Food & Drink

  • BEST ASIAN GROCERY

    Shuang Hur Oriental Market

    It always happens: We stop in to Shuang Hur for a jar of curry paste or a bottle of fish sauce, and we leave $30 lighter but toting the makings for any number of quasi-made-up meals. Because, you see, there is not one kind of curry paste, or even one discrete display, but an aisle of tins and tubs to… More >>
  • BEST BAKERY

    Franklin Street Bakery

    Pastry that looks too good to eat? Well, it probably is. But at Franklin Street Bakery, the trays of scones, tarts, and muffins are irresistible precisely because they are not egg-washed and jellied to perfection. Instead each is a crusty, browned, homey individual. And Franklin Street offers something that practically nobody else in town does: savory pastries. Chewy individual brioches… More >>
  • BEST BARBECUE

    Lee & Dee's Bar-b-que

    It's largely a myth that you can't get good barbecue in the Twin Cities--scores of places do up barbecue in some sort of "authentic" style. The trouble with that, of course, is that paying homage to some variation of barbecue feels anything but authentic. Great barbecue here is rare. Some exceptions to this faux home-cookin' aesthetic this year were the… More >>
  • BEST BARISTA

    Nichole at 2nd Moon Coffee Cafe

    As evidenced by the myriad scowling youths slouched behind coffee counters across these fair cities, the service industry is a cold, hard racket. Which is a bummer, because it usually takes a gem of a person to decipher, let alone fulfill, our pre-caffeinated demands. One such gem can be found at the 2nd Moon. If you're new to 2nd Moon,… More >>
  • BEST BREAD

    Turtle Bread Company - CLOSED

    Turtle Bread knows crust: the splinteringly crisp but tender crust of a baguette, the soft shell of a potato loaf, crackling and toothsome ciabatta. Turtle also knows crumb: airy baguettes, soft and open hearth loaves, dense brioche. What's amazing is that, like a batter in a cage hitting ball after ball out of the park, Turtle Bread makes nearly three… More >>
  • BEST BREAKFAST

    Hell's Kitchen

    The waitstaff may be wearing pajamas, but there are a number of visuals at Hell's Kitchen that just don't jibe with your usual morning routine. The bloodred walls are lined with Ralph Steadman's dark and drippy drawings and Gary Larson's devilish Sunday comics. Vultures perched in tree branches inhabit the restaurant's back wall, watching over any diner unlucky enough to… More >>
  • BEST BREAKFAST WITH A HANGOVER

    The Local

    One Sunday in December, we stopped by the Local to catch a soccer match between English titans Arsenal and Chelsea. Despite the pre-noon kickoff, the pub was packed with 150 or so footy fans, most of British descent, judging by their chatter. But what caught our attention was a quartet of thoroughly American blokes situated directly beneath the TV screen.… More >>
  • BEST BURGER

    Herkimer Pub & Brewery

    Last year, a bar in Pennsylvania announced that it sells a gut-busting six-pound burger--not including the three pounds of bun and toppings. After hearing this, what could be more appetizing, more rational, and less nauseating than a plate of Herkimer mini burgers? Before you go dismissing them with dogs birthed in their own Louis Vuitton handbags, consider this: A plate… More >>
  • BEST BURGER (GOURMET)

    Vincent - A Restaurant

    Eavesdropping on a recent conversation about the best burger in the Twin Cities, we were horrified to note the following ground rule: "But not counting Vincent, of course, that thing is beyond a burger..." What! Is this what happened back in the evolutionary mists of time when the first fish grew legs? They just kicked him right out of the… More >>
  • BEST BURRITO

    Taqueria La Hacienda

    The burritos at Taqueria La Hacienda are meals within themselves, with a variety of fillings sure to appeal to anyone's taste. The chicken- and steak-stuffed versions taste like meat, sure, but also like cilantro and onion. In fact, they set a new standard for the egalitarian burrito, in which no ingredient overpowers another. The beef tongue burrito costs a little… More >>
  • BEST CANDY STORE

    Candyland

    Gentlemen: Want to meet real single women now? Live and in person? Women with, shall we say, certain appetites? Start by forgetting about the Friday night parade of Midwestern nubility that staggers up and down Minneapolis's First Avenue in search of grain alcohol. You want to catch these women earlier in the fermentation process, when they can still stand up--that… More >>
  • BEST CHEAP EATS

