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A Minneapolis Foodie's Semi-Exhaustive Guide To The Twin Cities

If you didn't think the Twin Cities had amazing food, be prepared to be wow-d (and starving) by the time you get through this exhaustive list of droolworthy places to eat in Minneapolis and Saint Paul.

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A few things.

Superbowl week is underway in Minneapolis and apparently millions of people (including some celebs *ahem* Justin Timberlake) are flooding the Twin Cities to experience all things football! If you're like me, food is one of the most important things about a trip, so I (as a self-proclaimed foodie) thought I'd be Minnesota Nice and share some of the best spots to nosh.

1. This is a semi-exhaustive list so there's a good chance I forgot a few of the good ones. If I missed anything, add it in the comments!

2. Always try to get reservations when possible, but there are options on here that will require a wait (aka no reservations). Plan ahead, put your name down, and then grab a glass of wine or beer while you wait.

Now get ready to drool.

Pizza, because it is literally the best.

@foodie_inc / Via instagram.com

If you can snag reservations to either of Ann Kim's pizza joints, Pizzeria Lola and Young Joni, DO IT. Even if it's for 10pm at night, it's worth it. This pizza is award winning and will satisfy every craving you have for a perfectly thin, chewy, yet still crispy crusted pizza topped with the classics, like pepperoni and sausage, to the unexpected, like kimchi. The menus vary a bit from each restaurant, but the quality and flavor stay the same: amazing.

Young Joni also has a backbar speakeasy that serves up delicious drinks and a few pizzas from it's main menu.

Notable Mentions

1. Big River Pizza - this unassuming pizza place in Lowertown, St Paul, serves up some of the best slices IMHO! Born out of the farmers market, this place uses locally sourced goodies to make the pizza great. To try: pepperoni with bacon jam.

2. Punch Pizza - if you're looking for Neapolitan-style pizza, this is a great spot to rest your tired feet. There are 11 locations, including three on the outskirts of downtown Minneapolis. It's fresh, flavorful, and made right before your eyes.

3. Galactic Pizza - vegans and gluten-free people rejoice! Galactic has some of the best options that are chock full of flavor and guaranteed to leave you full and happy! Plus when you order delivery, a superhero will drop by with your pie!

4. Plus, Black Sheep Pizza, Red Wagon Pizza Co. and Mesa Pizza are also some of the best.

Burgers, Burgers, Burgers

@TCBurgerBlog / Via instagram.com

This was a hard choice, because there are so many amazing burger spots throughout the Twin Cities! Classics are always Matt's Bar, 5-8, the Nook and Blue Door for the four-way Juicy Lucy war, so I want to highlight some of our i-will-go-into-a-food-coma burger places, starting with this top burger from McKinney Roe (which, conveniently is right next to the US Bank Stadium). It is a true work of art, the Big Stag Burger, and is almost too pretty to eat. Almost. It's two quarter-pound patties topped with white American cheese, dill pickles, maple peppered bacon, caramelized onions, fried onion strings and dijon aioli, all on a pretzel bun. I'm drooling already!

Notable Mentions

*I had to split these into categories, so bear with me*

1. Classic, No-Fuss Burgers: for simple, yet mindblowingly good burgers, check out Revival, Saint Dinette, Surly Brewing Co and Parlour.

2. Unique Twists: juicy and flavorful (think brie, coleslaw, thai flavors), make sure you try Burch Steak and St Genevieve.

3. Choices Galore: for a menu full of insanely good burgers, get to Red Cow and Peppers and Fries

4. Best take on In-N-Out: craving that West Coast flavor? You can find it at Nolo's and Gray Duck.

5. Dive bars: just good burgers in the best atmosphere can be found at Kelly's Depot and Tin Cup

MEAT

@butcherandboar / Via instagram.com

Can you even? I can't. This was another insanely hard choice to make, but in my mind, a clear winner is Butcher and the Boar, nestled right on the edge of downtown. Consistently serving up some of the best plates of steak, pork chops and sausages, this is a must-try haven for meat-lovers. Food is locally sourced and handmade, plus they have (and I didn't know this is a thing) nationwide sausage and charcuterie experts! Pair your meal with an amazing wine and beer list and cocktail menu, and you're all set.

Plus, if you are looking for a more relaxed atmosphere, you can hang out in their four-season *aka HEATED in the winter* beer garden. The menu is more akin to a bar menu but still boasts some of their best meats and apps.

