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Food & Drink

  • BEST DIM SUM

    Mandarin Kitchen

    The parking lot tells the story at Mandarin Kitchen. On one recent Sunday morning, the asphalt surrounding this hidden Bloomington strip-mall gem was so stuffed with minivans that, much to the dismay of Buck's Unpainted Furniture, the cars spilled like burst pot-sticker innards into the spaces reserved for surrounding businesses. But Buck's pain is your gain, because this is how… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT FOR A FIRST DATE

    Northeast Social

    First, she'll be impressed that "social" is in the name—it gives you instant in-the-know cred. But more than that, the new Northeast dining spot lives up to its name: The small size and closely spaced tables make for warm, buzzing chatter that cloaks the evening meal in a sense of intimacy. The menu is fantastic, and at $18 to $20… More >>
  • BEST ETHIOPIAN RESTAURANT

    Fasika

    "Dry or wet?" the server at Fasika asked us as we ordered a plate of the marinated beef ribs. We wanted 'em juicy, of course, so the spicy sauce on those fatty meat nubs would soak right in to the spongy injera bread. The ambiance at this longtime Ethiopian eatery is as eclectic as it is low-key: Its chartreuse walls… More >>
  • BEST MIDDLE EASTERN RESTAURANT

    Babani's Kurdish Restaurant

    The first Kurdish restaurant to open in the United States, Babani's is named for the Babani tribe, whose men were known for their fighting skills and sexual prowess (seriously, it says that on the menu!) and whose women were considered kind, forgiving, and exceptionally good at cooking. The menu consists of authentic Kurdish dishes, including chicken tawa (chicken sautéed in… More >>
  • BEST OUTDOOR DINING

    Seven Sushi Ultralounge and Skybar

    We like the greenery of W.A. Frost's garden patio and the bustle of the sidewalk seats at the Local, but when it comes to outdoor dining, our favorite perch is a roof deck. With its posh lounge seating—cushy couches surrounded by pretty planters and roaring fire pits—nestled between tall glass skyscrapers, Seven's Skybar is tops. The 6,000-square-foot deck offers striking… More >>
  • BEST CHEAP EATS

    Taj Grill - CLOSED

    What, exactly, is a steaming pile of penne alfredo doing at the Taj Indian Grill lunch buffet? It's an understandable inquiry, but considering you just paid $4.95 to get in line—pause and let that price wash over you—you don't ask questions. After all, this generous buffet (11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily) requires at least three trips to taste all… More >>
  • BEST HOT DOG

    Italian Veggie Dog from the Wienery

    When it comes to hot dogs, the Wienery is the best in the Twin Cities—worth a visit for its sheer variety in both franks and toppings. This year we single out the Italian Veggie Dog as the best hot dog in the city—especially when topped off to become the "Briny Dog"—with jalapeños, pickled carrots, kraut, and crisp, crunchy pickles. The… More >>
  • BEST PEPPER DISH

    Habanero Hell Poppers, Chino Latino

    At Chino Latino, a dish's level of spiciness is measured by small fireworks graphics next to the item on the menu. The Hell Poppers are, according to this system, five fireworks hot. To put this in perspective, that's five times as spicy as any other item on the menu. So if you measure a good pepper on the Scoville scale,… More >>
  • BEST CHOCOLATE

    Rogue Chocolatier

    Year after year, Rogue Chocolatier's founder and sole employee, Colin Gasko, continues to impress us with his single-origin chocolate bars. Gasko starts with cocoa beans, which he carefully sources from different regions of the tropical world, and then, working almost like a winemaker, coaxes every nuance of flavor—smoke, nuts, coffee, citrus, berries—out of the beans as he converts them into… More >>
  • BEST COCKTAILS

    Prohibition

    High on the 27th floor of the Foshay tower, Prohibition boasts incredible views of Minneapolis, posh leather couches, and little nooks and crannies perfect for hushed conversations. But this bar isn't just about show; it also serves amazing cocktails. There's the delicate Epiphany Martini, mixed with pear vodka and St-Germain elderflower liqueur and topped with champagne and a flower. Or… More >>
  • BEST DIVE BAR

    The Red Dragon

    When selecting a dive bar for an evening of debauchery, several criteria must be met. First, you want sketchy decor. Second, you want to be surrounded by interesting characters. Third, you want to get ripped for cheap. The Red Dragon gets a gold star for all three. The ambiance is seedy, but not overwhelmingly so. The interior is a pleasant… More >>
  • BEST STRIP CLUB LUNCH

