Best Of Food & Drink

  • Best Breakfast

    The Buttered Tin

    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...

  • 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...

  • Best Cure for a Hangover

    Taco Cat

    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...

  • 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...

  • 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...

  • Best Doughnuts

    Bogart's Doughnut Co.

    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...

  • Best Crawl

    Twin Cities Donut Crawl

    The first annual Twin Cities Donut Crawl took off at more of a sprinter's pace, selling out so fast organizers had to add a second day to the event. We seem to really love our halos of yeasty, cakey, crumby dough, so much so that we want to march shoulder...

  • Best Pop-Up Bakery

    Black Walnut Bakery

    This was a year of accolades for Twin Cities bakeries. Steve Horton of Rustica was once again a semi-finalist for a James Beard Award. John Kraus of Patisserie 46 placed third in the international baking competition Coupe du Monde. Meanwhile a quiet contender for some of the best baked goods...

  • Best Pop-Up Restaurant

    Brut

    It's human nature to want a sneak peek, a little inside intel before something goes public. If we're talking stocks, we're heading for jail time. But if we're talking about a preview of one of the most hotly anticipated restaurants in the Twin Cities, we're looking at sell-out-fast pop-ups that...

  • Best Brunch

    Hola Arepa

    Sunday brunch time is sacred for food industry professionals. It's the first day of their weekend (unless they're working brunch of course) and cause to celebrate. Savvy chefs tend to roll out some serious razzle dazzle, knowing their brethren are in the room. At Hola Arepa, rub elbows with the...

  • Best Bloody Mary

    Icehouse

    Five minutes into brunch at Icehouse, you'll notice an endless stream of mini-donut-topped beverages clinking forth from the bar on servers' trays. A few minutes later, you'll be dying for one of your own. Order the Bloody Homer and this spicy, savory vodka pick-me-up will be yours in minutes —...

  • Best Pancakes

    Grand Cafe

    A true story: Chef finds an Ashland County Fair cookbook filled with his own wife's grandma's recipes. He then finds a recipe for pancakes, tests it, and finds that it is the almost perfect pancake. He tinkers. He tinkers some more and a little more. Then he gets some help...

  • Best Lunch

    Tilia

    Tilia's no-reservation policy cuts both ways. Victorious, you ride high on the euphoria of snagging that last two-top. Defeated, you play the waiting game while trying not to resent the already-seated couples. Happily, lunch is no gamble, as daytime seats are plentiful in this cozy south Minneapolis eatery. Cancel your...

  • Best Neighborhood Cafe (St. Paul)

    Day By Day Cafe

    The Day By Day Cafe is many things. For cars zooming down West Seventh it's a curiosity. You can't miss its bright purple facade, nor the kaleidoscopic murals and plastic figurines as you walk inside this quirky, booth-filled restaurant (which has a lovely patio during warmer months). For locals, Day...

  • Best Neighborhood Cafe (Minneapolis)

    Lucia's

    A darling resto, a wine bar, and a grab-and-go cafe all in one Uptown strip, Lucia's triptych offers a bit of something for everyone. The Lucia's To Go side is packed with families, lunching twentysomethings, and cherubic babies kept mum by mouthfuls of warm baked goods. The wine bar's happy-hour...

  • Best Sandwiches

    Sun Street Breads

    Sandwiches are a triumph of evolution. No more ripping into raw meat with our incisors, or clawing food apart with our hands. We have a tidy, edible barrier that lets us shovel impossible numbers of flavor combinations into our faces with ease and grace. Sandwiches should be celebrated, and at...

  • Best Delicatessen

    Cecil's

    We understand that grocery shopping can be a gigantic pain in the ass, and the idea of leaving the supermarket parking lot and subjecting yourself to yet another shopping experience can seem daunting. But a little extra effort is worth it when thinly sliced kosher deli meats and an assortment...

  • Best Charcuterie

    Red Table Meat Co.

    Mike Phillips grew up on a farm, and watched in horror as the Midwest's pork supply was exported to either coast — only to be shipped back as charcuterie. Why not just make it here, right? So, Phillips paired with entrepreneur Kieran Folliard of Kieran's, the Local, Cooper Pub, and...

  • Best Restaurant Minneapolis

    La Belle Vie

    Until another comes along to knock it out of place in some serious way, LBV will continue to be the king of the hill, the one that put us on the map as a serious food city, a place where people win James Beard Awards and Zagat bestows ratings. Now...

