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Food & Drink

  • Best Restaurant (Minneapolis/St. Paul)

    Piccolo

    The problem here isn't that the Twin Cities lack first-rate restaurants, it's that there are only so many special meals one can go out for each year. And there's something a little bittersweet about indulging in just one of these restaurants' top-notch appetizers, entrées, and desserts and then leaving the rest of the menu uninvestigated. But petite, cozy Piccolo has… More >>
  • Best Restaurant (Suburbs)

    The Hanger Room

    Forget the baked potato and iceberg wedge. The Hanger Room in tiny Willernie is turning the idea of a small-town steak house on its head. First and foremost, the Hanger Room is the first restaurant in the state to dry-age its own steaks on the premises. The process makes the beef's flavor more concentrated and intense. Had Meg Ryan been… More >>
  • Best New Restaurant

    Heidi's - CLOSED

    No, you're not experiencing déjà vu: Heidi's is having its second stint as the Twin Cities' Best New Restaurant. The eatery's impressive first incarnation, named after chef-owner Stewart Woodman's wife and culinary partner, Heidi, burned to the ground last year. But the tragedy had a silver lining, as the restaurant has relocated to hipper digs that seem to suit it… More >>
  • Best Chef

    Lenny Russo of Heartland Restaurant & Farm Direct Market

    Usually we judge our chefs by their accomplishments on the plate. And Lenny Russo has certainly been widely praised for his haute Midwestern cooking as he treats indigenous ingredients—whitefish, currants, elk—with impressive reverence. But when he recently relocated his Heartland restaurant to Lowertown St. Paul and expanded operations to include a lounge and banquet rooms, plus a market and deli,… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Eatery (Minneapolis/St. Paul)

    Blackbird

    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… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Eatery (Suburbs)

    Travail Kitchen and Amusements

    The suburbs are full of retail spaces with affordable rents and diners hungry for something beyond the bland blue-plate specials offered by their myriad chain restaurants. Such conditions made an ideal laboratory for the launch of the culinary workshop known as Travail Kitchen and Amusements, where chef-owners Mike Brown and James Winberg took the fine-dining chops they'd honed at Porter… More >>
  • Best Service

    Travail Kitchen and Amusements

    The kitchen and amusements come together at Travail, where the cooks also serve as the waitstaff, and often as the entertainment. While it would be easy to assume that the chefs would naturally recommend everything on the menu, they take into account guests' preferences and backgrounds. Never tried pork belly? Well then, you haven't lived. Feeling low on iron? You'll… More >>
  • Best Food Neighborhood

    Kingfield

    Like a teenage girl who has hit puberty and blossomed, sleepy little Kingfield has gone gastro-hood in a span nearly as short as a summer break. Sure, the neighborhood has always had a smattering of wing shops, barbecue joints, and Latin cocinas, but these days it's practically teeming with restaurants worth crossing a freeway or two. The middle of the… More >>
  • Best Food Truck

    World Street Kitchen

    The Chef Shack gals, Carrie Summer and Lisa Carlson, are the undisputed matriarchs of the local street food scene, but their biggest contribution may have been to help persuade the city of Minneapolis to relax its rules for food vending on downtown sidewalks and parking lots, which developed a new crop of mobile restaurateurs. Among the next generation of vendors… More >>
  • Best Restaurant Worth the Drive

    Bayport BBQ

    In Texas, barbecue aficionados have been known to drive 50 miles for lunch. And before Bayport BBQ opened in the St. Croix River town by the same name, Minnesotans in search of Texas-style smoked brisket, ribs, sausage, and chicken would have needed at least a tank or two of gas. Previously the more formal Bayport Cookery, the new BBQ spot… More >>
  • Best Restaurant for Romance

    Barbette

    Charming Barbette has the market cornered when it comes to bohemian notions of romance. First, the food is French, the leading cuisine in sexy eating, and the kitchen stays open past midnight every night. Second, the quirky space is dimly lit after dusk, with twinkling strings of multicolored lights draped above its sidewalk seats. Third, the quirky, casual vibe encourages… More >>
  • Best Late-Night Dining

