Food & Drink

  • BEST ASIAN GROCERY

    Dragon Star

    This Frogtown market has all the basics: Asian produce, noodles, candy, spices, and soft drinks. You'll find 50-pound bags of rice and durian fruit. Bahn mi sandwiches and deep-fried sesame balls are available for takeout. There's even a jewelry store. But what make this market stand out from the rest are its tanks of live fish and its snout-to-tail butchery,… More >>
  • BEST BREAKFAST

    Lucia's to Go

    All too often, breakfast comes down to a simple either/or prospect: Either do it up and spend a lot for an expensive brunch, or eat a mess of eggs and potatoes in a skillet. Both have their time and place, but it's nice to be able to break out of the box. At the simultaneously affordable and high-class Lucia's to… More >>
  • BEST BAKERY

    A Baker's Wife

    Few things in this world are incontrovertible. But here's one: A good neighborhood bakery can save lives. How? It's difficult to say, but it feels right to say it. If you stood outside the place peering in through the window, you wouldn't believe me. The view is mostly obstructed by a grandmother's collection of old signage, things like a woodcut… More >>
  • BEST CHEAP EATS

    The Chicago Dog at the Bulldog

    It will set you back $5.25 (or $5 at the Northeast location) for this meal at the Bulldog, but for the amount of food you get, you'll swear you should be paying more. Those who order the Chicago Dog will be treated to maximum doggage (either meat or a plump and filling veggie dog). Quality Chicago dogs are only as… More >>
  • BEST BARBECUE

    Lee's and Dee's Barbeque Express

    It's gotta be a rule that fanciness and great barbecue are mutually exclusive. We've just never found decent ribs in a place with padded booths and linen tablecloths. Lee and Dee Smith have been churning out the Cities' most consistently excellent barbecue for 15 years, and their little restaurant's biggest claim to fanciness is a rabbit-eared TV mounted on one… More >>
  • BEST CHEF

    Alex Roberts, Restaurant Alma

    Alex Roberts was one of the first chefs in town to pull the white tablecloth out from under fine dining. After more than a decade in business, his Restaurant Alma serves some of the Cities' most creative, flavorful dishes from a spare dining room in a decidedly unsexy University neighborhood (it's across the street from Santana Foods, if that means… More >>
  • BEST BARISTA

    Andrew Kopplin, Kopplin's Coffee

    Andrew Kopplin thinks most coffee is crud, which is exactly why you should drink his. The veteran barista opened his own shop in 2006, where he sources his beans selectively and brews them by the cup in a fancy new $10,000 machine called the Clover. (It's the coffee geeks' new favorite toy, as it gives the barista precise control over… More >>
  • BEST CHINESE RESTAURANT

    Evergreen

    At first, Evergreen might be mistaken for a Lutheran church basement, albeit one with Chinese zodiac placemats, plastic chopsticks, and handle-less teacups on the tables. But the humble, windowless digs don't detract from the experience—they just keep diners focused on the food. Taiwanese native Connie Fan serves up Chinese dishes you might expect alongside those you might not—under soups, you'll… More >>
  • BEST BREAD

    Saint Agnes Baking Co.

    Are you bored with the bread you find in the supermarket or your neighborhood bakery? Maybe it's time for something new. How about a honey-pecan-hemp bread, hearty but light and soft, a bread whose creator was so convinced of its bounteous healthfulness that an accompanying sign at Saint Agnes Baking Co. proclaims, "Live forever!" Or perhaps you'd enjoy a sweet,… More >>
  • BEST DIM SUM

    Jun Bo - CLOSED

    When it comes to dim sum, here's a general rule: The best tiny tea snacks are served in the biggest rooms. In the Twin Cities, that means you head to Jun Bo, which seats about 400 people, where the crowds are as abundant as the dim sum assortment. Located in a former Chi-Chi's on I-494, everything at Jun Bo is… More >>
  • BEST BUBBLE TEA

    The Tea Garden

    Some may say that the bubble tea trend has hit its peak and will soon be forgotten like Pepsi Clear and Orbitz. Is it merely a trend? Hardly. True bubble tea fanatics will always have an insatiable thirst for the beverage they affectionately refer to as boba. Clueless as to what bubble tea is? Start with marble-sized black pearls of… More >>
  • BEST DINER