  • Best Restaurant St. Paul

    Meritage

    In keeping with St. Paul's reputation as the sleepier of the two cities, visiting its downtown can feel like stepping back in time. Even on a Saturday night the traffic remains civil and the fashion decidedly chaste. Meritage upholds this illusion of timelessness in the best possible way. Styled after...

  • Best Chef

    Jim Christiansen, Heyday

    Lots of local chefs enjoyed a big a year in 2014, Jim Christiansen of Heyday perhaps most of all. Christiansen worked under James Beard Award-winning chef Tim McKee at La Belle Vie for nearly a decade before moving on to Sea Change and Solera and then hopping a plane to...

  • Best Service

    Robb Sandberg, Piccolo Restaurant

    Over the years, spotting Robb Sandberg working the floor of a restaurant has become an indication that, yes, you have entered the grounds of one of the most talented chefs in town. He's held posts serving at some of the best chef-driven restaurants in Minneapolis, such as D'Amico Cucina, Auriga,...

  • Best New Restaurant

    Heyday

    It's hard to predict what will make Minneapolis fall in love with a restaurant, but paying some sort of tribute to the Replacements is generally a good place to start. It certainly worked for Lyn-Lake's Heyday, a restaurant with an uncanny ability to impress and surprise, no matter how many...

  • Best Restaurant to Take Your Kids

    Tilia

    Tilia, which happens to be one of the best neighborhood restaurants in Minneapolis, also treats its tiny diners with endearment to the nth degree. Upon being booster seated, tots get a tin lunchbox full of playthings: wind-up cars, dinosaur figurines, puzzle books, scribble pads, and crayons. Even the menu is...

  • Best Restaurant Worth the Drive

    House of Curry

    If you're going to fire up the old jalopy and burn a tank of gas just for a meal that's not in your town, then the place had better be transporting. Ever been to Sri Lanka? Us either. At House of Curry, India meets the tropics, and it's like all...

  • Best Restaurant to Take Out-of-Towners

    Travail

    Travail is the Cirque du Soleil of dining. The adventure lies as much in watching the spectacle as in eating Travail's avant-garde creations. With a culinary laboratory in the center of the restaurant, the boundaries between kitchen and dining room are porous. On a typical night, the music is pumping...

  • Best Restaurant for Romance

    Foreign Legion Wine Bar

    The Twin Cities abound with date spots, but if you're looking for somewhere to really kick up the romance, Foreign Legion Wine Bar is your best bet. It's cozy but upscale, sophisticated but not stuffy. An extensive wine list along with more than a dozen tap beers and a creative...

  • Best Restaurant for a First Date

    112 Eatery

    Choosing a restaurant for a first date is tricky business. It's way too early in the game to pull out all the stops. The food should be excellent, but inexpensive; the atmosphere lively, but not too loud; the feel casual, but refined. Does such a place exist? It does. There's...

  • Best Restaurant with a View

    UNION Rooftop during a thunderstorm

    We will be the first to admit that this one is tough to pull off. Download one of those handy weather alert apps and at the first mention of a thunderstorm, instead of taking shelter, bust out of the house and make your way down Hennepin Avenue. The Union Rooftop...

  • Best Late-Night Dining

    Eli's Food & Cocktails

    Eli's opened in 1961, the same year our Vikings played their first NFL season. While the Vikes' popularity continues to wax and wane, Eli's has undying loyalty from downtowners returning in anticipation of another clean sweep with food & cocktails. As local Eli's lore goes, owners removed a pool table...

  • Best Neighborhood Bar (Minneapolis)

    CC Club

    CC Club is the dingy Minneapolis watering hole where Paul Westerberg, Tommy Stinson, and Tom Arnold all famously soaked their livers. But those were the days when the neighborhood was still an artist haven. In today's Minneapolis, CC Club has reverted to being a dive — an oasis of old-school...

  • Best Neighborhood Bar (St. Paul)

    Ward 6

    The best neighborhood bars are the ones opened by locals who wake up one morning, too sober from the night before, and declare: "Enough!" Every good neighborhood needs a good bar — if it's lacking you either choose to move or open one yourself. So Bob Parker and Eric Foster...

  • Best Happy Hour

    Sushi Tango

    If your quitting time is 3 p.m., we want an application for your job. Lots of bars try to sneak their happy hours into timeframes that would require insubordination to make. Others, like Sushi Tango, are more generous of spirit, selling inexpensive bounty at all different hours and on all...