    Schieks Palace Royale

    Let's say you're a gentlemen looking to spice up your dull lunchtime routine. Where can you go? Well, how about a strip club? Not only that, but a club with one of the best values in town for a midweek nooner. Schieks offers a delicious "5 for $5" menu Monday through Friday, with five lunch items that include filet mignon,… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT (MINNEAPOLIS)

    La Belle Vie

    Tim McKee's recent James Beard Award for Best Midwest Chef confirmed to the rest of the country what we already knew: Nobody has influenced the last decade of fine dining in the Twin Cities more than McKee. We could go on and on about the royal treatment you'll receive at McKee's first restaurant, La Belle Vie, from the moment the… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT WHEN SOMEONE ELSE IS PAYING

    Corner Table

    The phrase "all you can eat" is often associated with buffets where those with the most voracious appetites go to refuel: Quantity tends to trump the quality of whatever's being shoveled into the tank. A seat at the Corner Table's kitchen table challenges those notions by offering the farm-fresh gourmand's version of the concept. For $125 a person, diners get… More >>
  • BEST FRENCH RESTAURANT

    Meritage

    Suggest a French restaurant for dinner and you run the risk of being labeled as le snob. Unless that restaurant is the accessible Meritage, the perfect French brasserie for St. Paul: The waitstaff doesn't mind if, instead of mangling words like cassoulet or bouillabaisse, you simply point to the amusements or entrées you desire—no judgment, no sneer. And don't even… More >>
  • BEST SEAFOOD RESTAURANT

    Sea Change

    Demand for seafood is rising faster than high tide, as it's an extremely healthy, tasty, and nutritious protein. But its increasing popularity has stressed the oceans' stocks, and poor fishing methods have caused serious ecological damage. Worse, consumer information about sustainable seafood tends to be fast-changing and confusing. Fortunately, we can find some relief at Sea Change, James Beard Award-winning… More >>
  • BEST SUNDAY BRUNCH

    Grand Cafe

    A proper Sunday brunch should begin the way one does at the Grand Cafe: hot tea served in a pretty painted pot or coffee that comes with a vintage cream-and-sugar service that befits the nostalgic-eclectic aesthetic of a bakery-café that's been feeding its neighbors for decades. The broad, white oven in the middle of Grand's dining room makes the place… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO EAT WITH KIDS

    D'Amico and Sons

    Let's be honest. You know, just between us parents. What makes a place great to eat with the kidlets isn't the number of servers dressed as large mascots, or the sturdiness of the toy included with the meal. It's whether mom and dad can eat and enjoy themselves as much as the tots do—a tall order at places like Chuck… More >>
  • BEST FRENCH FRIES

    Acadia Cafe

    There's a salty little war quietly playing out at the intersection of Cedar and Riverside between two of Minneapolis's finest French fry purveyors: the Wienery and the Acadia Café. The winner will be the one who can most consistently deliver a house-made fry that makes good on its fresh-flavor promises without devolving into a 10-napkin sog-fest. Currently, the Acadia is… More >>
  • BEST STREET FOOD

    Chef Shack

    By now you've tried all the Chef Shack staples, right? Sat yourself down on the curb at Kingfield's farmers' market or the Guthrie steps at Mill City's and tucked into a Thousand Hills hot dog, Buffalo Gal bison burger, or Fischer Farms pulled-pork sandwich (smothered with homemade condiments, natch), then followed it up with a bag of the Indian-spiced mini-doughnuts,… More >>
  • BEST CANDY STORE

    Sugar Sugar Candy

    If Walgreens stocks it, Joni Wheeler probably doesn't, as her Kingfield candy shop, Sugar Sugar Candy, specializes in hard-to-find niche products, imports, and the old-fashioned sweets that Grandma ate growing up. Wheeler drew on her retail background and eye for the aesthetic when she decorated her shop. She painted the walls the signature green of Paris's Ladurée pastry shop (as… More >>
  • BEST MARGARITA

    The Cobra Verde at Barrio

    The psychoactive properties of absinthe have been greatly exaggerated over its long history, but that doesn't make the idea of combining it with tequila any less outlandish. The Cobra Verde, the crown jewel in Barrio's finely tuned selection of across-the-board spectacular margaritas, pulls that wild stunt off with delicious aplomb. The anise-rich qualities of absinthe combine favorably with the lush… More >>
  • BEST IRISH PUB

