Download our Free Best Of App

Food & Drink

  • BEST ADDITION TO THE BREAKFAST SCENE

    Victor's

    Even though some of us are still bitter about last year's demise of Rick's Ol' Time Café, Victor's is garnering a larger following with each passing month. There's plenty of standard yanqui breakfast fare, but the Cuban entrées are the real reason to get out of bed to beat the crowd to this trailer-sized neighborhood fixture. You can have your… More >>
  • BEST APPLE ORCHARD

    Emma Krumbee's

    Yeah, okay, this Best of the Twin Cities pick isn't in--or even really near--the Twin Cities. But cut us some slack: Emma Krumbee's is worth driving a few miles out of the way. Set on 45 acres about halfway to Mankato near scenic Belle Plaine, this operation has all the amenities you'd expect: wagon rides, cider sampling, homemade apple pies,… More >>
  • BEST ASIAN GROCERY

    United Noodles

    Make your own maki? United Noodles sports ten varieties of nori. There are aisles of cookies, crackers, and canned goods, plus Asian seafood and produce you won't find anywhere else in town. The staff is pleasant and helpful--which comes in handy when you're in no shape to discern one kind of noodle from another, or to gauge which rice-paper wrappers… More >>
  • BEST BAGELS

    Big City Bagels

    Bagels aren't that complex a foodstuff, so why are there so few good ones west of the Hudson River? A bagel lover in these parts must simply make do, taste-testing the local offerings, compromising, always compromising, and then, inevitably prevailing upon a loved one who's traveling to New York City to bring back the real thing. Then along comes Big… More >>
  • BEST BAKERY

    Turtle Bread

    The more widely we taste of the world's bread, the more convinced we are that Turtle Bread isn't merely the best bakery in town, it might well be one of the best bakeries on Earth. Case in point: Last fall we were in Paris and had the chance to swing by Poilane, widely reputed to offer the best boule (a… More >>
  • BEST BARBECUE

    Ted Cook's

    Drive south on Minnehaha, drooling. Peel around the corner onto 38th Street, trembling. Pull up in front of Ted Cook's short of breath, heart pounding like a jittery drum. Cross the threshold into the fluorescent-lighted meat emporium. Do they have--are they out of--can I order--Yes, you're in luck. The angels of barbecue have smiled upon you. There's beef left. Moist,… More >>
  • BEST BISCUITS AND GRAVY

    Sunnyside Up's - CLOSED

    If a double shot of protein is your idea of the world's best breakfast, then Sunnyside Up's rendition of this mammoth Southern favorite will be manna. It's structured around two fairly dainty, flaky biscuits that couldn't taste more like butter if they were actually croissants. They arrive split, each hugging a poached egg and smothered with gravy so dark and… More >>
  • BEST BREAD

    Peter Kelsey's bread empire

    The real reason we're not a cold Omaha has nothing to do with the Twins and everything to do with basic quality-of-life issues like being able to get a great loaf of bread everywhere you turn. And with the continued expansion of Peter Kelsey's bread empire, we've got that quality-of-life issue covered. Not just available at every co-op (where previously… More >>
  • BEST BREAKFAST

    The Egg and I

    They will accommodate granola-and-egg-white-only appetites, but why not pretend you're on the protein diet for a few hours? Go for the gooey Vagabond skillet with eggs, potatoes, ham, onions, mushrooms, and cheese ($6.25), or any of the several varieties of made-from-scratch pancakes. Also recommended is the French Wrap ($5.39)--two slices of thick French toast filled with some kind of delicious,… More >>
  • BEST BURGERS

    St. Paul Grill - CLOSED

    Many a vegetarian has fallen off the wagon dreaming of a perfect burger. And frankly, constant carnivores could learn a thing or two from our lettuce-loving friends: Burgers shouldn't be taken for granted. They shouldn't be consumed with uniform, unappreciative abandon whereby every gray patty of meat with a pickle next to it is judged roughly equivalent. A good argument… More >>
  • BEST BURRITOS

    El Burrito Mercado

    Shreds of chicken drenched in fiery chiles; beef, roasted and then stewed, as rich as barbecue; chunks of pork in sweet red roasted-poblano chile sauce; sizzled strips of steak with roasted tomatoes; chunks of pork in zingy tomatillo sauce with potatoes... Confronting the ever-changing steam trays in the cafeteria line at El Burrito Mercado can make you swoon with possibilities--and… More >>
  • BEST CANDY STORE