    Holy Land Grocery & Deli

    A Middle Eastern/Mediterranean deli, supermarket, and restaurant with humble cafeteria-style tables and fluorescent lighting, Holy Land serves up quality and quantity without damaging the wallet irreparably. On the 45-item-plus menu are greatest hits such as grape leaves, baklava, falafel, baba ghanoush, and lamb or vegetable samosas, with some of the all-star dishes including the gyros (spiced lamb, beef, chicken, or… More >>
  • BEST CHEESE SELECTION

    Surdyk's

    How many sorts of blue cheese should a cheese counter have to win your admiration? Ten? Oh no, Surdyk's Cheese Shop can do better than that. Twenty? Keep going. Twenty five? Pshaw. How about 30! That's right, a recent visit to Surdyk's revealed more than 30 varieties of blue cheese, and not just your Stiltons, your Gorgonzolas, your Maytag Blues.… More >>
  • BEST CHINESE RESTAURANT

    - CLOSED

    People bitch and bitch about Yummy. "Oh, I went in and ordered cream cheese wontons and the sweet and sour chicken, and it wasn't as good as Shanghai Kitchen, and it cost twice as much!" Look, people: Real Chinese food is made with all kinds of icky things, like live eels, clams in their shells, abalone, chickens from face to… More >>
  • BEST CHOCOLATE

    Just Truffles

    At best, the folks at Just Truffles are wonderfully humble people; at worst, they are liars. Walking into the house that serves as their aromatic headquarters, it's pretty obvious they've got a lot more going on than mere truffles. In fact, there's a whole display case stacked with trays of non-truffle entities including coconut clusters, vanilla caramels, and cherries floating… More >>
  • BEST COFFEE (BY THE POUND)

    Taraccino Coffee

    Two words make this the best pound of coffee to take home: Nordeast mud. It's rich. It's oily (that's a good thing in Coffeeland). It's smoother than anything this complex should be and goes down like good chocolate. It has a taste so dense you could stand a spoon up in it. And the loyal regulars at this very regular-y… More >>
  • BEST COFFEEHOUSE

    Coffee News Cafe - CLOSED

    If you want to curl up on secondhand couches with third-rate artwork perched on the walls of the ersatz alcoves around you, check out one of the seven (soon to be nine, if the new zoning laws go through) cookie-cutter coffee joints located within a hundred yards of your home. But if you want all the imported coffee you can… More >>
  • BEST DELICATESSEN

    Brothers Delicatessen

    Seventy years is a long time to be the pastrami king of Minneapolis, but if you've tucked into a pastrami sandwich at Brothers lately, all hot and steamy, piled high on good thick rye, ecstatic with the precisely correct ratio of soul, nostalgia, and salt, you'll know that even 70 years in, the reign of this emperor is still just… More >>
  • BEST DIM SUM

    Mandarin Kitchen

    What is the secret to ordering at the jam-packed, crazy-busy, carnival-meets-the-Food-Network-meets-a-Tokyo-subway-car-in-morning-rush-hour that is Mandarin Kitchen's weekend dim sum extravaganza? It is simply this: Once you score your hard-won table, no matter how your stomach howls, no matter how your sweetheart yelps, do not, do not! succumb to the charms of the first cart that comes your way. Yes, it may… More >>
  • BEST DINER

    Bonnie's Cafe

    To find good diner-eats, follow the men in Carhart jackets. No demographic, save perhaps the men in blue, are better equipped to sniff out the best all-day breakfasts and grilled lunches than these industrial-coat-wearing gents. They frequent Bonnie's Cafe for fast, hot morning meals that stick to your ribs and keep you warm until at least mid-morning. At Bonnie's the… More >>
  • BEST DOUGHNUTS

    Mel-O-Glaze Bakery

    Doughnuts are decidedly blue-collar food. No need for imported, artisan, or Dutch-processed anything. At the same time, you don't want your doughnuts to come from a gas station or the front rack at Target (we're looking at you, Krispy Kreme). The Bosela family has been hand-rolling and hand-cutting doughnuts in the little Mel-O-Glaze bakery just off Minnehaha Creek since 1961… More >>
  • BEST FISH MARKET