Notable Mentions

1. Steakhouses: the possibilities are endless! So if you're in the mood for a good steak, check out Burch Steak, Murray's, Manny's and The Capital Grille

2. Fried Chicken and Southern Comfort: this is hands-down Revival. Don't @me.

3. Supperclubs: for that supperclub vibe, get to Jax Cafe, JD Hoyt's and Mancinis

4. Wings (this counts as meat): BWW! Just kidding. For some of the best wings, stop in to Runyon's and D-Spot (which, to be fair, is technically in Oakdale, but worth the 20 minute drive)

5. Seafood (yes, I'm including it in the meat category): Octobar Saint Paul (anything Tim McKee does is going to be incredible) is a must try, The Oceanaire in MPLS is perfect for a fancier night out and Smack Shack in the North Loop will fulfill that lobster roll craving you didn't know you had

6. Other: just generally, if you can get to Brasa and try their rotisserie, you'll thank me for it! Also, Handsome Hog in Saint Paul is a must-try, especially if you share my love for chicken and waffles.

Food Trucks

Instagram: @midnordtrucks / Via instagram.com

One of the best things about food trucks is that they often hang out with other food trucks, giving you a chance to try lots of different foods all at one time! If you are an empanada fiend and are lucky enough to catch the MidNord Empanada truck, you'll want to try everything! With empanadas stuffed with chimichurri chicken, buffalo chicken and mac and cheese (to name a few), you'll find a new favorite. For those who've never had an empanada, get to it! Plus add a side of yucca fries or chips and their fresh made salsas, and you just might forget about the 10 degree weather!

Notable Mentions

1. Café Racer - think arepas that will feed your soul. Plus those sweet plantains and queso cannot be beat!

2. Wyn65 - born out of Lyn65 (another great food spot), this Winnebago is always a go-to for Southern comfort. Think fried chicken, mac and cheese and fried bologna sandwiches.

3. Hot Indian - #tikkainabox means choosing between an indurrito (yup, an Indian burrito), Indi tacos or Indi rice bowls! And with meat, veggies and vegan options, you'll love the fusion!

4. O'Cheeze - there is literally nothing better on a freezing cold day, then an oozy, gooey grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup. O'Cheeze delivers just that.

5. Potter's Pasties - they are literally everywhere, serving up their piping hot English pasties. The pasties are amazing (especially in the winter), but what's even better is a slice of their banoffee pie.

For a full list of MPLS food trucks - because they're all good and I can only mention so many - check out this list here.

The Experience

@lindzmarielife / Via instagram.com

This is also my fancy-schmancy category. One restaurant is consistently at the top of everyone's list for best place to impress a date: Spoon and Stable. And with good reason, this ultra-trendy spot on the edge of North Loop is always bringing it thanks to James Beard award-winning chef Gavin Kaysen. Add in executive pastry phenom guru Diane Yang and award-winning barman Robb Jones, you will never be disappointed. Everything on the menu is worth a try, and if you can snag some of the Saturday night ramen, it will change your life!

Oh, and if it's your birthday, you can enjoy a tuft of cotton candy.

Notable Mentions

1. Unforgettable Tasting Menu: also known as dinner and a show, Travail Kitchen makes their 20 course tasting menu a really, really good time. Don't be fooled by all the fun, their chefs are serious masters at their craft and your tastebuds will be dancing all the way home. Seating does require tickets, so make sure you check their website!

2. Warm Industrial Innovation: Borough is always trying something new, and winning at life. The mood is intimate, the perfect setting for a cocktail and an amazing dinner. Plus, they are also home to the bar Parlour, which as noted before, has an amazing burger.

3. Seasonal and Delicious: worth a visit is Heyday, especially if you want to try a menu influenced by what is in season here in Minnesota. Another award-winning chef at the helm means you will not be disappointed!

4. Feels like Home: cozy up to the table at Saint Dinette, a Saint Paul staple. The food is familiar and inviting, and the hospitality can't be beat! One of our personal favorites.

5. Newest to the scene: Martina Restaurant, in the adorable Linden Hills neighborhood. It's Argentinian-inspired cuisine is amazing!

6. Classic: 112 Eatery is in the same family as Burch and Bar La Grassa, and maintains the tradition of really, really good classic food.

7. Landmark: Restaurant Alma has amazing, contemporary American food. And with a cafe/bakery and connected hotel, you never have to leave!

Pasta Havens

@cheethor / Via instagram.com

Carbs are my best friend in the world, and there are some incredible places here in Minneapolis and Saint Paul. One of the best is Bar La Grassa, nestled in the North Loop neighborhood. If the snap above doesn't already give you life, then I don't know who you are! This beautiful Italian Eatery is a beloved spot, with it's amazing pasta dishes, perfect antipastis and much much more. There are gluten-free and vegan options, too. Everything will hit the spot, but make sure you try the 'Nduja Egg Raviolo to experience just why BLG is a fan favorite.

