Minneapolis is renowned for its restaurants, ethnic or American. It would take a good half a week or so to sample just a part of what it has to offer.
It's all about the locals when looking for a great place to eat. Here are some gems that earn frequent top kudos from Minneapolis' locals:
Areas For Dining
• Don't miss Nicollet Avenue South's "Eat Street" centered on East 27th Street for a variety of ethnic fare. Highly recommended are Quang Restaurant and Jasmine Deli for Vietnamese, Yummy for Chinese, Big E's for African-American, and the so-called Black Forest Inn (which is not a hotel) for German cuisine. Little Tijuana is a nice stop for alluring punk/goth waitresses and Mexican plates. The Vietnamese restaurants are incredibly cheap ($5-$10 per person) and have received consistently exuberant reviews since their openings (Quang was even positively reviewed in the New York Times). The latter four are standard $8-$20 dollars per person except during lunch.
• The Dinkytown and Stadium Village areas near the University of Minnesota have great offerings.
Bakeries and Bistros
• Bakery on Grand, 3804 Grand Ave S, 612 822-8260. Authentic French bistro fare. This place is one for the record books - and a must see for locals and visitors. They cure their own meats, bake their own breads and sweets, and their dishes are among the best in Minneapolis. Whether it's breakfast, lunch, or dinner - you'll be blown away.
• French Meadows Bakery, 2610 Lyndale Ave S at 26th, 612 870-4740, 877-669-3278, fax 612 870-0907 - Owner and founder of this excellent bakery and cafe, Lynn Gordon, has a passion for fabulous yeast free breads, and has been an artisan baker since before that term began to be applied to high-quality individual bakers. $4-$20, depending on the time of day. Cheapest in the morning.
• See Dinkytown, Eat Street, and Stadium Village.
• Perkins forget Denny's, Perkins is a family-trade local area chain of restaurants serving plain old good food at all hours of the day and night. Several locations.
• The Winery Small, family owned diner that serves basic fare. It's where the punks, aging hippies and various harmless riff-raff go for breakfast or a lunch of fries, burgers, brats or hotdogs slathered with your choice of toppings. They also carry veggie dogs for the vegetarian in you. The fries are shredded right in front of you and come out oh so crisp!
• The Dinkytowner Literally underground off 14St in Dinkytown (hence the name), serves a large greasy spoon menu, along with breakfast, burgers, pizza, etc. By night, it becomes one of the area's best hip-hop bars. Near the University of Minnesota campus, it's probably not what you'd consider a "college bar" though. Prices are average for the city, and the service is good. Always good music, and cool sparkly vinyl booths.
• Cafe Barbette. Nearby Lake St and Hennepin S in Uptown, $15-$30.
• Cafe Lurcat. Highly recommended. $18-$40. Chic establishment with French/Fusion offerings.
• Cave Vin, 5555 Xerxes Ave, 612 922-0100. Pane's sister French restaurant - blocks from Pane - it features a Mediterranean/French menu. Again, tons of charm, great food and wine.
Fusion or Modern American
• Restaurant Alma 528 University Ave SE, 612 379-4909. Amazing food which can best be described as a combination between French, Fusion, and small-town Minnesotan. They use almost exclusively organic ingredients. $20-$40 per person for a three-course meal with wine. Cheaper, but not by much, at lunch.
• Surabhi Indian Cuisine 9818 Aldrich Ave S, (952) 746-3663, in South Minneapolis, is a good place. It probably has the best Indian food in the Twin Cities. $8-$20 dollars a person.
• D'Amico's Cucina, 100 North 6th St, 612 338-2401. One of the areas most expensive restaurants, serves amazing Italian cuisine with international and fusion touches. Expect to spend over $60 for two people. Absolutely gastronomical. Call for sure for reservations and directions. It is a little hidden.
• Pane Vino Dolce, 819 W 50th St, 612 825-3201. Considered one of the best and authentic Italian restaurants in town. There's no sign, but you'll find a hand written menu taped in the window each day. There are only about 15 tables - small, romantic, and plenty of charm.