    Haute Dish

    Haute Dish offers a classy alternative to the chaotic bar-and-club scene along Hennepin and First avenues in downtown Minneapolis. Late in the evening the barstools are mostly all filled, but the crowds aren't crushing. The music is loud enough to give the place buzz but not so cranked up that you have to resort to shouting. After a night of… More >>
  • Best Outdoor Dining

    Moto-i

    Not only is moto-i the first restaurant outside of Japan to brew its own sake, it also has one of the few rooftop bars in the area that manages not to be overcrowded. That will probably change once folks start to realize that the Japanese bar and restaurant actually has a rooftop (we're guessing that it's a little hard to… More >>
  • Best Place to Eat Out With Your Kids

    Green Mill

    It's Friday night, the end of a long week. Work was a bear. Carpooling to hockey/lacrosse/football/volleyball/baseball/ballet/hoops felt like the Bataan Death March, and everyone needs a break. The priorities are simple: a much-deserved beer and a plate filled with something more interesting than meatloaf for mom and dad, a face-stuffing extravaganza for the teenagers, and safe and predictable white food… More >>
  • Best Restaurant Trend

    The democratization of fine dining

    Well before the recession, we first noticed a trend toward the democratization of fine dining when a former French Laundry chef started cooking at the dearly departed Town Talk Diner. But the movement truly hit its stride last summer, when several similarly lauded cooks took their wares on the streets: Downtown office workers no longer packed their own PB&Js but… More >>
  • Best Barbecue

    Big Daddy's

    Who's your daddy? Twin Citians are lucky enough to have three—Ron Whyte, Bob Edmond, and Gene Sampson, owners of Big Daddy's BBQ in the heart of Frogtown. The daddies, who call themselves "barbecue scientists," practice traditional smokehouse barbecue, using hickory wood. The wood fire is kept in a separate compartment from the meat, and the heat and smoke are vented… More >>
  • Best Caribbean Restaurant

    Caribe Caribbean Bistro

    The signature street food of Trinidad and Tobago, doubles takes its name from two pieces of puffy fry bread, which are pinched together into a pocket and filled with a spicy chickpea mixture. And the ones served at Caribe Caribbean Bistro are laden with both flavor and heft. (One of the golden-hued pies makes a hearty snack; two, an entire,… More >>
  • Best Central/South American Restaurant

    Chimborazo

    In Ecuadorian lore, the Chimborazo volcano, the country's highest summit, represents Taita (Father), while the nearby Tungurahua volcano is considered Mama. In Minneapolis, Chimborazo wears the pants when it comes to South American cuisine. Lighten the mood when you step off of Central Avenue into the small, unassuming haunt, decorated with bright textiles and the lively sounds of traditional Quichua… More >>
  • Best Chinese Restaurant

    Tea House

    If you're looking to add a little spice to your culinary life, try Tea House, with locations in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Plymouth, as well as a new site on the University of Minnesota campus. With its authentic Szechuan menu, Tea House is not for the faint of heart. But if your Scandinavian palate can't handle the spicy bamboo tips… More >>
  • Be\'Wiched Deli

    Best Delicatessen

    Be'Wiched Deli

    This modern Warehouse District deli may have dispensed with the traditional cans of celery soda and jars of gefilte fish, but its cured meats can still compete, bite for bite, with any of the country's most noteworthy: Katz's in New York, Zingerman's in Ann Arbor, the Refuge in San Carlos. The house-made corned beef and pastrami at Be'Wiched Deli are… More >>
  • Best Ethiopian Restaurant

    T's Place

    Purists may take umbrage with this choice, but we stand firm on T's Place, with its Ethiopian-Asian fusion. Owner Tee Belachew was born in Ethiopia and worked alongside chef Kin Lee at Singapore in south Minneapolis. In 2006, Belachew struck out on his own, fusing his traditional Ethiopian dishes with Asian flair. Try the Ethio-Asian fried rice that's light on… More >>
  • Best French Restaurant

    Meritage

    Salty, sweet, buttery, briny, chewy, gooey, soft—there are many ways to describe a good oyster, but few places in town to get one. That was until Meritage, downtown St. Paul's French brasserie, expanded to include a Parisian-style zinc bar complete with absinthe fountain. With seating for nearly 40, the new bar serves chic cocktails and oysters on the half shell… More >>
  • Best Greek Restaurant