Notable Mentions

1. Mucci's Italian - this little corner in Saint Paul doesn't take reservations, but people will wait hours to get in the door and eat their amazing pasta dishes and their fried pizza (YUP, it's fried and delicious). Plus their weekend doughnuts are to die for!

2. Broders - another "no reservations" restaurant that people will wait hours for, so you know it's good. The pasta is house made and imported and made fresh each time. Plus they also own a deli across the street and a wine bar around the corner, so if waiting is not your game, there's more carbs to be had!

3. Italian Eatery - this place is full of laughter, love and family. the neighborhood gem has only been around for a few years, but is one of the best if you want to experience an Italian neighborhood spot. The menu is incredible and inventive and will become your favorite for sure!

4. Cosetta - it's a force to be reckoned with, with the eatery and pizzeria, Italian market, pasticceria and ristorante and bar upstairs. Don't let the cafeteria-style eatery fool you, this is some of the heartiest and best in the cities! Make sure you snag their famous mostaccioli con ricotta!

5. Red Rabbit - sibling restaurant to Red Cow, Red Rabbit is a great spot downtown to eat some simple, wonderfully familiar pasta and pizza (and oysters). It's an especially great place to bring people together - options for all!

A Taste of Home

@pikashchu / Via instagram.com

I had never heard of gravlax until The Bachelor Farmer, the North Loop spot owned by the Dayton brothers. Once I had it, I couldn't stop.

If you want to experience Minnesota food, TBF is where you should go (except not Feb 1-4 when it will be closed to the public. The team at TBF is committed to fresh and simple food that honors Minnesota's Nordic heritage. The ingredients are sourced locally for the most part, with some of it even being grown on the rooftop during the summer and fall months. The menu changes daily, always throwing it back to its Norwegian roots.

Bonus: TBF Cafe is a great spot for coffee and tasty eats (think pastries, toasts).

Below TBF is the one and only Marvel Bar (also closed Feb 1-4), which has some of the best cocktails in the city.

Spots to Caffeinate

Instagram: @taranlb5 / Via instagram.com

There is no shortage of good coffee shops throughout the Twin Cities. One of the newest is Botany Coffee, a perfectly Instagrammable coffee shop that boasts creative artisan coffee and Salty Tart pastries. They make their syrups and nut-milks in house, too.

With drinks that play with flavors like carrot spice, pomelo, rosemary and maple pecan, it's an experience for your tastebuds you won't regret! Plus the owners are committed to the chemistry of what makes coffee amazing, and it comes out in their menu.

Notable Mentions

1. Five Watt - quirky and fun, Five Watt Coffee was the first to make bitters in coffee a lovable, hipster thing in Minneapolis.

2. Penny's Coffee - With one location downtown, Penny's is perfect for a beautifully made latte and a crepe (fave: the jian bing crepe, a fun twist on the Chinese street food). Plus their DT location has alcohol!

3. Spyhouse - arguably one of the first to make specialty coffee a thing in Minneapolis, it's five locations will serve you up good brew. They source, roast and brew some of the best coffees.

4. Dogwood & Groundswell - these Minneapolis and Saint Paul spots (respectively) will not let you down when you need a dose of caffeine and aesthetic beauty.

5. Cafe Astoria - barista art is at an all-time high at this new spot. They serve up a gold leaf latte and a toasted marshmallow campfire mocha you'll love!

Donuts

Instagram: @stephanie

How many donut shops is too many donut shops? That's rhetorical because there can never be enough donut shops! Downtown Minneapolis got it's newest donut shop, Cardigan Donuts, and the massive lines are no joke. But if you can get your hands on a box of these donuts, it'll make your day so much better!

Their donuts range from the classics, like raised glazed and old-fashioned, to churro donuts and donuts topped with cereal. Try them all if you can (you can preorder boxes), or bring them to a gathering - your friends and family will thank you... and then eat all the donuts.

Notable Mentions

1. Glam Doll: the digs are retro, and the donuts are quirky, and OH SO GOOD. My faves are the misfit, orange, ginger 
and cinnamon infused glaze, and night moves, Blackberry Hennessy icing & blackberry jam. Vegan donuts also available!

2. Mucci's - they did make the list for amazing pasta, but their donuts are no joke! Weekends until their are sold out, their creations like the tiramisu and bourbon old fashioned should not be missed.