  • Best Drunk Food

    Surly's Hog Frites

    When you're drunk and it's 1 a.m., a hot and ready Heggie's pizza can seem like divine intervention. But for drunk food that's truly "hallelujah!" and not just happenstance, we look to the beer hall kitchen at Surly's new taproom. More specifically, we look to the Hog Frites. Seasoned fries...

  • Best Bartender

    Robb Jones, Spoon and Stable

    When Gavin Kaysen came to town, guns a-blazin', he wanted to know who was at the tippy-top of their game to recruit for his little restaurant, Spoon and Stable. Not for nothing did he pluck Robb Jones to wield the golden shakers. Jones: encyclopedic memory for names and preferred cocktails,...

  • Best Sports Bar

    Bunny's

    When it comes to finding a place to watch a big game, Bunny's is a good bet, as it does a ton of stuff right. First off, its walls are plastered end-to-end in TVs. Flatscreens ring the entire bar and restaurant, and if that gets too crowded just pop over...

  • Best Dive Bar

    Half Time Rec

    There was some internal debate about whether the Half Time Rec truly constitutes a dive bar. Yes, its exterior looks like a 1934 bookie joint. And, yes, its neighborhood just east of Como Park has seen prettier days. But the evidence against its diviness would be the top-notch food currently...

  • Best Gay Bar

    19 Bar

    While some watering holes rely on over-the-top gimmicks and specials to drive business, 19 Bar, a staple of the LGBT community, has thrived for over 60 years thanks to its reputation as a friendly, laid-back bar with incredible staff and clientele. The Loring Park fixture focuses more on fun than...

  • Best Pub

    Dan Kelly's Pub

    It's no longer good enough to toss some beers and burgers on the bar, fling open the doors, and call your place a pub. Standards have grown exacting. We must have serious beers, beers that are the unamused professor, readers riding low on the tip of her nose: no-nonsense, thoughtful,...

  • Best Cocktails

    Parlour

    Sink into a cushy lounge chair or sidle up to the bar. Either way barman Jesse Held will know exactly what kind of elixir to mix up for your world-weary soul or your celebratory cheer. Held is a master of the shaker: He's taught classes on cocktail basics at the...

  • Best Martini

    Night of the Hunter, La Belle Vie

    A straight martini is the swaggering CEO of cocktaildom. It plunks down the briefcase, clacks open the clasps, and shows off a million cool ones. It means business. Things like the Cosmo have come along to try to quell its bluster, to make it easier on the masses, but the...

  • Best Margarita

    Obregon at Sonora Grill

    Most people think of the margarita as a summery, sunshine-y kind of drink. But we in the Twin Cities have plenty of dark days that also deserve celebrating, with a taco in one hand and a tequila sipper in the other. That's exactly what makes Sonora Grill's freshly squeezed, pepper-infused...

  • Best Distillery

    Du Nord Craft Spirits

    Du Nord owners Shanelle and Chris Montana previously worked in government relations and law, respectively, which probably helps explain how they became the first distillery in Minneapolis to successfully navigate the local, state, and federal red tape required to open a cocktail room. The new place feels remarkably like a...

  • Best Brewery

    Indeed Brewing Company

    Despite some solid new contestants, Indeed remains at the top of the Minnesota brewing pack for its adventurous seasonals and distinct, delicious flagships. The brewery and taproom is located smack dab in the Northeast Brew District, though you can find the beers on tap at bars and restaurants across the...

  • Best New Brewery

    Insight Brewing

    In the middle of a craft beer boom, there are many new breweries with hip new taprooms to choose from. But our ultimate criterium is always the beer. That's where Insight Brewing, which opened in northeast Minneapolis in November, leads the charge. Insight's brewers mix flavor profiles and brewing styles...

  • Best Beer Trend

    Nitro taps

    Nitro taps aren't new, but since more and more beer bars have jumped on board, it feels like they're sweeping the city. Case in point: The remodeled Town Hall has three nitro taplines in house. What's the big deal? The reduced CO2 gives beer a flatter, softer feel, making stouts...

  • Best Taproom

    Surly Beer Hall

    Since its inception, Surly has led the Minnesota craft brewing scene into a new era of beer styles. Today, its multimillion-dollar "destination brewery" in the Prospect Park neighborhood of Minneapolis shows just what kind of forward momentum the brewery has. The always packed beer hall is enormous, with long community...