    Candyland

    Your nose is the first thing that alerts you to your impending arrival at Candyland. As soon as you're within a block of the place, you smell fresh-made popcorn. In fact, popcorn is Candyland's biggest seller: They go through almost 200 pounds of popcorn a day. A St. Paul institution since 1932, Candyland has got the goods to satisfy any… More >>
  • BEST CARIBBEAN RESTAURANT

    The Twin Cities may not be known as a Caribbean-food hot spot, but there are actually quite a few good options: Go to low-key Puerta Azul for pernil asado and other home-style Puerto Rican specialties; head to hot and sassy, cafeteria-style West Indies Soul for extraordinary jerk chicken; hit upscale Café Havana for attractive seafood and gorgeous décor; and don't… More >>
  • BEST CHEAP EATS

    Three-dollar falafel at Sahib's. Vietnamese hoagies at Quang for $1.75. Pork buns for two bucks at Trieu Chau. Five dollars for an entire Mexican meal at Tacos Morelos, El Mariachi, and Los Gallos. The same price for Vietnamese noodle feasts at Pho Tau Bay, Phuong Cafe, Vientiane, and the aforementioned Quang. If you can't buy somebody lunch along this stretch… More >>
  • BEST CHEESE SELECTION

    Surdyk's

    Thank God for monks. Along with their other frugal toils (prayer, bird feeding, and the like) we must also credit the monastic brothers of old with civilizing cheese. Sure, Charlemagne loved his bloomy Bries, and Remus suckled on wolf's-teat fontinas, but it was berobed medieval men leading lives of quiet contemplation who established as holy the marriage of milk and… More >>
  • BEST CHICKEN WINGS

    Buffalo Wild Wings

    This bird doesn't do tricks. There are no "flames" to select from (one flame="sizzling," two flames="scorching," etc.). There are no flavors of the day, no stunt sauces. Just a good excuse, for only $6.95, to order another cold beer. Basted with a subtle, teriyaki glaze, these wings are slow-cooked until the skin turns to caramel. A simple three-mustard sauce accents… More >>
  • BEST CHINESE RESTAURANT

    Big Bowl

    One would rather root, root, root for the home team than pick the out-of-state ringer--in this case Big Bowl, a chain restaurant imagineered by bigwig foodie Bruce Cost and owned by the gargantuan, Chicago-based Lettuce Entertain You. But we've got to call them like we see them: Local favorites Rainbow Chinese, Shuang Chen, Village Wok, and promising newcomer Hong Kong… More >>
  • BEST CHOCOLATE

    B.T. McElrath

    We know material gifts aren't supposed to play any part in true love, but, see, this one time we got a B.T. McElrath chocolate flower-box, which is a special box cast entirely out of dark chocolate and resembling a daisy. (If a daisy was a dark-brown glossy box.) And when we lifted off the lid, the box was filled with… More >>
  • BEST COFFEE (BY THE POUND)

    Dunn Bros

    On any day, you can walk into any Dunn Bros and find a selection of coffee beans that were roasted right there on the premises that very morning. The busier shops, such as the one on Grand and Snelling avenues in St. Paul, roast every variety of bean they sell, every day, so you can be sure that from the… More >>
  • BEST COFFEE HOUSE

    The depot Coffeehouse

    At this former Hopkins train depot, your caffeine cravings benefit the community: The place was turned into a java joint through the efforts of some Hopkins High School students determined to provide a safe, chemical-free gathering place for teens from around the metro. The Depot offers friendly service, ample indoor and outdoor seating, a local-band showcase on Thursday, Friday, and… More >>
  • BEST DELICATESSEN

    Zaroff's place

    What's a deli doing in a Minnetonka mall? Shut up and have some coleslaw (gratis when you walk in the door) or a half-sour pickle. Now peruse the menu: The matzoh-ball chicken soup is complex and delightful, the cabbage rolls stuffed to bulging. Lox is rich, potato pancakes meaty. As for us, we can't resist the pastrami sandwich. At lesser… More >>
  • BEST DIM SUM

    My Le Hoa - CLOSED

    Everyone's got their own favorite spot for dim sum inside My Le Hoa (pronounced "may lee WAH"). Some stake out tables near the kitchen door so that they can pounce the minute a cart bursts in bearing hot fried crab claws, smoky, five-spice quail, or steaming, pork-filled banana-leaf pockets. Others head for a table toward the back, so kids can… More >>
  • BEST DINER