    Mickey's Diner

    These days, the closest most people will get to eating in a train diner car is going to Mickey's Diner in the heart of downtown St. Paul. But even if this iconic diner isn't going anywhere, you should make the trip. The neon sign and promise of good, pretty cheap food attract a cross section of the Twin Cities population… More >>
  • BEST BURGER

    Casper & Runyon's Nook

    If you can't get in, it must be good, right? Okay, so the masses don't always recognize quality (is American Idol still on?), but in the case of Casper & Runyon's Nook, the crowds are correct. Sometimes it seems that the most coveted seat in town is one in this small, narrow joint near the College of St. Catherine. At… More >>
  • BEST FREE CHIPS AND SALSA

    Baja Sol

    The enjoyable act of eating free chips and salsa before a meal of Mexican food has never been so perfectly executed as at local chain Baja Sol. When giving away free chips and salsa, a restaurant really could get away with serving up some crappy chips from a bag and room-temperature Pace salsa. But Baja Sol puts a lot of… More >>
  • BEST BURRITO

    Taqueria Los Ocampo

    Choosing the best burrito is a daunting assignment, since there are many worthy competitors, including perennial favorite El Burrito Mercado in St. Paul. But this year belongs to the robust burritos of Taqueria Los Ocampo. First, these bad boys are huge, so you'll likely get two meals out of one, and their flavor is equally super-sized. Los Ocampo offers a… More >>
  • BEST FRENCH RESTAURANT

    Meritage

    This St. Paul newcomer hasn't yet received the accolades of some of our favorite French restaurants, such as Vincent and Cave Vin, though it's certainly deserving. Meritage offers all the Gallic standards, from steak frites to omelet du jour, and while the cassoulet and French onion soup might not have the looks of Carla Bruni, one bite proves they have… More >>
  • BEST CANDY STORE

    United Noodles

    American candy just isn't as fun as it used to be. Though M&Ms have expanded in colors and Milky Way now comes in a friendly "lite" version, somehow it all feels like the same-old. For a real candy adventure, try United Noodles. One of the largest Asian supermarkets in the Midwest, United Noodles has a ton of exotic candies, from… More >>
  • BEST INDIAN RESTAURANT

    Nala Pak - CLOSED

    "This is insane," one woman said to another as she heaped a scoop of curry onto a second plate at the Nala Pak buffet. The former home of Udupi has a new name and new owners, but serves similarly delicious vegetarian Indian food. The weekday buffet, which rings in at just $8.99, is the most effective way to experience Nala… More >>
  • BEST CHEESE SELECTION

    Surdyk's

    After all these years we tend to take Surdyk's for granted, but every visit to the cheese shop reminds us why they are the best. With 300 varieties to choose from, it's hard to know where to start, but the Surdyk's staff is well-trained—they know cheese as well as their counterparts next door know wine. Fancy some samples from California's… More >>
  • BEST IRISH PUB

    The Local

    In terms of Irish-pub street cred, it's hard to top selling more Jameson Irish Whiskey than any other bar in the world (including those on the Isle itself). But that's not the only impressive thing the Local does—it also employs a large and friendly staff who are knowledgeable enough not to look puzzled when you order a Johnny Jump-Up. The… More >>
  • BEST CHICKEN WINGS

    Runyon's

    "Hot" is a relative concept in Minnesota, both in outdoor temperature and spicy food. Although Runyon's hot wings will leave you with a tingling sensation, it's not quite scalding enough to trigger a cascade of endorphins. What Runyon's gets right—and other wing purveyors so often get wrong—is the consistency of the sauce. A good Buffalo sauce should be runny like… More >>
  • BEST ITALIAN RESTAURANT (CHEAP)

    Broders' Pasta Bar

    If you want to eat an affordable plate of pasta, you have dozens of options around the area. If you want to eat a craftily concocted, beautifully presented, top-quality, affordable plate of pasta, your best bet is heading out to Broders' Pasta Bar and sampling the ever-changing variety of egg pasta dishes (from noodles prepared fresh daily) or imported semolina-based… More >>
  • BEST CHOCOLATE