  • Best Beer Selection in a Bar

    The Happy Gnome

    As the Twin Cities craft beer scene grows, this competition gets tighter. Still, few bars even come close to the beer selection at the Happy Gnome in St. Paul. While taprooms and taverns specialize in local beers, casks, and other brewed wonders, the Happy Gnome has them all, from national...

  • Best Wine List

    Spoon and Stable

    Sommelier extraordinaire Bill Summerville has worked his magic on many wine lists around town, but Spoon and Stable's collection might be his most offbeat and engaging. Housed in the rebuilt remnants of the horsey home that gave the restaurant its name, the nearly 200 bottles of wine available here were...

  • Best Local Beer

    Steel Toe's Size 7 IPA

    Beer styles, like all other art forms, are subject to trends that come and go. What makes something last long enough to become a classic in the canon? Balancing an adherence to style with innovation. Steel Toe's flagship IPA, Size 7, does just that. It's got that hopped-up goodness that...

  • Best Liquor Store

    South Lyndale Liquors

    Neighborhood liquor stores are great, but they're also a dime a dozen. Sometimes you need to get that rare beer or special wine, or need an expert to recommend the right cordial or Scotch for a special occasion. At South Lyndale there are well organized aisles of beers, whiskeys, and...

  • Best French Restaurant

    Meritage

    Classical French fundamentals have infiltrated every American style of cooking right down to Italian and Mexican. It's hard to pinpoint what's really French anymore and what isn't. So when in doubt, get back to basics. Moules frites, cassoulet "in the style of Toulouse," escargot, and the finest croque monsieur in...

  • Best Continental Cuisine

    Brasserie Zentral

    Since opening its doors in the historic Soo Line building last spring, Brasserie Zentral has taken downtown Minneapolis on a culinary jaunt through Eastern France, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, and Austria. The ambiance offers a decidedly old-world feeling, with dark wood tables, gold walls, and elegant accents; the menu is authentic...

  • Best Thai Restaurant

    On's Kitchen

    It seems wrong to give the nod for Best Thai outside the borders of Frogtown, a St. Paul neighborhood speckled with modest restaurants offering the most flavorful, authentic Indochinese cuisine in the Twin Cities. But On's Thai Cuisine Kitchen has earned its title. After cooking professionally for a quarter century,...

  • Best Italian Restaurant

    Victor's on Water

    Probably you already know what you think of as the best Italian spot, and we're not going to tangle with you because we don't want a punch to the kisser. But if you're willing to listen to a little reason in between bites of manigot, consider newcomer Victor's on Water...

  • Best Chinese Restaurant

    Far East Restaurant

    Folks in the Twin Cities go to Shakopee for a reason. Perhaps they're into betting on the horses, or seeking thrill rides and Dippin' Dots (ice cream of the past, so it would now seem), or maybe they're just into wearing corsets and yelling "Huzzah!" But if Canterbury Park, Valley...

  • Best Vietnamese Restaurant

    Trieu Chau

    It may not have a live website, more than a dozen tables, or any real ambiance to speak of, but Trieu Chau tops the list if you're looking for an adventurous, flavorful, and alarmingly filling meal that will please any ilk of eater from seasoned foodie to first-timer, and for...

  • Best Korean Restaurant

    Dong Hae

    We're relatively starved for good Korean around here, especially a Korean restaurant that serves booze and at least makes attempts at fashionable digs. The big old Nami space downtown, now home to Dong Hae, is practically begging for you to visit: Korean-style crispy chicken wings, incendiary kimchee stew, piquant bulgogi,...

  • Best Sushi

    Origami

    The best sushi comes down to the highest quality fish and the most skilled chefs. Origami, with locations in Uptown and downtown Minneapolis, has both. The expertly assembled nigiri, with plump cuts of fresh tuna, salmon, and mackerel shaped around perfect mounds of vinegar rice, stay in one piece (no...

  • Best Mexican Restaurant

    Maya Cuisine

    From the street, Maya Cuisine in Northeast communicates little more than the no-frills facade of just another Mexican joint. But inside, corn tortillas are hand-crafted and fried and tamales are wrapped in giant banana leaves and corn husks. Diners shuffle along a spread of roasted meats, spicy salsas, and steaming...

