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People sitting at stools in a narrow diner space with another row of people standing behind them, and food on the table.
Al’s, in Dinkytown.
Katie Cannon/Eater Twin Cities

38 Essential Restaurants in Minneapolis and St. Paul

A guide to the defining restaurants of Minneapolis and St. Paul

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Al’s, in Dinkytown.
| Katie Cannon/Eater Twin Cities

The Eater 38 is a tapestry of Minneapolis and St. Paul’s essential restaurants, comprising many cuisines, neighborhoods, and price points. This map is updated every quarter to include cornerstone restaurants of Twin Cities cuisine, from long-established spots to newcomers. The Eater 38 spans the Cities’ restaurant scene in all its vibrancy, from tangy chicken tinga in Northeast to red-wine spaghetti in the North Loop; from fragrant pho in Frogtown to lake trout on the banks of the Mississippi River. This season, we welcome Marty’s Deli, Young Joni, Wendy’s House of Soul, and Mercado Central.

Note that these restaurants are listed geographically.

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Eater maps are curated by editors and aim to reflect a diversity of neighborhoods, cuisines, and prices. Learn more about our editorial process. If you buy something or book a reservation from an Eater link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics policy.

Travail Kitchen and Amusements

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There’s no party like a Travail party. This trail-blazing chef collective specializes in creating an atmosphere of delight and wonder. Travail made its name subverting the traditional restaurant model, eliminating servers, and bringing chefs table-side to dish out an intriguing tasting menu (sometimes including cocktails bubbling over with liquid nitrogen). The latest iteration of the restaurant is an expansive three-level building in Robbinsdale. Buy a ticket for the tasting menu (think delicata squash tempura, nitro passion fruit fluff, and celery root mezzaluna) or sip a curated cocktail flight at the basement bar.

Four small bite-sized dishes on a white serving tray.
A Travail tasting menu lineup.
Travail Kitchen and Amusements


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Chef Wendy Puckett recently located her restaurant from Glenwood Avenue to North Market in the Camden neighborhood of North Minneapolis. Puckett’s popular soul rools are stuffed with soul food like greens, fried chicken, and mac and cheese, rolled into an egg roll wrapper, and fried. (One favorite is the Trell, made with French fries, gravy, and jalapeño.) Wendy’s also serves other brunch options like chicken and waffles, caramel cakes, and the “Broadway Special” — smothered chicken over rice and gravy.


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Located in cozy, bright storefront on Central Avenue, Chimborazo is a neighborhood institution. Serving Ecuadorean and Andean fare all day, seven days a week, it’s an ideal spot for anything from breakfast to late-night snacks. Don’t miss the patacones con queso — fried green plantains stuffed with cheese and served with an intensely herbed aji crillo — or the exceptionally tender seco de pollo.

Marty's Deli

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Minneapolis sandwich shop Marty’s Deli operated as a roving pop-up and delivery service for two years before it set up shop in Northeast Minneapolis. Owner Martha Polacek kept many staples on the menu: her chicken salad sandwich; a BLT with Peterson Craftsman bacon; a salami, prosciutto, and fennel slaw combo, all on fresh-baked focaccia. (The roasted cauliflower vegan sandwich stuck around, too.) But she’s made waves with a hash brown-stacked breakfast sandwich and blink-and-you’ll miss them specials. Grab a tub of pimento cheese and a hunk of warm focaccia to take home.

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Hai Hai

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In 2017, James Beard–nominated chef Christina Nguyen and co-owner Birk Grudem expertly transformed a divey neighborhood strip club into a lush Southeast Asian restaurant. Hai Hai’s deep teal walls, ferns, and paper lanterns make the space hum with tropical charm, even in the dead of winter. The cocktails are excellent — think lychee slushies and espresso martinis with Vietnamese coffee and coconut — and the menu features dishes like delicate water fern cakes, beef larb lettuce wraps, and a tender Balinese chicken thigh with macerated kale and bean sprout salad.