    Legacy Chocolates - CLOSED

    Like coffee, beer, and cheese, chocolate is something we can consume so often we forget how truly luxurious it can be. Thankfully, Legacy is a great reminder that chocolate can be infinitely more complex, varied, and satisfying than what you get for 75 cents in a vending machine. Legacy imports the Criollo cocoa bean from South America, an ancient bean… More >>
  • BEST ITALIAN RESTAURANT (NOT CHEAP)

    I Nonni

    The veal shank osso bucco at I Nonni is the sort of dish that lingers in your memory...the tenderness of the braised meat, the rich, buttery marrow you scooped from the bone with a tiny spoon. It's one of those meals that makes it difficult to order anything else on the menu. But if you can bear to venture beyond,… More >>
  • BEST COFFEE BY THE POUND

    R. Miguel

    We might as well be upfront: This year's pick isn't for the faint of heart or light of wallet—it costs $300 a pound. But we're not thinking about value (or mortgage payments), just the sheer superlative, and R. Miguel's "Nectar" is simply the best coffee we've ever tasted. The beans come from a Panamanian farm known for producing some of… More >>
  • BEST JAPANESE RESTAURANT

    Obento-ya

    For many Americans, sushi is the alpha and omega of Japanese cuisine, give or take a bowl of edamame and an order of tempura shrimp. You can get those things at Obento-ya, and they'll be served up with grace, skill, and gusto. But the beauty of this newly opened Japanese bistro near Dinkytown is that its menu is far broader… More >>
  • BEST COFFEE HOUSE

    Uncommon Grounds Coffee House

    The location is a little odd: The two-story Victorian house is slightly pushed back on Hennepin Avenue, concealed within the busy, commercial strip that leads to the heart of Uptown. And the hours are a little bit inopportune: The place doesn't open until 5 p.m. on weekdays. But once the doors are open, it's clear what the fuss over Uncommon… More >>
  • BEST KOREAN RESTAURANT

    Dong Yang

    Of course, we love King's Fine Korean in Fridley—who doesn't?—but when we want our kimchi a little more low-key, i.e. sans karaoke, we head up Central Avenue and stop at Dong Yang. Inside the massive Asian grocery, which sells everything from household furniture to gallon jars of Korea's national pickle, a small lunchroom in back is staffed by Korean women… More >>
  • BEST CORN CAKES

    Maria's Cafe

    Do you know what this is—this thing they call the "corn cake"? Perhaps you know it as cachapas venezolanas? It is round and flat like a pancake. It is moist and savory. It contains corn flour, butter, and cut corn. You sprinkle fabulously dry and sharp Cotija cheese on it. This, at least, is what the corn cake is at… More >>
  • BEST MEXICAN RESTAURANT

    Masa

    Still mourning the loss of Pineda Tacos #2, the no-frills pit stop in the old Hi-Lake Pizza Hut? Here's what you do: Head over to Masa and start to console yourself with one of the six top-shelf margaritas. Once the alcohol starts to take effect, notice how the light streams in through the windows and bounces all over the colorful… More >>
  • BEST DELICATESSEN

    Be'wiched

    Three words: house-cured pastrami. This tasty, salty meat is one of the stars of the menu at Be'wiched, and it's about time it got here. The Twin Cities have never exactly excelled at the deli thing: Until recently, our best delis were the ones flying ingredients in from New York. Here to change this sad state of affairs are Be'wiched… More >>
  • BEST MIDDLE EASTERN RESTAURANT

    Saffron

    Say you love a good street-cart falafel, exploding with onions, cucumbers, and tomatoes, and leaving a trail of creamy yogurt dressing dripping down your wrist. Say you make weekly trips to Holy Land to stock up on pita, hummus, tabouli, and stuffed grape leaves. What do you do when you want to find these same flavors in your fine dining?… More >>
  • BEST DOUGHNUTS

    A Baker's Wife

    The name comes from the 1930s French flick A Baker's Wife, which tells the tale of a baker who loses the ability to work after his beautiful wife flies their sugary coop. But there is nothing tragic about this inconspicuous south Minneapolis bakery, which bears colorful knickknacks, kitschy phrases on wooden plaques, and doughnuts that leave you foaming glaze at… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD CAFÉ—MINNEAPOLIS