  • Best Tacos

    Taqueria Los Ocampo

    For authentic tacos — the kind you'd get from a Michoacan street vendor, doubled up with warm corn tortillas and bursting with juicy roasted or chile-braised meats, topped simply with onion, cilantro, radish slices, and a squeeze of lime — you have to shop around. And we have. Taqueria Los...

  • Best Greek Restaurant

    Christos

    Classic foods call for classic menus, and mainstay Christos, open since 1988, delivers all the expected Greek food without straying too far from tradition. The falafel is crunchy, the tzatziki fresh, and the gyros are the perfect combination of warm, soft pita and redolent, spiced meats. Best yet, it's cheap...

  • Best Greek Restaurant

    Christos

    Classic foods call for classic menus, and mainstay Christos, open since 1988, delivers all the expected Greek food without straying too far from tradition. The falafel is crunchy, the tzatziki fresh, and the gyros are the perfect combination of warm, soft pita and redolent, spiced meats. Best yet, it's cheap...

  • Best Indian Restaurant

    Darbar

    Too often, at even the best ethnic places, you must choose between atmosphere and eats. You want to eat well, but you'll have to do it under the glow of fluorescent lights in a far-flung suburb and with industrial carpeting underfoot. Darbar lets you have your curry and bask in...

  • Best Ethiopian Restaurant

    Fasika

    A spicy cuisine built around lentils, beans, and a flavorful array of spice combinations, Ethiopian food is a perfect foil for Minnesota winters. And there's no better place to sweat away the winter chill than Fasika. Located just off the Green Line at the University/Snelling intersection at the center of...

  • Best Soul Food

    Brasa

    A delegation of African-American church ladies descend on Brasa, hats and all, and ask to see the chef. When Alex Roberts emerges, they fall all over themselves with laughter, convinced they're being played. Nope. It's the slim, athletic white guy with the deep reverence for Southern cuisines of the Americas...

  • Best International Grocery

    Holy Land

    Minnesotans sometimes need a break from our hot dish, lutefisk, Spam, and (gasp!) even the walleye. When that time comes, there's no better smorgasbord to explore than that at Holy Land Deli. With locations in Northeast and at Midtown Global Market, their spread of fresh Middle East olives, meats, cheeses,...

  • Best Urban Farm

    Stone's Throw Farm

    Stone's Throw Farm is transforming the Twin Cities' urban landscape, one empty lot at a time. Using organic practices, Stone's Throw grows over 50 varieties of heirloom and hybrid vegetables, dozens of herbs, and an assortment of flowers. Since 2011 they've converted 14 vacant lots in south Minneapolis, Frogtown, and...

  • Best Natural Foods Grocery

    Mississippi Market

    Like so many tender spring buds, co-op grocery stores sprouted up in the Twin Cities in the 1970s. Mississippi Market was part of that first crop, opening in 1979. Since then, the craze for natural foods has boomeranged back and forth, but the St. Paul-based market has staying power with...

  • Best Place to Buy Local Food

    Local D'Lish

    As Minnesotans, we take great pride in all things local, and for regional foods, there is no better selection than that of Local D'Lish. Situated in the Warehouse District, the locally owned and operated grocery store is stocked with products almost entirely grown and produced in Minnesota or the Midwest...

  • Best Farmers Market

    Mill City Farmers Market

    A visit to this farmers market, held every Saturday in the summer since 2006 (with periodic winter markets since 2012), is an outing, not an errand. It spills out of a plaza at the Mill City Museum, nestles up to the towering architectural beauty that is the Guthrie Theater, and...

  • Best Vegetarian Fare

    Modern Times

    Big on selection but small on price, Modern Times is the perfect breakfast, brunch, or lunch spot for those craving vegetarian, gluten-free, or vegan fare. The kitchen churns out a fantastic assortment of sandwiches, salads, and other comfort food favorites, and yes, they do offer a number of options for...

  • Best Gluten-Free Menu

    Sassy Spoon

    For celiac disease sufferers, a typical restaurant menu is a gluten minefield — crusty wheat bread, flour-thickened soups, pasta, and gut-gouging beer. Blessed are eateries with clearly marked gluten-free offerings, but Sassy Spoon has leveled up by eliminating any risk of cross-contamination. No intestine-offending wheat, rye, barley, or triticale proteins...