A small white dish of water fern cakes.
Water fern cakes from Hai Hai.
Bill Addison/Eater

El Taco Riendo

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El Taco Riendo might just serve the best chicken tinga in the Twin Cities. This marinade doesn’t overload on heat — it balances the tomatoes’ tang with the chipotle peppers’ smoke, rounding it all out on a slightly sweet note. Order it on tacos or up the ante with a chicken tinga chimichanga, which pairs well with an ice-cold horchata. El Taco Riendo is a cornerstone of Northeast’s Central Avenue dining corridor — owner Miguel Gomez rebuilt the restaurant after it was severely damaged in a fire in 2020.

Three chicken tinga tacos in tortillas garnished with onions, cilantro, and radish slices.
Chicken tinga tacos from El Taco Riendo.
Justine Jones

Young Joni

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Young Joni, by James Beard award-winning chef Ann Kim, might be the North Star of the Twin Cities’s pizza scene. These pies are known for their exceptionally crackly, thin crust: The spicy lamb sausage pizza is finished with fresno chili, feta, and mint; La Parisienne is a prosciutto-and-gruyere homage to the City of Light. Also notable are small plates like Korean sweet potatoes and charred savoy cabbage. After dinner, slip into the back-alley speakeasy for cocktails.

Oro by Nixta

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Chef Gustavo Romero’s Mexican menu preserves and celebrates heirloom corn varieties — which have suffered in recent decades due to hybridization and industrial tortilla production — at Oro. As tasty as Romero’s dishes are for takeout, they shine in a plated, dine-in format. Tender hunks of pollo rest in a chocolatey pool of mole; pork belly is served with a tangy pastor adobo. On Oro’s menu, masa takes a number of unique forms: chochoyotes (potato-requeson dumplings), tetelas (triangular nixtamal cakes), and tlayudas (large, crunchy tortillas) alongside the usual tacos, sopes, and tamales.

Three tacos in a beige takeout container; a person’s hands above them.
Tacos from Nixta.
Tyson Crockett

Uncle Franky's

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This tiny roadside restaurant is the Twin Cities’ finest purveyor of Chicago dogs. Get one run through the garden, topped with tomatoes, peppers, onions, and a zippy, jewel-like relish. (Hold the ketchup for a traditional Windy City bite, or add it — this is Minneapolis, after all.) Uncle Franky’s also serves a great Reuben and a noteworthy Juicy Lucy, if it’s a burger kind of day.

A hot dog in a bun dressed with tomatoes, peppers, onions, and relish on white paper.
A Chicago dog from Uncle Franky’s.
Eli Radtke

Animales Barbeque Co.

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Chef John Wipfli’s Animales serves exceptional barbecue out of a food truck at Bauhaus Brew Labs in Northeast Minneapolis. These ribs don’t come slathered in sweet sauce — they’re dry-rubbed, a bark of crushed peppercorns and salt stealing nothing from the meat’s oak-smoked flavor. The menu changes often, adding pork shoulder congee bowls, beef cheek banh mi, and hot beef sandwiches to the mix. Get there early, as Animales often sells out.

A white container with barbecue ribs, links, and vegetables in it, and small container of yellow sauce.
Barbecue from Animales.
Justine Jones

Sammy’s Avenue Eatery

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Back in 2012, chef Sammy McDowell pooled his personal savings and opened Sammy’s Avenue Eatery, a sunny, casual sandwich spot in North Minneapolis. Ten years later, the restaurant is a cornerstone of Broadway Avenue, a place where people come as much for the juicy sandwiches as for the sense of community. Catch the teacher’s union gathering there for turkey melts and tuna clubs, or come on a day when McDowell is collaborating with local chefs on a soul food menu (think smothered chicken and rice or cheeseburger meatloaf). Sammy’s was even featured in Season 6 of Hulu’s Small Business Revolution.

Two subs with bacon, turkey, provolone, lettuce and tomato in buns on a a green and white checkered paper.
Subs from Sammy’s Avenue Eatery.
Sammy’s Avenue Eatery

Bar La Grassa

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James Beard Award-winning chef Isaac Becker’s sultry Italian restaurant is a North Loop classic. Start with the soft eggs and lobster bruschetta, infused with intoxicating truffle oil. Then it’s onto the pasta: Mafalda bolognese, crab ravioli, or red wine spaghetti sprinkled with pine nuts. Bar La Grassa’s open-floor dining room is elegant and a little crowded, which gives it the convivial feel of a French brasserie.

