Food & Drink

  • BEST APPLE ORCHARD

    Afton Apple

    We admit that part of the allure of Afton Apple is the beautiful drive to Hastings. From I-94, the nearly 12-mile stretch along Manning Road and County Road 76 oozes rural charm, especially on a crisp fall day when the leaves are blazing and the sun is out. Then there's the hayride across some of the orchard's 170 acres of… More >>
  • BEST ASIAN GROCERY

    United Noodles

    It was the surf clams that caused us to fritter away damn near an entire afternoon in this vast, but hard to find, market. As confirmed Asian food lovers, we were predictably agog over United Noodles' bounty even before we spotted the pretty clams. We'd ogled the vacuum-sealed cuttlefish, scanned the wall-long array of pot stickers and frozen dim sum… More >>
  • BEST BAGELS

    H & H Bagel

    For some, the arrival of Krispy Kreme doughnuts in the upper Midwest was reason for celebration, carbs be damned. Sure, we waited in long lines in Maple Grove for those famous just-off-the-conveyor-belt sensations, but now that you can get a Krispy Kreme fix at a Holiday gas station, next to the Hostess for goodness's sake, well, the thrill is gone.… More >>
  • BEST BAKERY

    Patrick's Bakery

    A great bakery should have great ambition, lofty standards, arresting charm, and great prices. It needs ambition because otherwise you could bake cookies yourself. It needs standards because otherwise you could get worse quality stuff from the grocery store. It needs arresting charm because you're so busy! To get you to diverge from your usual path, it has to offer… More >>
  • BEST BBQ

    Ted Cook's

    If you've spent any time in the South or ever stumbled upon a hole-in-the-wall barbecue joint in Kansas City, the barbecue capital of the world, you know that tacky trinkets and contrived shack charm don't make for mouth-watering, forehead-dripping barbecue. And Ted Cook's 19th Hole Bar-B-Que knows this too. Here, only smoke-stained white walls and framed photographs of meat and… More >>
  • BEST BREAD

    Bakery on Grand

    We're sure that Bakery on Grand has the best bread in town--just, we refuse to pick which bread exactly. There are many to choose between! The baguette happens to be so airy, so weighty, so filigreed, so robust, so very full of holes and yet also full of the heavy substance of bread that if you told us that it… More >>
  • BEST BREAKFAST

    St. Clair Broiler

    The neon flames on the sign make the St. Clair Broiler, located on the corner of St. Clair and Snelling avenues, hard to miss. Inside, find all the comforts expected of a Ma and Pa diner: bouncy brown leather booths, historic St. Paul scenes decorating the walls, and a jam caddy. Breakfast items (served all day) are the solid meals… More >>
  • BEST BURGERS

    Band Box

    We went far and wide searching for the best burger. We traveled the highways, the byways, and even the skyways, hunting for a burger with great flavor and also great spirit. We tried burgers stuffed with foie gras, burgers filled with molten cheese, burgers as soft as cream cheese, burgers made from cows with elaborate provenance and pedigree. But no… More >>
  • BEST BURRITO

    La Cucaracha

    Located at the edge of Victorian Village--a preppy area usually packed with college students and people looking for a beer on their way home from work--La Cucaracha fits in more than one might like with its bar and happy hour specials. But what's really great about this Mexican restaurant is its food, and although there are many great burritos in… More >>
  • BEST CANDY STORE

    Candyland

    In a place called Candyland, moon rocks are two-inch jawbreakers, comets are heavenly hash-covered marshmallows, and the swirls on colorful, old-timey suckers look like palm-sized galaxies. It's a universe of colors, shapes, and scents that will set synapses firing and mouths salivating. The Swedish berry jujus are Day-Glo red and perfectly sticky, and the sour fruit salad leaves you sucking… More >>
  • BEST CHEAP EATS

    Highland Grill

    With its brightly colored '50s diner feel and convenient location (Cleveland Avenue and Ford Parkway), the Highland Grill is a terrific budget destination. Stop for a snack after watching a movie across the street or fuel up after a bookstore-browsing marathon. This family-owned restaurant offers many classics, but there's often a twist that makes them unique. Grilled cheese sandwiches here… More >>
  • BEST CHEESE SELECTION

    whole foods market

    The cheeses include goat's, sheep's, and cow's milk, and you can find both artisanal and conventional types. But what distinguishes the Whole Foods selection from the rest of the pack is its ability to seduce a rather bland palate with funky choices. Adventuresome contestants need apply. (Advice: Don't settle for the cheese samples found in various locations throughout the store,… More >>
  • BEST CHINESE RESTAURANT

