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The glossy bar at Giulia is framed with thick white columns, alcohol, and plants.
The dramatic bar at downtown’s Italian destination Giulia.
Giulia/official photo

10 Deeply Underrated Restaurants to Explore in the Twin Cities

Semisecret spots for top bibimbap, perfectly smoked meats, lobster bucatini and more

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The dramatic bar at downtown’s Italian destination Giulia.
| Giulia/official photo

As exciting as it is to check out the new and newsworthy restaurants in Minneapolis and St. Paul, there are neighborhood gems that will always hold a special place in our dining landscape. Here are 10 reliable restaurants worth returning to time and time again in the Twin Cities.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; the latest data about the delta variant indicates that it may pose a low-to-moderate risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

Note: Restaurants on this map are listed in geographically.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Lemon Grass Thai Cuisine

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8600 Edinburgh Centre Dr
Minneapolis, MN 55443
(763) 494-8809
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Ann Ahmed has captured imaginations and appetites with her second restaurant Lat14, but Lemon Grass was her first and is just as delicious and buzzworthy. Try the zippy Lao style papaya salad, the tom kha (a coconut milk-based soup with galangal) or any one of the roast duck preparations. Stay tuned for her third forthcoming spot called Khâluna.

A towering salad from Lemon Grass Thai Cuisine
Silver noodle salad from Lemon Grass Thai Cuisine.
Lemon Grass Thai/Facebook

2. FireBox Deli

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4707 Lyndale Ave N
Minneapolis, MN
(612) 521-8206
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Don’t let the no-frills vibe fool you at this family-run deli that’s known for its perfectly smoked meats. Expect friendly counter service, pork ribs with textbook sweet-smokey glaze, and brisket so tender you can cut it with a plastic fork. Multiple locations.

Tender smoked brisket at FireBox Deli.
FireBox Deli’s destination smoked brisket.
FireBox Deli/Facebook

3. Sample Room

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2124 Marshall St NE
Minneapolis, MN
(612) 789-0333
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A progressive small plates menu paired with a sturdy beverage list gives Sample Room the air of a speakeasy for food lovers who appreciate presentation. Go for the stellar cocktails and stay for the unique takes on bar food, like lion’s mane mushroom cakes and beer-battered Ellsworth cheese curds.

A meat plate at Sample Room is presented beautifully.
An artsy spread at Sample Room.
Sample Room/Facebook

4. Uncle Franky's - Northeast

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728 Broadway St NE
Minneapolis, MN
(612) 455-2181
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If restaurants were movie genres, Uncle Franky’s would be a cult classic. The menu reads like a best of for big city street eats, checking off the most iconic meals from major American cities. Detroit’s chili-slathered burger; Philadelphia’s cheesesteak, complete wiz wit; NY hot pastrami overflowing with meat; and Chicago dog buried under a mountain of condiments.

A huge hot dog with all the trimmings at Uncle Franky’s.
A Chicago hot dog at Uncle Franky’s.
Uncle Franky’s/Facebook

5. NOLO’s Kitchen & Bar

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515 N Washington Ave #100
Minneapolis, MN 55401
(612) 800-6033
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Make no mistake: NOLO’s sits in the heart of the restaurant-packed North Loop. But the setup feels like a home-y hideaway, complete with a basement bar, rooftop bar and a handsome dining room. Dig in for daily breakfast and stay over for lunch, or breeze by for happy hour or evening cocktails. The kale Caesar and the egg salad toast are unexpected hits. Chef/owner Peter Hoff also makes some wonderful fresh pasta like a delicious lobster bucatini and a big ol’ burger (go for the turkey patty).

A bowl of mussels at NOLO’s
Mussels at NOLO’s.
NOLO’s/Facebook

6. Giulia

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215 S 4th St
Minneapolis, MN 55401
(612) 215-5450
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While Giulia is a hotel restaurant in sleepy downtown Minneapolis, it pretty much runs stands on its own. Giulia shares its handsome, vaulting space with The Emery’s lobby, but the hotel overlap stops there. The focus on northern Italian flavors are precise and spot on — think virtually faultless ricotta meatballs, a play on arancini (here, named suppli) paired with apple, and maltagliati: homemade, silky ribbons of pasta with a tonkotsu-style Japanese stock that’s wildly flavorful.

