One of my best skills is eating. I’m also great at ordering food (trust me, this is a useful skill especially when traveling with large groups of people). The Twin Cities have a lot to offer in this area and it’s one of my favorite things about living here. I now present you with a list of my top five restaurants for eating and drinking in the Twin Cities. Warning: expect some name-dropping.
I don’t care if you could star in Planet of the Apes, taking me to this restaurant will inspire me to want to take your clothes off. That being said, it’s also an appropriate place to bring your family and friends, I brought my parents to Alma once and Bryan Morcom, one of the main chefs, sent us a few desserts to try. The night ended in this tweet:
Oops. My mom saw my sex face. Because I was eating a sundae at Alma that was better than sex. (@formica_dinette)
My dad, who has eaten a lot of fabulous meals in fabulous parts of the world, said that the meal was the best he’s ever eaten in the U.S.
If that doesn’t convince you, Alexander Roberts, executive chef and proprietor, is also the man that brings you the most fantastic piles of meat and grits and biscuits and COLLARDS that have ever entered your mouth at Brasa Premium Rotisserie.
If you only eat one meal in your life, eat it here.
What to expect: Focus on local, organic, and seasonal ingredients. Amazingly fresh (my mouth is watering!) American cuisine. Open kitchen. Cozy and romantic.
Fance level: This place is pretty spendy but not pretentious and snooty. However, you may not want to wear your PJ pants or spandex unitard. Dress decently if you don’t want to feel shabby (obviously).
What to order: Anything. Seriously, I’ve never had anything that wasn’t delicious here and the menu changes so frequently that I can’t advise you on what to order. But do not miss out on dessert.
Who to bring: That hot tamale you’ve been hanging out with once you’re ready to take things to the next level or your long-term lover.
I want to live here sipping delicious drinks and talking to random rich people at the bar. Not only do they have wonderfully named cocktails, like “The Lawyer from Philadelphia” and “French Teen Idol,” they also can make me drink gin. I don’t drink gin because it tastes like Christmas and I’m not into ingesting Christmas. Of course I told a bartender that and he made me a tasty concoction with gin in it.
The lounge is so cozy and lovely that I’ve never eaten in their dining room. There’s nothing better than a fabulous date on the couch in La Belle Vie’s lounge. Except maybe a date at Restaurant Alma.
What to expect: French fare. Friendly staff. COCKTAILS. I’ve yet to run into someone snooty here. Again, I’ve never been to the actual dining room but the lounge is killer.
Fance level: This place is a bit fancy but like most restaurants, you can get away with most outfits. Just skip the belly shirt and jorts.
What to order: Grilled Lamb Burgers with Mint Yogurt and Hot pepper. Just do it. Also, have lots of cocktails. Ask for suggestions if there is a particular liquor you’re fond of because not only do they have a lot of tastiness on the cocktail menu, they also will make you something else amazing. The drink menu changes frequently so I don’t have a specific recommendation except anything with whisky.
Who to bring: A first date who you want to impress and get (possibly drunk and) cozy with.
Whenever anyone I know eats at Haute Dish for the first time I get text messages that say things like, referring to the Chef, Landon Schoenefeld:
“-His food is relish
@MeredithWestin, via text message
While, as you can clearly see, this more a compliment of the delicious drinks (try the Minnesota Mule!) than the food, trust me, people go crazy over the food. Last time I was there Landon suggested that the stuffed pig’s foot would be a romantic meal to share. Where else can you get that?? The guy I brought that night kept saying “that food was so good” for at least the next three days.
I’ve also had friends want to jump the chef after eating courses of rich, creamy, and usually buttery food.
What to expect: Schoenefeld’s wacky and fun take on Midwestern fare.
Fance level: Charming, welcoming, and relatively casual, you can wear your hoochie outfit over after dancing at Transmission at Clubhouse Jäger on a Wednesday night. Maybe don’t wear leggings as pants though. Ever.
What to order: I recommend the Mac & Cheese (with crab and truffle), General Tso’s Sweetbreads (yes, sweetbreads are what you think they are), Creamed Peas on Toast, and the signature Tater Tot Haute Dish. They have an extensive collection of whiskys and the Minnesota Mule is not to be missed. Have dessert here, or maybe three desserts.
Who to bring: Your sassy girlfriends, a boyfriend, your parents, your dog (oh, not your dog), but pretty much anyone.
Try the faux gras. It’s chicken liver and gives you the deliciousness of foie gras but without having to think about the poor duck being force-fed until his liver tastes delicious! Plus, eggplant!
Brunch at Tilia is also quite tasty. They have various and sundry benedicts, biscuits and gravy, and other eggy breakfast items, along with steal cut oats with cherries in them. The fact that I will eat the oats is pretty insane since I’m totally anti-porridge.
I’ve heard from friends that dessert leaves something to be desired in their eyes (or mouths?), but I was pretty satisfied with the butter scotch pot de crème. A friend of mine actually tweeted about it last night:
“This butterscotch dessert thing at Tilia needs to be hit from the bottom and werqued in the middle.” -@Idioteque612
What to expect: A welcoming neighborhood joint with an upscale attitude. It’s nuzzled into Linden Hills and feels like the perfect go-to spot for delightful dinners or late night sipping.
Fance level: I wouldn’t be afraid to show up in my poorly put-together hangover outfit for brunch but would maybe step it up a notch for dinner.
What to order: The Dry Aged Wild Acres Duck Breast entrée (probably not force-fed!) is phenomenal. Also brunch. Also everything else. Did I mention the faux gras?
Who to bring: Your hungover buddies for a to-die-for brunch. For dinner? It seems everyone I know brings their parents when they come from out of town to visit. I did, and the three of us packed into a two-person table and swooned over the meal. They don’t take reservations so be prepared to wait or be sitting half on top of your mom while you eat. They were actually super accommodating when my mother was getting crabby-hungry (it runs in the family) and let us squeeze into a small table.
This place is the best for absolutely fantastic cocktails. This is the other one of two bars that can get me to drink gin. Sadly, bartender Birk Stefan Grudem is leaving Bradstreet to focus on food truck Hola Arepa, co-owned with his girlfriend (who I didn’t know about when I gave him my phone number carved into a grapefruit taken from Tom Pham’s Wondrous Azian Kitchen—which I think is 0% wondrous and 100% terrible—at the bar one night after Voltage at First Ave), but they have other fabulous bartenders. Actually, the night I just mashed into one parenthetical statement was one of my very favorites. Put together a table full of @lizbastian, @sloped, @solace, and some huge ball-shaped ice cubes, then throw in an @OGNola, and you’ve got a magical night.
The drinks range from perfect crafted classic cocktails to unique creations and don’t be surprised if you end up taste-testing something new. My recommendation is to tell them what you like (Whiskey? Rum? Juice? Soda? Ginger? Christmas?) and have them go to town creating something for you.
I don’t know much about their food because I’ve eaten some of it, but only after multiple drinks. I think it’s pretty good but I recommend this place purely based on the boozy beverages.
What to expect: Who cares? You’ll be drinking the expertly crafted cocktails.
Fance level: Who cares? You’ll be drinking the expertly crafted cocktails.
What to order: Who cares? You’ll be drinking the expertly crafted cocktails.
Who to bring: Who cares? You’ll be drinking the expertly crafted cocktails.
Actually, I will be there tonight so it might be time to try to find my special whisky-filled Titter account.
Photo: Haute Dish. Photo by Ed Kohler (Creative Commons).