    China

    China is a big place with lots of flavors and about a billion people. Yummy isn't all that big, but boy, oh boy, does it have a lot of flavor, and about a billion dishes. Like what? Like tankfuls of critters fresh and flipping in one of the live-fish tanks. Like lobsters bright orange with frying and jazzy with chiles.… More >>
  • BEST CHOCOLATE

    B.T. McElrath

    Husband-and-wife team Brian McElrath and Christine Walthour have a rack of awards that would make Lord of the Rings king Peter Jackson jealous. Aside from being showered with local accolades, their artisan chocolate company, B.T. McElrath, has received press mentions in Bon Appétit and USA Today, won honors from the Food Network and the Travel Channel, and was recently named… More >>
  • BEST COFFEE BY THE POUND

    Dunn Bros

    It's always ironic--or oxymoronic--to see the words "fresh roasted" inscribed on the cans of coffee lining the grocery shelves. That's especially true if you get your beans at one of the many Dunn Bros outlets around town. Every locale except for the one at the Mall of America has a bean roaster right on the premises that is pretty much… More >>
  • BEST COFFEEHOUSE

    Anodyne - CLOSED

    Of the hundreds of coffee shops in the metro area, there are at least a dozen high-quality establishments we could choose as the best. After all, like Laundromats and hardware stores, where you go for your daily fix is largely determined by where you live. That said, we're very comfortable citing Anodyne, which doesn't try to reinvent the wheel, but… More >>
  • BEST DELICATESSEN

    Brothers Deli

    Just when you thought nothing could get better than a jar of pickles on the table, the Brothers have gone and topped themselves--now the pickles are out of the jars and lolling around in a huge pickle buffet, waiting for you to gorge yourself upon them. That's right, they're just lying there, kosher dills, pickled beets, pickled tomatoes, half-sours, the… More >>
  • BEST DIM SUM

    Peking Garden

    The loose translation of the Chinese term dim sum is "dot the heart," an apt description of what this feast of all things savory, sweet, crispy, and chewy promises to do both figuratively and literally. On weekends the narrow spaces between the massive tables become congested with carts carrying a wide variety--nearly 50 by our count--of traditional Cantonese snacks. With… More >>
  • BEST DINER

    Band Box

    American as apple pie? Hey, how American is that? Even the French have tarte Tatin. You want American, try this: In the shadow of downtown sits the Band Box, a rail-car-diner made by a grain-bin manufacturer--the place is so significantly Americana, it's a registered historic landmark. More American than that, though, is the crew that cooks and runs… More >>
  • BEST DOUGHNUTS

    Lone Doughnut Cafe - CLOSED

    Look for Kieran's pub on the ground level, walk in off the street, climb to the skyway level on the daffy staircase--one of the stupidest-looking pieces of interior architecture in American history--and behold the modest retail counter that is Lone Doughnut Café. Could it be that this establishment harbors the finest doughnuts in the Twin Cities? The cinnamon-and-powdered sugar oval… More >>
  • BEST FISH MARKET

    Coastal Seafoods

    Dining at a fancy-pants boîte not long ago, we fell in love with a filet of skate, sautéed till crispy on the outside and napped with its classic accompaniment, brown butter. (Skate is a kind of a winged manta ray-looking critter that's a member of the shark family.) Days later, increasingly desperate to re-create the experience, we rang up Tom… More >>
  • BEST FRENCH RESTAURANT

    Cave Vin

    Robust, rollicking, and romantic, Cavé Vin delivers everything you love about the land of liberté, égalité, and frites--namely, the food, the wine, the sense of style, and the good times. Come here for the keenest, simplest pleasures: that good loaf of crusty French bread accompanied by a sweet pot of butter, the rich bottle of French country wine in the… More >>
  • BEST FRESH PRODUCE

    Wedge Community Co-Op

    Year after year we've waxed long in this very space about the Wedge's consistent success in offering up absolutely pristine produce at prices that should (but don't) shame the local upscale chains. We've written passionately about the completely blemish-free organic Fuji apples, the candy-counter-pretty chiogga beets, the sweet, mellow garlic scapes, the made-for-stuffing Gypsy peppers, and countless other cultivars no… More >>
  • BEST FRIED CHICKEN