    Band Box

    Chuck Berry's classic "Back in the USA" celebrates a return from foreign lands that, among other things, lack diners "where hamburgers sizzle on an open grill night and day." No question Chuck would dig the Band Box. The resilient, funky, cramped Elliot Park neighborhood landmark offers six counter seats with a grill view, and four small tables. Two eggs, American… More >>
  • BEST DOUGHNUTS

    There is a stretch of Johnson Street not far from I-35W that appears virtually untouched by time. An actual barber shop--i.e., not a salon--advertises with an actual striped pole. A neighborhood café serves lime phosphates and all-you-can-eat fries. A thrift store that hasn't succumbed to trendiness sells merchandise at prices that are thrifty. And in the middle of it all… More >>
  • BEST DRIVE-IN

    Wagner's

    Many commuters might not notice Wagner's as they whiz along Highway 7. The little red and white burger hut is parked on the southern frontage road, and you can't leave the main drag precisely at the spot--you have to exit early or late at Louisiana or Texas Avenue. But it's worth the side trip, if only for the rare experience… More >>
  • BEST ETHIOPIAN RESTAURANT

    Blue Nile

    The African-restaurant scene is finally, belatedly picking up steam: Over the past couple of years, small mom-and-pop operations have been springing up all over the Twin Cities, and some, like Cedar-Riverside's Addis Ababa, show real promise. Still, the Blue Nile, the granddaddy of them all, remains ruler of the roost. First among its many virtues is the injera: Here, the… More >>
  • BEST FISH MARKET

    Coastal Seafoods

    Thanks to traffic patterns and Coastal Seafoods, we get our fish faster than most New Yorkers. Squid, crab, and oysters, too. At first glance Coastal's two retail outlets are underwhelming, small shops featuring small display cases, a few dry goods and frozen items. The selection is limited--until you consider that those glistening hunks of snapper, salmon, and tuna were real… More >>
  • BEST FRENCH RESTAURANT

    un deux trois

    Minnesota loves Italy with a fire and a passion that knows no bounds--but France we regard with chilly suspicion. Why? No one knows, but at this point we've got the restaurants we deserve: Often excellent but sometimes heartless café un deux trois (why the overpriced wine list and tasteless frites?), promising Yvette's, unreliable Tulips, unambitious Pierre's Bistro, uninspired Chez Colette.… More >>
  • BEST FRESH PRODUCE

    The Wedge Co-op

    Everybody knows you can walk into any old supermarket to find an apple, a carrot, or a head of lettuce. Or stroll into one of the Twin Cities' more upscale, carpeted emporiums to find the raw materials for an exotic fruit plate or salad. But the Wedge is in another league entirely. It seems that whenever we enter the produce… More >>
  • BEST FRIED CHICKEN

    Lucille's

    Lucille's is a deft master operating in a field of midgets. If you haven't experienced the joy of Lucille's chicken, here's the drill: Having been sure to allot 25 minutes for the preparation of your quarter-bird, you arrive at the drab north-side strip mall, snag a table, and order your chicken: $7.25 for dark meat, $8.25 for white, an additional… More >>
  • BEST FRIES

    The Wienery

    If you look into your heart of hearts, you'll be forced to admit that McDonald's fries really aren't all that great anymore. You do know that, don't you? Granted, they used to, but it all ended during the Bush era when they stopped adding beef tallow to their oil, and now their fries are as tasteless as every other batch… More >>
  • BEST GERMAN RESTAURANT

    Like Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Moriarty, like Godzilla and Mothra, like cats and dogs, Schumacher's and the Black Forest are locked in a battle to the death--who will win the love of the people? And will St. Paul newcomer Glockenspiel topple them both? Maybe one day, but for the time being, sauerbraten lovers have to choose between a long trek… More >>
  • BEST GOURMET GROCERY

    Surdyk's

    We always try to avoid honoring an establishment in more than one category, but in Surdyk's case we've got to make an exception. Elsewhere in this section, we extol this tiny gourmet shop--an annex to Surdyk's landmark Nordeast liquor store--for its way with the fermented curd (see Best Cheese Selection). Here they get the nod for their all-around gourmetitude. The… More >>
  • BEST GREEK RESTAURANT

    Christos

    Great ethnic restaurants flourish along Nicollet, but Christos was here long before the "Eat Street" hype. In this clean, well-lighted spot, you couldn't go wrong if you pointed at the menu blindfolded. The hummus ($5.15) is smooth and garlicky, the saganaki (kasseri cheese flamed with brandy and doused with lemon, $6.25) creamy-crisp in a crème-brûlée sort of way. For the… More >>
  • BEST HOMEMADE PASTA

