Mill District City Club Apartments

Best Restaurants in the Twin Cities 2018

Dishes at Hai Hai

Photo by Eliesa Johnson

A tableful of food from Hai Hai


Our annual guide for where to eat now, the Best Restaurants issue, has been a March staple for 28 years. But when we debuted the MSP50 a few years ago, committing to just a few dozen picks each year, we realized we had to think hard about what most deserved celebrating. It’s like cooking dinner for 50 guests on a four-burner stove: Your menu has to be selective, but who doesn’t love a challenge?

At that point, we could have gone full Michelin, setting strict guidelines for the whiteness of the tablecloth and the clarity of the leaded champagne flutes. But that approach didn’t really jibe with the way we eat in Minnesota. Awarding top honors to only the loftiest spots would never present a true picture of our favorite meals.

The MSP50 has always been, and will always be, an industry potluck of iconic steak joints, skyway bánh mi shops, neighborhood haunts—and, of course, a couple of mind-blowing eateries that just might change the way you feel about a four-hour dinner. Still, however much we love that big Saturday night out, we know you’re just as likely to find soul-satisfying food on a Wednesday night in that place down the block. If you know where to look.

Which gets us back to that list of 50 spots. To help you find the best plates, we’ve created a new winner’s plaque to catch your eye. Follow the gold fork not just to flashy new dining spots, but to the standard-setting restaurants that have made the Twin Cities a tasty place to live. Our critics’ picks in this issue will tell you what we love to order in our favorite restaurants. Or just look for us in the bar. 


Lexington

The Lexington table top

Photo by Caitlin Abrams


St. Paul, as people from St. Paul will tell you, is unlike any other city in the world. The stolid Victorian houses look prettier, the Vietnamese food tastes better, and the commitment to good government runs deeper. Why would any person born there want to leave? The reborn and spiffed-up Lexington continues to be the place St. Paul lovers go to celebrate the particular excellence of St. Paul with other folk who appreciate St. Paul. They do it with a fine chicken pot pie, an embarrassment of relish trays, and the best onion rings east of the Mississippi. 1096 Grand Ave., St. Paul, 651-289-4990, thelexmn.com


Brunson’s Pub

The neighborhood pub often gets overlooked on best-restaurant lists, which is a crime against hospitality. Most of us crave a spot where, yes, everybody knows your name, and Brunson’s, on St. Paul’s Payne Avenue, is one of those places. The renovation of the former dive bar left the tin ceiling and the back bar intact. But now the kitchen cranks out scratch-made burgers, crispy fish and chips, and a few other dishes, like a Hoppin’ John salad, that elevate the menu past typical tavern fare. 956 Payne Ave., St. Paul, 651-447-2483, brunsonspub.com


Bellecour

Gavin Kaysen and sons at Bellecour

Photo by Eliesa Johnson

No tip for you, old man! Gavin Kaysen serves two tough customers (a.k.a. his boys) at Bellecour.

A beautiful French restaurant on Wayzata’s gold coast, Bellecour could have easily glammed up the dining room with gold glitz. Instead, muted greys and soft blues play with lake and sky tones. Gavin Kaysen’s second restaurant feels balanced. The drop-in bar hosts cocktails and a killer Dirty French burger (oozing with Gruyere and griddled onions), while the more formal dining room seats both families and business diners for refined French dishes. Balance is a key element for the busy Kaysen, whose kids factor on his Instagram feed heavily. At Bellecour it feels like equilibrium achieved. 739 E. Lake St., Wayzata, 952-444-5200, bellecourrestaurant.com 

“This restaurant business is humbling. You can’t really get the success without grinding. You have to love the hustle.”

 — Gavin Kaysen, chef and owner, Bellecour


Next Course

Spagetti at Mama DeCampo's

Photo courtesy of Mama DeCampo's

A meal fit for Lady and the Tramp, at Mama DeCampo’s.


It feels like Twin Cities diners have become as distractible as a labradoodle puppy in a squeak-toy factory. If it’s not new, do we even care? The best restaurants in town have figured out how to keep us sated in our constant quest for newness, while energizing their cooks in the process. 