    Nardie's Cafe - CLOSED

    Lately KFC has been spending millions trying to convince us that its familiar acronym stands for "kitchen fresh chicken" and while it's laughable to imagine any fast-food franchise achieving a homemade, just-like-mom's taste experience, the underlying message is clear: KFC knows we all want at least the illusion that our fried chicken is made with tender loving care. Well, the… More >>
  • BEST FRIES

    Cafe & Bar Lurcat

    Golden French fries in a silvery bucket on a white china tray--Bar Lurçat doesn't serve mere fries, it presents a treasure of spuds. The fries themselves are ultra-fried, crisp as the dickens outside, creamy and potato-rich inside. Each bite of these tawny 3-D stripes has you reveling in the texture of the moment, and chasing the next bite: Will it… More >>
  • BEST GOURMET GROCERY

    Whole Foods Market

    Always a contender for the Best Natural Foods Grocery, Whole Foods also racks up a healthy, affordable line of gourmet selections. For one, the national chain with a local vibe offers ingredients for every level of cooking ability. If you're a single computer geek with a pallet for gourmet, you can pick up hot, ready-to-go wild mushroom lasagna for $7.99… More >>
  • BEST GREEK/MEDITERRANEAN RESTAURANT

    Christos

    No dark paneling or red leather booths, no heavy oregano or cigar smoke, this place glows with Mediterranean light. An open kitchen, white walls, and elegant black-and-white photos of the Greek isles welcome you in. The menu is traditional Greek/Cypriot turned out with a light hand and careful attention to seasoning. Longtime favorite shrimp Mykonos tosses seasonal fresh vegetables with… More >>
  • BEST HANGOVER BREAKFAST

    Lyle's

    So you woke up once again on Sunday with a dry mouth, vibrating head, and painfully empty stomach. A jeans search reveals you've squandered most of your money on the hangover you're currently experiencing. It's past noon but the only refreshment that sounds appealing is basic, greasy breakfast food. (That and a wee bit of the hair o' the dog.)… More >>
  • BEST HOT DOGS

    Wienery

    Those who love big, sumptuous hot dogs know exactly what goes into making them: beef, pig knuckles, Sasquatch meat, compost, industrial-strength artery-clogging juice, and a whole lotta love. But here at this tasty West Bank dive, you can get even more than that. How much is that doggie in the window? With a side of fresh French-press coffee and French… More >>
  • BEST ICE CREAM PARLOR

    Crema Cafe

    It was just a few weeks from the end of the summer last year when, enjoying a Crema cone after a particularly zealous playground session, the nickel dropped. Here we were, in the middle of an impossibly bucolic afternoon, in once-pedestrian southwest Minneapolis, enjoying ethereally delicious ice cream on a tiny alleyway of a patio that might as well have… More >>
  • BEST INDIAN GROCERY

    Flavors of India

    Flanked by The Donut Connection and across from Lyndale Garden Center, Flavors of India, with its faded window sign and dull lighting, is easy to miss. But once inside, the fragrance of dried rose petals, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, and musk mark this exotic and authentic place. You'll find shelves of freshly ground spices, whole seeds for grinding, with names we… More >>
  • BEST INDIAN RESTAURANT

    Udupi's

    One of the most extravagant foodie experiences in the Twin Cities is to be had during the weekends at Udupi's lunch and brunch buffet, when some 30 dishes are spread out for your sampling pleasure. Try the fluffy, polentalike casserole of "special rava kitchadi" and vegetables, which just bursts with spices; whole cardamom pods and cinnamon sticks are hidden in… More >>
  • BEST ITALIAN GROCERY

    Broders

    It's hard to know where to direct the eyes when inside Broders', so innumerable are the things you want. Do you look inside the case at the rich, fresh puttanesca sauce, bursting with olives, capers, anchovies, garlic, and red peppers, and just crying out for a bruschetta to ennoble or a pasta with which to dance? Or do you look… More >>
  • BEST ITALIAN RESTAURANT (CHEAP)

