Best of

the Twin Cities

BEST CHEF

Sameh Wadi of Saffron

The Twin Cities is fortunate to have a deep talent pool of mid-career chefs, but this year the spotlight shone brightest on one of the most impressive up-and-comers, Sameh Wadi, who has been running his own restaurant, Saffron, since he was 23. Wadi's strength is fusing Middle Eastern flavors with refined cooking techniques. That means he puts a contemporary spin on age-old tagines, marries duck breast with mejdool dates or scallops with preserved lemons, and cures his own lamb bacon for a two-bite BLT. Diners trust Wadi's talent enough that they'll try anything he serves—even lamb brains. This fall, Wadi's big win at City Pages' Iron Fork contest turned out to be a harbinger of his competition on the Food Network's famous Iron Chef. When the stage lights went up on Kitchen Stadium, the sight of Wadi's challenger, a smoke-shrouded Iron Chef Morimoto, nearly caused home viewers to wet themselves. But Wadi kept as cool as the secret ingredient, mackerel, and even though he lost—by a nose!—we think he would best in two out of three. Rematch!

Best Bartender (2013) Rob Jones at Saffron

Best Middle-Eastern Restaurant (2012) Saffron Restaurant and Lounge

Best Middle Eastern Restaurant (2011) Saffron Restaurant & Lounge

Best Middle Eastern Restaurant (2009) Saffron

BEST MIDDLE EASTERN RESTAURANT (2008) Saffron

BEST BAGEL Common Roots

BEST BAKERY Rustica

BEST BARBECUE 128 Cafe

BEST BARTENDER Dan Oskey, the Strip Club

BEST BEER SELECTION IN A BAR Muddy Pig

BEST BLOODY MARY Hell's Kitchen

BEST BREAKFAST D'Amico Kitchen

BEST BREWPUB Barley John's

BEST BURGER The Anchor Fish & Chips

BEST BURRITO Pineda Tacos

BEST CANDY STORE Sugar Sugar Candy

BEST CARIBBEAN RESTAURANT Harry Singh's

BEST CENTRAL/SOUTH AMERICAN RESTAURANT El Rincón Salvadoreño

BEST CHEAP EATS Taj Grill

BEST CHEESE SHOP France 44

BEST CHILI The Loon Cafe

BEST CHINESE RESTAURANT Szechuan

BEST COCKTAILS Prohibition

BEST COFFEE White Rock Coffee Roasters

BEST COFFEE SHOP Bull Run Coffee Bar

BEST DELICATESSEN Broders' Cucina Italiana

BEST DESSERTS Cosmos

BEST DIM SUM Mandarin Kitchen

BEST DINER St. Clair Broiler

BEST DIVE BAR The Red Dragon

BEST ETHIOPIAN RESTAURANT Fasika

BEST FARMERS' MARKET St. Paul Farmers' Market

BEST FRENCH FRIES Acadia Cafe

BEST FRENCH RESTAURANT Meritage

BEST GREEK RESTAURANT Gardens of Salonica

BEST HANGOVER BREAKFAST Triple Rock Social Club

BEST HAPPY HOUR Il Gatto

BEST HOT DOG Italian Veggie Dog from the Wienery

BEST HOTEL BAR The Living Room at the W Hotel

BEST ICE CREAM PARLOR Pumphouse Creamery

BEST INDIAN RESTAURANT OM

BEST IRISH PUB The Local

BEST ITALIAN RESTAURANT Bar La Grassa

BEST JAPANESE RESTAURANT Fuji-Ya

BEST KOREAN RESTAURANT Dong Yang Oriental Food

BEST LATE-NIGHT DINING The Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant

BEST LOCAL BEER Summit Unchained Series

BEST MARGARITA The Cobra Verde at Barrio

BEST MEXICAN RESTAURANT El Burrito Mercado

BEST MIDDLE EASTERN RESTAURANT Babani's Kurdish Restaurant

BEST NEIGHBORHOOD BAR (MINNEAPOLIS) Merlins Rest Pub

BEST NEIGHBORHOOD BAR (MINNEAPOLIS) Merlins Rest Pub

BEST NEIGHBORHOOD CAFÉ (MINNEAPOLIS) Victory 44

BEST NEIGHBORHOOD CAFÉ (ST. PAUL) Tanpopo Noodle Shop

BEST NEW RESTAURANT Piccolo

BEST OLD-GUY BAR Yannarelly's Bar

BEST OUTDOOR DINING Seven Sushi Ultralounge and Skybar

BEST PANCAKE Colossal Cafe

BEST PEPPER DISH Habanero Hell Poppers, Chino Latino

BEST PIZZA Galactic Pizza

BEST PLACE TO EAT WITH KIDS D'Amico and Sons

BEST RESTAURANT (MINNEAPOLIS) La Belle Vie

BEST RESTAURANT (ST. PAUL) The Strip Club

BEST RESTAURANT FOR A FIRST DATE Northeast Social

BEST RESTAURANT FOR ROMANCE Forepaugh's

BEST RESTAURANT TREND House-made charcuterie

BEST RESTAURANT WHEN SOMEONE ELSE IS PAYING Corner Table

BEST RESTAURANT WORTH THE DRIVE Nosh Restaurant & Bar

BEST SANDWICH Bacon, egg, and harissa sandwich at 112 Eatery

BEST SEAFOOD RESTAURANT Sea Change

BEST SERVICE Lucia's

BEST SOUL FOOD Brasa

BEST STEAKHOUSE Mancini's Char House

BEST STREET FOOD Chef Shack

BEST STRIP CLUB LUNCH Schieks Palace Royale

BEST SUBURBAN BAR Barley John's

BEST SUNDAY BRUNCH Grand Cafe

BEST SUSHI Giapponese Sushi

BEST SWEET ROLLS Isles Bun & Coffee

BEST TACO Carne asada from Los Ocampo

BEST TAKE-HOME BREW Town Hall Brewery

BEST TAKEOUT Marla's Caribbean Cuisine

BEST TAPAS Subo

BEST TEA SHOP TeaSource

BEST THAI RESTAURANT Sen Yai Sen Lek

BEST THEMED BAR Donny Dirk's Zombie Den

BEST VEGETARIAN-FRIENDLY RESTAURANT Triple Rock Social Club

BEST VIETNAMESE RESTAURANT Saigon Restaurant and Bakery

BEST WINE BAR Kings

BEST WINE LIST Barbette

BEST WINE SHOP France 44

BEST WINGS Girvan Grille