    Delmonico's Italian Food

    As long as we've been going there, walking into Delmonico's Italian Food has meant running into George and Louis Delmonico. We always thought of George and Louis, once proclaimed "Best Little Old Men" in this very publication, as the Click and Clack of neighborhood grocers: two chaps who were funny enough to get away with laughing at their own banter,… More >>
  • BEST HOT DOGS

    Joey D's,

    Vienna waits for you--Vienna beef, that is--at Joey D's, where kick-ass made-to-order dogs aren't the only homage to the Windy City. The street-corner ambiance, the sports paraphernalia, the umbrella-shaded patio tables, even the amiable stoicism of the staff seems intended to transport franchise-frustrated Minnesotans to the land of Bulls, Bears, and Blackhawks. Gyros, Italian beef, pizza, and all manner of… More >>
  • BEST ICE CREAM PARLOR

    Sebastian Joe's

    From the basic (chocolate) to the creative (Pavarotti--caramel, banana, chocolate chip) to the strange (roasted garlic chocolate chip), Sebastian Joe's is your can't-miss choice for freshly made ice cream. With about 20 assorted flavors offered each day--they vary seemingly according to whim--there's always a new delight for your sweet tooth, whether it's a white licorice shake ($3.60), a Chocolate Cha… More >>
  • BEST INDIAN GROCERY

    maharaja

    While the megastores have finally gotten hip to the Twin Towns' maturing tastes, adding "international" sections to their repertoire, when it comes time to lay in the Indian supplies, Asia Imports remains the maharaja. This friendly shop is packed with spices, rices, and chutneys. There are dozens of masala mixes, jars upon jars of curry paste, vacuum-packed bags of crushed… More >>
  • BEST INDIAN RESTAURANT

    India Palace

    Nearly all Twin Cities-area Indian restaurants are pan-Indian, preferring to serve all dishes from all regions rather than to concentrate on a single strength. Consequently, savvy fans of Indian cuisine learn to tease out the various kitchens' strengths: Passage to India in Uptown has extraordinary breads; Udupi in Columbia Heights has the best dosai around, as well as the biggest… More >>
  • BEST ITALIAN GROCERY

    Buon Giorno - CLOSED

    Lynne Rossetto Kasper, public radio's high priestess of food, swears by this grocery, and with good reason: Buon Giorno is as close to Italy as you're bound to get in this neck of the prairie. If the assortment of Mediterranean staples ain't enough to make your head spin, get a load of the cheese case, where you can choose from… More >>
  • BEST ITALIAN RESTAURANT (CHEAP)

    Cossetta's

    Is it the latitude? The longitude? When did Minnesotans collectively decide that "Italian" is synonymous with "perfect"? Anytime pink winter tomatoes show up next to some slightly fresh mozzarella there's dancing in the streets. We toyed with suggesting that you just head for the farmers' market--figuring that you can eat a lot better for a lot cheaper at home than… More >>
  • BEST ITALIAN RESTAURANT (NOT CHEAP)

    Luci

    Linguini lunchers love Luci! So do insalata lovers too, and, most likely, Lambrusco lappers too. Hey, it's hard not to babble when singing the praises of this sister act. Focused, attentive, enviably consistent Daniella Smith puts out Southern Italian dishes in which the fresh and the potent run loops around each other--the woman does things with prosciutto and pasta that… More >>
  • BEST JAPANESE RESTAURANT

    Origami

    There's no more satisfying feeling than sitting at an Origami table while a server pours one of owner Kiminobu Ichikawa's favorite sakes, for he or she will pour until the glass overflows, the tradition for good luck. Said good luck comes fast and furious in the shape of feather-light tempura, zesty salads, scrupulously well-made sushi, and noodle dishes with all… More >>
  • BEST JUICE BAR

    Asase Yaa - CLOSED

    Not your average juice bar, Asase Yaa is an odd confluence of vegetable juices and fruit smoothies, African tribal masks and traditional Ghanaian songs. Where else could you find a batik tunic or beaded necklace and an orange smoothie with a shot of bee pollen? Open almost two years, the small storefront in northeast Minneapolis (the name, pronounced ah-SAH-see-yah, means… More >>
  • BEST KOLACHES

    Kramarczuk's

    If you've been living on nothing but fat-free Entenmann's from the grocery store, tread carefully here. The epiphany one of Kramarczuk's warm-from-the-oven kolaches tends to provoke might cause the more feeble among you to slip into a catatonic state reversible only with the help of a steady diet of more kolaches. An Eastern European yeast bun that's something like what… More >>
  • BEST KOREAN RESTAURANT

