Minnesota from The Best Food and Drink in Minnesota for 2018 Gallery
The Best Food and Drink in Minnesota for 2018 Gallery
Minnesotans are perhaps best known for their stereotypical niceness, a trait supposedly derived from the Gopher State’s nineteenth-century Nordic settlers. This benign pleasantness is reflected in many of the foods typically associated with the state, often warm, comforting casseroles or rich cheeses from the Land of 10,000 Lakes’ productive dairy farms. But the North Star State has a bright culinary scene featuring styles both traditionally Minnesotan and less so, and we’ve rounded up the best of them as part of our first annual guide to the best food and drink in every state.
Maybe it’s that niceness that has enabled the Twin Cities to welcome so many immigrants from around the country and the world. Today, the Minneapolis-St.Paul metropolitan area is one of the largest in the United States, and the region’s characteristic politeness seems to have translated into open-mindedness. Case in point: The best food truck in the Twin Cities, which are more than 1,500 miles from the Pacific coast, is a sushi bar on wheels.
You can find great examples of nearly every type of food in Minnesota, from tasty burritos and tortas (at Minneapolis’ Las Teresitas and Manny’s Tortas, respectively) to heartwarming matzoh ball soup (at St. Paul’s Cecil’s Deli) and honest-to-gosh French fries from a French-style brasserie (Meritage). Minnesota is down for any dish that’s hot — not just hotdish.
Best Bar: Marvel Bar, Minneapolis
Marvel Bar combines classic Japanese bartending methods with new American cocktail creativity. “Our minimalist, outside-the-box style of innovation has led to the invention of new genres of drinks, such as emulsified sours, hyper-diluted cocktails, charcoal-filtered cocktails, and alkaline cocktails,” says beverage director Pip Hanson, whose favorite beverage is the dry martini. His favorite martini recipe was adapted from a French cocktail book published in 1904: a 3-to-1 gin to dry vermouth with a single dash of orange bitters and a lemon twist. “Hand-chipped ice, one of our signature Japanese influences, makes an enormous difference in the final temperature and dilution of this drink,” explains Hanson, who tended bar at Roppongi Hills Club in Tokyo and studied classic Japanese cocktail technique. Marvel Bar has 400 different spirits, 11 single barrels of bourbon and rye from Kentucky, and a constantly rotating cocktail menu featuring classics and avant-garde original creations crafted with the perfectionism of Ginza cocktail masters. Additionally, general manager Peder Schweigert was a culinary producer on Top Chef Season 5, worked the kitchen at Alinea in Chicago, and won Iron Bartender in 2010 after less than a year of working with spirits. He crafts Marvel Bar’s signature cocktails like the Oliveto, a combination of an egg white gin sour with olive oil that the bar dubbed an "emulsified sour.”
Surly Brewing Company
Best Beer: Darkness by Surly Brewing Company, Minneapolis
Best Burger: Jucy Lucy at Matt's Bar, Minneapolis
Ah, the legendary Jucy Lucy (yes, Matt's spells it without the "i"). While the battle rages between Matt’s Bar and the nearby 5-8 Club over who invented this brilliant burger variation (basically a cheeseburger with the cheese inside the patty instead of on top), the one at Matt’s Bar is the superior specimen. Legend has it that shortly after the restaurant opened in 1954 a hungry customer came in and asked for two burger patties with a slice of cheese in the middle. He took a bite, proclaimed it to be "one juicy Lucy!," and an icon was born. Only fresh-ground beef goes into each hand-formed burger, and the first bite yields a river of molten, gooey cheese. These burgers are much more difficult to make than it may appear, and the one at Matt’s Bar is absolute perfection. Find more details on Matt’s Bar here.
Sarah T. via Yelp
Best Chinese Restaurant: Shuang Cheng, Minneapolis
A favorite of University of Minnesota Twin Cities students for more than 25 years, this homey Dinkytown spot specializes in authentic Cantonese fare as well as a wide variety of fresh seafood dishes. Regulars swear by the spicy baked crab, Peking duck, salty fish with chicken and eggplant, and chicken in black bean sauce. Find more details on Shuang Cheng here.
