Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Minnesota’s famous sister cities, has a rich culinary heritage influenced by Scandinavian and German food cultures. We take a look at the best restaurants in Minneapolis.
The Bachelor Farmer
Restaurant, European, American, Contemporary, $$$
Housed in a historic 19th-century brick-and-timber warehouse in Minneapolis’ North Loop neighborhood is The Bachelor Farmer. It opened in 2011 on two floors of the house, with a small rooftop farm. This place draws inspiration from the creativity of contemporary Scandinavian cooking and pays homage to Minnesota’s rich Nordic history. The Bachelor Farmer’s chef Paul Berglund adheres to simple flavors that showcase the freshness and quality of their ingredients. This respect for ingredients can be seen in their menu, which changes seasonally. Try The Bachelor Farmer’s meatballs (ingredients vary) and any of their toast options. Or, stop by for a refreshingly delicious Sunday brunch.
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Tilia, which opened in 2011, was one of the most anticipated restaurants in Minneapolis for being Chef Steven Brown’s first restaurant. This charming Linden Hills venue has won rave reviews for its simple yet flavorful dishes that are creative and affordable. They start from the fresh, seasonal soups to his much talked-about fish taco torta. This is an innovative twist on the fish taco with made-from-scratch habanero lime mayonnaise, a tempura-like mahi mahi fillet of breaded fish sandwiched between a milk bread bun. The restaurant decor complements the stripped-back simple dishes at Tilia’s. The exposed rafters and white-washed walls with dark wood accents give Tilia a European bistro-like charm.
Victory 44 Coffee Bar and Kitchen serves a constantly seasonal menu that features fresh, quality produce from local vendors. Chef Erick Harcey’s popular Minneapolis dining spot transformed contemporary American cuisine in Minneapolis with its elaborate eight-course tasting menu. It has gastropub ambiance that has been described as a ‘neighborhood tavern functioning as a giant chef’s table’. Serving coffee by Dogwood Coffee Co., menu favorites at Victory 44 include the ‘Devils on Horseback’ and the Perfect Burger.
Be sure to watch where you walk when you visit this place because the industrial-chic dining room is paved with pennies — literally. Located in the historic Harmon district of Minneapolis, Butcher and the Boar brings its sausage specialties and Mississippi Delta favorites to the Twin Cities. Already, the restaurant has gained national attention under the direction of chef Jack Riebel. It has won a nomination for the 2013 James Beard semifinalist for Best New Restaurant and Best Chef: Midwest. Butcher & the Boar is a true specialist and is a meat-lovers haven with a huge selection of house sausages and cured meats. Sausage-and-beer aficionados rejoiced when Butcher & The Board announced the opening of its all-season heated beer garden. It serves house sausages, German nachos and more with a great selection of beers.
Molecular gastronomy meets Minnesotan culinary tradition at Travail Kitchen & Amusements. Having closed its doors in April in anticipation of a new Kickstarter-funded Robbinsdale space, Travail Kitchen & Amusements promises to reopen with a bang. In 2011, Travail Kitchen and Amusements came in at No. 4 on Bon Appétit Best New Restaurants in America list. Fun and innovative, with an eye on fusion flavors, Travail Kitchen energized the Minneapolis food scene. They turned the kitchen into a creative lab for experimenting with local ingredients, whether foraged or locally grown. Plus, they conceptualized never-before-seen combinations that simply work.
Shortlisted by Bon Appétit as one of the 50 Best New Restaurants in America, Borough is in Minneapolis’s North Loop neighborhood. Borough offers a beautiful dining experience with its glass-paned wall, simple furnishings and unusual lighting fixtures. The cheese graters transformed into ceiling lighting are a delightful touch that give the restaurant an elegantly rustic ambiance. They serve dishes made using organic, locally sourced, seasonal ingredients. Try the octopus with yam, soya, daikon, coriander, lime and peanuts and bay scallops.
Birchwood Café is a neighborhood hangout with a long history in the community. Opened by the Bursch family as a dairy in 1926, the building was transformed into a neighborhood grocery into the 1940s. During this period, it became an integral part of the local scene. Birchwood Café, which celebrated its 18th year in 2013, continues to be actively involved in supporting not only local farms and food vendors but also community initiatives. Everything is freshly made with seasonal ingredients, making Birchwood the go-to stop for a chilled-out breakfast or weekend brunch. Its savory waffles are, by all accounts, a favorite. Another good pick is its turkey and black bean quinoa burger.
Pizzeria Lola brings wood-fired artisanal pizza to Minneapolis. As authentically Italian-American as they come, Pizzeria Lola headed up by Columbia University graduate and chef-founder Ann Kim, is a picture of America’s great gastronomic melting pot. Taking on the all-American favorite, pizza, chef Kim integrates her memories of Korean home cooking with perfectly cooked gourmet pizzas that have won rave reviews. Favorites include The Sunnyside, which featured on The Food Network. Or go for the Korean fusion Lady ZaZa with house-made kimchi, Korean sausage, serrano peppers, scallions, sesame and soya chill glaze.
From its humble beginnings as a mobile food truck with a loyal following, Josh Thoma’s Smack Shack officially opened its first brick-and-mortar shop in early 2013. This was much to the delight of Minneapolis’ seafood aficionados. Lobsters are undoubtedly the star of the show at Smack Shack. Midwestern locals come here for the beloved lobster roll. Chunky lobster meat is sandwiched between a roll and served either New England style or with a Connecticut twist. The menu also features po’ boys, crab rolls, lobster mac and cheese and more.
Izzy’s Ice Cream Café, which opened in 2000 in St Paul’s, is a labor of love by owners Lara Hammel and Jeff Sommers. Both of them were born and raised in Minnesota. Since then, Izzy’s has become an ice cream institution in the Twin Cities with its first Minneapolis shop opening in summer of 2013. Using fresh ingredients, Izzy’s Ice Cream Cafe serves both classic and seasonal flavors that are inspired by the flavor profiles of Minnesota. These include flavors like Birchwood Blend and Swedish Garden Party, which evokes Minnesota’s Nordic heritage.