BEST RESTAURANT (ST. PAUL)
The Strip Club
You know the rumors about strip clubs serving great steaks? Well, we haven't done too much research on the subject, but there's only one place we've found those notions to be true: the Strip Club in St. Paul, which fortunately happens to not be that sort of strip club at all. The clubby neighborhood restaurant's signature Strip Steak is grass-fed beef from Thousand Hills. Ordered medium rare, the meat has a weathered crust and a ruby core that's as smooth as ahi tuna, with a clean, juicy flavor. It seems a shame to smother something so fine, but if you want to, try the cheekily named "Whip Me, Beet Me," a mixture of horseradish cream, beets, ginger, and lime. The rest of the menu presents a similarly playful take on American cuisine that pleases and piques the palate. We'll forgive occasional missteps like the overwrought Bacon Balls—chocolate truffles with bacon, pecans, and salt served in a cloud of marshmallow-like meringue—for the genius of the Scandahuvian Bomber, which wraps smoked salmon, French fries, and watercress into a delicious, stylish bouquet, and the Cobra Kai, a rum-based cocktail with a frothy egg-white top and a hit of habanero bitters. Because the restaurant's owners are a constant presence—Tim Niver taking an order, Aaron Johnson ducking behind the bar, J.D. Fratzke in the kitchen—food and drink are served with genuine hospitality as consistently as the other kind of strip club patrons fill G-strings with dollars.