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Food & Drink

  • BEST BARBECUE

    Rooster's BBQ

    The Twin Cities' sibling rivalry consists of a thousand different battles, but few are as important as the one over barbecue. And sorry, Minneapolis, but St. Paul's banner yet waves—or is that a giant Wet-Nap? Lee's & Dee's—a hole-in-the-wall off Selby with more Southern charm than Jimmy Carter in a bath of coleslaw—is a perennial favorite. But for our sticky… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL CHEF

    Lenny Russo

    What makes a great chef? One good measure is the influence he exerts on the world around him, and no one has done more to exalt the possibilities of northern regional cuisine lately than Lenny Russo. His restaurant Heartland has become a must-visit destination for visiting foodies who dip in to see what magic he's working with local ingredients. Like… More >>
  • BEST SOUL FOOD

    West Indies Soul Food - CLOSED

    You're going to have to get up on a Sunday to score this one, and you're going to have to bus your own table. That's because the fine Caribbean cooks behind St. Paul's West Indies Soul serve their soul food special, Deep South Sundays, just one day a week. And they do it at their new outpost in the fabulously… More >>
  • BEST BREAKFAST

    Serlin's Cafe

    "Not Good Look'n, Just Good Cook'n," reads a sign above the doorway to the kitchen. True indeed, and that statement reflects the unironic folksiness on hand at this 61-year-old East Side institution, where the waitress is likely to call you "Hon." Actually, the place isn't bad look'n at all, just nothing particularly special: Two rows of high-backed booths sandwich in… More >>
  • BEST HOT DOGS

    Uncle Franky's

    Let's face it: The Twin Cities will never be a hot dog hotspot. The best we can hope for is a faithful simulacrum of Chicago's doghouses, legendary for their atomic-green relish, piles of sport peppers, and—shall we say—"gruff" tableside manner. In that respect, Uncle Franky's is head-and-shoulders above the competition. Their menu is crammed with Windy City favorites (all-beef Chicago… More >>
  • BEST SUNDAY BRUNCH

    Victor's 1959 Café

    Spanish Caribbean music wafts out of half the restaurant kitchens in town, but can you get a decent order of black beans and Creole sauce with those eggs? Not usually, unless you're talking Victor's, which has added a full Cuban dinner menu and wine and beer in recent years. A shack painted sun-yellow inside, like some Havana House of Breakfast,… More >>
  • BEST BURGER

    Napa Valley Grille

    Who comes to a white-tablecloth restaurant for a burger? Much less to this lacquered and upholstered, high-end California wine-lover's destination restaurant, which happens, oddly, to be located in a busy wing of the Megamall. No, people come to Napa Valley Grille in search of rich and sweet blue crab cakes. They come for the array of unique, wine-friendly cheeses. They… More >>
  • BEST CHEAP EATS

    Bombay 2 Deli

    We have a recurring fantasy about moving to back-country Wisconsin—you know, with the real doughnuts and the garlic cheese curds and terrifying, smoke-spewing ATVs beneath every 12-year-old boy. Then we remember Bombay 2 Deli and we realize we never could—life's too short to miss out on an urban life that includes samosas this good. Oh, those samosas! Big as baseballs,… More >>
  • BEST GOURMET BURGER

    Vincent—A Restaurant

    So how is this $12.75 masterpiece different from the dyed blob of ground beef you remove from cellophane and dump on the grill? Do you really want to know? We can start by talking about the succulent center: braised short ribs that taste like your grandma's pot roast but have been cooked even slower, even longer, even—sorry, Grandma—better. How about… More >>
  • BEST CHINESE RESTAURANT

    Little Szechuan Chinese Cuisine

    Minnesota Chinese food spent many years in a sludge of low expectations; the biggest debate was often whether "chow mein" could be spelled "chow main." Then we entered an era of separate but unequal: There were splendid things done with river fish and adorable little cuttlefish, but only for tables of Asian guests who showed up at the right… More >>
  • BEST FRIES

    Café Barbette

    Not only are the fries at Café Barbette tasty, they're pretty, too. Served in a white ceramic bowl, they're cut in long, slender rectangles with golden edges and glistening sides. They curve slightly inward, piled high on top of one another like a fried potato orgy. Four bucks will get you a small serving, $6 a large. Some people enjoy… More >>
  • BEST COFFEEHOUSE

