The Best Restaurants & Bars In Minneapolis
Cheese-stuffed burgers, Hmong sausage, sambusas, and more great things to eat in Minnesota’s most populous city.
There’s an oft-repeated joke that Minnesota has four seasons: June, July, August, and winter. Although that’s a bit of an exaggeration, it helps explain the dining culture of the state’s most populous city. In the winter, eating out makes the cold, dark days actually bearable, and during the warmer months, patios pop up so people can fully appreciate every single sunny day.
The pride and joy of Minneapolis might be the Juicy Lucy, a cheese-stuffed burger that's served in bars all over town, though aquavit-based cocktails are another local specialty. You’ll also find tacos, jerk chicken, vegan tasting menus, ramen, quirky ice cream flavors, and much more. Here are all the best restaurants, bars, and taprooms in Minneapolis, whatever the season.
NEW-ISH & BUZZY RESTAURANTS
photo credit: Scott Streble
Owamni by the Sioux Chef
The neon sign near Owamni’s entrance reads “You Are On Native Land,” and it serves as a reminder of the restaurant’s mission. The menu relies on decolonized ingredients native to North America, which means you won’t find any dairy, wheat flour, cane sugar, beef, chicken, or pork. Instead, dishes center Indigenous cultures and seasonal flavors, like tacos filled with mushrooms and mustard greens and sorbet made from wild rice. Pair your dinner with a zero-proof cocktail that might be flavored with spruce tips or juniper berries, or try a tea made from locally-sourced herbs.
If you can’t get a reservation for the dining room, grab a seat on the patio: seating is first come, first served, and you’ll get an excellent view of the Mississippi River and Owámniyomni (St. Anthony Falls), a spot that has spiritual significance for the Dakota and Anishinaabe people.
With wicker chairs, an abundance of natural light, and a covered patio lined with potted palms, a dinner at Khaluna feels like you’ve stepped off Lyndale Ave. into an exclusive island retreat for the rich and famous. The decor’s light color palette is just as colorful as most of the dishes, like the tropical fruit salad garnished with fresh flowers and multi-hued rainbow rice.
Be sure to try the sakoo, mushroom-stuffed dumplings made from tapioca pearls, and the bucatini talay, which combines pasta with a Thai basil and tom yum ragout. Cocktails are equally tropical—there’s an Old Fashioned made with palm sugar, and non-alcoholic drinks with big spa energy, like sparkling water flavored with jasmine, lavender, and chamomile.
SIT-DOWN DINNER SPOTS
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Spoon and Stable
Spoon and Stable is great for romantic dinners because of the soft lighting, floor-to-ceiling glass wine cellar, and giant cones of cotton candy (seriously—let your server know if you’re celebrating a special occasion). The seasonal menu includes housemade pastas and entrees like venison with cranberry jus, but you’ll definitely want to save room for dessert.
Although the menu changes frequently, it always features elegantly-plated riffs on the classics, like a chocolate sundae garnished with popped sorghum and kumquat. If you can’t get a dinner reservation or you’re in the mood for a more casual atmosphere, check out the adjacent lounge, where you can order the full dinner menu and seating is first come, first served. Sunday brunch is also a local favorite—the vanilla crepe cake is a must.
Manny’s Steakhouse is the sort of white-tablecloth place where Fortune 500 executives meet to close big deals and couples celebrate their twentieth wedding anniversary. Servers glide through the dining room, wheeling a cart displaying raw steaks for you to choose from. If money’s no object, get the $117 50-ounce bludgeon of beef (this is the literal name of the cut) to share. The $61 filet-cut baseball steak is another good option if want the same dry-aged flavor but simply must have a plate of beef all to yourself.
Although beef is the main event, there’s also a great selection of chops and seafood like shrimp, crab, and lobster, plus heaping portions of sides. Try the crispy french fried onions and the mashed potatoes loaded with butter, sour cream, cheese, chives, and generous chunks of bacon. Go for the brownie, which is so huge you’ll need to carve it up with a steak knife, and comes piled high with ice cream and a thick drizzle of chocolate sauce and caramel.
Tenant only has 20 seats and a minimal, whitewashed interior, but your focus and attention should be on the food anyway. The ever-changing, six-course tasting menu takes a homey dish like cheese-stuffed pasta and elevates it with a filling of funky, locally-crafted Camembert-style cheese. Since chefs double as servers, the ingredients and preparation of each menu item are explained in the same level of detail as a hardcore comics fan describing the latest Marvel movie.
