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Best Of 2015


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Best Of :: Food & Drink

Best Breakfast
The Buttered Tin
Photo by E. Katie Holm

Any breakfast joint worth its grits needs a hash slinger (or three) with the talent, speed, and exact cooking skills to kick out the perfect egg every time. The cheery Buttered Tin café and bakery in Lowertown nails it, serving both breakfast and lunch from open to close. The best seller is TBT's huevos rancheros Benedict, served with scratch ranchero sauce, jalapeño cornbread, avocado, cilantro-lime sour cream, and two poached eggs. The "Damn-Good Egg Sandwich" is inspired by Adam Sandler's character in Spanglish, a chef who prepares a deliciously goopy, run-down-your-arm, sunny-side-up egg sammy. Sweet tooth? Don't miss the Bananas Foster French toast with rum-flamed bananas, maple pecans, and whipped cream. And make sure to try one of the daily special pastries from TBT's bakery case — they'll likely sell out before close because the sweets here are just as good as the eats.

237 7th Street E., Saint Paul, 55101
Best Diner
Cook St. Paul

Less than one year ago, Eddie Wu and his former business partner took over a 67-year-old all-American diner on Payne Avenue. Other than a fresh coat of paint and menu revisions including Wu's take on a few Korean-inspired dishes, the place remains that neighborhood institution. Standout winners for breakfast include short ribs Benedict and the French cake stack topped with Duroc bacon, eggs, and bread pudding. Or try the local favorite: Korean pancakes made with yellow beans, sausage, spicy cabbage, and bean sprouts served with poached eggs. But first, order the Bi Bim Bop, delivered in a large serving bowl with a colorful presentation of crispy rice balls under a bed of chopped romaine hearts and a variety of Korean-flavored seasonal vegetables (including Cook's house-made kimchi), topped with a poached egg. Be sure to request Wu's own Korean-recipe condiment to streak over any savory dish on the menu. But beware: The special sauce packs more heat than a delicate Minnesota palate might comfortably endure. Game on.

1124 Payne Ave., St. Paul, 55130
Best Cure for a Hangover

If for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, then indulge your brown-bag-fever sloth and count on Taco Cat's industrious, pedal-powered delivery service. You'll bring order to the universe, and their breakfast burrito will bring you back to the land of the living — if last night's festivities left you feeling less than human. Dial the number, order your potato, egg, bean, and cheese burrito (with meat or veggies if you choose), and they deliver to your door in 40 minutes or less.

920 E. Lake St., Minneapolis, 55407
Best Coffee Shop
Five Watt Coffee

There's no shortage of good coffee shops in Kingfield, but as soon as Bull Run alums Caleb Garn and Lee Carter opened Five Watt, the neighborhood realized it actually had been missing something all along: an all-knowing unicorn named Fred. The whimsical beast and official shop mascot makes occasional appearances to dispense wisdom and fields queries on the shop's Facebook page. In between visits Five Watt's super-accommodating staff does a bang-up job of answering questions and matching customers' tastes to their ideal cup of Joe. Using beans and blends from Kickapoo Coffee, unique simple syrups flavored with things like juniper and allspice, and bitters from Fee Brothers and Bittercube, these guys combine the best parts of both coffee and cocktail culture sans the pretense, plus a Sunday oatmeal bar. Try the spicy and sweet Busy Beaver, a creamy espresso drink punched up with maple syrup, blackstrap bitters, and cracked pepper.

3745 Nicollet Ave S., Minneapolis, 55409
Best Bakery
Patisserie 46

We hereby nominate Patisserie 46 as the prototype for the neighborhood bakery. Warm and inviting, this Kingfield gem is hopping, but you somehow always manage to snag a seat. Before you do, you'll linger in front of the pastry case, mouth agape. How can such an unpretentious place be filled with such exquisite French pastries? Chocolate éclairs, salted caramel macarons, and tiny Technicolor cakes that contain untold treasures within. You're looking at the work of a confectionary genius. (No joke. Chef John Kraus and his team just took home the bronze in one of the world's biggest pastry competitions.) Yet there's also an array of cookies, muffins, and coffee cakes, homespun treats to stir up Midwestern nostalgia. Patisserie 46 is utterly elegant, yet approachable. Every neighborhood deserves a bakery this special.

4552 Grand Ave. S., Minneapolis, 55419
Best Doughnuts

Don't be surprised if you see a "sold out" sign on the door of this south Minneapolis neighborhood bakery. And don't be mad, either. Owner Anne Rucker wants to keep her operation small, a throwback to the days before 24-hour service. The result is a charming, clean little storefront that fills up with early birds and clears out by afternoon. The doughnuts (spelled that way for emphasis on the dough, a brioche style that makes Bogart's so distinctive) are made fresh every day. With just a half dozen flavors to choose from, you won't be overwhelmed with choices and you won't find a dud in the bunch. From the revelatory brown-butter glazed to the sugar-crusted, Nutella-filled brioche doughnuts, Rucker has struck bakery gold — no wonder they fly out of the case.

36th St. W. & Bryant Ave. S., Minneapolis, 55408

Best Breakfast: The Buttered Tin


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