    Christos Greek Restaurant

    Saganaki, the Greek kasseri cheese dish that comes complete with a waiter ready to light a flame and melt it tableside, is the show pony of any Greek restaurant. Conversely, the avgolemono soup—a creamy egg-and-lemon concoction that is just as pervasive as saganaki—is the workhorse, the dish that comes with almost everything you order. And at Christos Greek Restaurant, both… More >>
  • Best Cocktails

    Bradstreet Craftshouse

    "Organaleptic": something that hits all five senses. It's a term that Bradstreet mixologist Toby Maloney lives and dies by. When patrons order a cocktail at this posh downtown hot spot, it's prepared with an intensity and levity rarely seen in the Twin Cities. The menu features some classics—whiskey smash, dark and stormy, Negroni—but is mostly composed of original treats. Ingredients… More >>
  • Best Indian Restaurant

    Amu's Madras Café - CLOSED

    This Central Avenue address, just a few blocks south of the intersection with I-694, has a reputation for offering the Twin Cities' best south Indian food. In recent years the building has suffered the loss of its two previous tenants, Udupi and Nala Pak, but Amu's Madras Café has brought the dream of delicious eating back. The digs are as… More >>
  • Best Italian Restaurant

    Il Gatto - CLOSED

    Good things happened when the Twin Cities most-lauded chef, Tim McKee, went back to his first culinary love. Though McKee made his name cooking French/Mediterranean fare at La Belle Vie, he got his start at D'Amico Cucina. (In fact, he says that Italian is his favorite cuisine.) Consulting for Parasole's Il Gatto, McKee installed a new head chef, Jim Christiansen,… More >>
  • Best Japanese Restaurant

    Tanpopo Noodle Shop

    What comes to mind when you hear "Japanese food"? If an image of sushi pops up in your head, you're hardly alone. Minnesota has its share of sushi restaurants, but less common are places that serve home-style Japanese cooking and do it well. Thank goodness, then, that we have Tanpopo. The cozy St. Paul spot has been providing bowls of… More >>
  • Best Korean Restaurant

    Sole Cafe

    A visit to Midway's Sole Cafe is like a visit to mom's house—especially if your mom is Korean. If you need a maternal fix, Korean-born owner Kimberly Firnstahl will happily stand in, chatting your ear off as she serves generous portions of chigae (spicy stew), ojingae (spicy squid), and bibimbap (mixed rice with meat or tofu and vegetables). Don't miss… More >>
  • Best Mexican Restaurant

    Salsa a la Salsa

    The brightly colored interior of Salsa a la Salsa practically demands that you order a margarita as soon as you enter the restaurant (cool breeze not included). And why not? Margarita fans will be impressed with the extensive list of tequilas, and abstainers can indulge in the full-sugar flavor of a Mexican Coca-Cola. The family-owned Salsa a la Salsa is… More >>
  • Best Middle Eastern Restaurant

    Saffron Restaurant & Lounge

    Most Americans think of Middle Eastern food as hummus and shish kebab. But Middle Eastern countries such as Syria, Iran, Israel, Iraq, Egypt, and Turkey have their own distinctive cuisines, a blend of culinary traditions that evolved over centuries of migration and war. Saffron is a fitting place to savor the diversity of the Middle East, as the restaurant features… More >>
  • Best Seafood Restaurant

    Sea Change

    Since we're in a landlocked state, you'd think it would be hard to find a winner for this category. And it is—if only because Sea Change continually dominates. Chef Erik Anderson has caught the eye of national press for his innovative take on seafood with spot-on flavor pairings. Sea Change looks like a restaurant dedicated to sustainable fish should—like an… More >>
  • Best Soul Food

    Shorty and Wags

    Despite our propensity to deep-fry foods (and preferably eat them off sticks), the hush puppy is an underappreciated delicacy to us Midwesterners. In essence, the hush puppy is nothing more than deep-fried cornmeal batter, but try convincing yourself of that when you break through the crunchy outer shell of the ones at Shorty and Wags and find yourself in sweet,… More >>
  • Best Steak House