Dark red spaghetti topped with seeds in a white dish.
Red wine spaghetti from Bar La Grassa.
Bar La Grassa

Soul Bowl

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Chef Gerard Klass and Brittney Alise Klass started Soul Bowl as a pop-up in 2018 with a mission to celebrate the culture and community of North Minneapolis: For two days, they served bowls of black-eyed peas, cornbread dressing, and barbecue-braised beef out of New Rules on Lowry Avenue, and ran a line around the block. The Klasses have since expanded Soul Bowl to two permanent locations at Graze Provisions and Libations in Minneapolis’s North Loop, and on Chicago Avenue in Richfield (plus a stand at Target Field). The restaurant is beloved for its customizable soul food bowls: Diners can start with bases like mac and cheese (eminently creamy and well-seasoned) or yellow rice, add veggies (think sweet plantains, smoked mushrooms, and candied yams), and finish with meats like barbecue chicken and Cajun salmon.

A fried chicken sandwich with sauce and shredded lettuce on a poppyseed bun.
The famous Big K.R.I.T.
Soul Bowl

Union Hmong Kitchen

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Chef Yia Vang first started Union Hmong Kitchen as a roving pop-up around the Twin Cities. When he began cooking and serving foods from Hmong culture made with the fine dining skills he had gained working in area kitchens, Hmong food wasn’t a familiar cuisine in the Twin Cities restaurant world. Years later, his pop-up Union Hmong Kitchen is now a permanent restaurant in the North Loop’s Graze food hall, and Vang was a 2022 James Beard finalist for best chef Midwest. The menu standouts at UHK are the Zoo Siab meals — which means “happy meals” in the Hmong language — made with proteins like chile-glazed pork shoulder and Hmong sausage, all served with purple sticky rice, pickled veggies, and sides like chilled khao sen noodles. Vang’s much-anticipated restaurant, Vinai, is on the horizon.

Grilled whole fish with purple rice and greens on a red plate on a grey wooden table.
Whole fish from UHK.
Union Hmong Kitchen

Spoon and Stable

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Chef Gavin Kaysen worked as an executive chef for Daniel Boulud before leaving New York for Minneapolis, his hometown, in 2014. His list of restaurants — three Bellecour Bakery locations, Demi’s intimate tasting menu experience, opulent Mara at the Four Seasons Hotel — is long, but there’s something essential and enduring about Spoon and Stable. This North Loop restaurant, which dates to 1906, was once a horse stable. The menu changes often, keeping pace with Midwest seasonality, but still manages to feel timeless. Expect dishes like cappelletti with butternut squash, striped bass with collard greens, and a delicate strawberry and sorrel mille-feuille.

A delicate green and pink mille-feuille dessert in a white dish.
Strawberry and sorrel mille-feuille from Spoon and Stable.
Erin Kincheloe

Billy Sushi ビリー寿司

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At first, it was chef Enkhbileg “Billy” Tserenbat’s sushi food truck that became a sensation. Now, it’s his glam North Loop restaurant, Billy Sushi, which he opened in the middle of the pandemic. Tserenbat is known for his larger-than-life presence, both as a host and as a chef. The sushi menu runs a little pricey, but the fatty cuts of sashimi and creative rolls like the Toro Mania — a kakiage mix topped with bluefin tuna, scallion, and yuzu sauce — make it well worth the cost. Specialty rolls run $19 to $35, and you can pay a small premium for the Oh Em Gii, a tempura and spicy tuna roll topped with a sheet of 24-karat gold. Billy Sushi is typically quite busy — a reservation is a wise move.

