Local Eats in Minneapolis
It’s daunting to highlight the best restaurants in the city where you live, and in Minneapolis there is no shortage of great options! But the reality is, it doesn’t matter if you are at home or traveling, you want a good experience when you go out to eat. In this Roam Guide we’ve narrowed down our favorites by neighborhood, without including too much of the expected and without any intention of being comprehensive. We simply want to share the places worthy of consistent praise in small circles. We want to highlight solid, familiar, local favorites, worthy of repeat visits no matter the press.
Here’s where you will find us -
Including East Harriet, Nokomis & Linden Hills
ie Italian Eatery (pictured above) - Terrific neighborhood pasta spot, with a cozy dining indoors and a spectacular patio when it warms-up. Order the Bucatini and The Cedar — one of their bourbon craft cocktails. After you carb load, jump on the Parkway and walk east around Lake Nokomis.
Pizza Biga - Attached to the local chain bakery Turtle Bread, this pizza place is expected to have a great crust, but even the most discerning pizza lovers will be impressed. If you like anchovies, they order the best and will add them to any pizza (if available). Just a block from the renovated Parkway Theatre, check their schedule for throw-back movies, classic cocktails, and live events.
St. Genevieve - This place is perfect for day drinking, happy hour specials and French bubbles, especially when the weather agrees and they open their wall of windows. Sister restaurant nearby Tilia is also a staple neighborhood bistro.
Lyn 65 - While we are divided as to which is better —Sunday brunch or dinner service, either way there is no denying their excellent menu and craft cocktails any time of day. At night, grab a seat at the bar and order the burger. At brunch, it’s the Eggs Benedict, biscuits and gravy or chicken & waffles.
Book Club - We love the sunny disposition of the staff at The Book Club and their $5 food and drinks menu from 2-6pm is hard to believe. Regular menu favorites include the Korean Steak Satay and the uncomplicated Steak Salad. Champion bartender (yes that’s a thing), Kyle will make you delicious cocktails on and off the menu.
Martina - Any meal, any time, we love Martina. If you are there for brunch go early for the egg cocktail served in an ice glass - there are only a dozen per day and worth the hype. Despite the price tag, you can’t turn down the chilled seafood platter and really can’t make a mistake otherwise.
Andale Taqueria - Outside of West St. Paul, authentic Mexican just can’t be found. The exception being Andale Taqueria. According to contributor Paul Buttenhoff you should order the Al Pastor Tacos and the “chicken nachos are killer.”
The Grand Cafe - The recent reinvention of an old favorite, this cafe would be our pick for date night in a heartbeat. Go with the server’s recommendations and an open mind.
The Bulls Horn - This classic bar is the perfect place to grab a burger. It’s the Midwest after all, and we love a good neighborhood greasy spoon. You can also get a pit ham or bologna sandwich and there is kool-aid on the menu for God’s sake.
Al Vento - Authentic Italian worthy of a big city crowd. This quiet neighborhood mainstay never disappoints. We love the linguine and clams, the sampling of Bruschetta and the “semi frozen” pistachio custard.
La Fresca - Tucked away on a quiet intersection in South Minneapolis, this place should get far more attention than it does. No matter the meal, you’re going to be happy with the authentic, fresh menu options and comfortable outdoor seating. We love to follow-up our brunch with visits to nearby Mille & The Foundry.
George & The Dragon - This is our neighborhood so forgive us, but we must include one more. Consistently good overall, this pub is doing everything right. The shrimp curry is so good we are on a call list for when it’s available. Also the kids menu offer regular size portions and they eat free on Tuesdays. Other favorites include the bacon and onion dip and Asian Hangover. Tell Fred we sent you.
Includes Calhoun / Isles and Eat Street
Barbette (pictured above) - With happy hour specials on drinks, oysters, frites, cheese and charcuterie, Barbette is a no-brainer. If you’re hungry you can’t go wrong with the daily quiche and we know more than one contributor who lives on the heart attack worthy Croque Monsieur. If you can, check out their Trapeze Bubble Bar adjacent to the restaurant.
Fuji Ya - The only consistent place to get sushi in town. Many foodies may disagree but even long standing sushi bars have been hit or miss over the years. Besides your choice of Nigiri, the winter roll and the #9 are both fantastic. If you need an appetizer the salmon wontons will impress.
Bryant Lake Bowl - Although this long time restaurant and vintage bowling ally has recently changed ownership, their excellent food and service remain exactly the same. I always get the turkey, avocado, bacon sandwich and the veggie chili, but I hear everything else is good too. Just kidding, the Rachel sandwich and breakfast burrito are wonderful choices and they have several Bloody Mary variations.
Muddy Waters - A family favorite, we always fall back on Muddy Waters when we can’t decide where to go. Order the “Nikki Schultz” cocktail (not on the menu) or the basil Bloody Mary, and if you are there at brunch time get the billionaire bacon to dip in your bloody. Their pizza crust is surprisingly out of this world, the black bean hummus tasty and even kiddos like the Mexicali dogs. This place is nothing if not consistent and we rarely have to wait for a table. Perfection.