    The Local

    Fun/random/totally drunken fact: Downtown Minneapolis's the Local sells more Jameson Irish Whiskey than any other bar in the world. Need we say more? Probably not, but all this Murphy's Irish Stout has got us chatty. The grub here transcends typical pub fare (we suggest you start with the whiskey-glazed chicken shot—yes, chicken shot—appetizer). And while the quasi-swanky interior lacks an… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT (ST. PAUL)

    The Strip Club

    You know the rumors about strip clubs serving great steaks? Well, we haven't done too much research on the subject, but there's only one place we've found those notions to be true: the Strip Club in St. Paul, which fortunately happens to not be that sort of strip club at all. The clubby neighborhood restaurant's signature Strip Steak is grass-fed… More >>
  • BEST SERVICE

    Lucia's

    While the menu at Lucia's changes almost weekly, the faces serving customers at this neighborhood favorite seem to stay the same, which means a level of consistent service you can rely on. With the regular rotation of menu items, it's twice as impressive that the staff is so knowledgeable about everything on offer. That includes the extensive wine selection; the… More >>
  • BEST GREEK RESTAURANT

    Gardens of Salonica

    There's something charming about having a restaurant's chef double as your server. At Gardens of Salonica, it means owner Anna Christoforides can easily direct diners to dishes like the lachanodolmades, a seasoned beef and cabbage dish liberally coated in avgolemono (a thick egg-and-lemon broth). How else would we know to swirl vinegar into the thick lentil soup without her suggestion?… More >>
  • BEST SOUL FOOD

    Brasa

    Soul is the intangible underlayer of everything—the stuff you can't see but that matters the most. You'll find plenty of it at Brasa, in the form of Creole cooking of the Americas and Caribbean. The meats—rotisserie chicken, pulled chicken, pork shoulder, and, most recently, braised beef—are cooked as low and slow as a swamp blues and come out as tender… More >>
  • BEST BREAKFAST

    D'Amico Kitchen - CLOSED

    Eggs. Bacon. Waffles. Whatever. The thought of a basic breakfast sometimes makes us want to roll over and hit the snooze button. But we'll pop out of bed before the alarm if we know we're getting the morning bruschetta at D'Amico Kitchen. It's as artful as anything hanging on the walls at the Chambers Hotel, which is home to owner… More >>
  • BEST DELICATESSEN

    Broders' Cucina Italiana

    Pizza by the slice, Italian panini to go, lasagna, spaghetti, eggplant parmigiana, stromboli—if it's Italian you're craving, Broders' Cucina Italiana has got it all. The deli near the corner of 50th and Penn has been around for 20 years, and the food is fabulous. Dine in the tiny eating area, or get your food to go. To round out the… More >>
  • BEST SANDWICH

    Bacon, egg, and harissa sandwich at 112 Eatery

    Few restaurants in the metro can hold a candle to the ridonculous creativity of the team at 112 Eatery. Their menu is as diverse as the crowd at Nye's, but what may surprise you is that this Minneapolis comfort-food classic also features a roster of killer sandwiches. The burger is ultra decadent, the bánh mì is inspiring, but the best… More >>
  • BEST SUSHI

    Giapponese Sushi - CLOSED

    Its name is Italian. Its owner is of Chinese heritage. Its itamae, or sushi chef, is a pierced blond guy named Mike—from Hibbing. But don't let this fool you­­. Ask for "omakase" (chef's choice), and soon some of the most original sushi in town starts arriving: a Latin-flavored fish cocktail; Hawaiian walu fish, which melts in the mouth like seafood… More >>
  • BEST CHEESE SHOP

    France 44

    Sample a few of the France 44 Cheese Shop's wares and you'll understand why a wheel of the stuff might cost more than your car: One bite can have as much complexity as an entire meal. Take the Dutch L'Amuse, a two-year aged Gouda: It smells like a barn, tastes like a peat bog, and chews like a hanger steak.… More >>
  • BEST BLOODY MARY

    Hell's Kitchen

    You wake up at 11 a.m. You're in your bed but have no recollection of how you got home. Your memory of the night before is hazy at best—a mess of scenes and sound bites with no sense of context or a timeline. Archived text messages suggest you agitated relationships with people you have not seen or heard from in… More >>
  • BEST BEER SELECTION IN A BAR