A sushi roll topped with wagyu beef and gold leaf on a black plate.
Billy Sushi’s lobster wagyu roll.
Billy Sushi

Owamni by The Sioux Chef

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Owamni won the intensely competitive James Beard Award for best new restaurant in 2022. Here, chef Sean Sherman brings Indigenous cooking to the forefront of the national restaurant scene. The decolonized menu is built on foods that are indigenous to North America — meaning no flour, dairy, beef, pork, or refined sugar is used in the kitchen. In their place are game tartare with duck fat squash, smoked lake trout tostadas, and Labrador tea custard. Owamni started as a kickstarter campaign, breaking a site record in 2016 by bringing in $150,000 in a month. Today, it’s a modern, full-service, Indigenous restaurant, stationed in a white stone building on the banks of the Mississippi River, not far from St. Anthony Falls — or, in the Dakota language, Owámniyomni, a sacred site of peace and well-being.

Oglala Lakota chef Sean Sherman stands behind the serving bar at his restaurant Owamni. Sherman is plating food on a white plate; he is wearing his hair in two braids and is wearing a black T-shirt. There are two people in the kitchen behind him, and lamps hang down over the bar from the ceiling.
Chef Sean Sherman in Owamni’s kitchen.
Heidi Ehalt

Kramarczuk Sausage Company

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A beloved Ukrainian bakery, delicatessen, and restaurant, Kramarczuk’s first opened in Northeast Minneapolis near the Nicollet Island bridge in 1954. Anna and Wasyl Kramarczuk came to Minnesota from Ukraine as refugees in the late 1940s — several years after settling in Minneapolis, they bought one of the city’s oldest butcher shops and made it their own. Today, Kramarczuk’s is beloved for its vast array of savory sausages and its restaurant menu, which features favorites like pierogi, borshch, and hefty Krakowska and pastrami brisket sandwiches. The James Beard Foundation named it an America’s classic in 2013.

Restaurant Alma

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First opened in 1999, Restaurant Alma has a longstanding reputation as one of Minneapolis’s finest restaurants. Chef Alex Roberts’ prix fixe menu changes regularly, but expect elegant — though never ostentatious — dishes like foie gras bread pudding, red beet farrotto, and caramelized tiramisu. The restaurant has an extensive wine list and is known for its accommodating vegetarian menu. Dim and intimate, it’s far and away one of the Cities’ most romantic restaurants.

A dark restaurant space: two small wooden tables are placed in front of a curved booth with a dark blue seat and dark woodwork, in the background is a white brick wall and lamps hanging from the ceiling.
Restaurant Alma is counted among Minneapolis’s finest restaurants.
Katie Cannon

Al's Breakfast

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Al’s Breakfast is the Twin Cities’ greatest old-school breakfast diner. As Dinkytown’s dining scene has shifted throughout the decades, Al’s 10-foot-wide storefront has barely changed since 1950. Grab a seat at one of the 14 bar stools for an iconic American breakfast: a salami scramble, poached eggs over corned beef hash, or blueberry-walnut pancakes with pure Minnesota maple syrup. Al’s opens at 6 a.m. most days, but plan to wait a while for a seat during the breakfast rush.

A man in a white apron standing with his hand behind his hips and smiling behind a diner counter.
Al’s Breakfast in Dinkytown.
Katie Cannon/Eater Twin Cities

Maria's Cafe

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Maria’s Cafe, a beloved fixture of Minneapolis’s Seward neighborhood, pairs American breakfast fare with Columbian dishes like arepas rellenas, calentao con huevos, and paisa bowls (layered with beef, Colombian chorizo, and chicharron). Maria’s serves every pancake you could dream of, from chocolate chip to plantain, but the most famous are the chachapas Venezolanas, or corn pancakes, which are crispy around the edges, dusted with cotija cheese, and studded with sunshine-yellow kernels of corn.