    Watching this little restaurant grow has been one of the more obscure delights of Twin Cities life over the past few years. Proprietors Sunny and Pong Kim started out a couple of years ago serving a handful of excellent dishes in a run-down storefront on Snelling. Flash forward to 2000 and discover a menu filled with absolute treasures--the salted, grilled… More >>
  • BEST LATINO GROCERY

    Shelves with icons of the Virgin Mary, beautiful wooden furniture, maracas, and items too numerous to mention? Check. Cafeteria-style food service providing burritos as fat as cactus plants, tamales as spicy as Tijuana taxi drivers, horchata as sweet as piñata candy, and the best tortillas, guacamole, and sweet breads in a thousand-mile radius? Check. Aisle after aisle stacked with Mexican… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL CHEF

    Tim McKee

    Yes, we get hate mail all year because of this category alone. And yes, we do understand the limitations: All our experiences with local chefs are buggered--er, buffered--by local service staffs, and we know there may well be a genius chef reading this who we have unfairly concluded can't serve food to temperature. With that caveat, it is our contention… More >>
  • BEST MEXICAN BAKERY

    Marissa's

    There's nothing fancy about Marissa's. You walk in, grab a tray and a pair of tongs and start piling up the pastry. The panque de chocolate is a dense pound cake with chocolate frosting, while the perky besos are perfectly sweet with apricot-jam filling. Room for more? Take a crisp, foot-long churro sprinkled with sugar. Think you can't get anything… More >>
  • BEST MEXICAN RESTAURANT

    Any year now there's going to be the Mexican restaurant we've been waiting for, the one that combines the drinks and fresh preparations of Bar Abilene, the carne asada of El Mariachi, and the sweetheart service of Boca Chica. For now, what we've got are some great upscale fusion-Mexican places (you know who you are), some overrated but beloved old… More >>
  • BEST MIDDLE EASTERN GROCERY

    Sinbad

    The first thing you encounter when entering Sinbad is the bags of pillowy, fresh-baked pita, just daring you to take some home and pack it with hummus. This place ain't flamboyant, but the array of canned goods, sodas, spices, cheeses, olives, and other savory treats in this dimly lighted shop is enough to satisfy any gourmand with a Mediterranean bent.… More >>
  • BEST MIDDLE EASTERN RESTAURANT

    Da Afghan - CLOSED

    All right, all right already, Afghanistan isn't technically in the Middle East. But it is right next door, sharing a border with Iran, and the building blocks of the cuisine are identical: grains, lamb, yogurt, greens. At Da Afghan those blocks stack up into an awesome edifice: the spring lamb is as light as buttercups, the spinach aushok as fine… More >>
  • BEST NATURAL FOODS GROCERY

    Whole Foods

    We love our co-ops, oh yes we do. But when it comes to a natural foods market with all the trimmings, we can't deny this honor to the newly opened Whole Foods just west of Yuptown in Minneapolis. Aisles are wide. Cashiers are plentiful. The produce section, which is lighted like an art gallery, has to be seen to be… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD CAFÉ--ST. PAUL

    Capitol View Cafe

    Retired Irish-American meat cutters mow lawns beside twentysomething Mexican immigrants; African-American youths shovel driveways for elderly Asian ladies. This vibe of peaceful coexistence that has made the West Side a model multicultural community spreads to the Capitol View Cafe. Where else could one find the "Norm Coleman" (kosher-salami-and-cheese omelet with hash browns and a bagel with cream cheese, $6.25) sandwiched… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD CAFE--MINNEAPOLIS

    Birchwood

    What makes the Birchwood stand out in a city lousy with neighborhood cafés is attention to detail. The dried-cherry scones contain cornmeal, which somehow seems to make them moist, yet grainy in a very pleasant way. The coconut macaroons are exactly the right kind of chewy. The peach cobbler is neither too sweet nor too mushy, and the key-lime pie… More >>
  • BEST NEW RESTAURANT

    Restaurant Alma

    Like Bonnie and Clyde, like Batman and Robin, like Chico and the Man, sometimes a duo gets things done better. Nowhere can you see this dynamic in action more clearly than in the jewel of southeast Minneapolis, Restaurant Alma. Venture in to find talented veteran Jim Reininger managing the gem-studded wine list and baking the extraordinary breads while wunderkind Alex… More >>
  • BEST PANCAKES