Monello devotes Sunday nights to Italian-American Big Night-type cuisine when it turns itself into Mama DeCampo’s. Chef Mike DeCamp plays with lasagna portions as big as a textbook and the best fried calamari in town, while red and white tablecloths lend a different vibe to the typically upmarket room. 

At Spoon and Stable, Gavin Kaysen’s Synergy Series brings in world-famous chefs such as Dominique Crenn, Daniel Boulud, and April Bloomfield to teach the S&S staff and to serve once-in-a-lifetime meals to local fans. 

Saint Dinette’s chef, Adam Eaton, gives his cooks a chance to grow by hosting “heritage dinners” three or four times a year. Last fall saw a Middle Eastern night: an internal pop-up that encouraged cooks to explore widely unfamiliar dishes from the eastern Mediterranean. This spring’s program features a nod to James Beard with a vintage-style French dinner. 

St. Genevieve, known for French refinement and hot reservations, hosts Sunday afternoon wine classes and shopping pop-ups to keep the neighborhood spot accessible to newbies. 

The foodiest foodies worship chef Jim Christiansen’s erudite cooking at Heyday. But the under-$10 happy-hour dinners have brought a younger crowd, pleased to find that avant-garde food can be everyday fun. 

Seven years ago, Russell and Desta Klein, owners of St. Paul’s best French restaurant, Meritage, decided to have fun with their raw bar by throwing a big party called Oysterfest. Little did they know it would make TV newscasts and newspaper recaps. Not bad for a city some 1,000 miles from the sea. 

Monello, 1115 2nd Ave. S., Mpls., 612-353-6207, monellompls.com | Spoon and Stable, 211 N. 1st St., Mpls., 612-224-9850, spoonandstable.com | Saint Dinette, 261 E. 5th St., St. Paul, 651-800-1415, saintdinette.com | St. Genevieve, 5003 Bryant Ave. S., Mpls., 612-353-4843, stgmpls.com | Heyday, 2700 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls., 612-200-9369, heydayeats.com | Meritage, 410 St. Peter St., St. Paul, 651-222-5670, meritage-stpaul.com 


Rabbit Hole

The Rabbit Hole in Midtown Global Market, Minneapolis

Photo by Katherine Harris

Thomas and Kat Kim opened this full-service restaurant at Midtown Global Market with global Korean street food. But he has since incorporated elements from Pacific fine dining, like the best salmon poke around (with candlenuts, mangoes, and pears), inspired by Thomas Kim’s history cooking with Pacific Rim icon Roy Yamaguchi. And the gastropub food seems more playful now. Try the Cali sub, a great Korean fried chicken cutlet with avocado, bacon, fancy aioli, pico de gallo, pickled onions, and fresh garnishes. Midtown Global Market, Mpls., 612-236-4526, eatdrinkrabbit.com


Something Tasteful, Bite by Bite

Dishes from Corner Table, Kado No Mise, Tenant, Travail

Photos by Caitlin Abrams and Eliesa Johnson

Clockwise from top left: Travail, Kado No Mise, Tenant, Corner Table


Corner Table

Some diners worry that small plates won’t fill them up. But what about a tasting menu that only stops when you do? When chef de cuisine Karyn Tomlinson took the helm at Corner Table, the restaurant instituted a service format that included shorter coursed menus alongside the “Say When.” Choose this option and plates of cured salmon with horseradish crème or seared pork belly will keep coming until you say stop. Or until the kitchen runs out of food. 4537 Nicollet Ave. S., Mpls., 612-823-0011, cornertablerestaurant.com


Kado no Mise / Kaiseki Furukawa  

Upstairs from Kado, the more casual arm of this sleek Japanese restaurant, chef Shigey Furukawa operates our first kaiseki, where 10 courses following the structure of a traditional tea service ask you to commit to a few hours of purposeful eating. Kaiseki Furukawa focuses on the current season through modern small bites. Smoky dashi broth or carved bits of raw yellowtail turn into a meal that transports you, even while it roots you in the moment. 33 1st Ave. N., Mpls., 612-338-1515, kadonomise.com 