    Whole Foods Market

    Few things set a cook's heart afire as quickly as a really kick-ass display of finfish, crustaceans, and mollusks. The colors alone take one aback: deep ruby tuna steaks; pink, opalescent whole snapper; silvery-patterned striped bass; ivory diver scallops; blue-black mussels; finely ridged skate-wing. Lately, no local display gets our minds to conjuring just the right compound butter or warm… More >>
  • BEST FRENCH RESTAURANT

    Vincent - A Restaurant

    How French is Vincent Francoual, chef and proprietor of Vincent, a Restaurant? He's so French that he held an event on April 10 called "The Wines of My Hometown," with an eighth-generation winemaker from right near Francoual's hometown of Puy-l'Evêque. How French was le menu? Tourin à l'Aoucou, Brochettes d'Escargots, Fromage du Cantal, Pommes Sarladaise, Frisée aux Lardons, Sauce aux… More >>
  • BEST FRESH PRODUCE

    Minneapolis's Midtown Public Market

    God bless the Twin Cities' excellent food co-ops: They've educated a generation of cooks to demand nothing less than fresh, locally grown, pesticide-free produce. And come summer, those cooks now flock in droves to the farm stands at Minneapolis's Midtown Public Market where they finger, squeeze, sniff, and taste the wares and otherwise generally get in the faces of the… More >>
  • BEST FRIES

    JP American Bistro - CLOSED

    The menu at jP insists on calling them pommes frites, but, whatever: When it comes to happy-hour grazing or late-night nibbling, the crispy, salty fries at Lyn-Lake's swankest destination are always the first bar treat to leap to mind. They are, of course, perfectly crispy and deeply salty, but they're also dusted with smoked paprika and, in a nod to… More >>
  • BEST GOURMET GROCERY

    Kowalski's

    To the uninitiated, Kowalski's might look like a mere grocery giant, but if you're a Twin Cities cook you'll quickly see that Kowalski's is much more than that, it's a delight to both palate and soul. Why? Because Kowalski's has both a great, great number of great ingredients, and a great commitment to Minnesotan food-life. As far as the ingredients,… More >>
  • BEST GREEK RESTAURANT

    Christos

    We're fortunate to have a trio of destinations for fine Greek dining, including perennial favorite Christos on Eat Street and the jewel-like Gardens of Salonica in northeast Minneapolis, but this year Lyn-Lake landmark It's Greek to Me earns top honors for its dependably delicious menu, generous waitstaff, intriguing wine list, and increasingly pretty surroundings (the patio abutting the Jungle Theater… More >>
  • BEST HOT DOGS

    Joey D's

    Every few months, inevitably when we've been mixing gin and Guinness, we feel compelled to make the case that Joey D's is the finest restaurant in the Twin Cities. We'll spare you the excruciating details of this harangue (and apologize if you've ever witnessed this sad spectacle), because the only truly important thing to know about this Ericsson neighborhood institution… More >>
  • BEST ICE CREAM PARLOR

    Crema Cafe

    There are so, so many reasons to name this Lyndale neighborhood sweetheart Best Ice Cream Parlor. There's the ice cream, of course, and the sorbet, the sherbet, and the ice cream-based desserts, all blended on the premises in small batches from top-flight sustainable ingredients and in killer flavor combinations like Cabernet-chocolate, balsamic-Morello cherry, and Crema's signature espresso-kissed crema. There's the… More >>
  • BEST INDIAN GROCERY

    Patel Groceries

    Strains of "It's a Small World" might as well have been wafting down from the heavens as we made our way slowly through this bright, sparkling, Nordeast market one day in search of provisions. There were the inevitable spices and sauce mixes and bulk bags of exotic rice and legumes, yes, but there was also the Pillsbury Doughboy. He offered… More >>
  • BEST INDIAN RESTAURANT

    Udupi Cafe

    Why do we go to Indian restaurants? Because they know how to make things that would take us years, and possibly even decades, to figure out on our own. For heaven's sake, have you seen the paper dosa at Udupi? The thing looks like an ear trumpet for Paul Bunyan. How do they get that thin crepe to be the… More >>
  • BEST ITALIAN (CHEAP)