    The Strip Club

    The Strip Club in St. Paul isn't the kind of carnivore heaven where you're seated near a rowdy table of Cosby-sweatered louts and leave with a char stench clinging to your hair and clothes. In fact, you're more likely to head home with a new favorite drink from the creative bartenders. The meat is different too. Grass-fed beef from Thousand… More >>
  • Best Thai Restaurant

    Nong's Thai Cuisine

    Nong's Thai Cuisine in Golden Valley is more evidence that strip malls just might be the best place to find ethnic cuisine. The location is fairly generic—remove the images of the Thai king hanging on the wall and you could easily make the space a mini-Embers—but the food is authentic. A refreshing salty-yet-sweet papaya salad is the first clue, while… More >>
  • Best Vegetarian-Friendly Restaurant

    Peoples Organic

    The black-and-white photos of coffee workers around the world that line the walls of the new Peoples Organic seem diametrically opposed to the restaurant's location in Edina's Galleria mall, a place where you can buy Tiffany jewelry and a 103-inch Bang and Olufsen television for $130,000. The food, however, speaks directly to every vegetarian- and vegan-loving heart. Coffee can be… More >>
  • Best Vietnamese Restaurant

    Ngon Vietnamese Bistro

    The French just add a certain flair to everything—in this case, the Vietnamese dining experience, which, let's be honest, often lacks ambiance. Not so at Ngon Vietnamese Bistro, which is, in fact, a French-Vietnamese fusion (guests will find steak au poivre and duck cassoulet de l'indochine next to the traditional pho and bún). Situated on grubby University Avenue, the restaurant… More >>
  • Best Takeout

    Brasa

    Adam Richman, host of TV's Man vs. Food, recently declared Brasa's slow-roasted pork and spinach one of the five American meals not to be missed. What could make this elite platter of flavorful meat even better? Eating it at home in your pajamas. That's right—Brasa does takeout. You and yours can enjoy rotisserie meats and sides made by a James… More >>
  • Best Cheap Eats

    La Loma Tomales

    So you're hungry but have a budget of $3. There's no need to hit up that vending machine or fast-food drive-thru: La Loma serves up something that hits the spot, not the gut. For a mere $2.25 you can grab a satisfying treat. Choose from meat options like chicken, pork, and mole sauce (nuts, chocolate, and chiles) or veggie options… More >>
  • Zumbro Cafe

    Best Breakfast

    Zumbro Cafe

    All anybody really wants from breakfast is a simple metabolism-starter and enough streaming daylight to wake your sunny self up. So save the decadence for Sunday brunch and get to Zumbro Café in Linden Hills, which serves tasty morning fare in one of the brightest, coziest dining rooms in the Cities. Zumbro has been around since 1991 and thus rates… More >>
  • Best Brunch

    Nicollet Island Inn

    The Nicollet Island Inn's five-course Sunday brunch will make you rethink your notions about eating blowout meals in the morning versus evening. The Inn's historic dining room is laid out like a wraparound porch, and its wide wall of windows offers a panoramic view of the Mississippi River and St. Anthony Main. Arrive at your table to find a basket… More >>
  • Best Desserts

    Chef Shack

    A street-food truck affectionately known as a "shack" isn't typically where you expect to find an experienced pastry chef honing her craft, but that's exactly where Carrie Summer spreads the gospel of Indian-spiced mini-doughnuts, lush chocolate mousse, and cooked-to-crack crème brûlée. The Chef Shack's Summer has worked in kitchens as varied as Cue, Spoonriver, and Taher, but now she's taken… More >>
  • Best Bakery

    Patisserie 46

    Edinans may be known as "cake eaters," but when they shop for their signature sweet, they head to Minneapolis. At the metro's latest and greatest French bakery, Patisserie 46, the chocolate Rory cake is Valentine's Day incarnate, with its layers of dreamy chocolate mousse, coffee caramel cream, and crunchy pecan dacquoise crust. (That heart-shaped box of drugstore chocolates won't buy… More >>
  • Best Ice Cream Parlor