A bowl of green noodles at Giulia.
A bright bowl of pasta at Giulia.
Giulia/Facebook

7. Korea Restaurant

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221 Oak St SE
Minneapolis, MN
(612) 746-0559

Nearly lost in the menagerie of well-marketed restaurants that populate Dinkytown, Korea Restaurant keeps quietly chugging along with a glorious assortment of bibimbap, bulgogi and potstickers. Lunch is mayhem, but worth every second of wait time. Prepare for self-service, generous helpings, and don’t be shy to refill on the side dishes.

8. The Bungalow Club

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4300 E Lake St
Minneapolis, MN 55406
(612) 866-3334
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There isn’t anything quite like The Bungalow Club in the Twin Cities. Kudos to Italian chef-owner Andrew Kraft for pushing the envelope on dining formats. There’s a family feast for $50 per person, a Wednesday burger club, and a Sunday night menu devoted to handmade pasta, Kraft’s specialty. His ragus are one of the most flavorful and robust in the Twin Cities. His grilled romaine and lamb crudo is also not to miss.

Various dishes and cocktails at The Bungalow Club.
An assortment of plates at The Bungalow Club.
Bungalow Club/Facebook

9. Stewart's

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128 Cleveland Ave N
St Paul, MN 55104
(651) 645-4128
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Chef and owner Max Thompson’s dishes tend to be built upon punches of flavor added to familiar comfort foods. Served with a duo of dipping sauces, the Korean chili-flake fries vie for the top title in the Twin Cities and its burger is a thing of true beauty. Even their parker house rolls, served with terrific honey butter, are must-orders.

Fried vegetables at Stewart’s.
A tempura veggie starter at Stewart’s.
Stewart’s/Facebook

10. The Harriet Brasserie

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2724 W 43rd St
Minneapolis, MN
(612) 354-2197
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This charming restaurant serves deeply satisfying, comforting dishes. The setting is an old firehouse, with decor representing all the neighborhood icons that define Lake Harriet. Expect staples dishes, like salmon rillettes, grass-fed burgers, gnocchi with a glossy beurre blanc, or more adventurous options, like a clams and bison sausage. Don’t leave without plunging a fork into the coconut tres leches cake.

A big burger and a beer at The Harriet Brasserie.
The bountiful burger and a beer at The Harriet Brasserie.
Harriet/Facebook

1. Lemon Grass Thai Cuisine

8600 Edinburgh Centre Dr, Minneapolis, MN 55443
A towering salad from Lemon Grass Thai Cuisine
Silver noodle salad from Lemon Grass Thai Cuisine.
Lemon Grass Thai/Facebook

Ann Ahmed has captured imaginations and appetites with her second restaurant Lat14, but Lemon Grass was her first and is just as delicious and buzzworthy. Try the zippy Lao style papaya salad, the tom kha (a coconut milk-based soup with galangal) or any one of the roast duck preparations. Stay tuned for her third forthcoming spot called Khâluna.

8600 Edinburgh Centre Dr
Minneapolis, MN 55443

2. FireBox Deli

4707 Lyndale Ave N, Minneapolis, MN
Tender smoked brisket at FireBox Deli.
FireBox Deli’s destination smoked brisket.
FireBox Deli/Facebook

Don’t let the no-frills vibe fool you at this family-run deli that’s known for its perfectly smoked meats. Expect friendly counter service, pork ribs with textbook sweet-smokey glaze, and brisket so tender you can cut it with a plastic fork. Multiple locations.

4707 Lyndale Ave N
Minneapolis, MN

3. Sample Room

2124 Marshall St NE, Minneapolis, MN
A meat plate at Sample Room is presented beautifully.
An artsy spread at Sample Room.
Sample Room/Facebook

A progressive small plates menu paired with a sturdy beverage list gives Sample Room the air of a speakeasy for food lovers who appreciate presentation. Go for the stellar cocktails and stay for the unique takes on bar food, like lion’s mane mushroom cakes and beer-battered Ellsworth cheese curds.