Corn pancakes dusted with cotija cheese on a white plate.
Corn pancakes dusted with cotija cheese.
Justine Jones

Pimento Jamaican Kitchen & Rum Bar

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Pimento is a pillar of Jamaican cuisine in the Twin Cities, and a popular resident of Nicollet Avenue’s Eat Street. Chef Tomme Beevas and his neighbor Yoni Reinharz started Pimento as a pop-up in 2012, carting Beevas’s backyard grill around the city; in 2013, they won Food Network’s Food Court Wars. During the social uprisings of 2020, Pimento operated a robust mutual aid network out of its restaurant space. Today, Beevas continues to serve as a community leader with Pimento Relief Services, a nonprofit he runs that supports healing and long-term rebuilding in Black communities. The menu features entrees like Kingston-style jerk chicken, slow-roasted jerk pork, curry veggies, and braised oxtail, all served on a bed of seasoned rice and beans with slaw and plantains, dressed with a selection of house-made sauces. Make sure to try the sweet, pillowy coco bread, too. The rum bar often hosts live music and other events on the weekends.

Quang Restaurant

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One of the cornerstone restaurants of Nicollet Avenue’s Eat Street corridor, Quang was founded by matriarch chef Lung Tran 30 years ago. The original Quang was a four-table bakery across the street from the present location, where Tran and her five kids sold Vietnamese pastries and food. The restaurant grew in popularity as news of Tran’s fragrant, hearty dishes traveled by word of mouth. Three decades later, the current restaurant is run by her children, and it’s now a go-to for enormous bowls of pho — aromatic and balanced, the beef sliced into delicate sheets — classic stir fry and noodle dishes like pad thai, and banh mi with red roast pork and pate. Quang’s space is casual and bustling on any weekend evening.

A smiling woman in a red shirt and hair net in the kitchen at Quang, building banh mi.
Chef Khue Pham in Quang’s kitchen.
Rebecca Slater / Eater Twin Cities

Chef Facundo DeFraia learned the secrets of Argentinian cuisine in his grandmother’s Buenos Aires kitchen, and after a stint on the west coast, he landed in Minneapolis, where he helped his friend Danny del Prado open Martina. In 2018, DeFraia struck out on his own and opened Boludo in south Minneapolis. The tiny Nicollet Avenue restaurant, styled with black and white tile and Argentinian mementos affixed on the walls, really does feel like a pizza and empanada shop straight from the avenues of Buenos Aires. The menu is succinct: DeFraia’s empanadas are crispy and densely flavorful, and the chewy pizza crust has a touch of sweetness that makes a dreamy complement to the tangy tomato sauce.

Petite León

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Chef Jorgé Guzmán impressively managed to open Petite León a year into the pandemic. Not long after, the restaurant earned him a James Beard nomination for best chef Midwest. Guzmán draws on his Yucatán peninsula roots with this menu, like the pollo al carbon, for example, or the Bavettee in piquillo sauce. The piquillo peppers, stuffed with tangy goat cheese, are a must; as are the fresh tuna agua chile and the creamy tamale. Bar lead Travis Serbus’s cocktail menu is notable as well. Look for citrus-forward pours like the Moon Dog, made with mezcal, tamarind, and lime.

A stark black dish with a black central line of charred bits decorated with pops of yellow and lavender. A pool of golden sauce sits off to the side and a faint dusting of gold powder decorates the top left side of the plate.
Petite León is a relative newcomer to Minneapolis’s Kingfield neighborhood.
Lucy Hawthorne


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Chef Ann Ahmed’s latest restaurant is an enchanting homage to Laotian and Southeast Asian cooking, and one of Eater’s best new restaurants of 2022. After opening Lemongrass in Brooklyn Park and Lat14 in Golden Valley, Ahmed’s debut of Khâluna on Lyndale Avenue is perhaps her most ambitious yet — and another step down the path she’s paving for Southeast Asian food in the Twin Cities. Try the mieng paa — a small plate made with puffed rice, banana blossoms, and peanuts — the duck laab, or the whole fried red snapper with mango tamarind slaw. Ahmed’s rainbow rice, when sprinkled with lime, turns from delicate blue to lavender. The bar menu offers cocktails with flavors of passionfruit, persimmon, and makrut lime.

Rainbow rice and sakoo, a type of tapioca dumpling, on plates, with sauce and a lime wedge.
Rainbow rice and sakoo from Khâluna.
Caroline Yang for Eater

Simple, elegant Tilia is a favorite in south Minneapolis’s Linden Hills neighborhood. Chef Steven Brown, a James Beard nominee and a fixture of the Twin Cities food scene for decades, serves brasserie fare with distinct international influences: steak tartare with Thai herbs and chili garlic oil; roasted cauliflower with dukkah and tahini. The space has a bistro feel, and is time-worn and intimate.