    Broders' Southside Pasta Bar

    Every nation that has wheat has some kind of pasta--Japanese udon, Polish pierogi, Tibetan momo. But the Italians love it the most. Some say that the word macaroni comes from an expression of spontaneous love for pasta, something like "ma, che carini!" or "my, what cuties!" Nowhere in the Twin Cities is this love more purely expressed than in the… More >>
  • BEST ITALIAN RESTAURANT (NOT CHEAP)

    Ristorante Luci

    Looking into a bowl of adeptly tender pappardelle con funghi the other night at Ristorante Luci, we were struck by the agile playfulness of the dish. It was merely a bowl of pasta, but in among the al dente swaths of pappardelle, grassy tips of asparagus nipped happily, herbily, at peppery slices of shiitake mushroom, the two glossed with brown… More >>
  • BEST JAPANESE RESTAURANT

    Tanpopo

    Tanpopo is counterintuitive, Tanpopo is intuitive. The little Lowertown full-service restaurant is counterintuitive because many of its defining qualities, such as being light, elegant, healthy, and serene, seem completely, completely incompatible with many of its other qualities, like being cheap, easy to get into, friendly, and low-key. But that's just how it is here, where you can sit in a… More >>
  • BEST KOREAN RESTAURANT

    Kings

    Keep it a secret, but we are developing an almost cultish faith in the powers of King's soups to destroy colds: The pork kim chee soup is hearty, spicy, and cuts through a winter head cold like a sword through butter; the soybean hot pot with vegetables sets any sniffly soul quickly on the road to recovery. There are a… More >>
  • BEST LATINO GROCERY

    Guadalajara

    All this place needs is a few live chickens to peck at the crumbs on the floor and it could be any market in Guadalajara. This grocery-cum-cafeteria supplies its Latino neighbors with guisados, homemade tortillas, and red pork tamales in a voluptuous smoked chili sauce, as well as saint's day votives, Virgin Mary bird baths, paper flowers, wooden dolls, and… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL CHEF

    Doug Flicker

    Great chefs are, unfortunately for the thousands of kids flooding ham-handedly into cooking schools, born, and not made. Even more unfortunately, for them, they usually tend to be born into hot, stressful, unappreciative, frankly ridiculous kitchens where they must spend years toiling in obscurity, honing their craft for nobody, and following a distant star that risks being blotted out by… More >>
  • BEST MEXICAN RESTAURANT

    Salsa a la Salsa

    You know that thing about computer speed, how it doubles every six months? So it is with Mexican restaurants in Minnesota. It seems that every six months the Mexican restaurants around here are twice as good, in twice as many ways, as they just, just were. We never had any Mexican places with breathtaking, and breathtakingly cheap stews and sauces,… More >>
  • BEST MEXICAN TAKEOUT

    Pineda

    We like Chipotle, really we do. For a suddenly ubiquitous chain, they provide decent food at a good value. There's an undeniable allure to moving cafeteria-style through a line while you pick out items for a custom-made burrito ultimately rolled as fat as the top of a baseball bat. But that's why we love Piñeda, a pair of Lake Street… More >>
  • BEST MIDDLE EASTERN BREAD

    Abu Nader - CLOSED

    Perfecting pita bread requires more than a good sense of geometry. This round flat bread with the pocket inside is the staple of many Middle Eastern cuisines, and it has many important jobs. Scooping up baba ghanoush, for one, or cradling spicy falafel balls smothered in tahini sauce. The Ailabouni family bakes its own pita, and their loving effort pays… More >>
  • BEST MIDDLE EASTERN GROCERY

    Holy Land Bakery and Deli

    The recently expanded Holy Land Bakery and Deli proves that super-sizing is not always a bad idea. It was, after all, impossible to contain the depth and breadth of Middle Eastern fare within just one normal-sized Northeast storefront. Case in point: the oils. At Holy Land you can spend hours pondering the merits of olive, palm, sesame, and grapeseed varieties… More >>
  • BEST MIDDLE EASTERN RESTAURANT

    Nestled

    Nestled in between a Dunn Bros and a Jamba Juice on the super-busy intersection of Snelling and Grand Avenues, Khyber Pass, with its soothing yellow lighting, quiet decor, and sweetly strumming sitar sounds is an oasis from the bustle of the everyday commute. There's a certain calm to the place; patrons even tend to assume a pleasantly hushed tone while… More >>
  • BEST NATURAL FOODS GROCERY