    Maria's

    Once upon a time--21 years ago, to be precise--a young Colombian woman traveled far, far north and landed in a place called Minnesota, where she began spreading to seekers of the ultimate comfort food the joy that is a perfect pancake. The regulars from Maria's Breakfast Club still wax poetic about her toasty wild-rice and fresh-blueberry pancakes, so, naturally,… More >>
  • BEST PIZZA

    Punch

    There are roller-coaster addicts, people who find the thrills and chills of life on the twisting rails so irresistible that they dedicate their every waking moment to that amusement. Now, we don't condone such behavior, but ever since we started going to Punch, at least we understand it: Pass through the doors and you'll sit there and wait and wait… More >>
  • BEST PIZZA WITHOUT SUN-DRIED TOMATOES

    Red's Savoy

    There's a reason this utterly unpretentious, jock-and-family-friendly joint packs 'em in night after night, year after year, and it ain't the projection TV. Long housed on an inconspicuous corner at the eastern edge of downtown St. Paul, Red's Savoy Inn has mastered the oft-overlooked science of 100 percent American pizza. The basic premise: Load a host of savory and mostly… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO EAT OUT WITH YOUR KIDS

    Big Bowl

    In recent years this category has been judged solely on the basis of what kids like. Those of us who are parents, however, know an entirely different set of criteria can--and should--come into play when considering where to strap on the family feedbag in public. Which brings us (again and again) to Big Bowl. Cuisinewise, good Asian restaurants are kid-friendly… More >>
  • BEST POWER LUNCH

    murrays restaurant

    The tables are set for the deal: pink linens, polished silver, crystal water goblets, and silver trays stacked with butter-soaked garlic toast. The décor is vintage blue chip: silk-lined walls, floor-to-ceiling mirrors, pink draperies, and cast-iron candelabra. The menu is fit for kings of business and queens of commerce: a broiled luncheon steak ($13.95), penne with chicken ($12.95), hot turkey… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT FOR APPETIZERS

    Zelo's

    Two words for you, appetizer fiends: affettato misto, Zelo's fully loaded mixed appetizer plate ($16.95) for two or more. Or actually, let's not even call it an appetizer plate: It's really an appetizer landscape. Outstanding features of that landscape include a bay of high-quality, classic antipasto meats like prosciutto and salami; an inlet of first-rate cheeses and olives; half a… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT FOR DESSERT

    Big Daddy

    Figured you'd see Aquavit--or, for that matter, Goodfellow's, Oceanaire, Zelo--in this space, right? Well guess again, Mac, because while the desserts that come from the hands of actual pastry chefs can be prettier than a cash machine spraying Jacksons, we figure there ain't no dessert beats a classic American layer cake or classic American pie--and nobody does those better than… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT FOR GLUTTONS

    Be forewarned: You will eat too much. You will load up at not one, but five separate buffets featuring a vast selection of extraordinary Hong Kong dishes as well as steamed crab legs (dinner only), Mongolian barbecue, deviled eggs, and Jell-O. Conversation will be interrupted constantly as you excuse yourself to vault over the heads of strangers toward the latest… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT FOR LATE-NIGHT DINING

    Chino Latino

    Living in a city that virtually shuts down at ten on a weeknight can sometimes feel like Exile in Mayberry. A late-night breakup that requires an emergency girlfriend powwow leads you to the grease-laden, open-air psych wards that are the 24-hour chain restaurants. The only place to take your blind date after the movie is your filthy, furniture-free studio apartment… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT FOR OUTDOOR DINING

    Black Forest Inn

    It's not summer for some of us until this Minneapolis institution has opened its brick-paved patio, started the water circulating in the diminutive fountain, and fertilized the vines that form its living canopy. The menu always features light summer specials, but we love the German fare--homemade spaetzle and red cabbage, mmmm--enough to eat it no matter what the season. For… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT FOR ROMANCE

    The fundamentals are covered: first-rate cuisine, attentive yet unobtrusive service, and subdued lighting that's perfect for stolen glances. But a great romantic restaurant must be more than an appetizing and aesthetically pleasing way station between the front porch and the boudoir. It ought to be a place where love itself is manifest in every dish. If passion breeds passion, then… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT WAY THE HECK OUT IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE

    Tinucci's

    Tinucci's, currently owned and operated by the third generation of the eponymous family, defies the location, location, location rule. This laid-back, old-school supper club has customers from all over the Twin Cities willing to wait more than an hour and a half to partake in Saturday night's $16.95 prime-rib buffet. Not bad for a restaurant positioned between the railroad tracks… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT WHEN SOMEONE ELSE IS PAYING