    Broders' Pasta Bar

    There is a risk, when you note how cheap Broders' Pasta Bar is, that some people will think that cheap is this south Minneapolis restaurant's predominant virtue. Not even close. Excellence, often of the jaw-dropping variety, is the place's virtue; the cheapness is just the thing you can't get over. (Kind of like beholding the love of your life, right… More >>
  • BEST ITALIAN RESTAURANT (NOT CHEAP)

    Ristorante Luci

    In seeking out the answer to who serves the best Italian food in the Twin Cities, we encountered some disasters. There was a salt cod that tasted like a salt lick. A pasta carbonara made with rigatoni that floated in a pool of oil beside bacon cracklings. And don't even ask us why crab cakes with mango salsa qualify as… More >>
  • BEST JAPANESE RESTAURANT

    Sakura

    Japanese dining simply can't be intimidating at a place like Sakura. The airy two-story dining room has a Zen-like calm during the weekday lunch hour and a more up-tempo buzz before events at the Ordway. The waitstaff take an honest interest in your meal and will guide you through the menu. Let them help you fill your table with hot… More >>
  • BEST KOREAN RESTAURANT

    King's Fine Korean Cuisine

    This unassuming restaurant nestled within a bland row of strip-mall shops in Fridley offers up enough culinary adventure to make you wonder what other delicious surprises you may be missing while searching for more glamorous surroundings. King's has a varied menu, including Chinese and Japanese items, but Korean cuisine is the reason to park your butt in a booth here,… More >>
  • BEST LATINO GROCERY

    El Burrito Mercado

    So far, 2005 is shaping up to be the year we conquer the chile: dark and musky guajillos, sweet and fruity anchos, startling cascabels, bold, almost tannic pasillas. It's pretty easy to turn the dried pods of your choice into a rich, thick sauce. Toast, soak, grind, and fry, and then simmer along with your choice of meat or fowl.… More >>
  • BEST LIQUOR STORE

    Liquor Depot

    What makes a liquor store the best one? The liquor, mostly. Like how the last time we were in Liquor Depot we got the daft idea of counting the varieties of vodka. Right as we hit number 138, we completely lost track, so awestruck were we by the vodka in the bottle shaped like a 1920s Tommy gun, replete with… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL CHEF

    Doug Flicker

    A friend recently confessed that he will only spend money in Minnesota on food of two cuisine categories: Vietnamese soup shops, and Auriga. While we can't understand his sense of adventure, we certainly understand his logic: No other investments pay off so reliably. If you can't understand why Auriga would be a cuisine category to begin with, you gotta get… More >>
  • BEST MEXICAN RESTAURANT

    Salsa A La Salsa Mexican Grill

    What a welcome sight is the Meyer lemon-yellow facade of this family-run Nicollet Avenue storefront. Yes, yes, it's a slice of warmer climes on Minnesota winter nights. And it's a pretty jolt of style in the middle of a culinarily distinguished but aesthetically challenged block. But to those of us who've become frequent visitors to Salsa a la Salsa, the… More >>
  • BEST MIDDLE EASTERN RESTAURANT

    Khyber Pass Cafe

    Befitting a nation that was once the crossroads of Asia, Afghani food is a mix of influences from India, Persia, and the Middle East. At this venerable Grand Avenue eatery, you can sample Afghanistan's polyglot cuisine without fear of busting your budget: An entrée and appetizer should only run around $20. Of special note are Khyber Pass's warm, tender chicken… More >>
  • BEST NATURAL FOODS GROCER

    Mississippi Market

    Whether your diet is vegan, lactose-free, macrobiotic, or you just plain enjoy a meal without yellow number 5, you've probably spent some quality time in grocery stores scanning aisles and reading labels. That's why it's so great when you find a store where the staff has already read the labels and understands exactly what a gluten-free diet entails. Employees at… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD CAFÉ--MINNEAPOLIS

    Bakery on Grand

    Not so long ago, this sleepy little Kingfield storefront was home to a bakery, the kind where you could purchase a dozen gooey, sticky, sugarcoated doughnuts for a pittance; a fresh-baked apple pie; or lay in a supply of pink-frosted cupcakes. It had a sweet, old-fashioned charm and gave off an intoxicating aroma nightly when the goodies were in the… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD CAFÉ--ST. PAUL