    Mapps Coffee and Tea

    Like all quality coffee shops, Mapps is a microcosm of the surrounding neighborhood. This sunlight-specked, high-ceilinged West Bank caffeine emporium attracts an eclectic crowd. College kids from the U of M and Augsburg cradle lattes as they take advantage of free wi-fi. Somali men from the nearby Riverside Plaza towers talk animatedly in small groups while sipping East African tea.… More >>
  • Galactic Pizza

    BEST PIZZA

    Galactic Pizza

    Galactic Pizza, with its pizza-tossing Buddha logo, is what lifelong Minnesotans call "different." Fortunately, we like it that way. Located in Uptown on Lyndale just across from Herkimers and the VFW, Galactic is hard to miss, with its brilliant yellow-and-blue paintjob, red awning, and checkerboard floor. It's also hard to miss the delivery people. When the weather is right, they… More >>
  • BEST DIM SUM

    JunBo Chinese Restaurant - CLOSED

    Go to enough dim sum joints and the same-old same-old gets old-old. Another Styrofoam-tasting deep-fried crab claw? Sigh. Another central commissary sesame ball? Must we? That's why JunBo, the new mega-ambitious, mega-sized Chinese place that took over the old Chi-Chi's space on Nicollet and I-494, is such a delight. They have so many cooks, so many carts, and so many… More >>
  • BEST GOURMET PIZZA

    Pizza Nea

    Pizza is an extremely personal passion. Some people are eternally faithful to the fast-food pie purveyors while others refuse to touch anything that isn't fresh out of a wood-fired oven and sprinkled artfully with goat cheese. If you find yourself in the latter category, then Pizza Nea is the place to satisfy your Neapolitan dreams. The crust maintains a balance… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT FOR OUTDOOR DINING

    Swede Hollow Cafe

    For an outdoor, sit-down dinner, you can't beat the elegantly ensconced patios of W.A. Frost or the Black Forest Inn. But for a casual, sunny breakfast or lunch, consider this small St. Paul spot with the giant view. Perched atop a hill rising above Swede Hollow—now a park, but from the 1850s to the 1950s a busy immigrant community where… More >>
  • BEST BURRITO

    El Burrito Mercado

    It's all about the beans. Sure, there are other reasons Burrito Mercado has been the place to get your burrito fix for the past 25 years. There are plenty of reasons to come to this Latin retail giant: the too-sweet Fanta, the Goya coffee and fresh tamarillos, the Mexican-made tchotchkes. (We're not going to get into the tamales or the… More >>
  • Town Talk Diner

    BEST DINER

    Town Talk Diner - CLOSED

    Spinning stools bolted to the floor and a curvy counter fronting a noisy kitchen-at first glance, Town Talk seems like, well, a diner. But make your way to the next room and you realize there's serious eating happening. There the vibe changes from old-school burger joint to dimly lit urban eatery, with long, rectangular mirrors on light brick walls and… More >>
  • BEST DELICATESSEN

    The Brothers

    An oasis of joy on the downtown Minneapolis skyways, Brothers Delicatessen is a Best-Of perennial for its bagels and pastrami, both flown in from New York. And in this relatively deli-poor corner of the prairie, that would probably be enough to ensure Brothers a loyal and intensely grateful following. But this family-owned institution does so many things well: There's a… More >>
  • BEST FRENCH RESTAURANT

    Fugaise - CLOSED

    Most Minneapolis chefs are loathe to acknowledge any French roots to their cooking. "What? we are chef-driven!" they cry. "Fusion! Everything you see on these plates sprung from our very own heads!" Not so at Fugaise where young chef Don Saunders is unafraid to pay tribute to the French culinary heritage to which we all owe so much. A recent… More >>
  • BEST ASIAN GROCERY

    Shuang Hur Grocery

    All hail the changing face of the Twin Cities—a wonderful new world where we can get tamarind as easily as we can get walleye. With twin stores on each side of the river, Shuang Hur has everything we've come to count on. Duck eggs, check. Pre-packaged hog's head, check. And unlike some namby-pamby grocers, Shuang Hur has the eggs to… More >>
  • BEST GREEK RESTAURANT

    Christos

    Pop into the Nicollet Avenue Christos any weekday lunch and the room is bustling with happy customers. They come for things like a daily special of fresh-baked moussaka, an individual casserole of tangy eggplant and beef united by a savory sauce and a salty, piquant lid of grated, melted cheeses. It's not just that the moussaka is a classic homestyle… More >>
  • BEST MIDDLE EASTERN GROCERY