    Muddy Pig

    Belly up to the Muddy Pig's horseshoe bar and behold a veritable treasure trove of bocks, pale ales, ryes, lagers, stouts, porters, and barley wines. Where to even begin? The beer menu includes brief, informative yet unpretentious descriptions of the brews, including place of origin, mouthfeel, and alcohol content. The place usually carries around 48 beers on tap and 50… More >>
  • BEST NEW RESTAURANT

    Piccolo

    Doug Flicker is back! After spending the past several years cooking for other people, the chef-partner of the late, lamented Auriga is now cooking at his own wee little 36-table restaurant. Piccolo presents a dining style new to the area, a mini-entrée menu we've been hard-pressed to name: Coursed dining? Fractional eating? Tasting plates? Eh, we'll keep working on it.… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT TREND

    House-made charcuterie

    Has the foodies' fascination with animal flesh finally peaked this year, what with Baconnaise showing up on Target's shelves and the New York Times chronicling the urban hipster's paleo diet? In some ways the millennium's "more meat" mantra has led to such malaise that even the sight of a bona fide bacon bikini might hardly set off our salivary glands.… More >>
  • BEST INDIAN RESTAURANT

    OM - CLOSED

    Gentrification finally came to the old Nate's Clothing building in downtown Minneapolis. Out went the sports coats and dress slacks, along with the painting studio of artist Scott Seekins, complete with his wardrobe of all-black and all-white suits. In came a gorgeous, two-story dining room, with lounge furniture covered in fabrics as festive as those used in wedding saris and… More >>
  • BEST STEAKHOUSE

    Mancini's Char House

    The rise of so many great steakhouse options in the Twin Cities makes us appreciate the folks who have been doing it right for decades: Mancini's Char House in St. Paul. That's because a great steakhouse experience is about more than just carving up the perfect slab of medium-rare beef and slathering your baked potato in butter—it's having a Manhattan… More >>
  • BEST HANGOVER BREAKFAST

    Triple Rock Social Club

    So, you imbibed a little too much last night. This morning you woke up with a raging headache, insatiable thirst, and a missing shoe. It happens. Check your phone for anything worthy of Texts from Last Night, and then call up your friends to join you for the best hangover cure: a gut-buster breakfast. We recommend the Triple Rock Social… More >>
  • BEST BREWPUB

    Barley John's

    While we admire any bar that attempts to make its own brew, many do so badly. Drinkers may be disappointed to find that overly ambitious pubs serve watery beer, and nothing else. That's not the case with Barley John's. Its list shifts seasonally, but notable brews include the hoppy Stockyard IPA and the chocolaty, weighty Old Eight Porter. And then… More >>
  • BEST WINGS

    Girvan Grille

    The thing with wings is that they're actually about a different part of the anatomy: cojones. Those who indulge in the spiciest ones say that, in doing so, they experience a certain euphoria, likely due to a testosterone surge spurred by defeating something life-threatening. The best local spot for testing your hot-wing mettle is Girvan Grille, in a castle-like structure… More >>
  • BEST BAGEL

    Common Roots

    You know that thing dogs do when they get their jaws around their favorite toy, how they shake it and wrestle with it and in general look like they're having the best time ever? Eating a bagel from Common Roots is kind of like that. There's something sort of carnal about the whole experience, but that's part of what makes… More >>
  • BEST FARMERS' MARKET

    St. Paul Farmers' Market

    It's true that here in Minnesota we have a fairly short season for local produce. And judging by the seasonal operations of most of our farmers' markets, that short growing period is all they focus on. But farms don't shut down entirely over the winter—the animals are still laying eggs, producing milk, and growing to a size that makes them… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL BEER

    Summit Unchained Series

    It's a great time to be a beer enthusiast in the Twin Cities. Surly rolls out a firkin of some new and magical quaff seemingly every week, new breweries like Fulton and Lift Bridge are popping up everywhere you turn, and IPAs and Belgian-style ales are nearly as easy to find as Budweiser. With all that activity, it might be… More >>
  • BEST OLD-GUY BAR