    Coffee News Cafe - CLOSED

    Situated next to a well-traveled area of the Macalester College campus, this café serves several functions: It's primarily a caffeine destination for college students and professors, but it's also a pit stop for Grand Avenue shoppers, and a casual meeting place for friendly neighborhood hippies. Inside you'll find classic coffeehouse decor: exposed brickwork, stained glass, wood floors, and sunny yellow… More >>
  • BEST NEW RESTAURANT

    112 Eatery

    More than a restaurant, brand-new 112 Eatery is the flower of a restaurant community coming of age. Listen up: Appetizers aren't the typical calamari and bruschetta food-cost boosters. Instead, they skip that and go straight for the good stuff: lamb chops seared to a perfection of fire and meadow. A Boston Bibb lettuce salad in a dressing of the fattest… More >>
  • BEST PIZZA

    Galactic Pizza

    Galactic Pizza's slogan is "Pizza with a conscience," and, boy, do they mean it. Tucked in a tiny storefront on Lyndale just north of Lake alongside flash-in-the-pan hipster shops and trendy dining establishments that will feel outdated by the year 2006, this pie shop has a checkerboard floor and the future in mind. When weather permits, drivers in kitschy, futuristic… More >>
  • BEST PIZZA (GOURMET)

    Punch Neapolitan Pizza

    For the best authentic Neapolitan pizza this side of the Atlantic, one need look no further than Punch. A certified member of the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana, Punch doesn't pack its delectable thin-crust pizzas with greasy fixin's like thick ham or half-cooked bacon. Instead, Punch fills its crispy handmade crusts with only the best and freshest ingredients available, like San… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO EAT OUT WITH YOUR KIDS

    D'Amico & Sons

    Crayons and balloons are all well and good when you're eating out with your kids, but you know what you really need? Wine. A big, hearty, grown-up glass of wine. And grown-up food to go with it. At D'Amico and Sons, while Junior is slurping up his mac-and-cheese, you can enjoy, say, penne with Italian sausage or a prosciutto and… More >>
  • BEST POWER LUNCH

    Mai Village

    Even before Mai Village's extraordinary multimillion-dollar makeover last year, the humble University Avenue Vietnamese restaurant was a favorite of political powerbrokers. In fact, we recall seeing Dean Barkley noshing there shortly after he returned from his eight-week stint as a U.S. senator in 2002. Back then, the appeal was mainly the scrumptious $6 lunch specials and vigilant service. But now… More >>
  • BEST QUEER COFFEE SHOP

    Wilde Roast Cafe

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  • BEST RESTAURANT FOR A FIRST DATE

    JP American Bistro - CLOSED

    A friend of ours was scheduled to go on a blind first date with someone she met online. He suggested one of those places with the animatronic bears. The date never happened, no matter how we assured her it must have been a joke. Hey--people are skittish. Which is why jP is such a great choice: Anyone with any variety… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT FOR APPETIZERS

    Solera Restaurant

    Years ago we read a magazine restaurant column that advised readers to order another appetizer instead of an entrée, to ensure the greatest experience of the chef's skills and elite ingredients. So, we tried it in the Spago in Las Vegas, and have yet to recover from the withering disdain of the waiter, who saw this not as a thrilling… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT FOR DESSERT

    Solera Restaurant

    Is it possible that pastry chef Adrienne Odom is getting more accomplished, more creative, and just generally more great as the years go by? It defies conventional wisdom, but yes, we say yes, she is. Our proof? We stopped by Solera recently and had a dessert experience that knocked our socks off so profoundly that we may be forced to… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT FOR GLUTTONS

    Asian Cuisine

    True gluttony is not found in an all-you-can-eat buffet. It is found in stuffing oneself and taking home leftovers. Gluttony becomes a deadly sin when an excessive dose of karaoke is added. But when the whole process is Thai, gluttony becomes fun. Asian Cuisine quells both desires. Authentic Thai food, served in portion sizes one would expect from any strip-mall… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT FOR LATE-NIGHT DINING