David P. via Yelp
Best Cupcake: Cupcake, Eagan
Well, it doesn’t get any more straightforward than this: a cupcakery named Cupcake that simply sells delicious cupcakes. As a winner of Cupcake Wars, this small Eagan bakery has blown up into a local must-try, and it gives patrons a large variety of sweets to choose from (including gluten-free and vegan options). How could you not love a U.S. Navy serviceman-turned-pastry chef who makes cupcakes called the “Michelle Obama” and the “Alton Brown”? Click here for seven hilarious Minnesota food and drink slang terms.
Best Dive Bar: Palmer’s Bar, Minneapolis
Best Doughnuts: Glam Doll Donuts, Minneapolis
Arwyn Birch and Teresa Fox, the two women behind Glam Doll, transformed this shop into a vintage doughnut and coffee bar. Everything is fresh, made from scratch, and given a wonderfully wacky name. We recommend you try one of the crazier flavors; there’s the Chart Topper — a cake doughnut with sriracha icing and topped with peanuts and red pepper flakes; and the Showgirl, a Long John doughnut coated in maple icing and bacon. For more information on Glam Doll Donuts, click here.
Best Farmers Market: Kingfield Farmers Market, Kingfield
Described by locals as "hip, local, green, and gourmet," the Kingfield Farmers Market hosts about 30 vendors each week and welcomes thousands of visitors. It is a produce-focused market offering a wide variety of fruits and vegetables along with prepared foods, coffee, handmade crafts, music, kids’ activities, and more. The Kingfield Farmers Market is one of three markets run by Neighborhood Roots and is open Sundays from May through October.
Best Food Truck: Sushi Fix, Twin Cities
After working at multiple sushi bars and Japanese restaurants, the friends behind this hit decided to put their expert knowledge to the ultimate test and see if they could create a successful food truck. Victory! The end result was Sushi Fix, where everything is crafted with the utmost care and dedication. Thank years of practice scaling fish to ensure proper sushi cutting, a commitment to the freshest local ingredients, and “washing sushi rice until finger tips don’t feel.”
Best French Fries: Meritage, St. Paul
One of the finest French restaurants in the Twin Cities also happens to serve some of the best fries you’ll ever eat. Served slightly well-done for maximum crispiness, these are still fluffy on the inside and benefit from an ample sprinkling of salt as well as a side of béarnaise sauce for dipping. If you’ve never dipped fries into buttery béarnaise before, we apologize in advance for the extra calories.
Best Fish and Chips: The Anchor Fish & Chips, Minneapolis
This bustling chipper brings a true fish and chips experience to Minneapolis, and their roving food truck is also spreading the gospel across the Twin Cities. Pasties, shepherd’s pie, Heinz beans, curry chips, and even battered sausage and chips are helping to get locals through brutal winters, but if you only get one thing, make it the fish and chips. A huge fillet of sustainable wild Alaskan cod is lightly battered and fried to crispy perfection, served on a heaping pile of fresh hand-cut chips.
Jonathan E. via Yelp
Best Grocery Store: Kowalski’s Market, Twin Cities
A family-run business that expanded throughout the Twin Cities area, Kowalski’s Market is a store that actively seeks to differentiate itself from the big chains, specifically with its commitment to sourcing products locally. “Great quality, incredible customer service. Always greeted with a smile,” one reviewer said.
Best Italian Restaurant: Broder’s Pasta Bar, Minneapolis
Molly and Tom Broder opened their “pasta bar” in 1994, and the crowds have never stopped coming. Why? Ingredients are sourced from Midwest farms whenever possible and some vegetables are grown in an on-site garden — “but really,” as the website states, “it’s all about the pasta.” Fresh pastas are made in-house and dry pastas are imported from Italy, and nearly 30 pastas and risottos are on the menu. You can’t go wrong with gnocchi with duck cacciatore ragù; quadrucci with roasted chicken, greens, prosciutto di Parma, almonds, asparagus, balsamic vinegar, and mascarpone; tagliarini with prosciutto and truffle cream; or the paccheri with braised short rib, pancetta, red wine, tomato, and gremolata. There’s also a daily risotto that’s usually pretty spectacular, as well as a wide variety of antipasti. The name might fool you into thinking that this is a low-rent buffet, but it’s anything but.
