Brunch-lovers will find everything their hearts desire and more in Minneapolis, Minnesota. From extravagant restaurants to old-fashioned diners, and haunts at the front of the organic food scene, check out The Culture Trip’s guide to the 10 best places to eat brunch in Minneapolis.
Keep your eyes peeled for Al’s Breakfast while walking through the Dinkytown neighborhood—if you don’t look hard enough, you might stroll right past it. Crammed into a small alleyway between two much wider buildings, the darling, old-fashioned haunt packs a lot of original, old school diner character into a little space. Al himself is usually behind the counter cooking up blueberry pancakes, eggs benedict, huevos rancheros and bacon waffles underneath a canopy of twinkling lights, drawings scribbled on scraps of paper and international banknotes. There are only 14 stools in the entire restaurant, but trust us—it’s worth waiting in the line that usually goes out the door.
The Bachelor Farmer was named the third best brunch spot in the United States by The Daily Meal in 2014. It has even hosted U.S. President Barack Obama for dinner on one occasion, and its chef Paul Berglund was a finalist for a 2014 James Beard Award. But the Bachelor Farmer isn’t a diva; despite all the hype and publicity, its Midwestern charm remains at the forefront of all of its endeavors. Venture into the restaurant, which is housed in a former brick and timber warehouse built in 1881, and enjoy a relaxed brunch on Sundays. Taste the state’s heritage in every bite of the Smørrebrød, or Scandinavian open-faced sandwiches, or the rye spaetzle pyttipanna made with pork shoulder pastrami, a poached egg, savoy cabbage and caraway hollandaise.
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The Birchwood has morphed several times in its 88 years in existence. It was founded as a dairy in 1926, morphed into a grocery in the 1940s and finally became a restaurant—Birchwood Café—in 1995. Since then, the cafe has drawn upon the eras when it sold farm-fresh milk and food to form a menu comprised of the finest fares; nearly all of the ingredients come from organic farms within 200 miles of the Birchwood Café. Its efforts to maintain this farm-to-table system is rewarded with raving reviews about its food, like the popular savory waffles made with pumpkin, amaranth and Gruyère and topped with red onion jam, apple cinnamon butter, bacon lardoons, a sunny-side up egg, maple syrup and powdered sugar. The luxurious bacon & current oatmeal made with pistachios, aronia berry coulis and maple syrup is also worth mentioning.
Hazel’s Northeast began from a Minnesota mother’s efforts to provide for her family during the 1960s. Helen Sieve sold her pies at a local diner to feed her five children, and when their popularity soared, locals demanded she open up a diner of her own. Since then, the enterprise she founded with her husband grew into Hazel’s Northeast, an award-winning restaurant with the cosiness of a homey country kitchen. If you’re looking for dishes that are as comforting as a warm pastoral home in the middle of a Minnesota winter, order the drunken banana French toast topped with warm bananas, rum-soaked raisins, caramel and toasted pecans or the applewood-smoked meat waffle filled with bacon, sausage, ham and cheese. No matter what you order as an entrée, do not pass on the melt-in-your-mouth caramel rolls.
Banana Foster French Toast | Courtesy of Hell's Kitchen
Hell’s Kitchen is a gateway to pure brunch heaven. Not to be confused with celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay’s popular American television show of the same name, the dark, sinisterly decorated restaurant is a one-of-a-kind brunch time experience that’s distinctive, but not overly showy. While you’re enjoying the live music, cozy up to one of the minimalist tables with a homemade Bloody Mary and prepare for incredible dishes like lemon-ricotta hotcakes, the ham & pear crisp sandwich, the bison benedict, or anything made with Hell’s Kitchen’s legendary homemade peanut butter. For a little caffeine to power you through the rest of the day, head upstairs to Angel Food, the restaurant’s angelic bakery and coffee bar.
French Meadow Bakery & Café has been serving organic baked goods since before organic food was in vogue. In fact, French Meadow might have even helped pioneer the organic food trend in the United States—it was the first bakery in the country to be Certified Organic by the United States Department of Agriculture. The bakery also features gluten-free and vegan dishes, all of them just as tasty as their original-recipe menu mates. To sample some of French Meadow’s baked glory, order a fruit tart, lemon poppy seed muffin, croissant or pecan roll. If you’re looking for a more filling brunch, however, French Meadow’s non-pastry choices are just as scrumptious—order the deep-dish quiche, the ‘zone’ omelet, the breakfast burrito or the cornmeal waffle for a taste of top-notch Minnesota cooking.
In the late 1800s, patrons would come to the Main Street area for very different reasons than they do today, namely because a woman named Mattie St. Clair used to operate a brothel in the neighbourhood. These days, diners flock to Mattie’s on Main—named after the aforementioned Madame—for its dynamic, trendy and colourful décor, live music, and all-you-can-eat family-style brunch on Sundays. Start with a peach jam sweet roll, and then chow down on build-your-own omelettes, grilled cheese sandwiches, meats, potatoes and fresh fruit. Wash everything down with bottomless mimosas, bottomless Bloody Marys, or an ‘adult’ milkshake that comes in flavours like the Nutty Irish Man, Ginger Snap or Young Grasshopper. Come on select Saturdays for brunch and a fabulous drag show.
You’ll find hipster vibes at Modern Times Café that are similar to those in the indie neighborhoods of Brooklyn, New York—it is, as postcards around the dining room declare, ‘Where the Punks Take Their Parents’. Families and university students alike will love the eclectic decor, from the rotating selection of local art to the plants speckling the colorful, striped tables, and the affordable food served in massive quantities. Go for the Southside hash, a full order of hash browns topped with organic onions, mushrooms, green peppers, roasted jalapeños, chorizo, cheese, eggs and sour cream, or the Tuscan Tough Guy, made of pork or chorizo scrambled with eggs, jalapeños, organic corn, cream cheese and poblano sour cream. Get to Modern Times before it becomes too mainstream, which will likely happen very quickly—Citypages deemed the cafe the ‘Best Brunch in Minneapolis’ in 2014.
Mythology surrounding the Linden tree suggests the plant has peaceful, relaxing and flavorful properties. The tree is categorized in the genus Tilia, which also happens to be the name of a Minneapolis restaurant that has the same qualities of tranquility. The establishment’s minimalist, crisp and clean design is accented with delicate light fixtures, and its solid brunch menu, compiled by a team that includes the James Beard Award semi-finalist Steven Brown, is flecked with a mix of comfort food and innovative tastes. Menu standouts include the Reuben benedict, made with poached eggs, corned beef hash croquettes, caraway cabbage and Swiss hollandaise, in addition to the yogurt crème brulée garnished with tinned peaches, blackberries, blueberries and mint.
Wilde Roast Café is named after the Irish writer and poet Oscar Wilde, and fashioned according to his presumably flamboyant taste in decor—including a heavy dose of peacock-feather patterns, heaps of velvet and dim, sultry lighting. Whether you decide to eat weekend brunch in the glow of the antique fireplace or outside on the patio that overlooks the river, ready yourself for a menu just as extravagant as the decor. Entrées include the just-rich-enough crème brulée French toast, the renowned cornmeal pancakes, the refreshingly tart nuts & berries salad, the spicy huevos rancheros and the fluffy veggie strata.