  • Best Burger (Cheffed Up)

    Paddy Shack at The Halftime Rec

    There are certain chefs, of a certain age, who were raised when a fast-food burger was synonymous with dinner. Working mothers weren't setting out hot dinners; instead, these '70s moms were piling the brood in the back of the grocery-getter and hauling ass through the drive-thru. Before you bust out...

  • Best Burger (Classic)

    Blue Door Blucy

    Some legends are born simply. Two guys work in a bar. The beer is pretty good; the burgers not so much. In between shifts they scheme. Why not give the Twin Cities what they didn't know they were missing? Hell, why not build a business around it? And so they...

  • Best Veggie Burger

    Thai Tempeh Burger at Modern Times

    When a veggie burger is the only suitable option on a menu, that's generally a signal that a restaurant isn't putting much thought into accommodating its non-meat-eating customers. At Modern Times that couldn't be further from the truth. Their house-made Thai tempeh burger takes its inspiration from a flavorful traditional...

  • Best Cheap Eats

    World Street Kitchen

    A good cheap meal isn't a good cheap meal if it feels cheap, now is it? And what, exactly, qualifies as cheap? It can't set you back more than the roll of quarters you need to tackle that mountain of laundry. And the resulting meal should keep your thoughts away...

  • Best Fried Chicken

    Revival

    There are a handful of other foodstuffs that incite the frenzied devotion that good fried chicken does, and they're also Americana at its truest: burgers, pizza, maybe doughnuts. It's simple, everyman's food, yet it can also be abstruse; it's so difficult to get right every time. Revival, the newest venture...

  • Best French Fries

    Lake & Irving

    Like pizza, beer, and sex, they're good even when they're not, but when they're good, they're worth driving for. Cracker crunch on the outside, pillowy as down within — why is the perfect fry so difficult to come by? At Lake and Irving, they're always hand-cut, always cooked to precision,...

  • Best Fries (Alternative)

    Brasa's Crispy Yuca

    It's time for a tuber revolution. Good fries live or die by their texture and potatoes, god love 'em, are just plain unreliable in that department. But Brasa's crispy yuca nails it. While technically billed as a side dish, we're not fooled. A steaming basket of snowy white wedges arrives...

  • Best Wings

    Dong Hae

    Nothing like the buttermilk-battered, thick-crusted pieces of bird that come in a bucket, the flats and drummies at Dong Hae are petite things, with a parchment-crisp exterior coming from the skin itself, benefiting greatly from a dredge in seasoned cornstarch. A quick bath in a piquant sauce that marries garlic,...

  • Best Chili

    Cafe Latté Chicken Salsa Chili

    Comfort food cravings hit hard once winter rolls around. Cafe Latté, a St. Paul institution since 1984, figured this out a long time ago. The cafeteria-style restaurant serves a rotating selection of salads, soups, and desserts, with a chosen few that remain on the menu year-round. Consider them our Minnesota...

  • Best Pizza

    Red Wagon Pizza

    Pizza preference can bring otherwise genteel, thinking folk to near fisticuffs. You like that Neopolitan sag? Sick! Cracker thin and crispy? Boring! Deep dish? Don't even talk to me. But here's the thing with Red Wagon: They've made a pizza that almost nobody can argue with. There's a crisp-chew on...

  • Best State Fair Food

    O'Gara's Pretzel Curds

    Their fleshy bodies snake around the food building in hopes of getting their hot little hands wrapped around a big, grease-stained bucket. Of course we speak of Minnesotans, and we speak of cheese curds. Last year, there was a new curd in town: O'Gara's, in a why-didn't-I-think-of-that move, coated curds...

  • Best Peanut Butter

    Buddy's Peanut Butter

    Will we ever outgrow our nostalgic fondness for peanut butter? Andrew Kincheloe, creator of the locally made, small-batch Buddy's Peanut Butters, is betting no. Shortly after graduating from St. Thomas in 2012, the brazen entrepreneur set out to create the best possible version of the product we all know and...

  • Best Hot Dog

    The Wienery

    It's not just Vienna beef franks we've come to love from the Wienery, it's the toppings with combinations like mayonnaise, cheese, and sauerkraut tucked into a soft poppy-seed bun and named the "Hairy Brain." Or the "Upsetter," made with bacon, egg, and cheese over a spicy Italian sausage. Or the...

