Update August 25th, 2020: After months of being closed, Minneapolis and Saint Paul restaurants have been allowed to reopen. Check out the list of Minneapolis & Saint Paul Restaurants Reopened For Outdoor Dining for up-to-date info.
When you think of Minneapolis, Prince, The Mighty Ducks, and the Mall of America are three things that might come to mind first. And for good reason: two of them are national treasures and the other is a very large mall. But these days, it’s the city’s food scene that’s bringing even more attention to the Mini Apple.
There’s always been good food in Minneapolis, but over the past few years, the number of excellent places to eat at in this northern capital has dramatically increased. While this is great for anyone who visits or lives in Minneapolis, it can make deciding where to go for dinner difficult. That’s where we come in.
Here you’ll find our recommendations for where to eat and drink in Minneapolis. We’ve included everything from the best date spots in the North Loop to our go-tos for brunch and Italian food, along with our favorite new restaurants in town.
THe NEw-ISH Spots everyone’s talking about
Eating at Hai Hai feels a bit like taking a tropical vacation, which can be hard to find in a city that averages more than four feet of snow per year. Everything at this Arts District spot - from the cocktails to the bright walls and hanging plants - makes you think of summer, and the same goes for the menu, which includes a mix of mostly Southeast Asian dishes. Make sure to try the water fern cakes and banana blossom salad, along with the turmeric and dill fish. And as long as it’s not the middle of February, ask to sit outside on their big outdoor patio.
There are some things that you only do once a year, like renew your Amazon Prime subscription or watch A Christmas Story. The same can be said about going to Kado No Mise for the omakase experience, which costs about $200 and is the best sushi meal in Minnesota. All of the fish is top quality, the wasabi is grated in front of you, and there’s a tiny brush for you to paint on their homemade soy sauce. If you don’t feel like going all out, there’s also an a la carte menu. Either way, if you’re celebrating something while you’re in Minneapolis, this is where you should go.
Martina makes some of the best cocktails in the city and if that’s all they did, it would still be packed every night. Luckily though, this Argentinian spot in Linden Hills serves a variety of grilled seafood and pasta, too. Between the pretty space, great drinks, and shareable dishes - split the parrillada if you come with a group - it’s a good place to bring a date, or your parents when they tell you to take them somewhere “cool.” Martina also does weekend brunch, but regardless of when you eat here, make sure to get some potato churros for the table.
The last time you got a bonus at work, you got too excited and bought a leather jacket with your name in sequins on the back that you’ve only worn once. Next time you have some money to spend, skip getting the matching pants and go to Grand Cafe. This Kingfield spot serves over-the-top dishes like caviar, a $35 omelette, and a savory donut chicken liver sandwich. Thankfully though, the space isn’t stuffy, and looks more like the inside of an Urban Outfitters than a fine dining restaurant. Come for brunch and feel free to bring your leather jacket with you.
For $60, you can upgrade your seat on an international flight or buy half a pair of glasses from Warby Parker. Or you can experience one of the best tasting menus in Minneapolis at Tenant instead. This tiny restaurant in East Harriet only does three seatings of their six-course tasting menu each night, with dishes that change daily. Three things you can always count on, though: everything will be seasonal, there will be one to two pastas, and they’ll be playing old-school rap records throughout the night. Just be sure to make a reservation in advance as this place fills up fast.
Alma in Marcy Holmes is home to two really good and very different restaurants. First, there’s Restaurant Alma, the dinner-only, prix-fixe spot where you can get three courses for $62. The seasonal dishes are beautifully plated and there’s also a big wine list to choose from. Second, there’s the all-day Alma Cafe that serves everything from pastries to small plates to entrees - we’re big fans of the turkey burger in particular - along with a full beer and cocktail menu. Between the two, you can eat and drink really well here at any hour of the day. As a bonus, if you need a nap between meals, Alma is also a boutique hotel, which means you can basically live here if you want.
If there’s one restaurant that symbolizes Minneapolis’ evolution into a great place to eat, it’s The Bachelor Farmer. The food at this North Loop restaurant references the city’s deep Nordic roots - think smoked fish, wild game, and lots of roasted vegetables. None of the dishes are overly complicated and a lot of the produce is sourced from the restaurant’s rooftop garden. It’s a really comfortable dinner spot that’s perfect for a birthday or anniversary. They also have a cafe next door, in case it’s not a special occasion and you need some coffee, a pastry, or a sandwich.
After you finish dinner at The Bachelor Farmer, head downstairs to Marvel Bar for a really good cocktail or two. It’s the kind of place where drinks take five minutes to make, but they balance things out with old arcade games and by serving Cheetos so it never feels too fancy. If you’re making a night out of your trip to The Bachelor Farmer, this should definitely be your first stop after dinner.
