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Best of

the Twin Cities

BEST LOCAL CHEF

Lenny Russo

What makes a great chef? One good measure is the influence he exerts on the world around him, and no one has done more to exalt the possibilities of northern regional cuisine lately than Lenny Russo. His restaurant Heartland has become a must-visit destination for visiting foodies who dip in to see what magic he's working with local ingredients. Like brick-dark venison tartare ($10) given definition with Canadian ice-wine vinegar and made plush with the yolk of a local pullet egg. Or pan-roasted wild boar chops with Wisconsin gruyere-wheat berry risotto and Door County cherry glacée ($36). These dishes spring from both a creative vision (that venison tartare tastes like silk made of winter iron) and a commitment to day-to-day work supporting local networks: Area farmers and foragers know that they can always count on Lenny if they've got good product to sell. Yet it's one thing to cook with local ingredients in a small, easily supervised environment like Heartland, and quite another to do so at a large-scale, cost-conscious venue like Cue, the restaurant that Russo opened in the new Guthrie Theater. Russo's partnership with Cue ended recently, but the place has continued the showcasing of local ingredients that Russo began, and those menu items are the best the restaurant serves. Since Russo left Cue he's been working on his cookbook (can't wait!) and on getting a year-round Minneapolis farmers' market off the ground, and on founding a distribution network so local farmers can reach local buyers. (Want to help? Call him at Heartland!) In our opinion, no one is doing more to elevate regional cuisine right now, and hence no other chef's cooking is more influential, more inspirational, more important. Who knew there could be so much import in an appetizer? Thanks, Lenny, for taking our little slice of the world so seriously—it's made us see it anew.

BEST ASIAN GROCERY Shuang Hur Grocery

BEST BAKERY Franklin Street Bakery

BEST BARBECUE Rooster's BBQ

BEST BARISTA Juliana at St. Paul Steep 'n' Brew Coffee Shop

BEST BARTENDER John Senkler

BEST BEER SELECTION IN A BAR The Muddy Pig

BEST BLOODY MARY J.D. Hoyt's

BEST BREAD Rustica Bakery

BEST BREAKFAST Serlin's Cafe

BEST BURGER Napa Valley Grille

BEST BURRITO El Burrito Mercado

BEST CHAI Namaste Café

BEST CHEAP EATS Bombay 2 Deli

BEST CHEESE SELECTION Premier Cheese Market

BEST CHINESE RESTAURANT Little Szechuan Chinese Cuisine

BEST CHOCOLATE Legacy Chocolates

BEST COCKTAILS Babalu

BEST COFFEE BY THE POUND Coffee and Tea Ltd.

BEST COFFEEHOUSE Mapps Coffee and Tea

BEST DELICATESSEN The Brothers

BEST DESSERTS La Belle Vie

BEST DIM SUM JunBo Chinese Restaurant

BEST DINER Town Talk Diner

BEST DOUGHNUTS Mel-O-Glaze Bakery

BEST FARMERS' MARKET St. Paul Farmers' Market

BEST FISH MARKET Coastal Seafoods

BEST FRENCH RESTAURANT Fugaise

BEST FRESH PRODUCE Community Supported Agriculture

BEST FRIES Café Barbette

BEST GOURMET BURGER Vincent—A Restaurant

BEST GOURMET GROCERY Kowalski's

BEST GOURMET PIZZA Pizza Nea

BEST GREEK RESTAURANT Christos

BEST HAPPY HOUR Chino Latino

BEST HOT DOGS Uncle Franky's

BEST ICE CREAM PARLOR Sebastian Joe's Ice Cream Cafe

BEST INDIAN RESTAURANT Bombay Bistro

BEST IRISH PUB O'Gara's

BEST ITALIAN RESTAURANT (BARGAIN) Broders' Southside Pasta Bar

BEST ITALIAN RESTAURANT (UPSCALE) Osteria I Nonni

BEST JAPANESE RESTAURANT Midori's Floating World Cafe

BEST KOREAN RESTAURANT King's Fine Korean Cuisine

BEST LIQUOR STORE Surdyk's

BEST MARGARITA Pancho Villa Restaurant

BEST MARTINI Moscow on the Hill

BEST MEXICAN RESTAURANT Salsa a la Salsa

Best Middle Eastern Bread Abu Nader Grocery and Deli

BEST MIDDLE EASTERN GROCERY Holy Land Bakery and Grocery

BEST MIDDLE EASTERN RESTAURANT Shish

BEST NATURAL FOODS GROCERY Lakewinds Natural Foods

BEST NEIGHBORHOOD BAR—MINNEAPOLIS Cuzzy's

BEST NEIGHBORHOOD BAR—ST. PAUL Half Time Rec

BEST NEIGHBORHOOD CAFE—MINNEAPOLIS Corner Table

BEST NEIGHBORHOOD CAFE—ST. PAUL Muffuletta

BEST NEW RESTAURANT Town Talk Diner

BEST PIZZA Galactic Pizza

BEST PLACE TO EAT OUT WITH YOUR KIDS Big Bowl

BEST POWER LUNCH Vincent—A Restaurant

BEST QUEER COFFEE SHOP Wilde Roast Café

BEST RESTAURANT FOR A FIRST DATE duplex

BEST RESTAURANT FOR GLUTTONS Atlantic Buffet

BEST RESTAURANT FOR LATE-NIGHT DINING Pizza Lucé

BEST RESTAURANT FOR OUTDOOR DINING Swede Hollow Cafe

BEST RESTAURANT FOR ROMANCE Bayport Cookery

BEST RESTAURANT IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE Nelson Cheese Factory

BEST RESTAURANT TREND Democratizing Fine Dining

BEST RESTAURANT WHEN SOMEONE ELSE IS PAYING The Oceanaire

BEST RESTAURANT—MINNEAPOLIS La Belle Vie

BEST RESTAURANT—ST PAUL Heartland

BEST SALAD Spoonriver

BEST SEAFOOD RESTAURANT Sea Salt Eatery

BEST SERVICE AT A RESTAURANT La Belle Vie

BEST SOUL FOOD West Indies Soul Food

BEST STAR-CHEF EXPERIENCE IN A RESTAURANT The Modern's Phillip Becht

BEST STATE FAIR FOOD Mac 'n' Cheese on a Stick

BEST STEAK HOUSE Manny's

BEST SUNDAY BRUNCH Victor's 1959 Café

BEST SUSHI Origami West

BEST TAKE-HOME BREW Surly Brewing Co.Furious and Bender Beers

BEST TAKEOUT Lucia's To Go

BEST THAI RESTAURANT True Thai

BEST VEGETARIAN-FRIENDLY RESTAURANT Spoonriver

BEST VIETNAMESE RESTAURANT Mai Village

BEST WINE BAR Toast Wine Bar & Cafe

BEST WINE LIST Cesare's Wine Bar