    Café Levain

    Restaurant Levain launched as an ambitious culinary exploration of foie-gras torchon and butter-poached lobster, but the problem was, it was a little too pricey for most to visit if it wasn't a special occasion. The restaurant closed last year and reopened soon after as a more casual café: It's the same cozy space, with butter-colored walls and dark wood wainscoting,… More >>
  • BEST DRUNK FOOD

    Downtown Pizza

    There's just something about grease—glorious, napkin-dissolving grease—that brings joy to the famished drunkard's heart (in addition to cholesterol). It's as if the soluble fat molecules bond with the ethanol coursing through your veins to create a euphoria-inducing chemical. Or maybe that's just the booze talking. Whatever the case, Downtown Pizza (a.k.a. Downtown Diner) on Fifth and Hennepin feels like the… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD CAFÉ—ST. PAUL

    Tanpopo Noodle Shop

    This quiet Lowertown noodle shop shows that Japanese cuisine is far more than fun-and-flashy sushi joints. Chef-owner Koshiki Yonemura cooks a home-style menu that's as simple and sweet as her dining room, a high-ceilinged loft with a beautiful, spare rusticity. Appetizers can be as basic as blanched spinach with fresh-ground sesame seeds or as exotic as agedashi tofu, where the… More >>
  • BEST FISH MARKET

    Coastal Seafoods

    Who doesn't want to learn how to prepare their own sushi? Besides offering the finest fresh fish selection in the Twin Cities area, Coastal Seafoods takes seafood lovers a step further, offering courses on selecting and preparing our favorite sea creatures. On any given Saturday a stream of steady customers stop by the swimming-pool-blue seafood shop on Minnehaha Avenue (and… More >>
  • BEST NEW RESTAURANT

    Heidi's

    What happens when a bigwig chef—one who cooked in some of New York City's best restaurants, one who graced the cover of Food & Wine's Best New Chef issue—scales back? Wonderful, wonderful things, that's what. Chef Stewart Woodman, the force that launched Five and Restaurant Levain, took over the former Pane Vino Dolce space and named the new restaurant Heidi's,… More >>
  • BEST FLAN

    La Sirena Gorda

    "Have you never tried my flan?" Alfonso Menendez asks incredulously. "No? Then you are in for a treat." And he ain't kidding. The owner of both Babalu and La Sirena Gorda obviously takes his flan just as seriously as he does the seafood for which his Midtown Global Market restaurant is more widely known. This is not the bready, eggy… More >>
  • BEST OKTOBERFEST

    Gasthof zur Gemütlichkeit

    What is it about gulping über-hoppy German bier out of a giant, boot-shaped glass that renders live polka music not just tolerable but enjoyable? Beats the hell out of us, but such is the magic of Oktoberfest at Gasthof zur Gemütlichkeit. For four weekends starting in late September, this Bavaria-style bar and eatery in Northeast amps up the Germanic fare… More >>
  • BEST FRIES

    Red Stag Supper Club

    There's something sad about a pale French fry. That little slice of potato was brought close to reaching its potential of crispy goodness, and then denied. Lost to incorrect oil temperature, overcrowding, or some other laziness in preparation, and often over-salted in a sad attempt to compensate for its limpness, a light-colored, sub-par fry is always a disappointment. For fries… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO STUDY WHILE SIPPING BEER

    Common Roots Cafe

    Sure, coffee is a staple for those looking to get some work done fast. But for lower-key job duties or term papers, sometimes you just want a pint. When you want to do some less high-maintenance thinking, Common Roots Cafe fulfills those needs. A cute spot with community in mind, the new-ish place serves up pints of Surly Furious and… More >>
  • BEST GOURMET GROCERY

    Kowalski's

    Gourmet grocery shopping is a bit of a challenge in this tanking economy, but even if our haul is smaller these days, we're still sure to sample the good life while shopping at Kowalski's. Looking for cheese? Many of the stores have an inventory to rival some of the best purveyors in town. Although it's pre-wrapped, the cheese is fresh,… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT—MINNEAPOLIS