  • Best Chocolate

    Mademoiselle Miel

    Good things come in small packages. In the case of Mademoiselle Miel, good things come in sleek, sexy, gold-embossed packages, the kind that purr, "Why don't you let me do the wooing?" It's not hard with chocolate like this. Slide open a box to find a row of tiny secret...

  • Best Ice Cream

    Izzy's

    Just like our rapidly multiplying local breweries, there's an exciting small-batch ice cream scene in development. But don't write off the old guys. Izzy's has been an ice cream innovator, proudly standing at the crossroads of flavor and technology, since opening its doors 15 years ago. Izzy's hosts an annual...

  • Best Dessert

    Spoon & Stable

    As though a toddler dropped an armload of tinker toys that landed just ever so prettily, Diane Yang's pastry presentations are a fun clattering of geometry, mouthfeel, and color: sticky triangles of fudge brownie, lush circles of mousse, airy cigarettes of meringue, broken shards of hazelnut praline, nubs of fragrant...

  • Best Steak

    Libertine

    We were dubious of a modernized chophouse concept in the former Cafeteria space in Uptown. But with Tim McKee's steady hand, things fell into place for Libertine — particularly with the menu of unexpected cuts of meat and their consistent, perfect execution. Recognizing that folks with pocketbooks of all sizes...

  • Best Seafood

    Kyatchi

    The world being what it is, we can no longer go along, blithely eating endangered Bluefin Tuna out of one hand and Atlantic Cod out of the other like a rally of ravaging pirates. Food needs to be more conscientious if we want to keep eating things at all. Kyatchi...

  • Best Kickstarter

    Herbivorous Butcher

    Seems the oxymoronic phrase "vegan butchershop" has near-universal appeal for getting ears to prick up and pocketbooks to crack. The vegan chef bro/sis duo behind Herbivorous Butcher has been heckled by Jimmy Fallon, interviewed by the BBC, and has applied their animal protein-free recipes to everything from lunch meat to...

  • Best Scandal

    Grapegate

    Who could forget when the New York Times cast big, grape-flavored aspersions on the state of Minnesota? Around Thanksgiving 2014, the Gray Lady bestowed each state with its own signature dish for the holiday feast: turkey platters, cranberry sauces, pies. Would Minnesota bear the standard of a wild rice hot...

  • Best Patio

    W.A. Frost And Company

    There are patios on which to see and be seen, and there are sidewalk dining areas where one can feel a part of the bustling city. But when we're looking to escape the madding crowd and experience a refined, relaxed outdoor meal, we head to W.A. Frost. Tucked behind the...

  • Best New Food Trend

    Restaurant in a Restaurant

    Those who say fine dining is dead need only look a little deeper. Savvy chefs know that people need their burgers, yes. They must have their local beer, eggs their way, a steak and potato. So savvy chefs give the people what they must have. But those same chefs must...

  • Best-Kept Secret

    Shega Foods

    "What's for dinner?" It's the age-old question that never seems to get answered in any satisfying and definitive way, like "What happens to us after we die?" We just keep rehashing it and getting only a fraction of the definitive answer. When you're asking yourself that dinner question, as you...

  • Best Food Neighborhood

    Downtown Minneapolis

    The past decade has seen a wave of top chefs nesting in quaint neighborhoods (Piccolo) or riding the Warehouse District's transition into the chic North Loop (Bachelor Farmer, Borough) or even trekking out to the 'burbs (Travail). This year we're celebrating the return of trendy downtown dining. Of course, plenty...

  • Best Food Truck Turned Brick-and-Mortar

    Hola Arepa

    Not so long ago, Twin Cities diners were largely (woefully) oblivious to the glory that is the arepa. Now we can't stop thinking about them. One cheery little blue truck is to thank for that: Hola Arepa's addictive meat- and salsa-stuffed corn cakes were such popular food truck fare, owners...

  • Best Food Truck

    Hot Indian Foods

    Also call Hot Indian Foods "best collaboration" because when Amol Dixit took his leave from General Mills he had a formidable arsenal of branding expertise, along with a deep and abiding love of Indian cuisine. What he didn't have was cooking chops. In one of those strokes of perfect time...

  • Best Suburban Eats

    Sushi Fix

    Top-notch sushi and bottles of Japanese whiskey that cost more than your monthly grocery bill — you'd expect that kind of sophistication to come with a skyline. But out in Wayzata? Believe it. Sushi Fix, another food truck turned brick-and-mortar, is the sweetheart of this western suburb of Minneapolis, and...

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