Tenant   

Cooks from the former Piccolo have rejiggered the space as Tenant, offering small menu tastings at three ticketed seatings a night. Be ready for a focused tasting menu that may be the most economical of its type in town: $50 for a six-course meal without beverages. The team service is fun and informative, and while the menu changes all the time, return diners will notice a fondness for heritage wheat pastas. 4300 Bryant Ave. S., Mpls., 612-827-8111, tenantmpls.com 

Travail Kitchen

Far from stuffy fine dining, a tasting menu at Travail takes the form of a rollicking adventure. The party starts the moment you grab your ticketed seat at a big wooden table and goes until the point when you find yourself using the back of your hand as a plate for a wiggly poof that tastes like roast beef. And that’s just the main-room menu. The counter in back features up-and-coming chefs cooking month-long pop-ups of their own tasting menus. 4124 Broadway Ave. W., Robbinsdale, 763-535-1131, travailkitchen.com


Octo Fishbar  

Fish Market at Octo Fishbar

Photo by Caitlin Abrams

Much has been said about the kind of exotic and esoteric seafood you can find when the owner is a James Beard award winner who’s also a partner in a fish distributor. Cockles and sea urchins and blowfish, oh my! But what about that high-roller favorite, Alaska king crab legs? You know how they cost $99 for two pounds at a fancy steakhouse? At the house fish market, you pay around $30 a pound retail for the real thing. And for a $12-per-fish fee, the restaurant will cook them up as only fancy chefs can.Now you’re living like a king, eating kings—and saving a king’s ransom in the bargain. 289 E. 5th St., St. Paul, 651-202-3415, octostp.com


Birchwood  

Birchwood Cafe in Minneapolis | photo by Caitlin Abrams

Photo by Caitlin Abrams

A pioneer of local and seasonal thinking, Birchwood Cafe and longtime chef Marshall Paulsen have tossed the whole four seasons thing out the window and brought in a calendar that adds four more seasons. There’s dusk, the tail end of fall, when root vegetables shine. Frost means the beginning of winter and brings fermented vegetables. In thaw, the earliest bit of spring, the first hoop-house lettuces and herbs arrive. During scorch, the hottest part of summer, almost anything and everything on the farm can appear on the table. 3311 E. 25th St., Mpls., 612-722-4474, birchwoodcafe.com


Zen Box

Owner and Chef at Zen Box

Photo by Eliesa Johnson

John Ng and Lina Goh

This Mill District eatery celebrates the fun and electric side of Japanese dining culture through its street signage, its Hitachino beer tap handles, and its steady line of ramen obsessives waiting for tables. Married team John Ng and Lina Goh travel to Japan often, where they seek out the best ramen shops and learn noodle and broth techniques to bring home. Weekend specials often sell out, but the standard pork-broth tonkotsu never disappoints, especially sided by takoyaki octopus balls or flame-torched raw aburi salmon. 602 WashingtonAve. S., Mpls., 612-332-3936, zenbox.com

“The restaurant feels best when it’s controlled chaos. When the chatter from the guests blends with the sounds from the kitchen, and the staff is upbeat and having fun: That’s a great night.” —Lina Goh, co-owner Zen Box Izakaya


Hmongtown Marketplace  

Hmongtown Marketplace

Photo by Caitlin Abrams


If you take your out-of-town guests to one food spot this year, it should be the Hmongtown Marketplace, near the state capitol. Yes, this indoor/outdoor food hall and market proves we’re not just a bunch of ketchup-loving Swedes. More than that, it proves there is room at our local table for everyone to achieve the dream. Wander the aisles to find fresh produce and amazing eats: chicken from Mama’s Fusion, papaya salad from Mr. Papaya, and crazy beef rib from Hmoob Kitchen. Cap it with boba tea: Now you’re a next-gen Minnesotan. 217 Como Ave.,St. Paul, 651-487-3700, hmongtownmarketplace.com 


Brunch: Easy Like Sunday Morning

Donuts from Muccis Italian

Photo by Eliesa Johnson

A seven-course brunch at Mucci's looks a lot like...donuts.


