Best Middle Eastern Restaurant - 2009
A La Belle Vie-trained chef armed himself with his mother's Palestinian recipes and created Saffron's elegant menu of Mediterranean-Middle Eastern fusion fare. Sameh Wadi's creative cooking—strip loin with Manchego cheese and romesco; fried mussels with preserved lemons and tahini; duck breast with pomegranate, yogurt sauce, dried fruit, and pistachio—is unlike anything else in the Twin Cities. (It recently garnered him a nomination for the James Beard Foundation's Rising Star Chef award.) Locals love Wadi's hip Warehouse District eatery for its inspired cuisine and its versatility. Casual diners can sit at the bar and sip on a harissa-spiked bloody Mary or cozy up on a couch in the lounge for the killer happy-hour BLT made with house-cured lamb bacon. For a more complete overview of Wadi's cooking, book the cute two-top in the window nook and order the tasting menu. You won't feel like you're in Minnesota at all—and it's a lot cheaper than a plane ticket.