    112 Eatery

    Someone read our minds. We wanted a fine-dining restaurant where the food lived up to the description, but with environs cozy enough that we could feel comfortable after a show, dressed in First Ave casual. We wanted a spectrum of reasonably priced, well-thought-out menu items. We wanted this food, in these classy but comfortable surroundings, to be available well after… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT FOR OUTDOOR DINING

    Black Forest

    Nothing frames the night sky quite like the patio of the Black Forest. With its battered brick walls, winding maples, and pergola thick with Virginia Creeper vines, the beer garden feels like a refuge from change in a neighborhood expanding toward the stars. It was among the first outdoor dining areas in these wintry cities, and seems made for third… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT FOR ROMANCE

    Sapor Cafe

    What is love? Is it the ability to look past a surface, and see the true wonder and beauty inside? Is it an appreciation of real thoughtfulness, serenity, and clarity of vision? Is it when you want to focus on your date, and not on the raucous razzmatazz and racket around you? If you have answered yes to these questions,… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT IN SPITE OF ITSELF

    Restaurant Levain

    In the hands of Chef Steven Brown, a seared scallop wearing a gossamer cloak of sea urchin--the sparkly fellow standing sturdily upon a cloud of black cuttlefish ink-tinged rice--becomes not so much an experience of food, but an experience of immortality, as the intensity of the sea and the sweetness of its bounty spread through your soul in a sweetly… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT TREND

    All right, so nobody ever went broke complimenting their audience, but still. You've dazzled us over the last few years. You have shown an amazing willingness to support great chefs working in odd environments (when Auriga was dingy, out-of-the-way Singapore!, Saigon, Udupi, etc.). You've embraced once-foreign cuisine without missing a beat (Spanish tapas at Solera, sushi everywhere, Vietnamese banh mi… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT WHEN SOMEONE ELSE IS PAYING

    Le Meridien

    Sometimes we sit around and daydream about moving away from Minneapolis and getting some kind of job where people close million-dollar deals all day, exclusively so that some corporation could return us here to do business, and we could expense a week at Le Meridien. Wouldn't that be wonderful? To start every morning in the beautiful Cosmos dining room, with… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT--MINNEAPOLIS

    Auriga

    Sadly, one of the truths about the restaurant business is that the amount of money on hand often directly correlates to the level of fun had by the customers. It's not that you can't have a good time under a stained and dripping ceiling, it just takes a little more strength of character. This tends to mean that the rich… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT--ST. PAUL

    W.A. Frost & Company

    The only way we can ever make a decision in this category is to hop into our immersion tank, close the overhead doors, float, and go to our safe let's-pretend place: okay. The phone rings. It's someone from out of town; they want to take you to dinner anywhere in St. Paul, tonight. Where do you pick? The answer this… More >>
  • BEST SALAD

    Osteria I Nonni

    We'll never forget the very moment we encountered the first shell peas of spring. There they were in a first-course salad at Osteria I Nonni: greener than Kermit the frog, springier than a spaniel off-leash, and as welcome, in the ice-capped late winter Minnesota landscape, as water is to a thirsty man. This spring mountain of peas was set on… More >>
  • BEST SEAFOOD

    Oceanaire Seafood Room

    This year the Oceanaire chain added new restaurants, so now the locally based chain has outposts in San Diego, Atlanta, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and one forthcoming in Miami. Yet the Minneapolis one was the original, so the question constantly arises: How do Minnesotans sell fish to folks in fishing towns like Seattle and Miami? Isn't this kind of like Floridians… More >>
  • BEST SERVICE AT A RESTAURANT

    Oceanaire Seafood Room

    Our short list for great service in Minneapolis this year was extremely short: sister restaurants Manny's and the Oceanaire, the Rick Webb family of restaurants including Zelo and Ciao Bella, and the Capital Grille. That the restaurants in question are able to replicate their excellent service in multiple locations is proof of what we've always said: Great service isn't born,… More >>
  • BEST SOUL FOOD

    Abundant Bistro - CLOSED

    Did you think hot-water cornbread was dead in Minnesota? Did you think you'd never see a credible hush puppy or drown your sorrows in a glowing mound of candied yams ever again? Yes, it was a dark 2004, with Lucille's Kitchen closing. But the whole point of soul food is that life is a glory and here to be led… More >>
  • BEST STAR-CHEF EXPERIENCE AT A RESTAURANT

