There’s no better way to finish off a fabulous meal than with an exceptional theater performance. The Twin Cities is a hotbed of talent for both those pleasures. Be it a casual and funky pairing in Northeast or a chichi celebration in St. Paul, these options on both sides of the river are guaranteed to satisfy your taste buds and entertain your entourage.
Sea Change and the Guthrie Theater
There’s nothing fishy about the Guthrie Theater’s in-house seafood-themed restaurant. Sea Change’s pre-theater and late-night menus feature plates that are as appealing to your eyes as they are to your palate. Chef Tim McKee (a 2009 James Beard Award winner) relies on fresh, sustainable seafood for inspiration, making a point to use fisheries that are environmentally responsible. Even the décor is eco-friendly and incorporates raw materials. As if the crustaceans weren’t enough to persuade you to test the waters at Sea Change, there’s an extensive wine list so you can drink like a fish, too! After delighting in one of Sea Change’s decadent desserts, step out onto the patio and get a glimpse of the Mississippi River.
Heidi’s and the Jungle Theater
Chef Stewart Woodman (a James Beard Award nominee and cookbook author) named this fine dining venue in the Lyn-Lake area of Uptown after his wife and business partner, Heidi. Dishing up simple yet stunning fare like lobster popcorn, lamb shank, and Bavarian cream-filled cinnamon donuts, this four-star locale is an ideal intimate precursor to a performance at the eclectic and urban Jungle Theater, just a few doors down.
Solera and the Orpheum Theatre
Forget the sangria and patatas bravas for a second; what you’re really going to Solera for is the rooftop seating. But since you’re up there taking in the scenery, you might as well sample the most authentic Spanish tapas in the Twin Cities. With chef Jorge Guzman now at the helm, Solera’s small plates still honor their traditional roots while incorporating more locally sourced foods. Share several with your date before strolling to the nearby Orpheum Theatre, a feast for the eyes in its own right.
The Ritz Theater and the Modern Café
Food-loving theater-goers who don’t want to blow their whole budget in one evening should head over to the arts district in Northeast Minneapolis. The Modern Café is only steps away from the historic Ritz Theater, and its pot roast is legendary in these parts. Braised to a mouthwatering tenderness and served atop a pillowy mound of mashed potatoes and a side of seasonal vegetables, this beefcake is one you’ll want to take your time to savor. Chef Jim Grell even recommends the dish for breakfast, so order double and ask for a doggy bag.
The Fitzgerald Theater and Meritage
Duck liver schmear, confit pig tongue, and an oyster Bloody Mary shooter. Is your mind blown yet? Because those are just the "Amusements" on Meritage’s menu. Continue on to the braised rabbit ravioli, escargots Bourguignon, or seared Minnesota foie gras, and we’ll be impressed if you can even walk after your meal at this chichi St. Paul establishment. While Meritage is certainly a splurge, it’s one you won’t regret. Chef Klein plans his plates seasonally and sources ingredients from local farms. After your epic indulgence at Meritage, head on over to the Fitzgerald Theater, a Capital City landmark, for one of Minnesota Public Radio’s many shows, including the uber-popular "Wits" series, where audience members are encouraged to tweet during the performance.
Erica Rivera is the author of the memoir "Insatiable" and the e-cookbook "Man Eater." She is the co-owner of the Twin Cities mobile bakery MILF and Cookies and blogs at crazysexydelicious.com.