There’s a steadfast earnestness in the food from this northern, middle place. From wild rice that’s been harvested into canoes, carrying a toasty fire flavor; to crispy-fried walleye, fat steaks and good ol’ hotdish, these are the dishes that are icons of Minnesota and the people who call this place home.Read More
12 Iconic Minnesota Dishes and Where to Find Them
Swedish Meatballs, Special K bars, prime rib, and more
Sammy's Pizza & Restaurant
Minnesota-style pizza is super thin, unleavened crust and cut into squares. Sammy’s is a family-owned mini-empire that began in Hibbing and has locations in Duluth and Grand Rapids, MN. These pizzas benefit from a light hand on the fresh tomato sauce and a lace-like layer of mozzarella cheese, and fennel seed spiced hunks of sausage.
Hell's Kitchen Inc.
Hell’s Kitchen sources its wild rice from native growers for its eye-opening mahnomen. A porridge that benefits from the toasty, hearty grain given a rare sweet treatment with real maple syrup, heavy cream, and a mix of dried fruit. Wholly comforting, it’s ample fuel for a cold Minnesota morning.
For years, a night out meant steak was on the menu. Those were the early days of Murray’s. Still sporting the original 40s facade with neon lights advertising the butter knife steak. It’s a hunk of meat so tender and rich that it takes little more than a whisper to slice this meat.
Save room for dessert at Ann Kim’s perpetually popular Young Joni. The Minnesotan church basement cookie and bar plate includes a Special K bar a peanut butter rice crisped bar with a thick layer of chocolate frosting topped with flaky salt; chocolate chip cookies, tiny squares of apple crumble, all served with a bottle of cold milk.
Nestled in the beautiful halls of the American Swedish Institute, Fika is no ordinary museum cafe. With a whole smörgåsbord of Nordic-inspired options, there’s no wrong order here. This is the spot to find Swedish meatballs: juniper-spiced and mustardy, with a potato purée and tart-sweet lingonberry coulis.
Venture into the land of supper clubs with this icon of Twin Cities dining. Order a fat slab of prime rib served with Jax’s signature seasoning and butter-topped potato on the side.
Matt's Bar and Grill
No Minnesota classics list is complete without a shoutout to the Jucy Lucy. There are plenty of arguments over who served it first or who makes the most outrageous, but Matt’s Bar is possibly the first, and definitely an unfussy and ideal entry point to the lucy uninitiated. With a burnished crust and a molten core of American cheese, there’s no question that Matt’s an iconic burger.
This is dairy country and all good comfort food comes in cheese form. Foxy Falafel’s dill battered cheese curds are served with the unusual, but fantastic side of local honey for dipping.
The Iron Ranger is a pub on Grand Avenue serving iconic dishes of the titular part of the state. Check out the pasties, a savory pie crush wrapped around ground meat, onions, carrots and rutabaga. Served with a proper side of ketchup or gravy.
Tavern On Grand
Made from the fish of the state, a crisp-fried walleye sandwich at this up north feeling bar and restaurant on Saint Paul’s Grand Avenue is a taste of shore lunch without having to travel to the shore.
Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, this repurposed dining car was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places in 1983; and has been serving classics since the early 30s. Order the golden, crisp-edged buttermilk pancakes, and listen for the echoes of bygone jukeboxes.
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Gray Duck Tavern
Around here, it’s “duck, duck, gray duck.” This downtown restaurant recently doubled down on its Minnesota dedication with a new menu that includes all kinds of nods to the state’s cuisine including a chicken wrap served in lefse, a turkey leg like a self-contained Thanksgiving dinner, and what is currently ranked as the best restaurant hotdish around.