    Izzy's Ice Cream

    What has the tech-boom done but turn all of us into Facebooking fools and Tweeting twits? Still, we have to admit we're fans of the new radio frequency identification (RFID) system being employed at Izzy's, which gives customers real-time access to the status of every flavor in the case. With 32 choices available each day, there's no reason that one… More >>
  • Nicollet Avenue Pot Hole at Sebastian Joe\'s

    Best Ice Cream Flavor

    Nicollet Avenue Pot Hole at Sebastian Joe's

    The Twin Cities is blessed with more amazing ice cream shops than anyone not from these cold parts would think possible: Izzy's, Crema Café/Sonny's, Pumphouse Creamery, and Grand Ole Creamery. But this year, plaudits go to Sebastian Joe's for honoring our region's unique snow-melt-freeze-thaw-split-the-blacktop cycle. Nicollet Avenue Pot Hole, a flavor just one year old, is rich chocolate ice cream… More >>
  • Common Roots Café

    Best Bagels

    Common Roots Café

    The bagels at Common Roots Café in Uptown are completely straightforward: Your choices are limited to popular standards like plain, sesame, onion, whole wheat, and poppy seed—no bells, no whistles. That simplicity lets the locally sourced ingredients shine through: whole grains from Whole Grain Milling, honey from Ames Farm Limited, malt powder that crosses the border from Wisconsin. All those… More >>
  • Best Pizza

    Mesa Pizza

    Last call was at least a half-hour ago. The combination of house lights and your bartender's perturbed facial expression indicate that it's past 2 a.m. You've spent the last few hours priming your stomach with potent liquid, and you really need to supplement it with something solid if you're going to be of any use tomorrow. On a better night,… More >>
  • Victory 44

    Best Burger

    Victory 44

    Victory 44's chef-owner Erick Harcey's first love may be pork—note the pig photos on the walls and a "praise the lard" sign on the kitchen—but he's got ground beef mastered. The Perfect Burger might sound like it's overreaching, but it's deserving of its hyperbolic title. First, there's the patty, made from ground beef blended with flecks of frozen butter, then… More >>
  • Best Martinis

    Mancini's Char House & Lounge

    We're not talking here about frou-frou "martinis" featuring sweet flavors and bright colors. (Not this year, anyway.) When you want a good, old-fashioned, reliable version of this simple cocktail, it's best to find a good, old-fashioned, reliable venue in which to drink it. Mancini's has been just such a place since 1948. The expansive dining rooms and well-charred steaks eaten… More >>
  • Best Fries

    Anchor Fish & Chips

    In these, the halcyon days of the gastropub, the French fry is being taken very seriously. There are excellent spuds in many of the higher-end dining rooms about town, but to a purist, the perfect French fry needs neither a béarnaise nor a truffling nor a silver serving pail to be seriously good eating (and spending more than $5 for… More >>
  • Best Dim Sum

    Thom Pham's Wondrous Azian Kitchen

    We all have our favorite suburban dim sum spots, tucked into drab and far-flung strip malls, or housed in a freeway-side former Chili's. And while there's something to be said for an authentic ambiance, would it be too much to ask to pop back a few shrimp shumai in a restaurant that was a little more chic and convenient? Thom… More >>
  • Best Pie

    Stockholm Pie Company

    So they—whoever they are—say that pie is the new whoopie pie, which was the new macaron, which was the new cupcake or whatever. In any case, the sweets that Janet Garretson makes at her cute-as-a-button Stockholm Pie Company aren't so much trendy as timeless. They're certainly as good as grandma's—probably better. Garretson's repertoire consists of 30-plus fruit, cream, and nut… More >>
  • Best Pancakes

    Al's Breakfast

    The differences among the best pancakes are subtle. Once the basic requirements for fluff, chew, and flavor have been satisfied, there's really not much more we desire. Instead, we consider what Starbucks did to elevate coffee from a commodity to an "experience." That's why we love eating flapjacks at Al's Breakfast, the iconic, 10-foot-wide Dinkytown diner. After waiting in a… More >>
  • Best Doughnuts

    A Baker's Wife

    From the outside, A Baker's Wife appears harmless enough. Tucked away in a quiet, unassuming corner of south Minneapolis, you wouldn't think the tiny shop was cause for concern. But A Baker's Wife must be stopped. Their doughnuts are too good. You might start by one day just picking up an American tea cake before work. Then all other food… More >>
  • Barbecue pork at Clancey\'s Meats & Fish