3. Bogart's - simple and wonderfully traditionally, Bogarts nails the comfort food. Unique to this spot is the brioche dough they use, resulting in fluffy yet somehow still dense raised donuts that you dream of.

4. Angel Food & Mojo Monkey - Angel Food Bakery (DT Minneapolis) and Mojo Monkey (Saint Paul) are the kind of places where you just want to stand and take it all in. Both spots have creative offerings and are no frills about serving good donuts.

5. If the donuts are mini, you can eat more. That's one reason to love Sleepy V's, a new donut spot in Northeast Minneapolis. With flavors like maple bacon, caramel pretzel and pineapple hibiscus, their tiny size lets you try everything without feeling guilty!

Asian Noms

@Minneapolis_Foodie / Via instagram.com

The Asian food scene is nowhere near the level of an NYC, SF or LA. But we still boast an incredible number of spots depending on what you are craving! Me, I'm always craving pho.

Best pho, in my opinion, is Quang on Nicollet Ave. It's a family-owned establishment that's been serving up the yummiest noodle soup since the late 80's. Why people love it: the broth is perfectly seasoned, yet still light. The meat is sliced super thin, making it cooked just right when in the broth. The noodles are always done and the accompaniments are fresh. I won't lie, I have never gotten anything but the pho here, but I've heard that the other dishes are just as good.

Notable Mentions

1. Vietnamese: looking to get your pho fix? IndoChin on Grand Ave in St. Paul, Pho79 (multiple locations across the TC) and Ngon Vietnamese Bistro on University Ave are good places to start.

2. Thai: lots of awesome thai places to get your favorite curry or pad thai dish, including Supatra Thai and Ons Kitchen in Saint Paul, plus Tum Rup Thai in Uptown

3. Chinese: there are so many Chinese delivery spots, but if you are craving good Chinese food, check out Hong Kong Noodle on the U of M campus and Peking Garden in Saint Paul (don't let the construction fool you); also worth mentioning are Mandarin Kitchen if you want dim sum and TastyPot for fantastic Taiwanese hot pot!

4. Korean: for fun KBBQ, Hoban in Uptown is always a must; for good Korean comfort food, Korea Restaurant on the U of M campus and Hoban Restaurant in Eagan should be your first stop, plus the counter at Dong Yang will never let you down

5. Japanese: got ramen on the mind? Zen Box Izakaya downtown is always incredible, and Ramen Kazama and Tori Ramen (Saint Paul) will make you happy; if sushi is your thing, check out Fuji-ya, Kyatchi and the new Kado No Mise for amazingly fresh tastes

6. Indian: if you're jonesing for amazing Napali, Indian and Tibetan food, swing by Gorkha Palace, Gandhi Mahal and Namaste Cafe

Breweries

Instagram: @laurak7 / Via instagram.com

The brewery scene is every beer-lover's dream. With so many awesome breweries to choose from, here are my faves, starting with Surly Brewing Co. If you've never had a Surly beer, you are missing out. Furious is a fan favorite and everyone goes gaga for Surly Darkness, the Russian Imperial Stout that has limited release, making it hard to get a hold of.

In the warmer months, the wide open grassy area is perfect for hangouts by the firepits, a quick game of bags (beanbag toss) and pups that want to roam. There's also a beer hall connected to its brewery, with food that rivals the best spots in the city. Charcuterie, bar snacks, burgers, sandwiches and meats are the perfect accompaniment to a cold brew. Tip: the wait for a table can be insane so be prepared!

Notable Mentions

Saint Paul breweries: food trucks and chill atmospheres, these are some of the best on the east side - Summit Brewing, Bad Weather Brewery, BlackStack Brewing (plus attached to the crazy Can Can Wonderland), Lake Monster Brewing

Northeast MPLS breweries: grab some friends and get to any of these for a cold beer - Bauhaus Brew Labs, Sociable Cider Werks, Indeed Brewing Co, Able Seedhouse and Headflyer Brewing

Downtown/South MPLS breweries: perfect for those post-meal drinks - Modist Brewing Co, Fulton Brewing, LynLake Brewery, Inbound BrewCo, Pryes Brewing Company

Distilleries

Instagram: @norseman_distillery / Via instagram.com

Considered the first micro-distillery in Minneapolis, Norseman is a pretty sweet place to swirl and sip. Dim lights and buzzing conversation makes for a great place to try cocktails made from their own spirits, like the Nairobi (vodka, fresh lime juice, demerara, honey, topo chico mineral water) or the Gin Old Fashioned (gin, orange bitters, demerara). They also have amazing punch that tastes like juice but definitely has a kick you'll love.