    Yannarelly's Bar

    Our cities have a wealth of old-guy bars—the kind of places where you can hang around with the retirement crowd, order a shot and a beer, and listen to/tell corny jokes and fishing stories. But Yannarelly's, which has been around since the early 1900s, is one of the best—just ask any East Sider. In its neon glow, this bar has… More >>
  • BEST CHEF

    Sameh Wadi of Saffron

    The Twin Cities is fortunate to have a deep talent pool of mid-career chefs, but this year the spotlight shone brightest on one of the most impressive up-and-comers, Sameh Wadi, who has been running his own restaurant, Saffron, since he was 23. Wadi's strength is fusing Middle Eastern flavors with refined cooking techniques. That means he puts a contemporary spin… More >>
  • BEST BARBECUE

    128 Cafe

    Barbecue is primal fare: tender, fatty meat that clings to bone, slathered in a tangy sauce, and eaten out of hand. There's a reason the down-home comfort shows up on so many death row inmates' last meal requests. Barbecue is great anytime, but special occasions present something of a conundrum. Shouldn't you be treating yourself to something more special than… More >>
  • BEST ITALIAN RESTAURANT

    Bar La Grassa

    We have so many standbys and old favorites when it comes to Italian restaurants in the Twin Cities, those run by the Broders, the D'Amicos, the Marchiondas, and Jon Hunt among them. Most have become instant classics: The food is consistently good and makes for reliable family meals, date nights, and business dinners. But local Italian cuisine had struggled a… More >>
  • BEST THAI RESTAURANT

    Sen Yai Sen Lek

    We like Sen Yai Sen Lek for lots of reasons: its expansive but well-curated menu composed of near-equal parts curry, noodle, and rice dishes; the entire menu section featuring cuisine from the northeast Isaan region of Thailand (sticky rice! small plates! sticky rice!); and its friendly, inviting, brightly colored space with origami cranes and paper lanterns hanging from the ceiling,… More >>
  • BEST LATE-NIGHT DINING

    The Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant

    Having already booked a table at the Dakota for business lunches, after-work drinks, and dinner, we're always looking for yet one more excuse to sample Jack Riebel's haute-American cooking. And here it is: late-night happy hour. It only runs on Fridays and Saturdays, starting at 11 p.m., but we're all getting a little bit old for staying out past midnight… More >>
  • BEST WINE BAR

    Kings

    We hesitate to call Kings simply a wine bar; its beer and sake lists are pretty unusual and thoughtful as well. But the wine list is truly epic. The back wall is packed with wine like a library's with books. You can order by the glass, but we recommend drinking with friends by the bottle. And while wine lists can… More >>
  • BEST TACO

    Carne asada from Los Ocampo

    Think of a tortilla as a hand, and all the meat and onion and cilantro and salsa held inside it as a bouquet of protein, flavor, and spice. See, eating tacos is sort of like getting flowers, and it's spring every day at Los Ocampo. The taqueria makes the freshest, most vibrant tacos around. Don't worry, you can work your… More >>
  • BEST PANCAKE

    Colossal Cafe

    There are benefits to voluntarily entering a restaurant that, kitchen space and all, roughly approximates the size of your bedroom. First, you can be openly nosy without ever appearing so. No amount of eye contact with the hot dude at the next table will be awkward. Where else are you supposed to look? Plus, hello, eavesdropping! The downside is that… More >>
  • BEST COFFEE

    White Rock Coffee Roasters - CLOSED

    The employees of White Rock Coffee are true connoisseurs of the bean. White Rock offers roasts from all over the world, spanning all shades of light and dark. They also serve some of the most ingeniously blended roasts. We recommend the Fair Trade Organic Scandinavian, a perfect mixture of light and dark coffee. White Rock is truly the coffee drinker's… More >>
  • BEST HAPPY HOUR

    Il Gatto - CLOSED

    For 25 years Figlio was a fixture of Calhoun Square. Its $2 happy-hour house wine made it an ideal watering hole in which to get plastered on the cheap and still maintain a semblance of class. In November the Uptown mainstay was reincarnated as Italian seafood-centric restaurant-bar Il Gatto, which features a darker, more rustic ambiance—and, we're happy to report,… More >>
  • BEST THEMED BAR

    Donny Dirk's Zombie Den

    A few things you'll notice when you first enter Donny Dirk's Zombie Den: The bartenders are dressed as Shaun of the Dead-style zombie hunters (a novelty that probably wore off for them long ago); stunning waitresses in long, black Morticia Addams dresses are serving you drinks in big goblets; a tempting chainsaw is hanging on the wall in a glass… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD CAFÉ (ST. PAUL)