Mucci’s Italian

Sometimes brunch is a donut.That’s all. Just a magnificent blueberry-studded cake donut as sturdy as the mug of coffee it sits next to. Or maybe it’s a bourbon old-fashioned doughscuit, as trend-forward as you dare to be on a weekend morning. Perhaps it’s a mascarpone-filled vessel topped with fried salami. Because salty deserves a donut, too, doesn’t it? 786 Randolph Ave., St. Paul, 651-330-2245, muccisitalian.com

Burch  

For a steakhouse to stage a successful brunch, it has to perform a magic act on weekend nights: turning itself into a new restaurant in just hours. Burch does the job with aplomb, serving classy steaks and fat glasses of wine to boisterous midnight revelers. Then, when the sun comes up, Burch offers the sleepier set a killer fried chicken sandwich and tomatillo bloodies. 1933 Colfax Ave. S., Mpls., 612-843-1515, burchrestaurant.com 

The Bird

The space that was once The Third Bird went through a lot of changes in a short time. When it came out the other end, The Bird had turned into the reigning breakfast and lunch café of Loring Park. During the week, the room feels easygoing and buzzes with creatives. On weekends, it’s packed with the slightly hungover looking for a curative in the form of a grain bowl or blueberry-quinoa pancakes. 1612 Harmon Place, Mpls., 612-767-9495, thebirdmpls.rocks

El Burrito Mercado

If you’re not brunching the Mexican way, you may be stuck in a French toast cage. Imagine yourself in a sunshine-filled room, enjoying music and chatter as plates of chilaquiles, fresh corn pancakes, and huevos rancheros whiz by. You’ll know you’ve escaped your brunch rut when the server brings your order of migas: crispy corn chips scrambled with onions and eggs. 175 Cesar Chavez St., St. Paul, 651-227-2192, elburritomercado.com


Broders’ World 

Where to order the best pasta in town? Broders’ Pasta Bar springs to mind. The pappardelle with braised lamb, finished with chevre, stands out as an all-time Twin Cities plate. How about the greatest New York street slice? The answer might be Broders’ Cucina, the counter-service deli that also makes our go-to lasagna to go. Where to send a visiting restaurant critic eating solo? Try Terzo, the third Broders’ property on the corner of 50th and Penn. Sit at the bar and order a glass of Barolo and a porchetta bowl: succulent pork on polenta, with a scoop of pepperonata—all topped with a perfect egg. 

Porchetta Bowl from Terzo

Photo by Victoria Campbell

Broders' Pasta Bar, 5000 Penn Ave. S., Mpls., 612-925-9202, broderspastabar.com | Broders' Cucina, 2308 W. 50th St., Mpls., 612-925-3113, broders.com | Terzo, 2221 W. 50th St., Mpls., 612-925-0330, terzompls.com


More than dinner: Big Night 

Concert at Icehouse in Minneapolis

Photo by Caitlin Abrams

Breakfast in America with the Poppa Bear Norton band


Icehouse

A weekend revival brunch at Icehouse serves up more than just an exquisite breakfast brisket hash. And more than just fantastic brunch drinks, like the Bloody Homer, a bacon-topped bloody with a tiny Homer-ic donut. What makes brunch in this Eat Street lair so memorable is the music from the amazing bands that perform, usually for no cover, like new ukulele star Marlowe or the Broke Down Dollys with their old-school country. The scene feels both ultra-cool and ultra-welcoming: The dance floor is yours. 2528 Nicollet Ave. S., Mpls., 612-276-6523, icehousempls.com