    Mississippi Market

    Whether you shop at natural grocery stores out of dietary necessity or because you're a selective eater, Mississippi Market has you covered. Looking for free-range chicken broth? No problem. Green tea and ginger root ice cream? They've got it. Gluten-free pizza crust? Yup. Vegan jello? Check. The deli, always a mark of a good grocery store, contains items ranging from… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD CAFE

    Vincent

    Downtown Minneapolis has been wiped clean, reimagined, and recarved by the forces of money and politics so often that, like a too-face-lifted face, it has been in constant jeopardy of losing any and all of its recognizable character. Which is why we're so grateful for Vincent, a restaurant that's done more than provide fantastic meals and value wines: it has… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD CAFE - ST. PAUL

    Heartland

    You better get into Heartland while the getting's good, because this little can-do spot with the from-scratch-everything, all-regional menu has been for sale since January. Yes, it's been for sale since January! Seriously. Chef and owner Lenny Russo is looking to get out of his bucolic, gorgeous little neighborhood in part because you St. Paulites only come out on Fridays… More >>
  • BEST NEW RESTAURANT

    Cosmos

    Service has been in free fall in Minnesota over the last several years as the heavy-hitter, big-ticket restaurants of yore lost their luster, and their professional staffs were absorbed into the general population of the clueless. Decor hasn't had much to boast of either, as nouveau riche Miami-Italian glitz passed more and more for classy. Food, food was certainly on… More >>
  • BEST PIZZA

    Punch's pizza

    For the record, the issue is the crust. You can have the finest salami, the freshest mushrooms, the most attentively tended sauce, but without a good crust, it all falls apart in a flat flabby mess, like a teddy bear without any stuffing. Punch's pizza, now in three locations, has that crust: It's buoyant as a cloud, given incredible lift… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO EAT OUT WITH KIDS

    Day by Day

    This sunny, cheerful, spacious St. Paul breakfast institution is so overrun with toys that we used to think that a pack of overachieving preschoolers ran it. Toys occupy every nook. They're in the waiters' stations, the menu holders, the bookcases, window ledges, and myriad other crannies. Only fidgety little people understand that no one under the age of, say, seven,… More >>
  • BEST POWER LUNCH

    Cafe Brenda

    Last summer we watched, a forkful of farm-raised rainbow trout halfway to our bemused lips, as none other than hizzoner R.T. Rybak, perched atop what appeared to be a teeny, folding bicycle not unlike those used by clowns, plowed into the front window of this veggie-friendly downtown Minneapolis institution. He crashed, he entered, he lunched--perky young retinue in tow--and then… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT FOR APPETIZERS

    Sapor

    They've made an art form and passion of appetizers over at Sapor, just check out their One Bite, Two Bite menu for proof. That's where you'll find a dozen snacks priced to move--the latest one had crispy wasabi potato cakes with roasted peanuts for $2.50, sausage-stuffed olive poppers for $2.75, an artichoke served with zippy house aioli for $2.25,… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT FOR DESSERT

    Solera

    We can think of about a thousand reasons why Solera is the best restaurant for dessert in Minnesota--yes, a dozen: 1) The enormous sherry list; 2) the sexy lighting; 3) the after-work-to-very-late hours, perfect for post-work birthdays or don't-let-this-date-die nights; 4) the romantic rooftop patio; 5) proximity to all the downtown-theater district stuff, and when else do you have dessert… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT FOR GLUTTONS

    New King Buffet

    Here you will find delicious dishes in obscenely plentiful quantities. If that isn't a recipe for gluttony, we don't know what is. Picture three islands plus of square metal pans brimming with fresh Chinese dishes, from marinated duck to sautéed string beans to sweet little walnut shrimp. Whoever said that Chinese food dissipates quickly and leaves you hungry never visited… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT FOR LATE-NIGHT DINING

    Azia - CLOSED

    Years ago it used to be that post-midnight dining around here involved either trying to squeeze in at overcrowded, overdressed Figlio or undertaking the adventure that is standing in line at White Castle. While those options are still available, smart diners looking for a meal after the show now head to 26th and Nicollet. In between the shiny silver pressed-tin… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT FOR OUTDOOR DINING

    WA Frost and Co.