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Chef Danny del Prado is one of the Twin Cities’ most celebrated chefs, and his Linden Hills restaurant Martina is an elegant platform for his Argentinian and Italian cuisine. (Sister restaurants include Rosalia, Colita, and as of summer 2022, Macanda.) The well-designed (and well-lit) dining room is a dream of lighting and composition. Order the potato churros to start, which balance a soft, creamy interior with craggy, crispy fried edges. From the grill, try the pork chop with corn puree, or the parillada for two, made with bavette, sweetbreads, chorizo, and bone marrow.

A white bowl filled with spaghetti with red sauce and lobster.
Spaghetti and lobster from Martina.
Kevin Kramer/Eater Twin Cities

Cafe Ceres

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Pastry chef Shawn McKenzie, who has run some of the Twin Cities’ finest pastry programs, recently garnered a James Beard nomination for her work at Café Cerés. Her chocolate zephyr cookies, made with rye flour, have a subtle malty bite; her pistachio croissants strike a perfect balance of airiness and nuttiness; and her pillowy Turkish bagels — a.k.a. simit — are lovely with a cool smear of labneh and za’atar. The lunch menu complements the pastry selection with Muffulettas, falafel bowls, and Turkish egg tartines drizzled with chili oil.

An assortment of pastries on wooden blocks on a white counter behind glass.
The pastry case at Café Cerés.
Tim Evans/Eater Twin Cities

Mercado Central

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A bustling marketplace of more than 30 businesses, Mercado Central is a pillar of East Lake Street. A number of excellent restaurants are located here: Find gorditas and crispy corn empanadas at Cocina San Marcos; a juicy al pastor torta from Maria’s restaurant; fiery pozole from La Perla Tortilleria; or tamales from La Loma. Wander around the market for even more excellent eats.

Reverie Cafe + Bar

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Located on a bustling corner in Minneapolis’s Powderhorn neighborhood, Reverie Cafe and Bar is one of the Twin Cities’ most-loved vegan restaurants. The entire menu is plant-based, built around familiar dishes with fine dining flourishes. Mojo smoked Brussels sprouts with sweet horseradish crema make for a great starter. As far as entrees go, the crispy cauliflower tacos and kimchi BLT (made with tempura tempeh bacon) are highlights. Reverie’s dark chocolate beignets are almost the size of baseballs — they come hot, dusted in sugar, and suffering nothing from the lack of butter. The backyard patio is a favorite spot for dining at all times of the year.

In the foreground is a wooden fence; behind it are diners dressed in warm clothing, and a bright, colorful graffiti mural made with mostly orange, blue, and red colors, lit by globe lights in an outdoor space.
Reverie’s outdoor patio.
Theresa Scarborough

Matt's Bar

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Matt’s, stationed in the first floor of a simple stucco building on Cedar Avenue, is one of the most legendary dives in the Twin Cities. (Former President Barack Obama ate here in 2014.) It claims to be the home of the original Jucy Lucy — that iconic, gooey, cheese-stuffed burger. (To distinguish its Lucy from other Twin Cities versions that have since proliferated, Matt’s spells its burger without the “I.”) According to local legend, in 1954, a Matt’s customer requested two beef patties with a slice of cheese in the middle. After his first oozy bite, he declared “That’s one juicy Lucy!” The restaurant has maintained its exquisitely divey interior: Slide into a pleather booth or grab a seat at the roomy, unadorned bar.

A white stucco building with red awnings and large red lettering that says “Matt’s” on Cedar Avenue in south Minneapolis.
Matt’s Bar on Cedar Avenue.
Matt’s Bar

Asa's Bakery

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Artist-turned-baker Asa Diebolt opened his cozy bakery in 2019 after running as a farmer’s market stand for several years; he moved into a bigger space in the Nokomis neighborhood in 2022. Morning customers from across the Twin Cities flock to Asa’s for fresh New York-style bagels or bialys — the bagel’s roasted, onion-filled cousin — with a whole selection of smears and toppings, from whitefish to cream cheese mixed with chive blossoms and radishes.