    La Belle Vie

    When you want a top-notch, ultra luxe, all-the-bells-and-whistles dining experience, there's really no other choice but La Belle Vie. Chef Tim McKee's perfectly prepared dishes—from seared foie gras with roasted mission figs to grilled veal short loin with celery root fondue—are as elegant and delicious as they are inventive. Sommelier Bill Summerville has assembled one of the best lists in… More >>
  • BEST GOURMET PIZZA

    Jay's Café - CLOSED

    A great pizza is maybe 30 percent context. This is science. And Jay's Café gets the context just right: a small box of a room; cracked linoleum floors; small, square tables with an aged black-lacquer finish; IBC root beer in the cooler. That they've captured the essence of the great American pizzeria is surely coincidence, and you must take full… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT—ST. PAUL

    Heartland

    Lenny Russo, chef-owner of Heartland in St. Paul, was doing the whole local, seasonal, sustainable thing way before it was hip. Russo's love for his Midwestern pantry shows through in his poetic menu descriptions: "Pan-seared Singerhouse Farm rabbit loin with black trumpet mushrooms, organic leeks, and roasted carrot coulis.... North Star Farm elk roast with baby root vegetables, braised red… More >>
  • BEST HOT DOGS

    The Wienery

    This West Bank dive might be the messiest restaurant in the city, but that doesn't mean they don't make a great dog. The meat is Vienna Beef brand and so are the buns, which are speckled with purple poppy seeds. The man manning the grill, owner Pat Starr, with his trademark beard and stocking cap, seems to know most of… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT FOR A FIRST DATE

    Tea House

    Here's a quick way to assess your date's snob factor: Drive the possible object of your affection to this forlorn-looking strip mall off I-94 and White Bear Avenue, and watch the initial reaction. Does her nose instinctively crinkle in distaste as she contemplates the dismal surroundings? Do you see a flash of fear in his eyes as he imagines unwashed… More >>
  • BEST ICE CREAM PARLOR

    Crema Café

    Crema Café is a sweet spot in south Minneapolis. Sitting pretty at the corner of 34th Street and Lyndale Avenue, it looks like a Tuscan oasis, even when the blackened snow is still piled up on the corner. Once inside, fortified with a pasta dish and glass of wine, your attentions will surely turn to the case filled with Sonny's… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT FOR APPETIZERS

    Café Maude

    In the mood for something light? If you can manage to pick your way through the convivial crowd to the bar at Café Maude, the restaurant has a number of ways to reward you for your trouble. On a cool spring evening, try the smoky, sensual roasted corn chowder with avocado and bacon, and let the soup warm you from… More >>
  • BEST LATTE

    May Day Cafe

    In a post-Starbucks world, flavored coffee drinks are usually just milkshakes in a coffee cup. If you pine for the days when the corner pharmacy made milkshakes in one corner and sold laxatives in the other, then surely you are glad to see this spinning top of a world turn in your favor. If you like coffee in your coffee,… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT FOR DESSERT

    Cosmos

    At Restaurant Levain and Auriga, pastry chef Khanh Tran developed a reputation for her creative contradictions, mixing crisp and creamy textures, or pairing savory flavors with sweet. Now that she's at Cosmos, the ultra-mod room seems an appropriate backdrop for her stunning, sculpture-like works. She might be serving a chocolate fig tart with smoked hot chocolate and white-pepper ice cream.… More >>
  • BEST LIQUOR STORE

    Merwin Liquors

    Liquor stores in economically struggling neighborhoods don't generally have the most sterling reputations. Such geographically challenged purveyors of fine wines and malt beverages are often viewed as cancers on poor neighborhoods, sapping folks who can ill afford it of their initiative and their paychecks. But Merwin Liquors, at the North Side crossroads of Lyndale and Broadway avenues, is a rough-hewn… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT FOR LATE-NIGHT DINING

    112 Eatery

    Used to be, in this town, that late-night dining meant snagging a table at Little T's for a burrito that tasted like it just died and came out of a microwave. But the 112 Eatery changed all that. Designed as a place for post-shift chefs to wind down, 112 Eatery serves full gourmet meals until close, which is midnight Monday… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL DELICACY