Alma  

Why wake up in the same old bed when you could wake up in America’s only hotel that provides a breakfast tray from a James Beard award winner for Best Chef Midwest? Book two nights so you can test both dining spots: the more formal and famed restaurant, where a three-course menu for  just $59 might include ricotta gnocchi with lobster, and the more relaxed café for a late-lunch fried egg sandwich with mortadella. 528 University Ave. SE, Mpls., 612-379-4909, almampls.com 

Esker Grove

Did you score a date with someone in eccentric spectacles who’s stratospherically out of your league? Check the Walker calendar, then figure out if you’re in the brunch zone or full dinner. Let the cerebral (but snackable!) plates from food brain Doug Flicker present the kind of art exhibition even Fred Flintstone could appreciate. Discuss: classic daiquiri (Panama rum and fresh lime) or contemporary daiquiri (Batavia Arrack and Jamaican bitters)? Next stop: sculpture garden. 723 Vineland Place, Mpls., 612-375-7542, eskergrove.com

India Spice House

The lunch bunch appears every single day for affordable and tasty buffet options in this strip-mall gem, hidden (in plain sight) in Eden Prairie. After stuffing yourself with biryani and cashew curry, sidle next door to the house grocery store for a tray of flavorful frozen samosas. Or just return for a more formal dinner of butter chicken and crisp dosas. For Indian food newbies, there’s no better place: Service is set on checking your spice levels and finding you your best dish. 8445 Joiner Way, Eden Prairie, 952-942-8010, indiaspicehouseep.com

World Street Kitchen / Milkjam  

Filling your Instagram feed can prove spendy, but here you get a one-two punch for less. First, grab a WSK Bangkok Burrito for under $10. At brunch, it’s the masa cake with beef chorizo you want. Use your remaining cash for treats at Milkjam, where you might as well have a $3 bourbon shot added to your Totally Tubular parsnip malt. Out with your squad? Splurge on the All of Them sundae, which delivers every flavor in the shop for $58. 2743 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls., 612-424-8855, eatwsk.com and milkjamcreamery.com


The Salty Tart

Dishes at The Salty Tart

Photo by Eliesa Johnson


A former pastry chef to Charlie Trotter, Michelle Gayer has been on the scene for quite a while. Yet her baking supremacy has become clear with the opening of Salty Tart Bakery as a café at Market House Collaborative in Lowertown. Where we had once been contented with a cake and cookies from Gayer’s stand at Midtown Global Market, we now find joy in a soft scrambled egg sandwich on a milk bun and thrills in a saltcod brandade. 289 E. 5th St., St. Paul, 612-874-9206, saltytart.com


Resto Redux

Joan's in the Park

Photo by Caitlin Abrams

Joan's in the Park


Joan’s in the Park 

It takes vision to see a fine-dining steakhouse in a blocky pizza shack on a busy road. But that’s what Susan Dunlop and Joan Schmitt accomplished when they turned Grandpa Tony’s into one of the most hospitable neighborhood restaurants around. Dunlop cooks creatively yet classically, from lobster toast to day boat scallop risotto. And Schmitt provides effortlessly charming service in a white-tablecloth dining room. 631 Snelling Ave. S., St. Paul, 651-690-3297, joansinthepark.com

Grand Cafe

When Mary and Dan Hunter sold the iconic Grand Cafe, it couldn’t be to just anyone. Chef Jamie Malone guided the spot into its next life as a welcoming French café, setting the tone with worn wood benches, lush green plants, and glinting candlelight on gold spoons. There’s whimsy to be found here: Consider the foie gras mousse, served in a duck-footed cup. And simple indulgence, too: a leg of cured ham, sliced to order. 3804 Grand Ave. S., Mpls., 612-822-8260, grandcafempls.com

Revival  

Cathedral Hill has never smelled better than it does since Revival moved its smoker into the Cheeky Monkey space. Formerly a routine spot for casual eaters, the new room is a hopping house of bourbon sweet tea, brisket, and some of the best fried chicken in the state. The South Minny spot, another redo, can inspire hourlong waits for Tennessee Hot chicken and a true cult burger. 4257 Nicollet Ave., Mpls., 612-345-4516; 525 Selby Ave., St. Paul, 651-340-2355, revivalfriedchicken.com