You could drive past Young Joni a dozen times and never know it’s there. However, one trip inside this hidden away pizzeria in Sheridan and you’ll never go by it again without making a stop. You can go for one of the more traditional pies, like the margarita, or head the opposite direction with the Korean BBQ or One Potato, Two. The menu also includes some Asian-inspired dishes, like Thai sausage and sweet and spicy pork ribs, and their food definitely attracts a big crowd. Because of that, there’s usually a wait, but with Dangerous Man brewery nearby and their own Back Bar located in the alley behind the building, there are plenty of drink options to hold you over.
Some mornings you want a $15 açaí bowl or a Bloody Mary topped with a burger first thing in. For the rest of the time though, there’s Al’s Breakfast. This tiny restaurant near the University of Minnesota specializes in the kind of simple breakfast food that was good way before brunch became brunch, like pancakes, waffles, scrambles, and omelets. This place only has 14 countertop seats and there’s a good chance you’ll be asked to shift spots mid-meal to accommodate new customers wishing to sit together. You won’t care though because you’ll be too busy wondering when the last time you enjoyed breakfast so much was.
There are times in your life - a birthday, a job promotion, or when you finish a huge puzzle - that need to be celebrated over a large piece of meat. Manny’s Steakhouse in Loring Park is just the place for such occasions. This steakhouse looks exactly how a steakhouse should, with meat carts rolling through a dining room filled with dark wood, checkered tablecloths, and red leather barstools. The steaks are massive, the cocktails are strong, and you’re going to spend a lot, but it’s totally worth it. Also, make sure to order the thick-cut bacon and a side of crispy hash browns. You might not think they go with a good steak, but trust us, you’re wrong.
Minneapolis is home to many great inventions, including water skis, Tonka trucks, and Zubaz pants. But the Jucy Lucy, a burger with melted cheese inside the patty, is definitely our favorite. Matt’s Bar in Powderhorn Park, one of the two spots credited with creating the famous burger, hasn’t changed in half a century and that’s very much on purpose. Take a seat in a booth, order a beer, and enjoy your molten cheese-filled burger, all while wearing your favorite pair of Zubaz pants.
Ice cream isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Minneapolis, but one trip to Sebastian Joe’s will change that. This shop in Linden Hills (there’s a second location in Lowry Hill) opened more than 30 years ago and everyone has an opinion on which of their seven signature flavors is best. You can’t go wrong, but the Pavarotti - banana and caramel with chocolate chips - is the one that still draws a line in January.
Just like your favorite pair of boots or go-to ice breaker that you use on dating apps, you need a restaurant that works for every occasion. In Minneapolis, that’s Spoon and Stable in the North Loop. It’s just as good for a celebratory dinner as it is for weekend brunch - not to mention their additional gluten-free and vegetarian menus - which is why this place is always packed. If you’re not really a planner, the bar and lounge are saved for walk-ins, which is good because reservations here are scarce. You can still order from the full menu at the bar, but with bar-only options like smoked pork tacos, duck meatloaf sliders, and their weekly ramen night, you might not even want to.
Everything about eating at 112 Eatery is intimate: there’s lots of dark wood, dim lighting, and it’s always a little more packed than you’d like. This Downtown West restaurant is a great date spot, whether you come with someone or eat solo at the bar and get to know 112’s beloved brie burger instead. It’s served on an English muffin and will be thrilled to hear about your day. If you still have room afterward, or if you order a second drink, try the tres leches cake too.
Burch is a steakhouse near Lowry Hill that works for a lot of different situations. You could easily go here for an anniversary, split a bottle of wine and a nice wagyu steak, and wear your one shirt that’s reserved for “special occasions.” Or you can walk in on a weeknight and grab a casual dinner at the bar. And if you’re looking for something else entirely, there’s also a wood-fired pizza bar in the basement. No matter when or where you eat here, make sure the schupfnudel is on your table, because it’s basically adult mac and cheese and it’s fun to say.
There are a lot of great brunch options in Minneapolis, but only one of them is located inside the contemporary art museum. This restaurant at the Walker Art Center has floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the sculpture garden and serves seasonal takes on brunch favorites, like vegetable hash, steak and eggs, and something called Lox On A Log, which we’re very into. It’s a great spot to meet your parents or in-laws over the weekend and depending on how you like to experience a museum, or deal with family time, Esker Grove also serves great brunch cocktails.