    The Juicy Lucy

    Just as Geno's and Pat's stubbornly battle for the title of Best Cheesesteak in Philadelphia, so too are Matt's and the 5-8 Club locked in an eternal struggle over who created the cheeseburger that has been called "the Cheesesteak of south Minneapolis": the Juicy (or Jucy) Lucy. The sandwich exerts so great a gravitational pull on the local imagination that… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT FOR OUTDOOR DINING

    Stone's Restaurant and Lounge

    Why drive all the way to Stillwater for outdoor dining? For the same reason that, mid-summer, Highway 95 transitions from thoroughfare to parking lot: The historic river town is a beautiful place to walk by the river, stop in the gift shops, and watch all the motorcyclists and antique shoppers. When you need a break from it all, head to… More >>
  • BEST MIDDLE EASTERN GROCERY

    Holy Land

    Holy Land has set the bar so high for Middle Eastern groceries that it's hard to imagine who could possibly compete. The first sight upon entering is the deli, where we are easily sidetracked by the well-stocked buffet and plates heaped with hot gyros, kabobs, samosas, and spinach pies. Then it's the racks of bread—pillowy pita, garlicky Afghan—and an endless… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT FOR ROMANCE

    Barbette

    What makes a romantic evening? Hell, a bag full of White Castle sliders can do the trick if the stars are properly aligned, so it's impossible to say for certain. But some factors are virtually guaranteed to make a convivial evening. Chic sophistication is good, but you don't want a place that's imposing or uptight. You want the place to… More >>
  • BEST NATURAL FOODS GROCERY

    Mississippi Market

    Nearing its 30th anniversary, Mississippi Market has been around since the times when only hippies cared about local or organic food. And with the sad demise last year of North Country Co-op (the Twin Cities' first such store, started in 1971), we're especially glad that Mississippi Market has survived and thrived. Still offering fresh produce, reliable bulk staples, and environmental… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT TREND

    The neighborhood bistro

    How would you like to have a restaurant around the corner from your house or apartment that served up sophisticated food? But didn't charge much for it? And let you eat anything from an after-work bar nosh to a fancy-ass celebratory meal with all the trimmings? In 2001, Barbette proved it could be done. Now a lot of places are… More >>
  • BEST PANCAKES

    The Bad Waitress

    Pancakes have certain curative powers: to quell hunger, to soothe a broken heart over a gossipy brunch, and to help soak up the toxins from a legendary evening. They hold within their tenderly crusted surfaces a warm, buttery center of comfort that recalls one's childhood security blanket. For your money, the most reliably tasty pancakes are found at the hipster… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT WHEN SOMEONE ELSE IS PAYING

    Chambers Kitchen - CLOSED

    When you want the rock-star treatment, the best of the best, to really go all-out—i.e., those times when somebody else is picking up the tab—make your reservation at Chambers Kitchen. Real estate mogul Ralph Burnet's sleek, boutique Chambers Hotel has a world-class modern art collection and a bigwig, globetrotting chef overseeing the kitchen. Okay, so you probably won't actually lay… More >>
  • BEST PICNIC SPOT

    Hidden Falls Regional Park

    Picnicking is a lost art these days. With people's frenetic schedules and fast food on every corner, the idea of a leisurely lunch in the out-of-doors has fallen out of fashion. But if you'd like to bring a little more romance to your weekends, we know the perfect spot to spread your blanket and rekindle the tradition. The relative seclusion… More >>
  • BEST SEAFOOD ENTRÉE

    Alaska Eatery and Glacier Bar - CLOSED

    The newly opened Alaska Eatery puts a lot of stock in its grilling operation, which dominates the restaurant's foyer and crowds up much of the menu. This is both wise and fitting. The restaurant has figured out a remarkably savory way to prepare food, and is squeezing it for all it's worth, letting smoky undertones creep artfully beneath the surface… More >>
  • BEST PIZZA

    Mesa

    Normally we would recommend that people stay away from novelty pizza flavors. That said, the penne pesto pizza at Mesa is actually pretty good. But if consuming pizza with penne pasta bits worked into the cheese isn't your thing, Mesa has other less adventurous but still mighty tasty pies, such as pepperoni or cheese. But really, with enormous slices ranging… More >>
  • BEST SEAFOOD RESTAURANT