    Holy Land Bakery and Grocery

    Holy Land is one of the best places in town for the impatient diner. Pick up a package or two of kofta kabob (seasoned ground meat rolled into sausages; $2.99 a pound), then choose from the deli's wide selection of olives, cheese, bread, and salads, and you have a dinner fit for your boss's boss. Or feed your hungry family… More >>
  • BEST INDIAN RESTAURANT

    Bombay Bistro

    There are a number of good South Asian places in town with tasty takeout and perfunctory atmosphere (carpeting and a Hindu sculpture do not a restaurant make). But Bombay Bistro is the rare experience in local Indian dining that persuades you to take off your coat and stay awhile. With a clear glass facade reflecting the art deco Foshay Tower,… More >>
  • BEST NATURAL FOODS GROCERY

    Lakewinds Natural Foods

    For city dwellers, Lakewinds Natural Grocery locations may seem like a trek. But for those rocking the suburbs, Lakewinds is the promised land. Stores include the usual natural grocer amenities: fun and practical bulk goods, locally made hummus and dips, and a farmers' market-quality produce section. But Lakewinds also offers unique items such as wood-fired pizza made to order (or… More >>
  • BEST TAKEOUT

    Lucia's To Go

    Lucia Watson has been doing the locally sourced food thing since way before it was cool. She opened her Uptown restaurant, Lucia's, in 1985, with a focus on high-quality, seasonal, organic, local ingredients, which she's used to make some of Minneapolis's best food ever since. In the fall of 2005, in a space next door to her wine bar, there… More >>
  • BEST SALAD

    Spoonriver

    Salads are the new fast food. Belly up to your local Au Bon Pain and they'll toss up the greens with a manic speed, coating the mixing bowl with dressing and layering on the now omnipresent Asiago cheese. This is a good development for the lunchtime crowd, but a successful salad is really more than the sum of its ingredients.… More >>
  • BEST ITALIAN RESTAURANT (BARGAIN)

    Broders' Southside Pasta Bar

    The ongoing domestic culture wars have lately pitted virtuous know-nothings against those who are "foodier than thou"—you know the type: those people who prefer pig's trotters to meat loaf, pretty much on principle. There is one place that everyone in the Twin Cities seems to agree on, whether their idea of a good time involves the most esoteric foodie flight… More >>
  • BEST APPLE ORCHARD

    Sponsel's Minnesota Harvest

    Living in a climate like ours, one clings to rites of renewal: shoveling the first snowfall in late afternoon darkness, taking that brisk first walk around Lake Calhoun in the spring, visiting the Minnesota State Fair with its echoes of back-to-school dread. To work off those corn dog love handles, one should add a leisurely stroll through one of the… More >>
  • BEST ITALIAN RESTAURANT (UPSCALE)

    Osteria I Nonni

    Over the last year the buzz about Osteria I Nonni has changed. People once murmured that the splashy, marble-accented pasta palace in Lilydale, just south of the river from St. Paul, was great if they knew who you were, but now people are saying it's just great—and greatly, truly Italian. How Italian is it? The selection of primi alone is… More >>
  • BEST FRESH PRODUCE

    Community Supported Agriculture

    The best fresh produce is still warm from the sun, with rich-smelling dirt clinging to its roots. The best fresh produce is that funny orange beet you never would have picked up at the grocery store, but now can't resist turning into a beautiful golden salad. The best fresh produce is a little head of butter leaf lettuce smiling up… More >>
  • BEST BARISTA

    Juliana at St. Paul Steep 'n' Brew Coffee Shop - CLOSED

    The narrow, bright coffee shop on the second floor of the US Bank building has always housed friendly baristas who make the non-descript skyways feel a little homier. And Juliana, who's been running the Steep 'n' Brew Coffee Shop since she bought it five years ago, continues the tradition. A petite Korean woman dressed to the fashionable nines, Juliana's part… More >>
  • BEST FISH MARKET

    Coastal Seafoods

    As the crow flies, Minneapolis is just a tidge over 1,000 miles from the nearest coast. It's a fact that has not gone unnoticed by local lovers of ocean fish. A fact that makes Coastal Seafood's thrice daily deliveries to its Minneapolis location even more remarkable. Let's say that again: thrice daily. Because we bet it's probably more often than… More >>
  • BEST MEXICAN RESTAURANT