    Tanpopo Noodle Shop

    Having recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, Tanpopo Noodle Shop has been a St. Paul favorite since long before local Japanese restaurants started serving poisonous puffer fish and raw-fish buffets laid out on naked women. Tanpopo's chef-owner, Koshiki Yonemura, skipped the strobe lights and sake bombs of raucous sushi bars in favor of spare, loft-like digs and home-style cuisine. That means… More >>
  • BEST CARIBBEAN RESTAURANT

    Harry Singh's

    You think you're brave. You cook with habaneros on a semi-regular basis. You swear you're cool with the volcanic activity taking place inside your mouth. Then you go to Harry Singh's and order the jerk chicken plate—brimming with red beans and a colorful spray of vegetables amid plump, darkened pieces of meat—and it promptly reorients, reinvents, and just all-out rocks… More >>
  • BEST JAPANESE RESTAURANT

    Fuji-Ya

    Let's face it: We shouldn't have sushi in Minnesota. As a landlocked northern state best known for growing corn, we're at a serious disadvantage in the seafood department. For helping us forget this sad fact with sushi so fresh you'd think you were in Japan (or at least Hawaii), there's Fuji-Ya, which opened in 1959 and is credited as the… More >>
  • BEST VEGETARIAN-FRIENDLY RESTAURANT

    Triple Rock Social Club

    One of the few Twin Cities locations that offers poutine (fries smothered in salty gravy and cheese curds), plus free bacon on Wednesdays, is the best place for vegetarian and even vegan food? Seems counterintuitive, but trust us: The Triple Rock silences with one slice of the vegan meatloaf. The mock duck po' boy has a reputation as large as… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT WORTH THE DRIVE

    Nosh Restaurant & Bar

    Lake City is a small town on the banks of the Mississippi better known for being the birthplace of waterskiing than for possessing any culinary cred. Until a few years ago, the area's dining options consisted of a few casual cafes and supper clubs. But in 2007, Nosh started sending out amuse bouches, plates of foie gras, and house-made sausage… More >>
  • BEST WINE LIST

    Barbette

    Best Wine List is always a tough category. Best at what? Italian bottles? Affordable ones? Obscure artisan producers? Rare vintages? This year, since we've vowed to increase the frequency of our celebratory revelry—the recession is finally lifting, right?—we decided to pick a spot with the best selection of sparkling wines. That's why we'll be spending more nights at Barbette with… More >>
  • BEST BURRITO

    Pineda Tacos

    One Spanish dictionary translates the word pineda into English as "a kind of linen garters." Rest assured you'll bust yours after a Pineda burrito. It's hard to know what makes them so addicting—the soft, salty wedge of fried cheese in the vegetarian burrito, or maybe the eye-watering, "no seriously, it's spicy" zip in the meat versions. Most likely it's lard,… More >>
  • BEST SWEET ROLLS

    Isles Bun & Coffee

    If you're in need of a new sweet-tooth obsession, Isle Bun & Coffee is the sugar crack you've been seeking. One trip to the little shop in Uptown and you'll be hooked. The cinnamon buns are as big as your head and come plain, dripping in caramel goodness, or slathered with cream cheese frosting. The coffee at Isles is also… More >>
  • BEST COFFEE SHOP

    Bull Run Coffee Bar

    The perfect espresso shot has long been the coffee geek's holy grail. But these days, brewed coffee is quickly catching up. The push started a couple of years ago with the arrival of the Clover, which works something like an automated, upside-down French press, mixing the grounds with hot water in a brew chamber and then plunging the liquid out.… More >>
  • BEST TAKE-HOME BREW

    Town Hall Brewery

    Town Hall has it all. The Minneapolis bar brews six beers year-round, in addition to a constantly rotating list of seasonal selections. So whether it be a light lager or thick stout, Town Hall has the spectrum covered. If you're a first-timer, try the sampler—a plank of sample-size glasses of each beer. For a few bucks, Town Hall will also… More >>
  • BEST HOTEL BAR

    The Living Room at the W Hotel

    When it comes to classy drinking locales, it's hard to top the Living Room in the sleek and sophisticated W Hotel at the Foshay. The black and silver decor, dim lighting, and low seating clustered around fireplaces feel decidedly more New York than Midwest. On Friday nights, men are decked out in suits or at least collared shirts and dress… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD CAFÉ (MINNEAPOLIS)