During the winter, Italian Eatery is a great spot to eat pasta and drink wine while hiding out from the cold. When summer comes around, their large patio is the perfect place to have an Aperol spritz to remind yourself that warm weather exists. The pasta-heavy menu includes favorites like squid ink rigatoni and sriracha zucca, all of which are made in-house. To balance out the pasta intake, we recommend the wild boar meatballs and Calabrian cauliflower.
If we could choose a restaurant to get snowed in at, it would be Bar La Grassa. This Italian spot in the Warehouse District serves great fresh, filled, and dried pastas - each of which can be ordered in half or full portions - and has a huge wine list. If you want something unique, try the red wine spaghetti or orange cauliflower gnocchi, and definitely order a few bruschettas, especially the soft eggs and lobster. It’s somewhere you could just as easily bring a date or your parents when you want to impress without spending a ton of money and while eating here won’t make spring come any sooner, it’ll definitely make winter a little more bearable.
Tilia is a busy restaurant in Linden Hills, right by Lake Harriet and Lake Calhoun. Seating is tight, the conversations are loud, and they don’t take reservations, so it’s best to arrive early and enjoy a drink while you wait. Their menu is filled with simple dishes that are always good regardless of the day or time, like a great cheeseburger, a fish taco torta, and carbonara pasta with bacon and egg mousse. Tilia is also super kid-friendly.
Minnesota is not France, but if you want to feel like you’re almost in Paris for a few hours, head to St. Genevieve in Lynnhurst. It’s the kind of place that you spend an entire afternoon at, especially once you start sampling from their long list of champagnes. Like its sister restaurant Tilia, this French bistro does both shared and large plates, but the tartines are what you should focus on. Order both the beet and salmon options and some wine, then see where your afternoon goes. The menu changes throughout the day, but no matter what time you walk in, there will always be something that you’ll want to try.
Milkjam Creamery is a modern ice cream shop that serves unique flavors, like Hard Knock Life (dark chocolate, salted pretzels, brownies, and chocolate fudge), Thai tea, and Poppin Bottles (champagne sorbet with sprinkles). The flight of four is a great way to taste a few different flavors, but our favorite thing to get here is the Jam Bun, a warm donut sandwich with your choice of ice cream served inside.
Even in a city as far north as Minneapolis, you can still find really good southern food. Revival in Kingsfield serves all of the South’s greatest hits, from Nashville hot chicken to shrimp and grits to chicken and dumplings, along with all of your favorite sides. This place is so popular that they opened a second location in St. Paul, but neither accepts reservations and both are first come, first serve, so plan accordingly.
Regardless of the time of year, it’s good to have a spot where it always feels kind of like summer, even when it’s zero degrees out and there’s a foot of snow on the ground. That’s why we love Hola Arepa in Lyndale. Between the colorful interior and good cocktails, it’s an easy place to go to forget about the North Pole-approved parka that you wore to get there. Their arepas, which come filled with everything from chimichurri chicken to shredded beef and plantain, are also really excellent, as are the fresh salsas and guacamole. If you come for brunch, make sure to get the chorizo and egg arepa and don’t forget to order a mini churro too.
It’s not hard to find an OK croissant or cookie - everywhere from airport coffee shops to grocery stores are full of them. But if you want the kind of handmade pastries that will make you question your entire life up until that point, go to Rose Street Patisserie in Linden Hills. They serve all of the greatest hits of French pastry, like eclairs, macarons, gateaux, tartines, and croissants, along with freshly baked bread, cookies, and chocolates. If you need something else between pastries, they also serve breakfast and lunch options like quiches and paninis throughout the day.
Whenever we visit a brewery, the same thing happens. We drink beers, get hungry, and inevitably eat some pretty mediocre food, often from a truck. But Surly Brewing breaks that cycle at their destination brewery in Prospect Park. Here they serve dishes like steamed mussels, oysters, charcuterie boards, house-made sausage, and barbecue, along with a wide range of their most popular, rare, and experimental brews.
When you sit down at Parlour in the North Loop, your server will simply ask you “How many?” and they won’t be talking about drinks. Everyone comes to this cocktail bar for their burger, a double patty smash burger with American cheese and pickles served on a very toasted bun. It’s the perfect thing to eat while you enjoy a few really good cocktails in the dark bar and figure out where to head next.
When it’s cold out, there’s nothing better than a big, steaming bowl of pho to help you regain feeling in your face and hands. Minneapolis is home to a lot of good Vietnamese restaurants, but if we’re going for pho, Pho 79 in Whittier is always our first pick. It’s cheap, fast, and their pho broth is the most flavorful in the city. Throw in your favorite combo of herbs and sauces, breathe in that incredible steam, and be glad that you braved freezing temperatures for this.