    Located in St. Paul's historic Cathedral Hill neighborhood, W.A. Frost recalls an era when dining out was an elegant event deserving of top hats and elbow-length white gloves. In the winter, brick fireplaces warm rooms lined in Victorian paintings. On the patio in the summer, twinkling white lights snake through the overhanging branches, illuminating the colorful coleus and purple geraniums… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT FOR ROMANCE

    Fuji Ya

    What goes on in those little tatami rooms off to the side of the main Fuji-Ya dining room? The ones with the paper screens, the doors that close, and the low tables on the floor, at which you sit on cushions and low-backed chairs? Glad you asked. Sometimes, sometimes celebrities hide in them, with or without their little kids, taking… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE

    Lindey's

    It's true that one night a City Pages writer and her hot date drove around the sticks for an hour trying to locate Lindey's. But once they accidentally found it (they'd given up and were on their way to Nye's), they were glad to have put in the effort. The place is old-style, with lots of wood and dim lighting… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT TREND

    Falling Wine prices

    Wine prices have been falling. Constantly. Everywhere. And not just on the half-price bottle nights, which, of course, are lovely. No, prices are falling at almost every restaurant, in every price level and service level of dining. At W.A. Frost there's now an elaborate under-$30 list. At Chet's Taverna they relaunched their wine program, just about halving pricing on everything.… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT WHEN SOMEONE ELSE IS PAYING

    Levain

    Restaurant Levain. Opened with big plans--five-star cooking in the neighborhood. But you know how it goes with the best-laid plans of mice and Levain... Started life with a big-name maître d', but lost him before the paint on the sign out front had time to dry. Built its reputation on a big-name chef, paired a big-name sous--but that was yesterday,… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT--MINNEAPOLIS

    Solera

    The main thing that sets apart a great work of art, be it a novel, a painting, or a movie, from some crap at the mall is that it should be a fully realized vision, a completely thought-through, whole, interrelated, and complete event in which all the physical details serve the overall vision of the creators. Miraculously, Solera is such… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT--ST. PAUL

    WA Frost and Co.

    Ever since chef Russell Klein, veteran of the famed Danube kitchen in New York City, took over Frost's, the place has been marvelous. And not just better than it's ever been, but better than we ever imagined it could be. Out with the creamy old country club dishes, in with strikingly elegant arrangements like green and white asparagus stacked front… More >>
  • BEST SALAD

    Dakota

    The salad of the year was a mushroom salad. Well, not really. It wasn't really a mushroom salad, officially. Officially, it was a spinach and arugula salad, but it had a whole forest floor's worth of pale mushroomy marvels in it: ghostly oyster mushrooms, spidery enoki mushrooms, a few golden chanterelles with that subtle fruity scent they have. The spinach… More >>
  • BEST SEAFOOD RESTAURANT

    The Oceanaire

    Ever had shad roe? Honestly, the closest we ever got to it before was in the Cole Porter song. Then one night we saw it on the Oceanaire menu, alongside Florida sushi-grade black grouper, Alaskan dayboat halibut, Columbia River spring king salmon, diver-caught Maine scallops, Chesapeake Bay crab, California white sturgeon "Molassol" caviar, and had to have it. That's right,… More >>
  • BEST SERVICE AT A RESTAURANT

    Cosmos

    After thinking and thinking and thinking about it, we have concluded that the main problem with service in this town is a blind-man-and-the-elephant one. Follow along: Servers are raised in TV rooms in various suburbs and small towns, going out once in a great while to restaurants they don't pay much attention to. Then they come to the big city,… More >>
  • BEST SOUL FOOD

    Lucille's Kitchen

    There was a scare this year--for a while it looked like Lucille's Kitchen, the anchor and rainbow of the north side, might close. What, a world without the crispiest fried chicken, the smokiest collards, the creamiest ever macaroni and cheese? Surely that would not be a world fit for living! Luckily, the good Lord heard the prayers from down here… More >>
  • BEST STAR CHEF EXPERIENCE

    Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Program

    The weirdest trend of the last year has been the way so many of Minnesota's name-brand, swoon-inducing, best-reviewed chefs just vanished into thin air for months and months at a stretch. Where do they go? Whom do they feed? Wasn't it weird the way Steven Brown was totally MIA for like a year, and then just popped up at Levain,… More >>
  • BEST STEAK HOUSE