    Heartland Restaurant

    Never, not one time, in all the years of going to Heartland, have we ever had a meal at St. Paul's most earnest and accomplished restaurant without catching sight of Lenny Russo standing at a table, answering questions. Where did the flour for this roll come from? (Waseca.) How do you poach a pullet egg to float it in a… More >>
  • BEST STEAKHOUSE

    Manny's Steakhouse

    The purpose of the steakhouse is to make you feel like the top carnivore on all of planet Earth, both in terms of scoring the finest red, red meat, and also in terms of scoring social privilege over the other bipeds. No place pulls this off better than Manny's. It's not just the steak, though we could go on all… More >>
  • BEST SUNDAY BRUNCH

    Tryg's

    Sure, the ever-buzzing Lake Street-Excelsior Boulevard divide gets in the way, but with its miles of gleaming windows, stone-lined terrace, and north woods resort feel, Saturday or Sunday brunch at Tryg's almost qualifies as brunch on the waterfront. The menu's limited, but it's a toss-up as to which provides better fuel for a midday walk around Lake Calhoun, the egg-… More >>
  • BEST SUSHI

    Origami

    Grocery stores have made great strides lately in popularizing sushi basics. Consequently, sushi bars are more popular than ever. This has been great for the bottom line at all of the best local sushi joints, but it has led to a new sort of problem: All too often, sushi bars are greeting their staggering crowds with slapdash creations that are… More >>
  • BEST TAKEOUT

    Fuji-ya

    We realize that ceremony and presentation are half the magic of a sushi dinner, but the fine folks at Fuji-Ya know that sometimes we just can't make that much magic happen. Accordingly, they have perfected the art of assembling whatever maki, nigiri, or donburi you might have your heart set on, and having it packed and ready to go precisely… More >>
  • BEST THAI RESTAURANT

    Chiang Mai Thai

    Admittedly, there are several great Thai places in the Twin Cities. One may have the best pad Thai, while the other offers the best curries, and another makes the best spring rolls. But for the overall package time and again, we always wander back to Chiang Mai Thai. It has the looks, the great service, the drinks, and the dishes.… More >>
  • BEST VEGETARIAN-FRIENDLY RESTAURANT

    Ecopolitan

    Ecopolitan thinks it's time to eat your veggies the way that nature originally intended: 100 percent organic and raw. The menu is not only vegetarian-friendly, it's vegan, gluten-free, and artificial sweetener-free, and the place is staffed with people who can explain to the minute detail exactly what goes into preparation of the food served. Yummy and wildly imaginative dishes include… More >>
  • BEST VIETNAMESE RESTAURANT

    Mai Village

    By now we're all familiar with the fabulous Eat Street triad, Quang Restaurant, Pho Tau Bay, and Jasmine Deli. We've been singing their well-deserved praises for going on 10 years. However, this year the bar has been raised. Literally. With a full bar and high-art decor, Mai Village is the clear champion in '05. "Oh, great," you're probably thinking, "here… More >>
  • BEST WINE BAR

    Cesaré's

    As Godzilla is to lizards, as the QE2 is to dinghies, and as the Grand Canyon is to ditches, Cesaré's is to local wine bars. How to enumerate the riches? First, there is Cesaré's (pronounced Chezz-uh-ray's) charming physical space, with the wooden tables, the wrap-around patio with the outdoor heaters, the plantings, the general air of wood-made grace. On the… More >>
  • BEST WINE LIST

    W.A. Frost & Company

    Are wine lists like gardens? If you really care about them, yes. There's the list at Manny's steakhouse, which is kind of like nothing but prize-winning super dahlias and hybrid roses the size of your head, the one garden you'd want to go to if you were taking pictures to surprise the folks back home. There's the list at the… More >>
  • BEST WINE STORE

    Solo Vino

    There are two sorts of people shopping for wine: Those who need help, and those who don't. If you can't tell a Barolo from a Zinfandel even when one bites you on the pants, it doesn't matter if you're in the Fort Knox of wine: It all looks the same. Meanwhile, if you chuckle all week because your dad compared… More >>
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