Travel For Two
The Hottest New Restaurants in Minneapolis-Saint Paul
Get a taste of these 10 date night-worthy destinations that live up to the hype.
The Twin Cities have captured national attention with James Beard award-winning chefs and buzz-worthy restauranteurs who are drawing foodies to their tables with homemade Asian noodles, wood-fired cooking and intimate multi-course dining experiences. Here’s a tasty sampling of what’s new.
This newly opened, 20-seat, reservations-only restaurant from two-time James Beard award-winner Gavin Kaysen offers diners an intimate experience featuring multiple courses. Guests can choose to gather around a U-shaped counter where it’s easy to see the chefs at work or sit in the dining room to enjoy their two-hour tasting menu of exquisitely plated courses. The restaurant sits near Kaysen’s much-lauded Spoon and Stable restaurant in Minneapolis’s North Loop.
Celebrity Chef Andrew Zimmern (known for Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern”) and Michael McDermott have mined their tastiest inspirations from China for this new restaurant at the West End in St. Louis Park. The small plates of homemade noodles and dumplings with bold flavors use natural, organic and local ingredients, and are perfect for sharing. The contemporary decor includes a world-class Tiki bar.
3. In Bloom
Named the Star Tribune’s 2018 Restaurant of the Year, this bustling anchor tenant of Saint Paul’s Keg and Case Market (see below for more details) turns out elegant plates of cocoa-scented backstrap venison, pheasant boudin with mushrooms and puffed wild rice and grilled trout using exclusively woodfired cooking techniques. Even the desserts are woodfired, including a hickory nut tart and burnt marshmallow, a decadent twist on s’mores.
Open on the historic Schmidt Brewery campus since late 2018, this collection of restaurants includes In Bloom and Revival Smoked Meats, plus vendors ranging from Forest-to-Fork’s onsite mushroom farm to a whimsical gourmet cotton candy maker. It was awarded Best New Food Hall in the country by USA Today readers in a 2019 poll.
This take on a trendy food hall covers two stories of a former Border’s bookstore at Rosedale Center in Roseville. Cashless and emphasizing speed, it lets diners order from several eateries, such as Oceantail, Angry Taco and Honeycomb Chicken + Waffle, and pick up at one location. With room for more than 700 diners, there’s plenty of space to sit and eat, linger and recharge, or even play a game of pool.
In October 2018, the team behind Martina, a wildly popular four-star Argentine-Italian restaurant, opened Colita, a savory Tex-Oaxaca spot in the Armatage neighborhood. It’s winning rave reviews for using woodfired cooking, barbecue and smoking to draw out delicious flavors for its lamb barbacoa tacos, lobster tostadas and seared scallops with corn puree. Its tortillas are handmade using hand-ground imported Oaxaca heirloom corn, and everything is gluten-free. Artful presentations extend to cocktails, many featuring the tang of fermentations.
This compact Minneapolis eatery showcases some of the talents and recipes that were popular at Martina. The trim menu features five selections of the beloved empanadas, a variety of pizzas and salads, a chorizo sandwich and grab-and-go empanadas for anyone wanting to bake the savory treats at home.
Warmth from its wood fires emanates from Popol Vuh, where Chef José Alarcon’s take on Mexican cooking is on full display. He blends ancient cooking methods with modern flavors and smoky moles, creating a menu that ranges from octopus to duck carnitas to a bright cactus salad. Centro, the restaurant’s casual counter-service taqueria, fills tacos with braised beef cheeks, cured cactus and guajillo marinated chicken, and offers a raw bar. Sunday brunch specials include guava-mosas with kombucha and agave flights.
9. P.S. Steak
Once the home of La Belle Vie, a storied restaurant on the edge of Loring Park in downtown Minneapolis, it’s now the perfect place for a splurge-worthy steakhouse date night. Look for elevated small plates, such as foie gras or chicken liver mousse tart, along with expertly prepared ribeye, tenderloin, stuffed pheasant, dry-aged duck and seafood towers.
10. Mi-Sant Banh Mi
A family of second-generation Vietnamese-Americans opened this fast-casual Vietnamese restaurant in Brooklyn Park, drawing on their experience as owners of Saint Paul’s Trung Nam Bakery. This new venture likewise marries the flavors of Vietnam with influences from France, which come together beautifully in a banh mi sandwich made with baguette bread, pate, mayo, pickled carrots, daikon, cucumbers and fresh cilantro. Most come with a choice of meats such as Korean bulgogi or nem nuonga (grilled pork sausage). Other menu staples include fresh-baked croissants, spring rolls, noodle bowls and drinks such as red guava slushies and avocado shakes.