    Victory 44

    It took us a few minutes to adjust to what was going on: the tattooed server toting around a construction-grade torch and hollering questions to the kitchen from across the room. Turns out, at the new, revamped Victory 44, the cooks play dual roles as waitstaff. If you can deal with the fact that your server might arrive at the… More >>
  • BEST CENTRAL/SOUTH AMERICAN RESTAURANT

    El Rincón Salvadoreño

    Pupusas are, incomprehensibly, an unsung feature of Central American cuisine, placing somewhere along the lines of a distant fourth—neck-and-neck with tamales—on a list top-heavy with dishes of Mexican origin: quesadillas, burritos, nachos, and of course King Taco. Pupusas are like tacos, but tidier; like quesadillas, but fluffier. Plus they are fried and involve mass quantities of cheese. (Bonus: Like pizza,… More >>
  • BEST KOREAN RESTAURANT

    Dong Yang Oriental Food

    So much noise is made in the sense-world of food about the importance of taste—as well as its Siamese twin perception, smell—that we tend to ignore the rest of our senses in the midst of a meal. Sure, sight, with its inverse relationship with the stomach, gets some play, as does touch, what with Iron Chef judges flapping their lips… More >>
  • BEST VIETNAMESE RESTAURANT

    Saigon Restaurant and Bakery

    Now that it has settled into its newer, cleaner, bigger digs on University Avenue, the workmanlike Saigon Restaurant and Bakery has gotten back to its business of cranking out the Twin Cities' best bánh mì sandwiches. These crunchy treats combine various artifacts of French cuisine (baguette, pâté, mayonnaise) with Vietnam's favorite ingredients (grilled pork, cilantro, hot peppers) for a pan-global,… More >>
  • BEST TAKEOUT

    Marla's Caribbean Cuisine

    Forget Chinese, pizza, and all the other staples of takeout. Because whether you're too busy, too broke, or too shirtless to dine in at a restaurant, the last thing you want from your takeout is be reminded that you're having takeout. So here's what you tired, hungry masses do: Pull a few blocks off 35W to Marla's and order the… More >>
  • BEST PIZZA

    Galactic Pizza

    Twin Citians are spoiled for great choices when it comes to pizza, but one place makes pie eating about more than pure greasy goodness. Seeing the be-Spandexed delivery heroes of Galactic Pizza navigating the streets of Minneapolis in their new fleet of electric cars, capes accidentally shut in the door, warms your heart. Realizing that these heroes dedicate themselves to… More >>
  • BEST TAPAS

    Subo - CLOSED

    There are plenty of great Spanish tapas in town, Solera's and El Meson's for starters, but we're currently smitten with the Filipino version at Subo, where chef Neil Guillen applies four-star French cooking technique to the humble foods of his homeland. Spain's colonization of the islands means small plates have always been popular in the Philippines, and the ones at… More >>
  • BEST ICE CREAM PARLOR

    Pumphouse Creamery

    The Twin Cities is chock full of incredible ice cream shops: Grand Ole Creamery and Izzy's in St. Paul, Sebastian Joe's, Crema Café (home of Sonny's Ice Cream), and Pumphouse Creamery in Minneapolis. Each specializes in something a little different, but this year we chose an ice cream parlor that offers creative flavors made from the purest organic ingredients. The… More >>
  • BEST TEA SHOP

    TeaSource

    In a country fueled by high-octane coffee, drinking tea can seem downright subversive, a foreign affectation of pinkie-in-the-air aesthetes. Which is why TeaSource is such a breath of fresh air. Through the wide windows of its shop in Highland Park, it looks like any ordinary coffeehouse, bright and airy, with a clutch of laptop-toting 20-somethings vying for the handful of… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD BAR (MINNEAPOLIS)

    Merlins Rest Pub

    It may not be in your neighborhood, but it's friendly enough to feel like it is. On any given night, visitors might find locals who walked from their homes, elderly patrons bused in on a road trip and ready for a good time, and hipsters in search of good whiskey and beer on tap. Most evenings you'll find live entertainment,… More >>
  • BEST SUBURBAN BAR