Burch Steak - With a killer brunch and out of this world dinner items, we LOVE Burch. There is a pizza joint in the basement, the burger rivals that of Parlour Bar and there are no words for how amazing the dumplings are. Just go.
Isle Bun Company - If I were to lean sweet over savory for breakfast, I’d go cinnamon rolls over donuts every time. I recommend going mini on the rolls and puppy dog tails, no rhyme intended. They brew their own blend of coffee to boot.
Kenwood Restaurant - Because we’re obsessed with brunch we can’t leave off the comforts of The Kenwood — served everyday but Monday. This neighborhood “country club” is kid friendly and everything on the menu is worth ordering, especially something with pork or French fries.
Central & Warehouse District
Spoon & Stable (pictured above) - The best way to try this critically acclaimed restaurant is from the bar, where they offer a full menu, no reservations and a less pretentious vibe.
Bar La Grassa - This place never gets old. We love the red wine spaghetti — I mean, it’s spaghetti boiled in red wine instead of water, what’s not to love? Ask to sit in the seats facing the kitchen and linger like a local.
Monte Carlo - Classic in every way, we head to the Monte Carlo every chance we get. Start with the ginormous sampler and go from there. Other favorites include the Cobb salad and the Rueben sandwich and their outdoor patio is phenomenal.
Parlour Bar - This secluded underground bar severs arguably the best burger in the entire metro area, and the most incredible craft cocktails to boot. Contributor Jackie Just puts this on her most recommended of restaurants.
Downtown West & Loring Park
Eastside (pictured above) - Another spot for a fantastic happy hour, Eastside is great for groups, offering cocktails to share, family style dinners and a great wine list. RSommSays this is one of her favorite go-to spots and we trust she knows where to go in her hood.
Butcher & The Boar - After the recent omission of blood sausage from the menu, we took to other favorites like the sausage sampler and the beef long rib. They always offer great patio specials without reservations. With a rare brunch service just for final four weekend, we are getting on the list for their roast pig buffet and think you should too.
Brit’s Pub - With televised football round the clock and roof top lawn bowling it’s easy to loose an afternoon at Brit’s. This pub is tried and true, centrally located, full of super friendly expats and great tap beer options.
Mercy - Probably the most underrated restaurant downtown Minneapolis, this hotel establishment (inside the Chambers Hotel) is actually delicious; including the braised short rib with polenta and Monday night’s all you can eat crab. That said, if you can order the hot pastrami sandwich from the bar menu instead, you must — it’s as they say, “betta than NY.” With a library lounge in the basement to enjoy before and after dinner drinks this is our favorite one stop shop for a Minneapolis staycation.
Zen Box Izakaya - Love us some good Japanese comfort food and ramen is king at Zen Box. With small plates, excellent happy hour prices and snacks, everyone will find something to love.
Near North & St. Anthony
Kramarczuks (pictured above) - Karmarczuk’s is a unique polish / Eastern European deli that not only lets you shop for the greatest variety of sausages, kielbasa and homemade kraut, but what many don’t know is that there is also a restaurant that serves up those fresh grilled sausages and big kielbasa. But, don’t stop there, try a pierogi or the cabbage rolls, one of the best things on the menu. No matter what you get, you won’t be disappointed in the flavor or the price!
Pizza Nea - Uncomplicated wood-fired pizza and microbrews - that’s probably all that needs to be said, but when Kat Peterson also mentions it as a top pick for visitors, we’re interested. As she says, ‘Pizza Nea is the place you go to eat when you want to feel like you are going home. People never really describe pizza as comfort food, but at Nea that is exactly what it is.’
Young Joni - As part of chef Ann Kims’s pizza enterprise Young Joni is the star. And of her pizza creations, the Umami Mama is the hero hands down. Initially we kept this fab restaurant off the list in an effort to stay unexpected, but after overwhelming encouragement from our foodie friends, here we are. To be honest we sometimes skip the pizza altoghether and go for the Korean beef short ribs and the Thai sausage skewers on repeat at the bar. Contributor Jackie Just says, “their Bloody Mary is quite possibly the best in all the Twin Cities and not even on their menu.”
Includes Cedar-Riverside & Longfellow
Hi-low Diner (pictured above) - As contributor Libby Baur says, “stop in for a Hi-top at Hi-low before a day of exploring the cities. Quickly peep their instagram to check out how fun and enticing the meals are at this repurposed 1950’s diner.” Don’t forget to pop across the street to Forage Modern Workshop to shop while you wait for a table.
Republic Mpls - There is nothing boring about this Gastropub, from the brick-walled dining room to the scratch made menu. Foodie contributor Kat Peterson lists Republic high on her favorites, making regular appearances on her accessible and honest IG feed. Not to mention they have a “stellar beer selection.” Cheers!
Birchwood Cafe - According to contributor Liz Seaman, Birchwood Cafe is like the ‘Cheers’ of the farm to table movement. Everybody knows your name at this little place tucked into a neighborhood off West River Road with arguably the best food in the Twin Cities. While it’s counter service during the day they offer beer, wine and table service at night. Order the savory waffle anytime of day or the breakfast sandwich, which is simple yet innovative. At lunchtime the turkey burger, scratch soup or hand pie is the way to go.