    Salsa a la Salsa

    A perennial favorite for its novel, fresh, healthy dishes, bracingly tangy margaritas, and color-saturated decor, Eat Street's Salsa a la Salsa has new competition this year—from its own outpost of the same name opened in the mercifully quiet northwest corner of the Midtown Global Market. The menu here has all of the creative preparations on offer at the original: blackened… More >>
  • BEST SUSHI

    Origami West

    The last time we went to the downtown Origami we made a rookie mistake: We showed up at 6:30 on a Friday night, which, as everyone knows, means cooling your heels for an hour in the bar, waiting for a spot to open up. (Darn no-reservations policy!) As it happened, this wait gave us a chance to acquaint ourselves with… More >>
  • BEST MIDDLE EASTERN RESTAURANT

    Shish

    Leo Judah opened his spic-and-span Macalesterland spot last June, and he hasn't had a day off since. The demand for his homemade lamb burgers, rich moussaka, light and zingy hummus, deeply flavored kibbeh, buoyant and crisp spinach pies, big fresh salads, and potently flavored baba ghanoush is just too intense. The recipes at Shish are all simple, real-deal family heirlooms,… More >>
  • BEST GOURMET GROCERY

    Kowalski's

    We're pretty sure the members of the Kowalski family cook. Not cook as in doctor cake mixes to look like tortes, but cook as in flag recipes in Food & Wine and go in search of the particular type of pepper from the Basque region of Spain that will make them work. We think this because Kowalski's eight metro area… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD CAFE—MINNEAPOLIS

    Corner Table

    Corner Table has long been the best-kept-secret of the bucolic Kingfield neighborhood: The room is light and airily modern-museum-like, the food is both delicious and pristinely locally sourced, and the prices are more affordable than lots of comparable spots, especially on Sunday "vino + vinyl" nights when diners bring in their favorite vinyl records to spin. Unfortunately for Kingfielders, but… More >>
  • BEST CHEESE SELECTION

    Premier Cheese Market

    Premier Cheese Market has got $17-a-pound washed-rind this and $12-a-pound artisanal that. A terrific selection, in fact: a well-balanced mix that acknowledges that the upper Midwest, like the Chablis region, has a certain desirable terroir and that not all of us fear pungency. But, you know what else they have? Perfectly serviceable—nay, downright admirable—$5- and $6-a-pound Swiss, provolone, and cheddar,… More >>
  • Muffuletta

    BEST NEIGHBORHOOD CAFE—ST. PAUL

    Muffuletta

    What makes a great restaurant? The chef? The management? The customers? Sometimes any of those, but often what sets a great restaurant apart seems to be some magical vibe, soul, gestalt, or whatever you want to call it, some elusive sum of all the parts plus va-va-voom. Muffaletta has that lately: The food, by talented chef J.D. Fratzke, is better… More >>
  • BEST WINE STORE

    WineStyles

    There's no shortage of contenders for Best Wine Store. You won't go wrong at big-volume, big-discount Hennepin-Lake Liquors; masterfully stocked Surdyk's; or critical darling Solo Vino. And if we dipped into the ranks of next-best, well, this item would run off the page. But sometimes a good thing can be too good, you know? If you're not a Master of… More >>
  • BEST JAPANESE RESTAURANT

    Midori's Floating World Cafe

    The Twin Cities are blessed with good Japanese restaurants. Seriously, more than any other branch of cuisine, it can truly be said of local Japanese spots: They're all good. Our favorite, however, is homey underdog Midori's Floating World. Why? They do all the basics just right: The agedashi tofu ($4.50) trembles with freshness; the salmon nigiri ($4.50) is silky and… More >>
  • BEST LIQUOR STORE

    Surdyk's

    The problem with life is that it is full of life: the kids, the dog, the plumber, the job, the job, the job. Where does the fun fit in? Time-management specialists will tell you that you have to make your fun a destination that sits on your calendar. Is that possible? One of the things we love most about Surdyk's… More >>
  • BEST KOREAN RESTAURANT

    King's Fine Korean Cuisine

    Everyone has a restaurant that they don't get to go to as often as they'd like—because it's out of the way, because their loved ones don't love it as much as they do, because life gets busy. King's Fine is our number-one restaurant that we wish, wish, wish we got to more. The $9.95 buffet (served Tuesday through Friday from… More >>
  • BEST TAKE-HOME BREW