    Best Sandwich

    Barbecue pork at Clancey's Meats & Fish

    Southern restaurants and soul food spots, step aside. Clancey's butcher shop makes a barbecue pork that will leave you crying in your pecan pie. Forget any mishaps you've had with overly sauced meat that's cooked till it's soggy. No, these chunks stay pleasantly firm yet richly infused with a fiery tang. The barbecue sauce is earthy and not too sweet,… More >>
  • Best Sushi

    Origami (downtown)

    Sushi is an exemplary Japanese cuisine that has flourished in international markets with great success. Globalization is not a bad thing, but with sushi, tradition is essential not only in understanding how to choose and cut seafood but in preparing the rice and selecting the nori seaweed. Origami in downtown Minneapolis has been the leader in sushi excellence for two… More >>
  • Best Tacos

    Tinga del pollo at El Taco Riendo

    When Twin Citians need their taco fix, they tend to think of Lake Street. But you'll actually find the Cities' best tacos in that other bastion of ethnic eating, Central Avenue in Northeast. El Taco Riendo (The Laughing Taco) has been around for only a couple of years, but the unassuming little storefront has one of the largest selections of… More >>
  • Best Tapas

    El Meson - CLOSED

    The romantic, cozy booths at El Meson might seem to encourage intimate one-on-one dining, but the menu of hearty tapas means you should move over and squeeze a few more people into your space. These Spanish snacks are meant to be shared with friends, starting with the decadent crusted baked Brie, complete with an apple cider-apricot sauce for extra tanginess.… More >>
  • Best Wings

    International Marketplace

    If you've eaten your fill of saucy chicken wings—those slathered with Buffalo sauce, ghost peppers, barbecue, or teriyaki—look to the east to shift the way you think about this humble meat. The Hmong International Marketplace is St. Paul's best spot for the American-born to experience culture shock. The string of warehouses, tents, and open-air stalls feels like it's straight out… More >>
  • Best Restaurant Bathroom

    Loring Pasta Bar

    If Neil Gaiman designed bathrooms instead of works of fantastical fiction, the Loring Pasta Bar's restroom would easily be the cornerstone of his plumbing portfolio. Follow a wavy brick wall into the dimly lit and enchanting (is it weird to call a bathroom enchanting?) room, in which the walls are painted with a creeping vine of flowers and the giant… More >>
  • Best Food Festival

    Taste of Chocolate

    Celebrating chocolate creations for the 16th year, Taste of Chocolate—held as a benefit for the Bloomington Center for the Arts—is all about the sweet goodness and innovativeness of our cities' pastry chefs. The only dessert contest in the Midwest, like a Food Network show come to life, pits chefs in competition in three categories: Dessert, Confection, and People's Choice. Taste… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar (Minneapolis)

    Tootie's on Lowry

    Sure, lots of neighborhood bars offer a game room with pool tables and shoot-'em-up video games, but how many warn patrons to keep the language clean? Tootie's does, but that's only part of the charm of this North Side institution. It starts with the food—big, thick hamburgers topped in dozens of ways; well seasoned and prepared meat loaf, the kind… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood Bar (St. Paul)

    The Muddy Pig

    Of all the marks of a good neighborhood bar, maybe the most significant is how quickly and easily it can become the default answer to the question "Where do you want to go tonight?" The Muddy Pig comes up often for St. Paulites who live anywhere near downtown or Cathedral Hill, largely because it fits so many of the more… More >>
  • Best Irish Pub

    Kieran's

    While tenants have spent the last few years scrambling to escape Block E, Kieran's ducked conventional wisdom and moved into the building last spring, shedding the charmless corporate environs of the totally '80s Towle building and taking over the prime Target Center-facing spot once occupied by Bellanotte. While downtown Minneapolis's least-loved retail center might seem a strange place for a… More >>
  • Best Gay Bar

    Jetset Bar

    The coolest bars are often the hardest to find. That rule definitely applies to Jetset. From the street there's not much to see: a small white light, signage that can only be spotted up close. But once inside you'll find a chill hot spot with a bit of grungy New York glamour. The decor is sleek, white, and minimal, with… More >>
  • Best Suburban Bar