You’ll definitely need a reservation—try for the spot at the counter that faces the open kitchen—and just know they fill up months in advance. Get there early so you can stop by Tenant’s adjacent bar space, which is simply called “Next Door” and serves classic cocktails and light snacks like chicken liver pate.
The Bungalow Club
It’s called the Bungalow Club for a reason: the atmosphere is a nod to the craftsman bungalows spread throughout Minneapolis, with wooden bar shelving styled like built-in bookcases and vintage-inspired blue wallpaper. The three-course, prix-fixe menu is served family-style and changes weekly, but always includes housemade pasta like tortelli filled with sweet potato and blue cheese and hearty meat, seafood, and vegetarian dishes like Minnesota-raised wagyu hanger steak and risotto.
Definitely tack on the wine pairings—they’re thoughtful and well worth the price, with a focus on small, sustainable producers. Stop by on Wednesdays for a more casual burger-centric menu or Sunday for $2 kids meals and pasta specials like cacio e pepe bucatini and gemilli topped with a dill and walnut pesto, smoked salmon, and fennel. In the summertime, grab a seat on the patio shaded by an ivy-covered pergola.
Dinner at Alma reminds us of Thanksgiving dinner, only with much fancier plating. The prix-fixe meals start with a spread of antipasti and individually-plated salads and light bites like grilled sourdough and a pear and endive salad. Then, you’ll get a family-style main such as roasted lamb loin with fennel confit and seared striped bass with lentils and bacon. The recommended wine pairings are definitely worth it, but you also can’t go wrong with the aquavit-based dill martini.
If you’re looking for a unique place to stay, there’s a boutique hotel above the restaurant, and Alma’s adjacent cafe is a great option for coffee and pastries. Mention any dietary restrictions when you’re making your reservation, and the restaurant will likely be able to create a tasting menu that works for you.
Petite León wears a lot of hats—it’s laid-back enough to be a comfortable neighborhood spot, but it will impress your date with fine dining flourishes like leather banquettes and top-notch service.
The food draws inspiration from the cuisine of the Yucatán, where the chef grew up, and also incorporates flavors and preparations from around the world, with dishes like steak tartare with smoked queso fresco and Yucatán spiced chicken with piri-piri sauce. You’ll see a similar theme on the cocktail menu—there’s an Oaxacan Old Fashioned made with mezcal and chocolate bitters. The cheeseburger is a particular standout, which comes loaded with caramelized onions and pickles, and the tarta de queso, a Basque-style cheesecake served with a sesame-vanilla crumble, is a mandatory dessert.
Al’s is a true old-school Minneapolis gem. This 14-seat diner has been open since 1950 and is beloved by generations of students from the nearby University of Minnesota. We’ve been told it’s the narrowest restaurant in the city and some regulars even still buy meals with prepaid tabs, tracked via the stacks of yellow booklets behind the counter.
The walls are decorated with vintage photos and money from around the world, adding to the museum/diner feel of the place. Be sure to try the plate-sized blueberry pancakes served with Minnesota maple syrup and the “fancy scrambled eggs” loaded with cream and butter. Yes, there will be a line, but it moves quickly.
With bright blue chairs, teal walls, and plants dangling from the ceiling, the dining room at Hai Hai is a leafy respite from the snow in the winter and the perfect place to sit outside and have lunch on the patio in the summer. Start with an order of salt and pepper fried tofu and then try the Hanoi sticky rice, which is topped with ground pork, wisps of pork floss, Chinese sausage, and pickled vegetables (substitute mock duck to make it vegan).
The rum-spiked slushie or the refreshing Tour Bus Tales, made with gin, cava, ginger, and a pho-spiced shrub, is a nice balance to all the spices and heat in the dishes. Save room for the dessert: the che is a refreshing, sweetened soup with fresh fruit and jellies, and the Vietnamese coffee pot de creme is a great choice for something richer.
