BEST RESTAURANT (ST. PAUL) (1999)

As it went in Minneapolis this year, so it did in St. Paul: The heavy hitters were uneven. The St. Paul Grill lost control of its menu, Pazzaluna never seemed spectacular, Table of Contents doesn't seem to be as good as it was--or is it just that other restaurants have gotten better? Either way, the Zander Café is a breath of fresh air, a small, noisy, inexpensive spot where chef Alexander Dixon refuses to cater to the lowest common denominator: Garlic is garlic, chipotles are chipotles. Every night it's a two-room rumble of food and wine--bring your appetite and throw down.

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