    Washington Square Grill

    Washington Square Grill in downtown White Bear Lake is a place we city-dwellers wish we could make our local watering hole. There's something going on every night of the week: happy hour every weeknight from 2 to 6 p.m., $12 bottles of wine Sunday through Wednesday, late-night breakfast Thursday through Sunday until 12:30 a.m., and Wednesday Import Night with $1… More >>
  • Best Dive Bar

    U Otter Stop Inn

    There really aren't a whole lot of bars in this town where you can throw up on the floor without anyone noticing (don't worry, sweaty dude in the Lynryd Skynyrd shirt—we didn't tell anyone). This is precisely why we can't take a gem like the U Otter Stop Inn for granted. So, U Otter, we want to thank you for… More >>
  • Best Suburban Dive Bar

    Povlitzki's on 65

    It's been three years and six months since it became illegal to smoke inside a Minnesota bar, but when you walk into Povlitzki's on 65, a roadside lounge in Spring Lake Park, you can't help but imagine a cloud of cigarette smoke still hanging in the air, obscuring the vintage globe bulbs lighting its long, skinny bar, making it hard… More >>
  • Pancho Villa Mexican Restaurant

    Best Happy Hour

    Pancho Villa Mexican Restaurant

    Finding a good happy hour can be a difficult game to play, one that often involves memorizing times, days, and deals. And if you don't get off work until after 5:30 p.m., but don't want to stay out until 11 p.m.? Forget about it. Fortunately, Pancho Villa keeps its happy hour very simple and easy to follow. In fact, it… More >>
  • Best Hotel Bar

    Bradstreet Craftshouse

    The elegant Bradstreet Craftshouse in the 601 Graves Hotel in downtown Minneapolis is a throwback to the hearty pre-Prohibition days of artisan cocktails. The bar's astoundingly knowledgeable staff make their $6 to $10 drinks with medicinal accuracy and great pride, using fresh fruit, aromatic bitters, simple syrups, and juices. The friendly but not overbearing barkeeps are happy to talk about… More >>
  • Pip Hanson, Cafe Maude

    Best Bartender

    Pip Hanson, Cafe Maude

    Remember back, not so long ago, when bartenders poured their mixers from mass-produced bottles, when juices weren't squeezed fresh, and when any sweet alcoholic drink tasted like a liquid lollipop? Thank heavens for La Belle Vie's bartender Johnny Michaels, one of the first locals to elevate his beverages to haute cuisine status. We've recently been enamored with the drinks created… More >>
  • Best Contemporary Cocktail

    Slim Shim at the Inn - CLOSED

    Just as you'd expect of a respectable tavern, the Inn is a fine place for drinking. Indeed, the bar serves craft beer in pitchers and offer shots of "linie" aquavit. The Inn's drink list contains several delightful retro-themed cocktails—the Inn Flip, for example, is a thick, frothy, allspice-scented beverage made with a whole raw egg—but our favorite among the offerings… More >>
  • Best Cocktail Name

    Trust Me Baby, Amore Victoria

    Other Twin Cities cocktails may be titled with historic, literary, and oh-so-clever mots, but the Trust Me Baby at Amore Victoria gives you a welcome wink and tickle, and then asks how far you are willing to commit to the burgeoning craft drink movement. If you're a game drinker, bartender Shawn Jones will gladly serve as a gentle guide to… More >>
  • Best Local Beer

    Surly Abrasive Ale

    Compared to some of the easy-drinking local stalwarts—your Grain Belts, Summits, even the less-esoteric Surly variants like Furious and Bender—Abrasive might seem like a bit "too much." A four-pack of cans costs more than a 12-bottle pack of Summit, its ABV is a brain-jostling 8.8 percent, and it's got more hops than a grounder up the middle at Target Field.… More >>
  • Best Margarita

    Barrio's Enter the Dragon

    It's a good general rule to be cautious of drinking anything named after a movie centered on the delivery of severe physical trauma. Yet the art of the tequila mixer, which can often make you feel like you've been clocked in the skull by a Bruce Lee nunchaku, is done no better justice than at Barrio. Enter the Dragon is… More >>
  • Burger Jones