    Sea Salt

    Sometimes you want your seafood served on fine china, gussied up with garnishes and sauce. And sometimes you want to eat it just like fresh-catch, pure and unadorned, shucked straight from the shell. When that's the case, head to Sea Salt, where the fish is as fine as if you'd just brought it off the boat. That's because the guys… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO PLAY GAMES OF WORLD DOMINATION WHILE EATING SEASONED FRIES

    Chatterbox Pub

    Anyone familiar with the history of statecraft and international power has heard it again and again: You can't win without seasoned fries—in fact, you might as well not even play. Clearly the fine minds behind the Chatterbox Pub know the calculus of power, for they have created a venue wherein you can try your hand at global dominance while coating… More >>
  • BEST SERVICE

    Wayzata Eatery - CLOSED

    As a matter of course, you expect waiters and waitresses to at least feign enthusiasm for their place of work and the food that comes out of it. And as a matter of course, the reality tends to clock in somewhere between "phoned in" and "professionally committed." But at the Wayzata Eatery, everyone from the servers to the chef seems… More >>
  • BEST SALAD

    The Craftsman Restaurant

    The sparse and straight-line interior of the Craftsman is a tribute to the Arts and Crafts design movement of the early 20th century. It would be fitting, then, to begin with a word or two from English artist and writer William Morris, the man whose work and writings seeded the movement. The words we've selected to share here were spoken… More >>
  • BEST STEAK HOUSE

    Fogo de Chao

    Here's the problem with most steakhouses: how to choose. New York strip? Porterhouse? Filet mignon? Prime Rib? That's why Fogo de Chão, a churrascaria-style steakhouse, is great for commitment-phobes. Brazilian gaucho chefs dash around the room carrying giant skewers of flame-kissed meats; diners pay a flat fee for unlimited access to the meat parade, gained with a small paper disk—red… More >>
  • BEST SAMOSA

    Hyderabad House - CLOSED

    We know what you're thinking: Just as seeing one redwood tree is akin to seeing them all, and as surely as one mainstream politician is the same as all the rest, so are all samosas created equal. You are wrong. For proof, report to Hyderabad House, the unrepentantly humble spot on Central Avenue in northeast Minneapolis, and order yourself a… More >>
  • BEST SUNDAY BRUNCH

    Good Day Café

    There's a good reason that the Good Day Café is always jam-packed—in fact, from the waffles and caramel rolls to the fried-egg sandwiches stacked with ham and avocado, there are a lot of reasons. Besides, did you think Golden Valley's country-club crowd was going to make breakfast for itself? The bright, sunny eatery is owned by David Webb, who knows… More >>
  • BEST SEASONAL ICE CREAM STAND

    Dave's Popcorn and Carmelcorn

    Nestled a block east of Cedar Avenue on 38th Street, on a cool, tree-shaded corner, is Dave's Popcorn. The small, shed-like building, which looks as if it took a long, happy sigh and settled into its old frame sometime around 1960, is open just a few months of the year to satisfy sweet tooths from miles around. Dave's fits in… More >>
  • BEST SUSHI

    Origami

    Sushi rises and falls based on the fish, and in terms of serving up some of the freshest, most vibrant eats in the Cities, Origami comes through again and again. That, however, is only half the battle. One of the real beauties of sushi (or, more broadly, fine Japanese dining in general) is the potential for the chef to connect… More >>
  • BEST SOUL FOOD

    West Indies Soul - CLOSED

    West Indies Soul, formerly of St. Paul, now in the Midtown Global Market, serves the best of two worlds: home-style cooking from the Caribbean islands and the American South. That means they've got rib tips, chicken strips, and Cajun fried catfish to pair with all manner of fried okra, hush puppies, and plantains, plus greens, vegetable succotash, and candied yams.… More >>
  • BEST TAKEOUT