    The Oceanaire Seafood Room

    If someone's sucker enough to offer to buy you dinner--kid, who are you to refuse? And who are you to worry about their finances? What are you--Alan Greenspan? You are looking out for number one, and there is no more glorious experience for sale (legally--get yer head out of the gutter) than sitting down in a jade-and-glass Fabergé egg of… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT--MINNEAPOLIS

    Auriga

    What makes a great restaurant? After much debate we decided the criteria must include: a great chef, an excellent (and affordable) wine list, consistency, and a certain something in the service and atmosphere that makes it feel especially fancy, especially pleasant, especially--well, special. And so it was revealed that the great battle of 2000 was between Goodfellow's and Auriga, two… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT--ST. PAUL

    Zander

    Ladies and gentlemen: In the starting lineup we have the St. Paul Grill, Pazzaluna, the 128 Cafe, Zander, Mildred Pierce, the Dakota, and the Vintage! Last bets? Bet them if you've got them. Betting is closed. And they're off! The St. Paul Grill is dazzling with décor and steaks and potatoes, but--ooh!--fumbles on a staid menu and blasé desserts. Pazzaluna… More >>
  • BEST REUBEN

    Cecil's

    Whether you're a traditionalist who never deviates from the tried-and-true or the adventurous type who likes to spice things up, Cecil's has the Reuben for you. And we're not talking about that heinous "Reuben Wrap" stuff they're peddling elsewhere these days. We see no reason to stray from the classic Reuben: corned beef, melted Swiss, and kraut, topped with a… More >>
  • BEST SALAD

    Q Cumbers

    A restaurant's salad sets the tone for the meal: Rigid iceberg hunks capped with genetically engineered tomatoes spells potential heartburn from the entrée. A plate of delicate greens dabbed with oil and vinegar and featuring the occasional caper, on the other hand, is the sign of a chef with a responsible palate. Bobino starts you off with a salad so… More >>
  • BEST SEAFOOD RESTAURANT

    Oceanaire

    Plenty of local chefs have the talent and skill to produce an exceptional meal of fish--Doug Flicker at Auriga, Philip Dorwart at Table of Contents 2, Lucia Watson at Lucia's, and Alex Roberts at Alma leap to mind. But only one restaurant combines expert technique with a mind-altering quantity, variety, and quality of flipping-fresh sea critters, and that restaurant is… More >>
  • BEST SERVICE AT A RESTAURANT

    Zelo

    Service in the Twin Cities has gone to hell in a handbasket these last couple of years, the tight job market and, dare we say, restaurateurs' unwillingness or inability to seriously ratchet up pay seemingly leaving service positions filled by only the surly, the suspicious, the arrogant, the diffident, and those preoccupied by an imminent nervous breakdown. Except at Zelo… More >>
  • BEST SPICE SHOP

    Penzeys

    Penzeys has borrowed Home Depot's utilitarian design and promotes the same do-it-yourself ethos--in this case, the promise of a glorious state of culinary excellence that, as you wander through the faux-shipping-crate aisles, seems both eminently graspable and blindingly obvious. All those years spent cooking with supermarket spices? Wasted! Here there are not one but five types of cardamom--and for less… More >>
  • BEST STEAK HOUSE

    Manny's

    Some might ask: Why does Manny's win this category every year? Why do you even bother? What's up with you idiots, anyway? To which we answer: We keep at this category because we hope that the people who run the other steak houses will go to Manny's, find out what they're doing wrong, and heat up the competition. But they're… More >>
  • BEST STEAK HOUSE ON A BUDGET

    Since you'll be saving a few bucks on dinner, start your evening with a beefy martini. The cavernous front room of this classic blue-collar supper club features a front-to-back bar stocked with affordable pours and a finely aged cast of neighborhood regulars tracking the Wolves or cheering the Vikes. In the dining room--almost always packed with large parties, extended families,… More >>
  • BEST SUNDAY BRUNCH (CHEAP)

    Nora's - CLOSED

    You'll be forgiven if, upon stepping through Nora's heavy, mahogany-stained front door, you suspect you've fallen through some kind of noir portal and onto the set of Blue Velvet. Nora's may be located a short Rollerblade away from the heart of trend central, but you won't catch any hipsters nursing bloody Marys and hoping no one will see them in… More >>
  • BEST SUNDAY BRUNCH (CLASSIC)

