Best Neighborhood Eatery (Minneapolis/St. Paul) - 2011
The second silver lining to the fire that destroyed Blackbird's original location along with Heidi's (see Best New Restaurant) is that the restaurant's new digs, at 38th and Nicollet, are bigger and better at accommodating all the café's fans. Blackbird's nest is now a corner space with pretty hardwood floors and windows nearly as tall as the ceilings—and the decor of course includes a reprisal of the owners' quirky antler collection. The restaurant has quickly ingratiated itself with its neighbors by bringing back many old favorites on its versatile lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch menus. Blackbird's food list is chock full of familiar comforts, but it's not trendy or clichéd, and it's inexpensive enough that diners can come back again and again. Meet a friend for coffee and huevos rancheros or take the kids to a lunch of celery/Brie soup and one of the excellent fried walleye, roasted pork, or braised beef sandwiches. Share a bowl of spicy peanut noodles with a date, a la Lady and the Tramp, or go solo and sit at the counter for a little "me time" with a glass of wine and a plate of crispy duck rolls. If you choose the latter, you won't ever feel lonely, as the friendly staff always welcomes in a way only the best neighborhood cafés can.