    Surly Brewing Co.Furious and Bender Beers

    A little over a year ago, entrepreneur/beer lover Omar Ansari and veteran brewmaster Todd Haug began kicking out a new line of beers from their blocky little brewery tucked into the industrial hinterlands of Brooklyn Park. A scant 13 months later, this family-heavy crew can barely keep up with demand: In February Surly's blog pleaded, "Dammit, quit drinking so much… More >>
  • Town Talk Diner

    BEST NEW RESTAURANT

    Town Talk Diner - CLOSED

    Nothing is more Minnesota than super-colliding the high-brow with the low-brow—fine French Champagne at bowling alleys (Hi, Bryant-Lake Bowl!), collaborative conceptual art in ice-fishing houses (Hi, Art Shanty Projects!), Prouenza Schouler high-fashion sweaters for $20 at Target (rhymes with Faberge), apolitical quasi-nihilist wrestlers as governor (we miss you, Jesse!), big-brain pop-art sculpture as de facto city mascot (Hi, Spoonbridge and… More >>
  • BEST CHAI

    Namaste Café

    Or, more precisely, masala chai, an addictive blend of hot milk, spices, and black tea, a South Asian favorite usually found in Twin Cities coffeehouses in a cardboard carton in concentrate form. Better to think outside the box and head to Uptown's Namaste Café for freshly brewed chai made to order in intriguing flavor combinations. While the Eucalyptus Chai may… More >>
  • BEST POWER LUNCH

    Vincent—A Restaurant

    When you think of the power lunch, you usually think of two magnates meeting—and Vincent has that in spades. Some Fridays it's practically a who's who of bigwigs from Target, Macy's, and every publishing, graphic arts, and nonprofit company in town. But what about when you're a mere cubicle-farmer, trying to get the office world's landed gentry to meet you… More >>
  • BEST COFFEE BY THE POUND

    Coffee and Tea Ltd.

    Walk into the tiny Coffee and Tea Ltd. in Linden Hills, and beans likely will be roasting in a nearly century-old roaster. Customers will more than likely be found in conversation with owner Jim Cone. He says he doesn't keep track of what sells well and nothing comes recommended because everything has his stamp of approval. The shop, which has… More >>
  • BEST QUEER COFFEE SHOP

    Wilde Roast Café

    Yes, you're right, that was Wilde Roast Café's flourless chocolate torte splayed lasciviously across the cover of last September's Bon Appetit. La Bête Noir, they call it, and even though this isn't a family newspaper, perhaps it's best left at that. Except to say that it's every wicked bit as smooth and dark as that exercise in food porn made… More >>
  • Franklin Street Bakery

    BEST BAKERY

    Franklin Street Bakery

    The chewy chocolate meringue has a glossy crackle on top and goes crunch just before it starts to melt on your tongue. The apple pecan coffee cake tastes like it's from the best church-basement fellowship brunch ever. The cupcakes are light, petite, almost silky, and topped with swirls of buttery frosting that stay just this side of decadent. The cakes… More >>
  • La Belle Vie

    BEST RESTAURANT—MINNEAPOLIS

    La Belle Vie

    La Belle Vie is the best restaurant in Minneapolis for one simple reason: They work faster, harder, and better than anyone else in town right now. Take the baccala ($12). All over the world, this salt-cured cod is a dry and cakey tool of survival, not delight. But the kitchen staff at La Belle Vie, led by chef Tim McKee,… More >>
  • Best Middle Eastern Bread

    Abu Nader Grocery and Deli

    There are bigger selections of breads in the Twin Cities—Holy Land's and Sinbad's being two of the foremost—but if you're looking for the freshest pocket bread in town (often hot out of the oven) head to St. Paul's Abu Nader. Abu Nader's pockets have a fine, dense texture, making them sturdy yet tender containers for sloppy sandwiches like homemade falafel… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT—ST PAUL

    Heartland

    Heartland has raised the bar for every restaurant in the Twin Cities by asking, "Just how much can a northern restaurant really expect to source locally?" And then giving an answer that demolishes every other restaurant's "I can't." Can so, say executive chef Lenny Russo and chef de cuisine Robert Moore. In late March, when nearly everyone else in town… More >>
  • BEST BREAD