Best Mexican Restaurant: Las Teresitas, Minneapolis
Having built and sold four successful locations of his first Mexican foray in Minneapolis, Taco Morelos, Gaspar Perez has retaken the title of the area’s best Mexican with Las Teresitas. In a strip mall in a residential part of South Minneapolis on 34th Avenue, just north of Highway 62, Perez’s Las Teresitas is named for his two Teresas (his mother and daughter) and delivers fantastic Mexican food at prices that seem too good to be true. They’re not. The burritos are huge, the Enchiladas Teresas with green salsa, ranchera, or Mexican mole, win raves, and the nine salsas are the stuff of local legend.
Courtesy of Murray’s
Most Expensive Restaurant: Murray’s, Minneapolis
Serving Minneapolis’ finest steaks since 1946, Murray’s is a venerable institution that costs a pretty penny to dine at. Steaks average around $50 (and most non-steak entrees cost well over $30), and if you’d like to sample the restaurant’s legendary Silver Butter Knife Steak for Two, a 28-ounce strip loin, it’ll cost $105. A 24-ounce Chateaubriand costs $115.
Yelp/ Kayla H.
Best Pasta Dish: Tagliarini de Lonanda Del Lupo at Broder’s Pasta Bar, Minneapolis
Broder’s is our choice for the best Italian restaurant in Minnesota, and every one of their pasta dishes is worth trying. But you can’t go wrong with the Tagliarini de Lonanda Del Lupo, inspired by a dish served at a restaurant of the same name in Soragna, Italy. Tagliarini (an eggy thin pasta) is tossed with a light truffle cream sauce as well as lots of diced prosciutto di Parma. You’ll most likely be ordering a second helping. Find more details on Broder’s Pasta Bar here.
Sara W. via Yelp
Best Pizza: Fat Lorenzo's, Minneapolis
With its colorful murals and delicious pies, Minneapolis’ Fat Lorenzo’s, the original and a "standard for the Twin Cities," is a dining experience tough to match. As its motto goes, it has been "Italian in a big way," proud of serving its New York-style pizza since 1987. The restaurant offers great pies such as the Fat’s (Italian sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, green peppers, black and green olives); the Alfrenzo (with alfredo sauce, chicken, artichokes, roasted red peppers, spinach, ricotta, mozzarella, and provolone); and the New Haven (inspired by Connecticut’s famed clam pizza, though theirs is topped with baby clams in a rich herb sauce and finished with asiago).
Best Sandwich: Manny’s Special at Manny’s Tortas, Minneapolis
Manny’s Tortas is a Minneapolis legend with two locations in town and hordes of regulars flocking there on a daily basis. A wide variety of traditional Mexican tortas are available, but there’s nothing in Mexico quite like the super-popular Manny’s Special: steak, onion, mushrooms, tomatoes, and jalapeños, all grilled with melted cheese, then topped with ham, cheese, and avocados for good measure. It’s an explosion of flavor.
Yelp/ Sara D.
Best Soup: Matzo Ball at Cecil’s Deli, St. Paul
Going strong since its founding by Cecil and Faye Glickman in 1949, this Twin Cities institution is legendary for its homemade cured meats, breads and other baked goods, and especially its soups. Its chicken soup in particular, made with long-simmered stock, plenty of chicken, and your choice of noodles or matzo balls (go for the matzo balls), is seriously the cure for what ails you, especially during a long Minnesota winter.
Murray’s / Facebook
Best Steakhouse: Murray’s, Minneapolis
If you’re looking for a classic steakhouse experience and happen to be in the Twin Cities, drop into the recently renovated Murray’s, which has been going strong since 1946. Opened by Art and Marie Murray, the restaurant is still in the family, and many of Marie’s old recipes are still used. Their famed "Silver Butter Knife Steak for Two," a 28-ounce strip loin carved tableside, is one of the country’s great monuments to a well-made steak. Thankfully, the renovation didn’t do away with any of the restaurant’s classic charm (although it thankfully replaced the banquet hall-style pink drapes and chairs), and the classic neon sign is right where it’s always been. Find more details on Murray’s here.
Mon P. via Yelp
Best Tacos: Lengua at El Taco Riendo, Minneapolis
This Twin Cities favorite is bringing Mexico City street food to Minneapolis in a fun and laid-back setting. Tostadas, tamales, sopes, enchiladas, burritos, and chilaquiles keep the crowds coming, but the tacos, made with tortillas produced by local tortilleria La Perla, are really things of beauty. Even if you’re not a fan of tongue, the slow-cooked lengua will make you a convert. For more states, check out our ultimate guide to the best food and drink in every state for 2018.