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Best Of 2000

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Best Of :: Food & Drink

BEST NEIGHBORHOOD CAFE--MINNEAPOLIS
Birchwood
Photo by Vincent Marcinelli

What makes the Birchwood stand out in a city lousy with neighborhood cafés is attention to detail. The dried-cherry scones contain cornmeal, which somehow seems to make them moist, yet grainy in a very pleasant way. The coconut macaroons are exactly the right kind of chewy. The peach cobbler is neither too sweet nor too mushy, and the key-lime pie delivers exactly the proper amount of pucker. Most days this mostly vegetarian Seward favorite offers two individual-pizza selections in the under-$6 range (one typically sporting roasted peppers and goat cheese) along with several entrées and well-seasoned, often grain-based salads. If temperatures permit, grab some Sebastian Joe's and take it to one of the picnic tables outside. Check out the boulevard a neighbor has painstakingly turned into a gardening masterpiece, slurp up the last drops of the flavor of the day, and, if you're lucky, walk home along the river.

3311 E. 25th St., Minneapolis, 55406
MAP
612-722-4474
BEST ADDITION TO THE BREAKFAST SCENE
Victor's

Even though some of us are still bitter about last year's demise of Rick's Ol' Time Café, Victor's is garnering a larger following with each passing month. There's plenty of standard yanqui breakfast fare, but the Cuban entrées are the real reason to get out of bed to beat the crowd to this trailer-sized neighborhood fixture. You can have your eggs accompanied by black beans, a nippy creole sauce, fried yucca, sweet plantains, toast with guava jam, Cuban steak, mango pancakes, and a whole host of other tropical tasties--and you'll rarely spend more than $6 for your morning boost. Owners Victor and Niki Valens have painted the interior a pale yellow so sunny and cheerful that, even with winter coats draped over the ends of the booths, it actually feels like breakfast at the beach.

3756 Grand Ave. S., Minneapolis, 55409
MAP
612-827-8948
BEST APPLE ORCHARD
Emma Krumbee's

Yeah, okay, this Best of the Twin Cities pick isn't in--or even really near--the Twin Cities. But cut us some slack: Emma Krumbee's is worth driving a few miles out of the way. Set on 45 acres about halfway to Mankato near scenic Belle Plaine, this operation has all the amenities you'd expect: wagon rides, cider sampling, homemade apple pies, and a great pumpkin patch. And oh, those apples! Arrive in August for Connell Reds, that sweet, ruby-red Minnesota breed. Or come later in the autumn, when you can pick your own McIntosh and hard, tangy Honeygolds. If you wait till October, you'll still be able to take home a bushel of tart Honeycrisps--the perfect flavor to compliment a glorious and fleeting season.

501 E. South St., Belle Plaine, 56011
MAP
952-873-3006
BEST ASIAN GROCERY
United Noodles
Photo by Tony Nelson

Make your own maki? United Noodles sports ten varieties of nori. There are aisles of cookies, crackers, and canned goods, plus Asian seafood and produce you won't find anywhere else in town. The staff is pleasant and helpful--which comes in handy when you're in no shape to discern one kind of noodle from another, or to gauge which rice-paper wrappers are best suited to your first foray into spring-rolling, or even when you're idly wondering what one might do with a baby duck egg. While you're at it, there's a well-stocked herbal medicine counter and a small acupuncture clinic, for whatever ails you.

2015 E. 24th St., Minneapolis, 55404
MAP
612-721-6677
BEST BAGELS

Bagels aren't that complex a foodstuff, so why are there so few good ones west of the Hudson River? A bagel lover in these parts must simply make do, taste-testing the local offerings, compromising, always compromising, and then, inevitably prevailing upon a loved one who's traveling to New York City to bring back the real thing. Then along comes Big City Bagels and gives us hope. While you're still better off going to New York, the price of a Sun Country ticket is admittedly a little steep when all you want to do is nosh. These Big City bad boys are big, sufficiently odd-shaped, tasty, and yes, even somewhat chewy. Grab one, slather on the cream cheese, add some lox, and feel the joy.

BEST BAKERY
Turtle Bread

The more widely we taste of the world's bread, the more convinced we are that Turtle Bread isn't merely the best bakery in town, it might well be one of the best bakeries on Earth. Case in point: Last fall we were in Paris and had the chance to swing by Poilane, widely reputed to offer the best boule (a wild-yeast bread) in the world. The world! And while it was an amazing bread, it wasn't all that far ahead of Turtle Bread--and Poilane didn't have the yummy little cookies, addictive olive crackers, buttery Danish, fantastic fresh-fruit pies, or breakfast-perfect cardamom coffee bread we've come to swear by. Don't buy it? France awaits...

3421 W. 44th St., Minneapolis, 55410
MAP
612-924-6013
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BEST NEIGHBORHOOD CAFE--MINNEAPOLIS: Birchwood

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