Japanese cuisine is highly competitive. Prepare to spend more at either establishment for sushi, which runs $5-$8 at both places per serving. The best showings are probably
• Nami, 251 1st Ave N, 612 333-1999. Located in the Warehouse District nearby 1st Ave, which runs parallel to Hennepin. Lunch specials, decor, and very modern, relaxing atmosphere. $10 per person plus tip at lunchtime, and $20 per person in the evening
• Origami, 30 N 1st St, 612 333-8430. Best for their sushi. Located in the Warehouse District nearby 1st Ave, which runs parallel to Hennepin. $10 per person plus tip at lunchtime, and $20 per person in the evening.
In recent years, Minneapolis has developed a core community of Mexican-born residents. As a result, several good, authentic Mexican restaurants have cropped up.
• Taco Morelos, near the corner of Nicollet Avenue and 26th St in the "Eat Street" area. What was once a cheap, authentic, storefront restaurant, has become a mid-price, authentic restaurant/bar with at least three locations in the Twin Cities area. The original location on 26th St. is now called a "Tex Mex Grill", but don't let that fool you. For around $10 you can still get a fantastic burrito or one of the best plates of huevos rancheros in town.
• Mercado Central, Corner of Lake Street and Bloomington Avenue. Meant to mimic a Mexican outdoor market but all indoors (probably because of the prodigious winters). You can buy tamales to go and there's a "food court" comprised totally of Mexican and Salvadorean owned restaurants.
• Pepito's. A mainstay of South Minneapolis with two locations.
• The deli-style fast food version is located on the corner of Nicollet and 46th. Try the fish tacos, they're fantastic. No alcohol, but fast service and fantastic food for those on the go.
• The sit-down restaurant version is located on the corner of 48th and Chicago Ave. There's a full bar, a kid-friendly menu and good food at reasonable prices. If you're traveling with a toddler and want decent food in a family-friendly restaurant, Pepitos has a good kid's menu with items for $4.95 each and the food comes fast. So you and yours can eat before your two year-old throws the entire bowl of chips at the adjoining booth.
• See also Dinkytown, Eat Street, and Stadium Village.
• Holy Land Deli and Bakery, 2513 Central Ave NE, 612 781-2627. Middle Eastern and Mediterranean/Greek cuisine. The gyros are some of the best in the United States, and the chicken curry gyros are very original and tasty. It's hard to go wrong with their menu, which is especially friendly towards vegetarians. The lunch/dinner buffet also is good and cheap, but call to make sure that the gyro meats will be served with it. $6-$10 dollars per person. It also sports a full-sized market. The bread, hummus, imports, and other specialties are wonderful, but call ahead to make sure that you get fresh produce on a delivery day.
• Crescent Moon Bakery, 2339 Central Ave NE, 612 782-0169. What they are known for is their savory and spicy Afghani pizza with its special sauce - one of the most underrated and unique pies in town (if not the best). What most miss due to the pull of the pizza is their equally incredible gyro meat, expertly seasoned and lightly charred for a nice texture. They also serve kabob platters. Prices run as low as $5 for a gyro and $12 for the huge Afghani pizza (could easily feed 3 normal appetites), and as high as $25-30 for one of the massive platters.
• True Thai, 2627 E Franklin Ave, 612 375-9942. True Thai stands as the current champion of Thai food in Minneapolis. The Chili-Tamarind, Rama Spinach Curry, and Pad Thai are amazing at this establishment. $9-$17 dollars per person for an entree and drink.
• See Dinkytown, Eat Street, and Stadium Village.
Sometimes you roll into town and you just want a good slice of pizza. Minneapolis has a few offerings.
• Pizza Luce has three locations in town. Go to the downtown location if you can on the corner of 5th St. and 2nd Ave N. Easily the best pizza in town. Full bar, punk rock staff. You can get pizza by the slice or sit down and order a whole pie. Open until 3 a.m. The Uptown location is on the corner of 32nd and Lyndale Ave. S. The pizza is still fantastic, but the service is not as good. The Seward location on the corner of 22nd and Franklin Ave has mixed results. Pizza is still good there, but not as good as the other two locations.
• Davanni's, located on the corner of 26th St. and Riverside Avenue, is probably the only place in town where one can get authentic, Chicago-style pizza. Beer on tap. Good hoagies too.