Food is also on the menu, with my personal favorite, the Silver Platter Pizza that comes with 13 different hot sauces! If brunch is more your thing, enjoy a Norseman cocktail with Sunday brunch items like chicken and waffles and sourdough bourbon cakes.

Notable Mentions

1. If you're looking for the ultimate hipster distillery experience, get to Tattersall Distilling. It's science + art to bring you the best cocktails.

2. The first woman-owned distillery in Minnesota, Twin Spirits is all about the duality of life and takes on distilling with a "grain to glass" approach.

3. For a neighborhood feel with a hint of speakeasy vibes, Lawless Distilling is where you want to be.

Speaking of Brunch

Instagram: @birchwoodcafe / Via instagram.com

Breakfast foods should always be an option, and when it comes to brunch spots, Birchwood Cafe is one of the best! Every time you go to Birchwood, try something new. Everything on their menu is amazing. They have vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free options as well. Plus they source locally and keep their food organic and sustainable, something you can definitely tell with each bite.

Their menus change seasonally, but their savory waffle is always a good bet. Plus their pastry and dessert cases alone are worth the trip!

Notable Mentions

1. If you want a modern twist on classic dishes, check out Hi-Lo Diner (get a Hi-Top for a sweet + savory meal, plus a boozy shake - don't @ me) or Hell's Kitchen downtown (if you love Bloody Mary's and homemade peanut butter, this is the spot for you)

2. Pinterest-worthy places like The Lynhall and The Copper Hen will have you constantly taking snaps while trying to eat all the things.

3. If you were to ask locals where they get brunch, Colossal Cafe and Hazels Northeast would make the list. Just really really good food to kick start your morning (or afternoon).

4. Iconic breakfast nook Al's Breakfast is a must-try if you are in Minneapolis. It has 14 bar top seats and takes cash only, so if you go, make sure you follow the rules.

5. Need some bagel and schmear? Rise Bagel Co in the North Loop is the artisan bagel shop you never knew you needed. Meanwhile across the river, St. Paul Bagelry is the made-from-scratch bagel shop you'll love.

Ice Cream

Instagram: @dimevents / Via instagram.com

The cold really doesn't bother us anyway *aka* we eat ice cream all year round! Milkjam Creamery is a favorite, especially since you can get the jambun, which is a scoop of milkjam ice cream sandwiched between a Glam Doll donut. And yes, it's as good as it looks.

Their flavors, seasonally changing, are inventive and unique, like the Waka Flocka Flakes (vanilla bean w/ caramelized corn flakes and berry swirl) and the Poppin Bottles (champagne sorbet w/ sprinkles). Or really booze it up with a boozy shake. If you're feeling bold, you can order All of Them, and get a scoop of every ice cream on the menu!

Notable Mentions

1. Definitely a favorite, Sebastian Joe's is the best place to get a cone and hang out. The ice cream is made fresh daily, and flavors like the Nicollet Avenue Pothole (chocolate, caramel, heath bar chunks, fudge and se salt) are mainstays.

2. Creamy goodness is always found at Izzys. With each cone, you can get a free mini Izzy scoop, which is a little scoop of another flavor.

3. With dozens of daily flavors, Grand Ol Creamery delivers classic, fantastic tasting ice cream. Do yourself a favor and get the Cookie Monster - blue sweet cream ice-cream, with cookies & cream and chocolate chip cookie dough.

4. Dairy and non-dairy ice cream lovers rejoice! Pumphouse Creamery has beautiful ice cream that's made by hand with natural, organic and seasonal ingredients.

And then a few others

instagram.com / Via instagram.com

And because I couldn't leave these off the list...

Hai Hai (above) and its sister restaurant Hola Arepa are one-stop shops to get really good food. Hai Hai specializes in Southeast Asian street food while Hola Arepa gets Latin Cuisine right.

Meanwhile, Costa Blanca and Pajarito are bringing tapas and classic Mexican dishes to Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Need to get your "secret" speakeasy fix? Volsteads Emporium and Al's Place are your best bet. But you'd better know where you're going and what the passcode is.

In the classy mood? Make sure Bellecour and Meritage, both French-inspired, should be at the top of your list.

Digging a "kooky" vibe? Betty Danger's, complete with ferris wheel and mini golf, and Psycho Suzi's, tiki-themed to the max, will be right up your alley.

Did I miss anything?

It's hard to get every awesome food spot onto this list! Let me know if I missed anything in the comments.

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