    Rustica Bakery

    Rustica Bakery has been operating for only three years, but it has quickly eclipsed the local competition as home to the perfect baguette ($2). At once crispy and chewy, with a sturdy, dark golden-brown crust, this loaf is so authentic one imagines it might just hum a little Charles Aznavour tune to accompany your meal. Whether enjoyed with real butter… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT FOR A FIRST DATE

    duplex - CLOSED

    Nothing's more nerve-wracking than a first date. Will the restaurant you pick have something your unknown quantity likes? You can't bring a hemp-shoed girl to Champps, after all, and you can't bring a backward-baseball cap dude to the raw-food joint. And what about price? If you're a girl and you pick a pricey place, does that mean you're a high-maintenance… More >>
  • BEST ICE CREAM PARLOR

    Sebastian Joe's Ice Cream Cafe

    Sebastian Joe's is the perfect place to go for ice cream and sympathy. They understand that one's evening companions might have aged out of late-night ice cream runs, and so they also offer coffee shop treats by the dozen. They know subzero weather can make a strong case against a treat that's guaranteed to lower your body temperature, so they… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO EAT OUT WITH YOUR KIDS

    Big Bowl

    Just sit there and be quiet—we'll give you to the count of three: one, two...hey, we said sit there! When you're dragging children to a restaurant, you may think you're saving yourself dinnertime hassle. But that only happens if: 1) your children actually eat the food, instead of turning their darling little noses up at it and requiring you to… More >>
  • Legacy Chocolates

    BEST CHOCOLATE

    Legacy Chocolates - CLOSED

    Real chocolate is the new health food these days and even mainstream producers like Hershey's are pumping up the cocoa content in order to attract consumers who seek to satisfy more than a mid-afternoon sugar jones. Legacy Chocolates, with locations in St. Paul and Menomonie, Wisconsin, has a bit of an edge on its competition. Its potent little pretties, with… More >>
  • La Belle Vie

    BEST DESSERTS

    La Belle Vie

    "Would you like to see the pastry menu?" asks a server in the lounge of La Belle Vie, not wanting to presume—and the table nearly jumps down her throat. Hand over the pastry menu! That's practically the whole reason we're here! Some thought has been given to ordering the whole darn thing, all seven offerings, all $68 of it. It's… More >>
  • BEST DOUGHNUTS

    Mel-O-Glaze Bakery

    What's fresh? That's the question savvy doughnut hunters ask when they breach the threshold at Minneapolis mainstay Mel-O-Glaze. The great news is that there's always something fresh: It might be a classic old-fashioned buttermilk cake doughnut ($.75) with its light, fresh bite like a gingham-perfect Midwestern morning. It might be a big, crispy apple fritter ($1.50), a Frisbee-sized mash… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT FOR LATE-NIGHT DINING

    Pizza Lucé

    Like traveling to the darkest depths of the sea and turning on a light, a nighttime visit to the downtown Minneapolis Pizza Lucé will yield some spectacular views of nightlife. Open until 2:30 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 3:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday, the restaurant draws a crowd that's a late-night cornucopia of city life: hipsters looking to sober up… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT FOR ROMANCE

    Bayport Cookery

    Around Valentine's Day the Bayport Cookery really pulls out all the stops, with a "Chocolate Lovers' Nine-Course Tasting Menu" ($85, though it's available with fewer courses for as little as $35). For that feast, the restaurant's signature multi-course menu—always arranged around a particular ingredient or theme—showcases chocolate in all its forms: dark, white, processed, and raw. The dishes accomplished chef… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE

    Nelson Cheese Factory

    There are few reasons to find yourself in Nelson, Wisconsin. Perhaps you were in Wabasha, Minnesota, watching eagles and you got lost? Perhaps you're a truss-bridge tourist, and have come to see the one that spans the Mississippi in this physically beautiful but otherwise empty corner of the world? Or perhaps you have some super restaurant psychic juju, and you… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT TREND

    Democratizing Fine Dining

    Why should rich people have all the fun? Isn't it enough that they get all the tax breaks and the really good school districts? Local restaurateurs have been answering that question with a resounding: Yes, enough for the rich already! Consequently, there's Town Talk Diner, where the rabble can sup like landed French gentry, enjoying an omelette for less than… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT WHEN SOMEONE ELSE IS PAYING