A hand holding a poppyseed bagel cut in half with chive blossom and radish cream cheese.
A bagel from Asa’s Bakery with chive blossom and radish cream cheese.
Asa’s Bakery

Karyn Tomlinson’s Myriel — a name that nods to Les Miserables — is at once rustic and refined. The a la carte menu isn’t available online because it changes often, but expect dishes like beef, pork, and lamb sausage (sourced from local farms) with white bean ragout and fermented pepper with pink celery leaves. Tomlinson also makes an infamous crust. If apple pie appears on the menu, order it without hesitation, and pair dessert with a Scandinavian egg coffee. Myriel’s interior, all European silhouettes and shades of cream and sand, is stunning.

A dark marble bar with a lamp and greenery on it. Above is a wooden rack for wine glasses and wine glasses dangling from it; attached to the wall is a mirror.
Inside Myriel on Cleveland Avenue in St. Paul.
Jes Lahay / Eater Twin Cities

Bole Ethiopian Cuisine

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Chef and owner Rekik Abaineh started anew in St. Paul’s Como neighborhood in 2021 — her restaurant Bolé Ethiopian Cuisine, originally on University Avenue, burned down in the social uprisings following the murder of George Floyd. Abaineh wasted no time firing the ovens, dishing up her rich, berbere-spiced beef tibs and rolls of spongy, lace-like injera. Everything from the fried tilapia to the hearty veggie sampler is remarkable — but the key to a perfect meal at Bolé is a glass of honey wine and a slice of cheesecake.

A bowl of rich meat stew with an egg on it on a white plate, with injera bread and salad in the background.
A rich stew from Bole.
Bole Ethiopian Cuisine

iPho by Saigon

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iPho by Saigon, a standout in a city stacked with great pho restaurants, is famous for its 10-pound jumbo pho, so big it toes the line between huge soup bowl and tiny bathtub. iPho offers every kind of meat combo imaginable, from a seafood medley to brisket and flank steak. This broth runs a little on the sweet side and is laced with anise and cloves. Families coalesce here all nights of the week (except Mondays, when iPho is closed), giving the space a warm, convivial feel.


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Meritage, tucked into an elegant, glass-paned storefront in downtown St. Paul, is one of the Cities’ most romantic dining destinations. More than anywhere else, it successfully emulates a Parisian dining ambiance. Sample oysters at the crescent bar; sip a glass of champagne infused with an absinthe-soaked sugar cube. Chef Russell Klein’s menu, which changes often, always features a seasonal preparation of Au Bon Canard foie gras. The Magret duck breast a l’orange is worth the $46 price tag.

El Burrito Mercado

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Original owners Maria and Tomas Silva, originally of Aguascalientes, Mexico, opened St. Paul’s El Burrito Mercado as an 800-square-foot market in 1979. In ’95, they moved to Cesar Chavez Street and renovated the historic, 13,000-square-foot Henly’s Furniture building, which today includes a restaurant and cantina. The tender molcajete Mexicano, birria tacos, tamale platters, and fresh ceviche — not to mention the remarkable deli and bakery, stocked with everything from barbacoa to fluffy conchas — make El Burrito Mercado an essential St. Paul restaurant.

Birria tacos with a small dish of red consomé on a white plate.
Birria tacos from El Burrito Mercado.
El Burrito Mercado

Travail Kitchen and Amusements

There’s no party like a Travail party. This trail-blazing chef collective specializes in creating an atmosphere of delight and wonder. Travail made its name subverting the traditional restaurant model, eliminating servers, and bringing chefs table-side to dish out an intriguing tasting menu (sometimes including cocktails bubbling over with liquid nitrogen). The latest iteration of the restaurant is an expansive three-level building in Robbinsdale. Buy a ticket for the tasting menu (think delicata squash tempura, nitro passion fruit fluff, and celery root mezzaluna) or sip a curated cocktail flight at the basement bar.