    Best Bloody Mary

    Burger Jones

    There's no sweeter surrender than a little hair of the dog on a late morning. Ordering a breakfast cocktail after a long night says to Sunday, "I give up." Not gonna get out for a ski. Not gonna tinker with the broken lawnmower. Not gonna crank out a chapter in that novel. It's over—hangover FTW. Luckily, Burger Jones makes giving… More >>
  • Best Vodka

    Referent Horseradish Vodka at Moscow on the Hill

    The Liberman family's immigration from Moscow to Minnesota nearly 20 years back is a yarn bottled with history...and horseradish. The Libermans own Moscow on the Hill in St. Paul, and within its inviting confines drinkers can enjoy nearly 300 vodkas from around the globe. Among them is Referent, a horseradish-infused vodka that was initially crafted for in-house consumption and is… More >>
  • Best Scotch List

    The St. Paul Grill

    Niche spirit selections, clever cocktail menus, and copious beer offerings will appease the palates of many. Yet if it's a dimly lit room, a simple lowball, and an idyllic, amber pour you seek, there's a welcoming stool and an exceptional scotch list awaiting at the St. Paul Grill. With a choice selection of more than 80 of Scotland's finest exports,… More >>
  • Best Coffee

    Peace Coffee

    Jack LaLanne, the late, great godfather of American fitness, once asked derisively, "Would you get your dog up in the morning for a cup of coffee and a doughnut?" Damn straight, Jack (sorry). And if Peace Coffee's awesome bike messengers sold doughnuts, the world would be a more perfect place. But while we wait for that minor miracle, we'll happily… More >>
  • Best Brewpub

    Town Hall Brewery

    The brewers of Town Hall are true artists. They can take something as simple as a golden lager and infuse it with the just the right ingredients to make it a crisp, refreshing masterpiece. Town Hall keeps 10 homemade beers on tap at any given time. That includes a variety of perennials—an IPA, stout, pale ale—and an ever-changing list to… More >>
  • Best Pub Crawl

    Santacon Crawl

    If there's any surefire trick to making a successful pub crawl, it's getting dressed up in ridiculous costumes. And what better time for a crawl than right before Christmas? That spirit-crushing phenomenon known as winter in Minnesota is just settling in, and drinking for the next four to six months will be confined to indoors. Might as well get it… More >>
  • Best Place to Drink Before a Twins Game

    The Depot

    When First Avenue finally opened the garage door on the Depot last June, they added a new title to their list of accolades when it comes to the downtown scene: kick-ass baseball bar. Tucked neatly next door to 7th St. Entry, the Depot offers thirsty Twins fans an ultra-cool, laid-back place to get warmed up before the quick walk to… More >>
  • Best Beer List

    The Muddy Pig

    There's something magical about a cold pint of beer. It's hard to define, but it just tastes better than the bottled stuff. That's why the Muddy Pig in St. Paul has the best brew list around. With more than 40 taps, they're sure to have a fresh keg of exactly what you're craving. That includes local breweries—Summit, Flat Earth, and… More >>
  • Best Wine List

    Scusi

    Goodness, has there been some sort of emergency? It might look that way walking into Scusi's bar to find a glass case of wine bottles connected to so many tubes they look like they're in an intensive care unit. But don't fret, it's just a fancy storage system used to keep wine fresh, as the hoses remove oxygen from an… More >>
  • Spasso

    Best Wine Bar

    Spasso

    We already liked drinking wine at Spasso for one big reason: no markup. (Seeing a bottle of wine on a restaurant list that's priced three times what it costs at the liquor store is a sure way to give your wallet a seizure.) But Spasso allows diners to bring bottles they've purchased from the owners' adjacent wine shop into the… More >>
  • Best Food at Target Field

    Vincent Burger

    The Vincent Burger is not your average burger—and it's certainly not your average frozen-patty ballpark burger. It comes with a surprise double whammy: smoked gouda and braised short-rib meat (slow cooked and tender) stuffed into top ground sirloin, which is then charred to perfection and plopped into a squishy, egg-bread bun. Don't even think about dipping this beauty into one… More >>

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