Vivir is a part-market stocked with goods by local and Mexican makers, and a part-counter-service cafe with a bright green-tiled bar. The oversized burrito stuffed with your choice of meat (our favorite is the chorizo) or scrambled eggs is one of the best all-day-breakfast deals in town, the duck carnitas tacos are the antithesis of a sad desk lunch, and the spicy hot chocolate with coconut milk, cayenne, cinnamon, and vanilla is the perfect thing to pair with it all. Don’t overlook the baked goods, like cinnamon rolls with guava paste, mole chocolate cupcakes, and masa cookies loaded with rainbow sprinkles.
photo credit: Lauren Cutshall
Union Hmong Kitchen
Union Hmong Kitchen does a modern interpretation of Hmong cuisine—which incorporates Lao, Thai, Vietnamese, and Chinese ingredients and cooking styles—at a counter inside the Graze Provisions & Librations food hall. The build-your-own meals include a choice of protein and a side (get the Hmong sausage with the chilled khao sen rice noodles), plus purple sticky rice, pickled vegetables, and lettuce wraps. Smaller groups should split the whole fried fish with tamarind crab sauce, but know there’s also “The Graze” option where you can try the entire menu. If the weather’s nice, get a table on the rooftop patio.
Pimento Jamaican Kitchen
A meal at Pimento Jamaican Kitchen feels like a visit with your bubbly best friend. That’s not just because there are bright yellow walls, but also because you’re greeted with genuine warmth from the staff. The counter-service menu lets you build a meal with a couple protein options or curry vegetables, coconut rice and beans, sweet fried plantains, slaw, and a choice of sauce.
Try the braised oxtail with the Kingston Kick sauce if you just need to feel something during the Minneapolis winter, or the MN Nice sauce if you’re looking for a flavorful, medium-heat level hot sauce that won’t require any milk to cool things down. They have a garage door that opens onto Nicollet Avenue, along with an adjacent bar that has an impressive selection of Jamaican rum and a dancehall music night on Fridays.
Zen Box Izakaya
Zen Box Izakaya is a laid-back spot in Downtown East where you should sip a shochu highball and snack on some N.H.K. (Nippon hot karaage) with housemade gochu sauce. Although it’s within walking distance of downtown’s sports and music venues, dinner here feels like you’re settling in at your favorite neighborhood diner, especially considering that there’s usually a seat or two at the bar that’s set aside for walk-ins.
Order the tonkotsu ramen made with a heritage pork broth, and definitely check out the vegan options—there’s always a great brothless vegan ramen on the menu, plus vegan yakisoba available from Tuesdays through Thursdays. Finish off with the green tea tiramisu made with matcha-soaked ladyfingers.
For a quick and satisfying lunch, stop by the local mini-chain Afro Deli for rice bowls, sandwiches, and gyros. Their Cedar-Riverside spot might feel like a fast food joint with brightly painted walls and efficient service, but the McChicken has nothing on the tender yassa chicken that’s marinated overnight in a secret spice blend. Our go-to order is a Somali sweet spiced tea with vegetable-filled sambusa served with a homemade chutney hot sauce. It’s also a great spot to take children, thanks to the dedicated kid’s menu and free soda refills.
Martina has a beach house vibe—it’s a soothing white space punctuated by palms that’s perfect for a leisurely weekend brunch. The menu offers a mix of Argentinian and Italian dishes like a breakfast carbonara, steak and eggs with chimichurri, and savory potato churros served with spicy mayo and ketchup.
If you’re team sweet over savory, order the almond flour pancakes with berries and maple syrup. Pair your meal with one of the excellent cocktails, which are often garnished with flowers and greenery—we like the Baloo, made with rum, pina vermouth, red bitter, pineapple, and lime.
The Lynhall feels like an upscale version of a neighborhood coffee shop, with plenty of natural light, communal wooden tables, and an esoteric assortment of ceramic crockery and gleaming metal vases on the shelves behind the bar. They do brunch every day, but the menu is bigger and has some gems you can’t find during the week, like a shakshouka with chickpea fries.
The bakery has excellent chocolate croissants and savory galettes, but you can also just go big and order the pastry board that comes with five different pastries to share. In addition to the usual boozy brunch suspects, the cocktail menu includes an interesting breakfast martini made with gin, vodka, orange cordial, marmalade, and orange bitters.