    The Oceanaire

    Oceanaire's menu is famously ever-changing, depending on what fish markets worldwide have to offer, and that element of surprise is part of the thrill of dining there. But the tab for the pristine, exotic, just-flown-in raw materials adds up fast, which is why we like going to Oceanaire when someone else's black AmEx will settle the check. That said, there's… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT FOR GLUTTONS

    Atlantic Buffet

    The Atlantic Buffet is the kind of place where, the first time you go, you just shout out to your friends in delight, "They have apple pie!" Imagine that, in the sea of a hundred or more items including: corn dogs, corn on the cob, corn soup, several kinds of soft-serve ice cream, sushi stuffed with pickled squash, sushi topped… More >>
  • BEST SEAFOOD RESTAURANT

    Sea Salt Eatery

    Lots of places have oysters these days, but when the guy behind the counter at Sea Salt tells you that the bag he's got holds the best that were available, you somehow know deep in your soul that he is telling you the truth. When he rips through a dozen with the light, quick hands of a master oyster-shucker, you… More >>
  • BEST STAR-CHEF EXPERIENCE IN A RESTAURANT

    The Modern's Phillip Becht

    The problem with fine restaurants is that the name chef is often far from the stoves. Not so at the Modern, where chef Phillip Becht is even there for brunch. Seriously, Becht is often to be found in the kitchen spooning creamy white sausage gravy onto buttery golden biscuits and peering over plates of pancakes at the assembled hordes. Any… More >>
  • BEST STEAK HOUSE

    Manny's

    Visitors to this venerable dining institution are greeted by a painting of a bull displaying a rather heavy appendage of masculinity. And in a way, that's fitting for what is, year-in, year-out, the best steak house in town. "We're a New York-style steak house," offers one of Manny's GMs, Steve Kohrer. "We're kind of edgy, masculine, and in your face."… More >>
  • BEST THAI RESTAURANT

    True Thai - CLOSED

    There are a few dishes at True Thai that wake us with longing in the night. The royal Thai fish cakes ($5.50), golden, lumpen discs of fish, batter, curry, egg, and green beans that taste as fresh and big and exotic as a bouquet of orchids. The crispy catfish salad ($12.95), a zingy, lemon-lime sort of fireworks upon grated, salty,… More >>
  • BEST VEGETARIAN-FRIENDLY RESTAURANT

    Spoonriver

    What carnivores fail to understand is that vegetarians are vegetarian for a number of very good reasons: They don't want to hurt animals, and they don't want to end up in the cardiac care unit, the oncology unit, or frankly any hospital unit whatsoever. Brenda Langton really gets that, gets it deep down in her soul, and so she serves… More >>
  • BEST VIETNAMESE RESTAURANT

    Mai Village

    One recent Saturday night, a family of four tucked into a capacious booth at Mai Village and, over cream-cheese wontons for the small folk ($4.25) and limey bun salads topped with two types of sweet, fatty pork ($6.95 each), for the credit-card-wielders, they talked of Vietnam. And therefore of the two-headed dragons adorning the wooden bridge at the entrance… More >>
  • BEST WINE BAR

    Toast Wine Bar & Cafe

    There's a lot to love about this little can-do Warehouse District newcomer with the achingly pretty views of the Minneapolis skyline and the aw-shucks modest menu of gourmet bargains, like cracker-crusted pizzas topped with caramelized onions and sweet talleggio cheese, or antipasto plates brimming with Fra' Mani salamis and esoteric Italian mostardas. The place has wine knowledge to burn: The… More >>
  • BEST WINE LIST

    Cesare's Wine Bar

    Ever seen a boxer go at a speedball, just attacking it? Ratta-tatta-ratta-tatta-ratta-tatta-tat-tat-tat. That's kind of what contemplating the wine list at Cesare's (pronounced chez-a-ray's) is like. It sits on the table innocuously enough, just a sheaf of office paper, like someone's TPS reports, left behind. But you pick it up, and ratta-tatta-tatta, it starts: hundreds and hundreds of wines. The… More >>
  • La Belle Vie

    BEST SERVICE AT A RESTAURANT

    La Belle Vie

    The servers at La Belle Vie often seem as if they're executing a complex ballet: In two, three, four, place plate two, three, four, explain plate concisely and not obnoxiously two, three, four and out two, three, four. When you finish your tiny course of oh, say, slow-poached pheasant with French horn mushrooms and foie gras risotto, they come in… More >>

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