    Mother's Day brunch reservations at this small, handsomely appointed downtown hotel traditionally fill up weeks in advance. What's the big deal, you ask? You'll know as soon as you saunter over to the massive buffet. There's eggs Benedict, eggs Florentine, potatoes of all shapes and levels of crispness, bacon, sausage, a custom-omelet station... But wait, what about the pastries? Surely… More >>
  • BEST SUNDAY BRUNCH (NEO-CLASSIC)

    Campiello's - CLOSED

    It's almost alarmingly easy to while away a Sunday morning on Campiello's sunny little patio--and we guess that's partly because things are so predictable at this yupscale Italian eatery. Take the orange juice that arrives right after you're seated. No matter what the season, it's fresh-squeezed, more sweet than acidic, and it makes mimosas so smooth and effervescent you're likely… More >>
  • BEST SUSHI

    Fuji-Ya

    Fresh, creative, imaginative--don't come to Fuji-Ya for a standard plate of bland tuna, exhausted boiled shrimp, or crinkling-dry salmon. Do come for exquisite examples of a sushi chef's art. Fear not, even though local sushi master Tengo left to head the Minneapolis Athletic Club's new restaurant venture, his former assistant Xao Yang--known to all as Fefu--is carrying the torch just… More >>
  • BEST TEA (BY THE POUND)

    TeaSource

    You might think tea is an icky brew, appropriate only for dousing with sugar and serving over ice. And if you thought that, having been exposed through the course of your life only to the tannic dreck peddled by the multinational tea-bag cartel, you would be wrong. Terribly, terribly wrong. But you will be forgiven, because this is an anti-tea… More >>
  • BEST THAI RESTAURANT

    Chiang Mai

    Yes, this Uptown start-up has consistency troubles, but there's some fatal flaw at every Thai restaurant in town, and Chiang Mai is the only one that combines evocative bamboo décor in a charming, sepia-toned room with excellent fish specials (like a grilled salmon crisply glazed with lime dressing), solid noodle dishes (especially the potent fire noodles with Thai basil), unforgettable… More >>
  • BEST TIME CAPSULE

    Peter's Grill - CLOSED

    Minnesotans are nothing if not loyal, and consequently the Twin Cities boast what is, perhaps, the nation's best collection of extant period restaurants: Peter's Grill is unadulterated between-the-wars lunch counter. The Viscount Room at Little Jack's, and Murray's in its entirety, are pure Eisenhower-era two-martini lunch. The Cherokee Sirloin Room is vintage Ford administration. The St. Paul Dayton's River Room… More >>
  • BEST VEGETARIAN RESTAURANT

    Birchwood

    Being a vegetarian in the Twin Cities requires a lot of hard work, constant vigilance, and a good dose of paranoia: Some restaurateurs simply don't seem to believe that there are people who don't want chicken in their food. But there's no need to be defensive at the Birchwood. Just sit back in the minty-fresh Fifties décor and munch happily… More >>
  • BEST VIETNAMESE RESTAURANT

    Quang

    There's nothing but the freshest, zippiest, quickest, most goshdarn appealing food at Quang. Maybe, in fact, just a little too appealing: Our last visit found us reeling from a thick and delicious curry stew, then suddenly whipping out our calculator to try and figure out whether it made economic sense to sell the refrigerator, stove, and sundry appliances in hopes… More >>
  • BEST WINE AND LIQUOR STORE

    We tried to justify bestowing this honor on someplace else, we really did. But on top of the ordinary virtues--the biggest selection of beers, wines, whiskeys, liqueurs, interesting bargains, holiday gift boxes, and plan-your-month-around-it wine sales--this Best of the Twin Cities triple threat (see also Best Cheese Selection and Best Gourmet Grocery) also seems to be the part-time or onetime… More >>
  • BEST WINE BAR

    Lucia's

    Here are some things few people really want: the key to the city, an endowed chair at the university, a portrait at the capitol. If you really want to honor somebody, we say, give them something they can use--namely, a table reserved in their name forever inside ever-popular and often-packed Lucia's. That way your hero or heroine could have ready… More >>
  • BEST WINE LIST

    Frankly, we're sick to death of trying to figure out which of the local big-hitter wine lists is better than the other--Manny's awesome selection of a billion reds? Goodfellow's encyclopedia of fine American vineyards? D'Amico Cucina's expensive, expansive who's-who of Italian varietals and vintages? It's like trying to explain why rubies are better than emeralds, and we can't. They're all… More >>
Loading...