Best of the Twin Cities®

Best Of 2010

Neighborhoods

  • + Airport
  • + Apple Valley
  • + Blaine
  • + Bloomington
  • + Brooklyn Center
  • + Brooklyn Park
  • + Burnsville
  • + Camden
  • + Champlin
  • + Chanhassen
  • + Chaska
  • + Columbia Heights
  • + Como
  • + Coon Rapids
  • + Cottage Grove
  • + Crystal
  • + Eagan
  • + Eden Prairie
  • + Edina
  • + Excelsior
  • + Fridley
  • + Golden Valley
  • + Highland Park
  • + Hopkins
  • + Inver Grove Heights
  • + Kingfield
  • + Lake Elmo
  • + Lakeville
  • + Macalester/Groveland
  • + Maple Grove
  • + Maplewood
  • + Mendota
  • + Mendota Heights
  • + Minneapolis (Downtown)
  • + Minnetonka
  • + Minnetonka Beach
  • + Moundsview
  • + Navarre
  • + Nokomis
  • + North Minneapolis
  • + North Oaks
  • + Northeast Minneapolis
  • + Oakdale
  • + Osseo
  • + Out of Town
  • + Outstate
  • + Phalen
  • + Plymouth
  • + Powderhorn
  • + Richfield
  • + Robbinsdale
  • + Rosemount
  • + Roseville
  • + Savage
  • + Seward/ Longfellow/ Minnehaha
  • + Shakopee
  • + Shoreview
  • + South St. Paul
  • + Southwest Minneapolis
  • + Spring Park
  • + St. Louis Park
  • + St. Paul (Downtown)
  • + St. Paul Park
  • + Stillwater
  • + University
  • + Unknown
  • + Uptown/ Eat Street
  • + Wayzata
  • + West Side - St. Paul
  • + West St. Paul
  • + White Bear Lake
  • + Wisconsin
  • + Woodbury
Map It

Arts & Entertainment

Food & Drink

People & Places

Shopping & Services

MORE

Best Of :: Food & Drink

BEST KOREAN RESTAURANT
Dong Yang Oriental Food

So much noise is made in the sense-world of food about the importance of taste—as well as its Siamese twin perception, smell—that we tend to ignore the rest of our senses in the midst of a meal. Sure, sight, with its inverse relationship with the stomach, gets some play, as does touch, what with Iron Chef judges flapping their lips about texture and "mouthfeel." But a good meal also appeals directly and passionately to that lonely fifth sense: sound. No joke. Remember the first time you heard fajitas whizzing past your table at Chi-Chi's? Human beings respond to that sound much like sharks react to the splashing of injured seal pups. That same killer instinct kicks in the moment you hear the approach of a sizzling dish, and no dish sizzles quite like the Dolsot Bibimbap at Dong Yang—a hidden grocery-store lunch counter known only to devout food-seekers and Columbia Heights' sizeable Korean population. We're telling you, so ferociously will you devour this meal that it may as well be chum. The name means "hot stone bowl of mixed rice," and that stone is so scorching that its contents—rice, vegetables, and beef, topped elegantly by a single raw egg—sputter like sweat on a Harley tailpipe for five solid minutes while you gullet them down. Order "No. 13" and do as the Koreans do: Mix everything in the bowl before you eat it, dig for the crusty golden rice at the bottom, and don't forget to pile on the chili paste (it's in the ketchup bottle). Bring friends and round out the meal with succulent sliced beef (bulgogi), fried dumplings (mandu), kimchee pancakes (jeon), or short ribs (kalbi). Then commence with the full symphony of epicurean acoustics: slurping, mmmm-ing, burping, sighing, and groaning with the bloated pleasure of eating one of the Cities' most sensational culinary masterworks.

735 45th Ave. NE, Columbia Heights, 55421
MAP
763-571-2009
BEST DIM SUM
Mandarin Kitchen
Photo by Tony Nelson

The parking lot tells the story at Mandarin Kitchen. On one recent Sunday morning, the asphalt surrounding this hidden Bloomington strip-mall gem was so stuffed with minivans that, much to the dismay of Buck's Unpainted Furniture, the cars spilled like burst pot-sticker innards into the spaces reserved for surrounding businesses. But Buck's pain is your gain, because this is how you spot good dim sum in this town. Southern China's beloved brunch tradition, dim sum is a family affair, and to find the best you go where the Chinese families go; in other words, a parking lot full of minivans is as good as three Michelin stars. Once you've lucked into a parking spot and shouldered your way inside, Mandarin Kitchen makes good on the promise of its lot. Dim sum is a circus of small plates meant to be shared by big, happy groups—its name translates to something like "heart's delight." Here that means delectable steamed dumplings (gao), stuffed crab balls, pork buns, seaweed salad, and various other delights ferried directly to your table. Our tip: Try a little bit of everything, even the "Phoenix talons," which, yeah, are really just fried chicken feet, but they're also dang tasty. And bring the kids: They're an important part of this weekend-only tradition, and they'll love the eel tank in the waiting area.