THE BEST BARS & TAPROOMS
The Juicy Lucy is a beloved Minneapolis specialty, and a heated local controversy: both Matt’s Bar and the 5-8 Club each claim to have invented the cheese-stuffed burger. Although the real answer may be lost to history, Matt’s Bar gets our vote for the nostalgia: they’re still serving them decades later in a narrow, memorabilia-lined space that hasn’t changed all that much since the restaurant opened in the 1950s. Be careful with your first bite: the molten cheese has burned many a tongue. Know that the restaurant only accepts cash and local checks—and insists on the spelling "Jucy Lucy"—but there’s an ATM on-site.
Parlour has one of the best burgers in town, and it’s also a fantastic spot to grab drinks before a night out in the North Loop or something to eat after a baseball game at Target Field. We like to pair the burger—made with two perfectly charred smashed patties formed from ground sirloin, ribeye, and brisket—with an Old Fashioned (there’s even a decent non-alcoholic version).
If you’re just snacking, order the popcorn seasoned with bacon, togarashi, and pineapple, plus the tiki-inspired Capri Son cocktail. You can go with the bartender’s choice, where they’ll make you a custom cocktail based on your preferences. Come back later, and that cocktail might even be on the menu.
Back Bar at Young Joni
Back Bar at Young Joni is a speakeasy that feels like a 1970s basement, complete with a reel-to-reel tape deck behind the bar and pizza served on retro stoneware. Look for the red light in the alley, settle into the sofa, and order a drink inspired by specific episodes of classic and modern television shows.
We like the rum and aquavit-based Stranger Things S1 E8 (you know, the one where Eleven and Mike kiss), but there are also several well-balanced non-alcoholic cocktails, like the Supermarket Sweep, made with fermented Seville orange, black lime, dandelion root, and bee pollen.
There are some wild pizzas on the menu, like the Perfect Pickle Pie, a so-weird-it’s-good version of a Minnesota State Fair specialty, and the Umami Mama, which is topped with mushrooms, cheese, and a dash of soy sauce.
Surly Brewing Company
The city’s largest craft brewery also has the largest taproom, a huge space with communal high-top tables and 33 taps. Surly Furious IPA is a top seller, and the annual release of Darkness, a Russian imperial stout, is nearly as anticipated as opening day at Target Field. Between the deck and massive patio, there’s plenty of outdoor seating, and the taproom frequently hosts outdoor maker’s markets, concerts, and other events.
The full food menu features tacos made with heirloom corn tortillas from Nixta Tortilleria and pretzels from Aki’s Breadhaus. There’s also an upstairs pizza joint serving New Haven-style pizza that’s open in the evenings and on Saturdays—try the potato and rosemary-topped Walter White.
Sebastian Joe's Ice Cream Cafe
With two locations and nearly 200 flavors, scoop shop Sebastian Joe’s has become a Minneapolis dessert icon. Definitely get one of the signature flavors that are always available, like raspberry chocolate chip, Pavorotti (vanilla ice cream with caramel, bananas, and chocolate chips), or Nicollet Avenue Pothole (chocolate ice cream loaded with caramel, Heath chunks, fudge, and sea salt).
The homemade waffle cones dipped in chocolate and sprinkles are serotonin in edible form. In the summertime, grab a seat on the patio and watch kids climb on the tortoise statue—in the winter, warm up by the fireplace with an affogato.
Bebe Zito Ice Cream & Burgers
Don’t go to Bebe Zito and expect to just order a scoop of vanilla and be done with it. This ice cream shop specializes in using ingredients like caramelized Fruity Pebbles, gochujang-flavored brownie pieces, and MSG in their flavors, and serves them all with color-changing spoons.
Some options are inspired by the owner’s Brazilian heritage, like Romeu e Julieta, a cream cheese custard swirled with guava, while others just reference nostalgic favorites like the cereal-heavy Breakfast Club. If you can’t decide, try a bunch by ordering the ice cream flight. The pint-sized storefront also serves tasty burgers (they’re cooked in the food truck parked in the alley) made with beef and bacon patties.
Edwards Dessert Kitchen
Head to this dessert-focused cafe after dinner in the North Loop. The unique treats are worth the long line, even if you have to squeeze into a space at the bar. Some favorites include a clementine and yuzu tart, buttered pecan sundae topped with pineapple vanilla compote, and Rocher mousse with hazelnut chocolate cake. Get a brookie to enjoy later, and pair your treats with a glass of bubbly or a passionfruit paloma with locally-distilled Tattersall Creme de Fleur.