2124 Marshall St NE
Minneapolis, MN

4. Uncle Franky's - Northeast

728 Broadway St NE, Minneapolis, MN
A huge hot dog with all the trimmings at Uncle Franky’s.
A Chicago hot dog at Uncle Franky’s.
Uncle Franky’s/Facebook

If restaurants were movie genres, Uncle Franky’s would be a cult classic. The menu reads like a best of for big city street eats, checking off the most iconic meals from major American cities. Detroit’s chili-slathered burger; Philadelphia’s cheesesteak, complete wiz wit; NY hot pastrami overflowing with meat; and Chicago dog buried under a mountain of condiments.

728 Broadway St NE
Minneapolis, MN

5. NOLO’s Kitchen & Bar

515 N Washington Ave #100, Minneapolis, MN 55401
A bowl of mussels at NOLO’s
Mussels at NOLO’s.
NOLO’s/Facebook

Make no mistake: NOLO’s sits in the heart of the restaurant-packed North Loop. But the setup feels like a home-y hideaway, complete with a basement bar, rooftop bar and a handsome dining room. Dig in for daily breakfast and stay over for lunch, or breeze by for happy hour or evening cocktails. The kale Caesar and the egg salad toast are unexpected hits. Chef/owner Peter Hoff also makes some wonderful fresh pasta like a delicious lobster bucatini and a big ol’ burger (go for the turkey patty).

515 N Washington Ave #100
Minneapolis, MN 55401

6. Giulia

215 S 4th St, Minneapolis, MN 55401
A bowl of green noodles at Giulia.
A bright bowl of pasta at Giulia.
Giulia/Facebook

While Giulia is a hotel restaurant in sleepy downtown Minneapolis, it pretty much runs stands on its own. Giulia shares its handsome, vaulting space with The Emery’s lobby, but the hotel overlap stops there. The focus on northern Italian flavors are precise and spot on — think virtually faultless ricotta meatballs, a play on arancini (here, named suppli) paired with apple, and maltagliati: homemade, silky ribbons of pasta with a tonkotsu-style Japanese stock that’s wildly flavorful.

215 S 4th St
Minneapolis, MN 55401

7. Korea Restaurant

221 Oak St SE, Minneapolis, MN

Nearly lost in the menagerie of well-marketed restaurants that populate Dinkytown, Korea Restaurant keeps quietly chugging along with a glorious assortment of bibimbap, bulgogi and potstickers. Lunch is mayhem, but worth every second of wait time. Prepare for self-service, generous helpings, and don’t be shy to refill on the side dishes.

221 Oak St SE
Minneapolis, MN

8. The Bungalow Club

4300 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55406
Various dishes and cocktails at The Bungalow Club.
An assortment of plates at The Bungalow Club.
Bungalow Club/Facebook

There isn’t anything quite like The Bungalow Club in the Twin Cities. Kudos to Italian chef-owner Andrew Kraft for pushing the envelope on dining formats. There’s a family feast for $50 per person, a Wednesday burger club, and a Sunday night menu devoted to handmade pasta, Kraft’s specialty. His ragus are one of the most flavorful and robust in the Twin Cities. His grilled romaine and lamb crudo is also not to miss.

4300 E Lake St
Minneapolis, MN 55406

9. Stewart's

128 Cleveland Ave N, St Paul, MN 55104
Fried vegetables at Stewart’s.
A tempura veggie starter at Stewart’s.
Stewart’s/Facebook

Chef and owner Max Thompson’s dishes tend to be built upon punches of flavor added to familiar comfort foods. Served with a duo of dipping sauces, the Korean chili-flake fries vie for the top title in the Twin Cities and its burger is a thing of true beauty. Even their parker house rolls, served with terrific honey butter, are must-orders.

128 Cleveland Ave N
St Paul, MN 55104

10. The Harriet Brasserie

2724 W 43rd St, Minneapolis, MN
A big burger and a beer at The Harriet Brasserie.
The bountiful burger and a beer at The Harriet Brasserie.
Harriet/Facebook

This charming restaurant serves deeply satisfying, comforting dishes. The setting is an old firehouse, with decor representing all the neighborhood icons that define Lake Harriet. Expect staples dishes, like salmon rillettes, grass-fed burgers, gnocchi with a glossy beurre blanc, or more adventurous options, like a clams and bison sausage. Don’t leave without plunging a fork into the coconut tres leches cake.

2724 W 43rd St
Minneapolis, MN

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