8766 Lyndale Ave. S., Bloomington, 55420
MAP
952-884-5356
BEST RESTAURANT FOR A FIRST DATE
Northeast Social
Photo by Bre McGee

First, she'll be impressed that "social" is in the name—it gives you instant in-the-know cred. But more than that, the new Northeast dining spot lives up to its name: The small size and closely spaced tables make for warm, buzzing chatter that cloaks the evening meal in a sense of intimacy. The menu is fantastic, and at $18 to $20 per entrée, it won't break the bank. On a cozy late-winter visit, the salmon with spaghetti squash and snow peas was superb, as was the beautifully arranged chicken with spinach, root vegetables, and maple syrup. The servers are knowledgeable and friendly, so they'll do all the talking and make you look smart to your date. Quite a few couples will have the same idea, though, so reservations are recommended on weekends.

359 13th Ave. NE, Minneapolis, 55413
MAP
612-877-8111
BEST ETHIOPIAN RESTAURANT
Fasika

"Dry or wet?" the server at Fasika asked us as we ordered a plate of the marinated beef ribs. We wanted 'em juicy, of course, so the spicy sauce on those fatty meat nubs would soak right in to the spongy injera bread. The ambiance at this longtime Ethiopian eatery is as eclectic as it is low-key: Its chartreuse walls are covered with religious iconography (Fasika is the word for Easter in Amharic), and fake flowers are displayed on tabletops covered with plastic, the way Queens's prosperous immigrant families put slipcovers on their sofas. Service is relaxed and kind. Once, when a regular expressed interest in the music being played, the waitress offered to lend him the CD. The vegetarian plate is one of Fasika's best dishes. It comes on a platter nearly two feet wide and could easily feed two people. Several types of lentils—from the sweet, mushy golden ones to the firm, light-green pebbles served cold, with salad fixings—paint the legume in a flattering light. You might also find scoops of tender, braised greens, boiled beets, chickpea balls, curried potatoes, cabbage, carrots, or lettuce strips with Italian dressing. And of course, enough extra injera to swaddle a baby.

510 Snelling Ave. N., St. Paul, 55104
MAP
651-646-4747
BEST MIDDLE EASTERN RESTAURANT
Babani's Kurdish Restaurant
Photo by Ed Neaton

The first Kurdish restaurant to open in the United States, Babani's is named for the Babani tribe, whose men were known for their fighting skills and sexual prowess (seriously, it says that on the menu!) and whose women were considered kind, forgiving, and exceptionally good at cooking. The menu consists of authentic Kurdish dishes, including chicken tawa (chicken sautéed in lemon and spices and baked in layers of potatoes, green peppers, onions, and dried limes) and Sheik Babani (cored eggplant filled with spicy meat and vegetables). The tangy Dowjic soup made from chicken, yogurt, and lemon juice is a patron favorite that works miracles on a head cold and is credited for "keeping many a Kurdish traveler from wandering too far from home."

544 St. Peter St., St. Paul, 55102
MAP
651-602-9964
BEST OUTDOOR DINING
Seven Sushi Ultralounge and Skybar
Photo by Tony Nelson

We like the greenery of W.A. Frost's garden patio and the bustle of the sidewalk seats at the Local, but when it comes to outdoor dining, our favorite perch is a roof deck. With its posh lounge seating—cushy couches surrounded by pretty planters and roaring fire pits—nestled between tall glass skyscrapers, Seven's Skybar is tops. The 6,000-square-foot deck offers striking views overlooking Block E's bright signage and the rest of the Hennepin Avenue hustle, as well as plenty of great people-watching due to Seven's diverse and sharply dressed crowd. The rooftop's bar offers beer, wine, cocktails, and a list of fancy martinis that are too chic for their plastic glassware, but you can also order food from the restaurant's steakhouse or sushi menus. Another unique—and cool—feature: Seven's Skybar stays open during the winter months. No food or drinks are served during that period, but guests may carry up a drink—or a selection from the cigar menu—and camp out under one of the heated tents.

700 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, 55403
MAP
612-238-7777
X

BEST KOREAN RESTAURANT: Dong Yang Oriental Food

Newsletters

All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories
    Send:

Newsletters

All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >