Tiffany Winter admits it: She was spoiled. She got to grow up right on Lake Minnetonka, and when she's away from the water she feels like she's in a desert.
"I suppose most Minnesotans feel the same way about being near the lake."
We do. And though most of us didn't have the benefit of growing up there, Winter assures us that a trip to Minnetonka or Excelsior or even Mound can be like a mini vacation, and she's watched as the food scene has exploded since she was just a kid and Lord Fletcher's was the only game in town.
Her new book, Lake Minnetonka Eats, is a guide to the best places to dine in her neck of the woods, with stories about the chefs, recipes, and even beer pairing advice from Excelsior Brewing.
She says the lake area has everything you could possibly want in a restaurant, from a cheap Wednesday lunch overlooking the lake to the swank night out on the town, even sushi.
She's wrangled 25 restaurants for inclusion, and here are three of her faves to check out right away:
"Coalition, because chef Wollenzien has a fabulous finesse with vegetables, and the little tables on the sidewalks are perfect for watching people go by."
"6Smith has the best view — it's the only rooftop on the lake, you feel like you're on vacation."
"Dakota Junction in Mound — it's just a tiny little place with a chalkboard menu and everything from scratch. They get a lot of their product from nearby Gale Woods Farm." (No website, but it's located at 2281 Commerce Blvd. Mound, 952-479-1519).
"There's something really special about Minnetonka," Winter swoons. "It's almost like the spirit of the lake."
Take her up on an exploration, and don't forget to arm yourself with the book. It's available here, and at Golden Fig and Kitchen Window.