    Little Jack's

    While it's true that you might get a slightly better steak at some fancy place like Morton's, you will never--we mean never ever--find a better steak-house atmosphere than you will at Little Jack's. The place is stuck in the '60s, with just a touch of the '50s thrown in for good measure. The lounge is dark, as it should be,… More >>
  • BEST STEAK HOUSE ON A BUDGET

    Erte

    Whatever the Twin Cities have lost in terms of quality-of-life points due to budget cuts and transit strikes, we should be gaining back thanks to the sheer volume of good, cheap steak available within a 10-or-so-mile radius of downtown Minneapolis. From the Eisenhowerrific Ike's to Dinkytown's oh-so-welcome Steak Knife (student-budget steak that doesn't taste like a hoary cliché!), this category… More >>
  • BEST SUNDAY BRUNCH

    128 Cafe

    Trying to satisfy wholesome churchgoers, bleary Saturday-night partiers, regular customers, and once-a-month restaurant diners with finicky kids--such is the thankless task of the Sunday brunch chef. Anyone who can do it deserves thanks; anyone who can do it really well (and without employing a six-foot steam table) deserves a medal. Fortunately for all of us, the quietly fantastic Brock and… More >>
  • BEST SUSHI

    Origami Restaurant

    A local critic recently wrote that all Twin Cities sushi tastes the same--thus revealing that they'd never had the blissful experience of sitting at the bar at Origami and ordering the "omakase," or chef's choice. That's where the sushi chef sitting before you creates magical course after course of ultra-fresh, inventive fishy treats, like fresh scallops glistening like pearls of… More >>
  • BEST TAKEOUT

    Cossetta's

    For anyone whose cubicles and dashboards often double as dining tables, a carryout meal from this longstanding St. Paul lunch hub offers loads more home-style comfort than its stir-fried or tortilla-wrapped counterparts. Granted, the average Atkins disciple would likely run screaming at the sight of Cossetta's carbo-licious mostaccioli or scrumptious pasta salads, but even those folks can find an array… More >>
  • BEST THAI RESTAURANT

    Chiang Mai Thai

    Here's a word to the wise: If you aren't prepared to participate in a sunrise duel, then don't ask a Twin Citian what the best Thai restaurant in town is. Yes, feelings run just that high. For us, though, when we're off the clock, there's only one place we head to: Chiang Mai Thai, the elegant Uptown Northern Thai joint.… More >>
  • BEST VEGETARIAN-FRIENDLY RESTAURANT

    French Meadow

    Although French Meadow isn't exclusively a vegetarian restaurant, it's very veggie friendly and, dare we say, even vegan-friendly. There's a rotating vegan soup of the day; sometimes it's black bean chili, sometimes it's a stew. If you do dairy, do the roasted vegetable sandwich, overflowing with roasted portobello, red peppers, caramelized onions, arugula, and a creamy goat cheese-herb spread served… More >>
  • BEST VIETNAMESE RESTAURANT

    Pho Tau Bay

    Tucked away at the south end of Eat Street, facing both the railroad tracks and the car wash, is a gem of an eatery. An electric incense shrine greets guests at the door and a host of authentic Vietnamese dishes grace the table. A full selection of banh mi (Vietnamese sandwiches) starting at $2 make for a great lunchtime option.… More >>
  • BEST WINE AND LIQUOR STORE

    Zipp's

    Scrappy, feisty, and spirited. Not much to look at, but a dynamo in the aisles. How could anyone resist Zipp's? You might know Zipp's as your collegiate party headquarters--is it the friends or the keg that makes drinking when you're 21 so especially sweet? Oh well, leave that riddle for the Sphinx, but know that when your parties have shrunk… More >>
  • BEST WINE BAR

    Domacin Restaurant And WineBar

    The dreams of the domestically minded tend to be fairly simple: An Ikea within driving distance, a really good wine bar--no, not like the kind we had two years ago. A really, really good wine bar. Like, well, like brand new, dream-fulfilling Cesaré's, a place where the wine selection goes into hundreds and hundreds of bottlings, covering wine-head rarities, collector… More >>
  • BEST WINE LIST

    the Modern

    What makes a great wine list? Ideally, it would be one that you couldn't assemble yourself, this afternoon, at the liquor store. No. It should reflect some committed, thoughtful buying. It should have things on it that you could not get at the liquor store today, nor, possibly, ever. Because that is one thing that will draw you out of… More >>
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