• Jakeeno's offers good pizza and other pasta dishes. Try the potato and rosemary pizza. Located on the corner of 36th and Chicago. Not a horrible neighborhood, but not the best either. Jakeeno's is clean, friendly and family-run however. Worth the trip. No alcohol.
• Fat Lorenzo's is located on the corner of 54th St. and Cedar Ave. Good service, good pizza. A good first stop or last stop on your way to or from the airport. Beer and wine.
• Galactic Pizza Uptown's newest pizza joint. The decor is kitschy. Their stand out feature is not only a little car run 100% by electric power but the delivery driver dons a funky costume while driving said vehicle. If you order the Second Harvest pizza (which is excellent, I must say) the business donates a dollar to the Second Harvest Food Bank (for every one ordered).
• See also Crescent Moon Bakery in the Middle Eastern section above.
Sleepy little Minneapolis probably has one of the most vibrant and independent music scenes in the country. The city is probably most famous for its purple pop wonder, Prince, but also boasts bands such as Soul Asylum, The Replacements, The Jayhawks, and Polara just to name a few. Several clubs in town play host to shows by local bands and your chances of finding a good one are better than average.
• For local listings see:
• City Pages
• The Onion.
• The Pulse
• Star Tribune
• Downtown has several music offerings including First Avenue and The Fine Line Music Cafe.
• West Bank and Uptown also have a number of good places.
• Triple Rock
• The Cabooze.
• Terminal Bar
• Hexagon Bar.
• The 400 Bar
• Lee's Liquor Lounge
The nightlife in general can be vibrant in several areas. The Warehouse District is great for clubbers, Dinkytown is good for college partygoers, Uptown is good for those with a bit more money, and The Mall of America has several spots for the middle aged and sports fans. Minneapolis is not the 24 hour city that New York is, but bars close at 2AM - so that is still plenty of time, especially if you find a party to go to afterwards (it is best to be accompanied by friends and to know someone either through a reliable acquaintance, friend, or client who knows your host's social status).
Minneapolis certainly accommodates those seeking a good drink. There are over a dozen Irish, German, or British pubs, such as The Local, Black Forest Inn, Brit's Pub, or Kieran's. Local dining, clubs, pubs, and bars in general compete for the best Happy Hour specials. It's a good idea to pick up a City Pages or to do an internet search to find the best deals.
Most liquor stores in the general metropolitan area close at 10:00PM. This is true for all areas on Fridays and Saturdays. The exception is in the Minneapolis city proper - stores there close at 8:00PM on Monday through Thursday. You can save more money by purchasing your own supply. Be sure to check out the yellow pages for liquor stores which specialize in wines or beers.
• Surdyk's, University and East Hennepin just northeast across the river from downtown. A liquor store with an amazing wine selection and an impressive amount of international specialties like sake and plum wine, beers (dozens of English microbreweries are represented), port wines, champagnes, vodkas, whiskeys, and others.
When you are a stranger, sometimes it's hard to find a good cup of coffee besides the ubiquitous Starbucks. Luckily, Minneapolis' independent spirit has yielded good cups of coffee in so many places, one can hardly throw a rock without it landing in a latte
• Caribou is second to Starbucks in number and of similar feel and quality in the drinks. The shots are 1.5 oz compared to Starbucks 1.0 ounce.
• Dunn Brothers is third in chains for number of locations. The coffee here is fresh (ground daily in the shop) but somewhat stronger than most places in town. Their fantastic brewed coffee is a little more impressive than the espresso, but their shots are at least a mighty 3.0 oz.
• Other independent shops abound in various neighborhoods with the coffee shops per block reaching critical mass in the Uptown and Dinkytown neighborhoods. Never fear, wherever you end up, you can be assured a coffee shop is within a few blocks. Particularly in South Minneapolis.
• Wilde Roast Cafe has possibly the best atmosphere of any coffeeshop in town. Its nouveau-Victorian decor - complete with a giant portrait of Oscar Wilde - make for a great relaxation or date destination. It also houses Query, a gay/lesbian-aimed bookstore with a nice selection. The drinks and expertly crafted desserts are of high-quality, but a tad pricey. If you want to show off the wallet, truly relax in the austere surroundings, or if you're looking for a more queer-friendly destination, try it!