The 10 Best Restaurants in the Twin Cities

Sea Salt Eatery

Where to eat in the Twin Cities, from old favorites to hot new tables.

1. Mucci’s Italian

As loud and fun as a Sicilian grandma, Mucci’s is a modern Italian joint whose dishes expertly toe the line between comfort and sophistication. Try the “Ruby:” A pizza featuring fried crust, sausage and pickled jalapeños. The tagliatelle with red clam sauce is another standout. As a bonus, Mucci’s makes some of the finest filled pastries in town—but they’re only available on the weekends and sell out fast. Get there at 8 a.m. sharp to lock down the creme brulee donut of your dreams. 786 Randolph Ave., St. Paul, (651) 330-2245, muccisitalian.com


2. The Nook

If you’ve never had a Juicy Lucy—a burger stuffed with hot, gooey cheese—then you haven’t lived. This St. Paul dive bar serves the best of this Midwestern specialty in the Twin Cities—though Matt’s Bar in Minneapolis might beg to differ. Try the house specialty “Juicy Nookie,” which oozes American cheese (and love). PS: The old working bowling alley in the basement only adds to the Nook’s fun appeal. 492 S. Hamline Ave., St. Paul, (651) 698-4347, crnook.com


3. Ngon Bistro

University Avenue in St. Paul is lined with amazing Southeast Asian restaurants, including Ngon Bistro, a French-Vietnamese spot that specializes in pho and dumplings made with fresh, local and sustainable ingredients, plus great cocktails such as the lemon-basil Negroni. Throw in excellent background music courtesy of chef-owner Hai Truong’s extensive personal vinyl collection, and you’ve got yourself a hip, friendly local haunt. 799 W. University Ave., St. Paul, (651) 222-3301, ngonbistro.com


4. Sea Salt Eatery

Minnehaha Park in Minneapolis is named for the large waterfall that is the centerpiece of the green space. The other highlight here is the unexpectedly great counter-service fish shack located a stone’s throw from the top of the falls. Sea Salt is open from April to October, and there’s almost always a line out the door made up of tourists and locals seeking fish tacos, po’boys and crazy-fresh oysters. The best seating is outdoors, and on a sunny day, there’s no better place to be in the Twin Cities. 4825 Minnehaha Ave., Mpls., (612) 721-8990, seasalteatery.wordpress.com

5. Bellecour

This French bistro in a nearby suburb of Minneapolis is the hottest table in town thanks to its James Beard Award–winning star chef-owner, Gavin Kaysen, who also runs the buzzy Spoon & Stable in the equally buzzy North Loop neighborhood near downtown Minneapolis. Opened this spring in a small, light-filled building, Bellecour has a bakery on one side (home to the best pain au chocolat this side of Paris) and a formal dining room on the other (serving up superlative takes on steak frites, moules frites and bouillabaisse). Book well in advance to snag a seat. 739 E. Lake St., Wayzata, (952) 444-5200, bellecourrestaurant.com


Young Joni

Located in artsy, down-to-earth Northeast Minneapolis, Young Joni is a killer pizza place that just so happens to have amazing Korean food and a hidden bar accessible through the back alley, thanks to James Beard semifinalist for Best Chef Midwest, Ann Kim. The pies are fun and modern—try “The Basque” with Spanish chorizo, mozzarella, goat cheese, piquillo pepper, red onion, Castelvetrano olives and preserved lemon. The menu’s “Other Delights” section is equally inspired, packed with Asian-inspired treats like Korean shortribs with kalbi marinade, chimichurri and charred serrano yogurt. As for that back bar? It looks like a 1970s basement, complete with wood-paneled walls and a reel-to-reel soundsystem. 165 13th Ave. NE, Mpls., (612) 345-5719, youngjoni.com

112 Eatery

A classic downtown Minneapolis bistro, 112 is where the local chefs eat on their nights off. Maybe they love it for the pitch-perfect 112 burger, topped with a huge hunk of brie and served on an English muffin. Or perhaps it’s the unpretentious décor—brick walls and hardwood floors—that brings ’em in. But it doesn’t really matter why the pros dig it—the fact is they do, which is reason enough to make this a must-stop for food nerds. 112 N. Third St., Mpls., (612) 343-7696, 112eatery.com

 


Young Joni

El Taco Riendo

Minneapolis’s Central Avenue is teeming with amazing hole-in-the-wall Mexican spots, and there’s none better than El Taco Riendo, a tiny counter-service joint known for its carne asada tacos and giant burritos. And though it’s a far cry from downtown’s glittering fine-dining options, Riendo is just as satisfying—an authentic gem worth seeking out. 2412 Central Ave. NE, Mpls., (612) 781-3000, eltaco-riendo.com

Birchwood Café

Birchwood Café in south Minneapolis was doing the farm-to-table thing before it was cool. Stop in for one of the finest—and freshest—breakfasts in town, and try the confit pork omelet or the vegetable scramble with lemon-chevre mousse. The family friendly spot also has a great kids’ menu with French toast and “egg in a nest” (an egg cradled inside birdseed toast).  3311 E. 25th St., Mpls., (612) 722-4474, birchwoodcafe.com

Birchwood Cafe

Young Joni

Young Joni

This new neighborhood bar in St. Paul focuses on fancy cocktails like the Bumby (with the locally made Tattersall gin and Spruce Soda orange-blossom tonic water) and nicely priced French fare (grilled trout with squash and lemon sauce for $17). Plus, the vibe is friendly and the rosé is on tap. What more could you want? 470 S. Cleveland Ave., St. Paul, barbrigade.com

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