Top 5: Best local restaurant names


You know that saying "You never get a second chance to make a first impression?" Restaurant owners, as a breed, seem to like to give the phrase the finger, bestowing crazyass names on their restaurants -- Thai Tanic, anyone? -- in hopes that a) the "first impression" they impart will get you a'running on in and b) their hilarity and/or vulgarity and/or sincerity make you fail to recognize the absence of a relationship between a place's name and its food. It's kind of awesome.

The Twin Cities have their own share of awesome restaurant names. These are less crazyass and more like badass. The best ones bear a little of both. Here's our Top 5:

1. It might be loud. It might be overpriced. It's definitely obnoxious. But you've gotta hand it to Chino Latino. Its rhyme-y, cross-cultural zing of a moniker sorta makes you reconsider swearing the place off. Others have honed in on the concept, like Señor Wong's and the former Chang O'Hara's, likewise places not really worth writing home about but because of the name you just sorta keep ending up there. These guys just might be on to something.

Bill Kelley/City Pages
2. As Rachel uncovered in last year's review, St. Paul's suggestively named Strip Club is "just a cheeky pun on the restaurant's signature dish, the strip steak, which can be ordered with any number of scandalously named sauces, including 'XXX-cargot' butter or 'shrimp trampi.' It was a bold move to name an upscale steakhouse "Strip Club" but it's also a pretty great way to announce the restaurant's mischievous sense of humor, and no way it doesn't bump business at least a smidge. And even if no sad schmucks actually go all the way out to Dayton's Bluff only to find a fine dining establishment, it's fun(ny) to think about.


Alma Guzman/City Pages
3. What other restaurant name beside OM can make you immediately want to stop, drop, take off your shoes and socks, and assume shivasana? It's almost trance-inducing just saying it, and spelling it in all caps just enhances it. OMMMMM. You really can't say it in one syllable. Bet the spiritual connotation gets the yoga crowd down for some of the restaurant's India-meets-Minnesota fare.

4. Tanpopo means "dandelion" in Japanese, which is admittedly very precious, but it doesn't stop it from being, in English at least, a funny and addicting word to say. It's totally like when Buddy the Elf meets a co-worker of his father's named Francisco ("Francisco! That's fun to say! Francisco ...") and can't stop saying it.

5. The U Otter Stop Inn doesn't exactly qualify as a restaurant (or a restaurant in any sense of the term) but no list of awesome names would be complete without it.

Ok, what did we miss? There's lots of other great ones: Aesop's Table, the Weinery, El Taco Riendo, Punch ...