    Brasa Rotisserie

    Takeout can be such a troublesome beast. Think of what, say, a souffle loses in just a short ride on the passenger seat. How many once-delicious meals have been popped in a Styrofoam clamshell and, by the time you arrived home, emerged a soggy, listless mess? Not so with the Latin soul food served at Brasa Rotisserie, where Alexander Roberts,… More >>
  • BEST STEAMED DUMPLINGS

    China Jen

    Xiao long bao, more commonly known in these parts as steamed soup dumplings, are arguably the world's perfect food. Prepared and served in a bamboo steamer, the small and fragile dumplings come with a filling—made of meat, veggies, or seafood—along with a wonton soup-like broth. The uninitiated may fail to find the perfection in this delicacy—or may even come to… More >>
  • BEST THAI RESTAURANT

    True Thai - CLOSED

    What is "real" Thai food? There's no simple answer, but there are certain hallmarks worth searching out: assertive heat, deep muskiness, depth of spice, shots of citrus, silken textures, and a blend of flavors that evokes life in one of the world's most gastronomically sophisticated countries. The food at True Thai rings all these bells and more, combining a warm… More >>
  • BEST TACOS

    Dominguez Family Restaurant

    There are a lot of reasons to stop into Dominguez Family Restaurant, from the bottomless nachos served toasty warm to the always-quick service and friendly atmosphere. But principal on the list are the tacos. Tacos aren't a complicated thing, if done in traditional Mexican style—two corn tortillas, cilantro, onion, a meat of choice, and a slice of lime are the… More >>
  • BEST VEGETARIAN-FRIENDLY RESTAURANT

    Spoonriver

    Quick: When you think of vegetarian food, what's the first thing that comes to mind? Beans and rice? Pasta? Tofu à la king? Not so at Brenda Langton's Spoonriver, which proves that vegetarian cuisine doesn't have to wear Birkenstocks or smell like patchouli. Spoonriver is the gourmet-natural evolution of her Café Brenda: a long, sleek eatery with big glass windows,… More >>
  • BEST TAKE-HOME BEER

    Summit Pale Ale

    Yes, we've tried Surly Furious. We think it's a lovely beer, and we drink it frequently. Yes, the four-pack is quite innovative, if not a tad overpriced. That said, we would like to suggest a pale ale that has been doing its hoppy thing since before it was the trend. Though Summit has a variety of brews, both seasonal and… More >>
  • BEST VIETNAMESE RESTAURANT

    Ngon Vietnamese Bistro

    Great pho is the foundation of any respectable Vietnamese restaurant, and Ngon Bistro has it in spades. The soup's beef broth is subtle, slightly sweet, oniony, and anise-flavored. It can be ordered as simply as with rice noodles and chicken, or as an all-beef blowout of thin-sliced beef, both lean and fatty; homemade beef balls; tendon; and tripe. The rest… More >>
  • BEST TEA SHOP

    La Société du Thé

    Sure, in our super-caffeinated coffee world, tea doesn't get a lot of attention. Like people who drink Dr. Pepper instead of Coke, fans of tea will probably never be as numerous as those of coffee, but they're at least as passionate. Any genuine tea freak should appreciate La Société du Thé, an excellent place to relax and indulge in an… More >>
  • BEST WINE LIST

    Toast Wine Bar & Café

    The most useful wine lists are those carefully pared down to just the essentials. Who needs a zillion bottles to choose from if you're only going to order one? Scott Davis, a onetime partner in Auriga (he ran the front of the house and served as sommelier), is a talented editor when it comes to wine. He and his wife,… More >>
  • BEST VEGETARIAN DINER FOOD

    Highland Grill

    When it comes to great diner food, most entrées contain some sort of meat product. Meatloaf, hamburgers, and BLTs are classic diner staples, after all. And although many vegetarians have a sweet tooth, making a dinner of pancakes or side dishes when dining out with carnivorous friends can get pretty old. Highland Grill is a classic grill with a twist,… More >>
  • BEST WINE STORE

    France 44

    At first glance, France 44 looks like a typical wine shop, with thousands of bottles arranged on shelves, grouped by type or region. But as soon as you discover all the programs, classes, clubs, and the Friday and Saturday tastings, you'll agree with Wine Spectator's trade magazine, Market Watch, that France 44 is "a new leader in retail." Downstairs, France… More >>

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