 354-2806
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Chef Steven Brown’s first restaurant is the absolute ideal neighborhood bistro. The weathered wood floors and decor fee like this room has always been a restaurant with the easy comfort of the neighborhood’s living room. However, most living rooms don’t come stocked with a stunner of a wine list like this one. Whether looking for a special evening out, a comfortable lunch with the kiddos, boisterous weekend brunch or the opportunity to geek out over flawless meatballs, Tilia is the answer to every question.

Tilia is the quintessential neighborhood bistro
Tilia/Facebook

32. Martina

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4312 S Upton Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55410
(612) 922-9913
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Chef Daniel del Prado’s Linden Hills restaurant is filled with woodfire smells, stunning Argentinian and Italian dishes, and a bar serving the most sophisticated and fun cocktails in Minneapolis. The pristine room acts as a stage for the hearty dishes like just-made pasta, roasted seafood, and more.

Big city dining in a quiet Minneapolis neighborhood
Kevin Kramer / Eater Twin Cities

33. Cecil's

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651 Cleveland Ave S
St Paul, MN 55116
(651) 698-0334
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Established back in 1949, Cecil’s is a Saint Paul institution where generations of families have been coming for weekend orders of bread and deli meats and afternoon bowls of grandma-style matzo ball soup. The room hasn’t changed much, at the back of the small grocery and deli counter. The dark room is staffed by gruff-but-friendly servers who keep things moving at a good clip. Dinners might get stuffed silly with the massive corned beef on rye with the famous coleslaw, but the smart ones still grab a few rugelach to take home for later.

Pastrami stuffed sandwiches and matzo ball soup
Cecil’s Deli [Official]

34. Corner Table

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4537 Nicollet Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55419
(612) 823-0011
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The little locally-sourced restaurant in South Minneapolis has found yet another new era, after two previous headline-grabbing chefs. Under the stewardship of chef Karyn Tomlinson Corner Table v. 4 serves delicate, soulful dishes in a tasting menu format, that are constantly shifting as ingredients become available. The simply adorned dining room makes it ideal for any kind of dining occasion and the

Chef Karyn Tomlinson in the dining room at Corner Table
Corner Table/Instagram

35. Bull's Horn Food and Drink

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4563 S 34th Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55406
(612) 208-1378
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Amy Greeley and chef Doug Flicker’s south Minneapolis dive bar could be plunked down anywhere in rural Minnesota and serve as a prototypical community-building, come-as-you-are watering hole replete with checkered linoleum floors, walls adorned with a kitchy mix of old and local art, plus a wonderfully odd bit of taxidermy. Get the pickle-brined fried chicken or eggs on the weekend along with a local beer and a stack of pull-tabs.

A dive bar reborn
Bull’s Horn / Facebook

36. Terzo

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2221 W 50th St
Minneapolis, MN 55419
(612) 925-0330
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The Broder family has ruled the intersection of Penn and 50th in South Minneapolis for over twenty years with their interpretation of Italian cuisine with nearby Broder’s Pasta Bar and Broder’s original restaurant. Charlie and Thomas Broder grew up in their parents' restaurants and carry on the mantle with Terzo. Modern sensibilities meet old world appreciation for ingredients inside this long, lean room. The wine list boasts a bottle or glass for every occasion, taste and price. Snack on pate or mussels, move on to pasta, and save room for porchetta.

37. Red Wagon Pizza Company

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5416 Penn Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55419
(612) 259-7147
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Peter Campbell the chef and owner of Red Wagon Pizza in the Armatage neighborhood, longed for the opportunity to open a pizza place of his own since he was a little kid. After he reached adulthood, he bought a food truck, built a legion of followers with his pizza, and eventually opened up a continually popular neighborhood restaurant with fantastic beer and wine lists. Try the Red Wagon pizza to start with ribbons of sopresata, banana peppers, chili flakes, and finished with a splash of fig, balsamic glaze.

An indispensable pizza and essential neighborhood spot
Red Wagon/Facebook

38. Lyn 65

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6439 Lyndale Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55423
(612) 353-5501
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The exterior strip mall location belies the cozy, warm wood, rustic charm of Lyn 65. This is home to one of the great burgers in the Twin Cities, but the ever evolving menu from chef/owner Ben Rients and crew always delivers deliciousness. The rigatoni with goat is exactly the sort of dish that will get us through the longest season. Don’t leave without sampling some of the delicious, and delightfully affordable cocktails.

Lyn 65/Facebook

1. Hai Hai

2121 University Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418
Tropical vibes in Northeast
Kevin Kramer / Eater Twin Cities

This Southeast Asian restaurant feels like vacation with vibrant pops of blue and green in every shade and a seriously strong wallpaper game. Dishes are spicy, funky, sweet, and fresh with tons of herbs. Order the Hanoi sticky rice and the stuffed to the gills banh xeo, a crispy Vietnamese crepe. Prices are affordable, drinks are fun. See if you can spot the old stripper pole: it’s impossible to believe that Christina Nguyen and Birk Grudem’s new restaurant used to be a dive bar strip club, but they kept one small piece of the old days.

2121 University Ave NE
Minneapolis, MN 55418

2. Popol Vuh

1414 Quincy St NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413
Kevin Kramer/Eater Twin Cities

Exquisite Mexican fine dining from chef of the year, José Alarcon and owner Jami Olson in North Minneapolis is one of the most sleek and cozy dining rooms for tucking into the four course tasting menu to travel through duck carnitas, nopales salad, fish from the wood fire and grilled steak with sauces with fathoms of flavor. The attentive, whip-smart servers make each bite and sip all the more enjoyable.

1414 Quincy St NE
Minneapolis, MN 55413

3. Young Joni

165 13th Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413
Photo by Katie Cannon

Young Joni’s pizza is really good, but the restaurant is so much more than a simple pie shop. The menu also includes small plates like house-made Thai sausage lettuce wraps and Japanese sweet potatoes topped with undulating bonito. Order at least a couple of kinds of pizza like the classic pepperoni and La Parisienne: prosciutto, gruyère, ricotta, brown butter, caramelized onion, arugula, and pickled mustard seed. Save room for Minnesota-approved church lady basement bars and stop by the photo booth in the back by the bathrooms for remembrances of the fun times.

165 13th Ave NE
Minneapolis, MN 55413

4. Gardens of Salonica

19 5th St NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413

Even on a cloudy day, there's something about the interior of this restaurant that still feels like a sun drenched afternoon. Maybe it's the lively lemon spiked Greek soup, or perhaps it's the malt vinegar over the herb flecked, crispy fries. Chef owner Anna Christoforides sources ingredients locally and whips them into Greek favorites like the tyro, a spicy blend of feta, peppers and garlic served with fresh, hot pita bread or the lamb as tender as a spring morning.

19 5th St NE
Minneapolis, MN 55413

5. Brasa Premium Rotisserie

600 E Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55414