    Barley John's

    While the suburban landscape is grimly filled with T.G.I. Fridays, Chili's, and Red Lobsters, these aren't the type of places you want to chill. The food is edible, but each location is hardly a unique or enlightening experience. Unfortunately, really great destination pubs and restaurants can be hard to find when you live in a 'burb. That's why a gem… More >>
  • BEST RESTAURANT FOR ROMANCE

    Forepaugh's

    Everyone knows how to set the mood for romance: a lit fireplace in a private nook, candlelight, fine wine, haute cuisine, and a ghost. St. Paul's Forepaugh's is right on point. Since its top-to-bottom renovation two years ago, the historic restaurant has tried to downplay the ghost (legend has it a former maid, Molly, in love with the original master… More >>
  • BEST CHINESE RESTAURANT

    Szechuan

    Szechuan is currently the hottest thing going in Chinese food, weaning Twin Citians off their taste for Leeann Chin and turning them on to something more authentic. Szechuan in Roseville does smart work with all the cuisine's staples: snapping, soy-slicked Szechuan green beans, Dan Dan noodles doused in a fiery sauce (think pad Thai with more pluck), and Chung King… More >>
  • BEST MEXICAN RESTAURANT

    El Burrito Mercado

    There's nothing like being able to pick up some sweet Mexican breads, to-go tamales, stalks of sugar cane about as tall as you are, or a piñata or two on your way out the door after dinner. For Mexican-centric one-stop shopping, El Burrito Mercado's got you covered. First order of business is the eats, though. Burrito Mercado has a sprawling… More >>
  • BEST DESSERTS

    Cosmos

    We may never tire of ordering the Cosmos Chocolate Globe, a fixture on the Graves Hotel restaurant's menu since its earliest days. Not only is it a stunning dessert, it's also a piece of performance art. The server brings an austere chocolate sphere to the table, then douses it with warm chocolate sauce, which melts the globe's hollow shell to… More >>
  • BEST DINER

    St. Clair Broiler

    You know you're at a no-nonsense diner when you can order a hot fudge malt with your Mexican omelet for dinner and no one bats an eye. The St. Clair Broiler is that place: Breakfast is served all day, malts come with the can on the side, and even the salads are unhealthy. While you can no longer take a… More >>
  • BEST BURGER

    The Anchor Fish & Chips

    It seems counterintuitive to forgo the titular specialty at a fish and chips shop, but Anchor's team of Irish expats pulls off a better burger than their American brethren. And it might be concerning to order something whose name conjures up a medical emergency, but trust us on that one, too: The Helicopter Burger at Anchor is worth risking an… More >>
  • BEST CHILI

    The Loon Cafe

    Come mid-January, surviving the prolonged Minnesota winters can seem a daunting task. We need certain things to help us through. Our reputation as a state of hardy Norwegians impervious to cold helps. Whiskey helps. And so does chili—one of the few foods that tastes better the colder the wind chill gets. But good chili is hard to come by in… More >>
  • BEST BAKERY

    Rustica

    3220 West Lake Street, Minneapolis Rustica Bakery's new location at Calhoun Village (it moved out of the space it shared with Java Jack's at 46th and Bryant last November) is surprisingly sparse in decoration. The walls are bare and painted a basic white, while the tables are plain and unadorned. That means all the focus in the spacious bakery is exactly… More >>
  • BEST WINE SHOP

    France 44

    Wine today, even for those on a budget, isn't about picking up a bottle of Two Buck Chuck. The growth in interest—and an ever-expanding roster of quality wineries—means you have a great chance of finding a new, exciting taste. But the sheer number of wines can also be overwhelming. Enter France 44, which carries a monstrous inventory of more than… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD BAR (ST. PAUL)

    The Blue Door Pub

    A good neighborhood bar is a place where the waitstaff is friendly, the music is good, and the taps are cheap and plentiful. The Blue Door Pub has all these things, but it also has something few bars can claim: hangman. That's right, each booth comes equipped with chalk and a board perfect for a boozed-up round of hangman—or whatever… More >>
  • BEST BARTENDER

    Dan Oskey, the Strip Club

    High on a bluff on the east side of St. Paul sits a magical place. Housed in a brownstone dating back to the late 1800s, with an iron lantern lighting the entrance, the Strip Club is reminiscent of a speakeasy, where the best bartender in town is waiting to fix you a lil' something nice. Dan Oskey, the ever-gracious man… More >>

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