Bar Brigade  

Matty O’Reilly might be the Renovation King, bringing new life to old neighborhood haunts. Bar Brigade emerged from the former Ristorante Luci, and it’s the respect for the bones of the old place that makes the reinvention work. The small kitchen—10 burners and no fryer—imposes creative restraint, forcing chef JD Fratzke to really focus his rustic French menu. No one would feel shortchanged by his generous plates of grilled quail with mushroom risotto and wild boar bourguignon. 470 Cleveland Ave. S., St. Paul, barbrigade.com


Martina  

Daniel Del Prado at restaurant Martina

Get the chef a refill: Daniel del Prado

Photo by Eliesa Johnson


After years spent cooking under celebrated chef Isaac Becker, Daniel del Prado is taking his shot. He started big, with plans to open two restaurants in the same year. While del Prado is still gestating his Tex-Mex barbecue spot, Martina has crept into the top tier of dining with its seafood-centered take on Argentinian cuisine. Del Prado’s restaurant in Linden Hills packs in a buzzy bunch of eaters, who don’t mind sitting too close to one another. Blame the creamy leek and gorgonzola empanadas or the spicy lobster spaghetti. Goblets of gin and tonics don’t hurt either. 4312 Upton Ave. S., Mpls., 612-922-9913, martinarestaurant.com

“We are busy right now, and I hope that it’s not just because we are new. I hope that it’s both a cool place and a comfortable place that stays in people’s lives.”

 —Daniel del Prado, chef and owner, Martina  


Kenwood

1212-Kenwood3_640s.jpg

Photo by Katherine Harris

This restaurant, tucked in a pocket just west of Lake of the Isles, may resemble an ordinary neighborhood cafe. But what comes out of the kitchen pulls from fine dining. Order the common squash soup and you’ll receive a most uncommon concoction: a rich, golden bowl, made modern with dabs of queso fresco and lashings of dark red chili oil. No wonder the place is busy with neighbors from dawn (you’re ordering the fluffy, nutty pancakes with black walnut butter) to late (get the famed pork-belly-and-Gruyere-topped Kenwood burger). 2115 W. 21st St., Mpls., 612-377-3695, thekenwoodrestaurant.com


Tori Ramen 

When the Twin Cities ramen renaissance winds down, which shops will stick around? In St. Paul, the hands-down answer is Tori Ramen. Tucked into the space that once held Lee and Dee’s Barbeque, this shop sticks to its own strict mission: It serves 10 different versions of ramen, made with chicken (or vegetable)broth instead of pork. Step up to the bar and order the richly flavored Bali! Bali! with tahini and ground chicken, or the spicy Kor Dee Yuh Korean ramen with kimchi and black garlic. 161 N. Victoria St., St. Paul, 651-340-4955, toriramen.com

Miso Ramen from Tori Ramen

Photo courtesy of Tori Ramen


What Are You Drinking Now?

Bartender Adam Gorski at Young Joni's back bar

Photo by Caitlin Abrams

It's like drinking in the garage: Adam Gorski at Young Joni's back bar.


Young Joni 

Ann Kim’s front room gets all the attention, but head down the alley to the separate entrance where Adam Gorski holds cocktail court. The wood-slatted walls and mismatched chairs give the back bar the feel of a neighborhood garage bar, with a reel-to-reel tape player for tunes. If the red light near the door is lit, head in for seasonal drinks like the Lake Itasca, featuring scotch and wild rice, or the Warming House, a hot toddy special inspired by the day’s weather. 165 13th Ave. NE, Mpls., 612-345-5719, youngjoni.com

The Bachelor Farmer / Marvel Bar  

Marvel Bar, with its secret entrance and basement location, remains a dark and cozy cocktail spot with a national reputation. Yet the smaller upstairs restaurant bar might be the sleeper hit. With its own drinks menu and full food service, Bachelor Farmer’s small and cozy bar also offers a spectacular wine list of small cool-climate producers, curated by sommelier Erin Rolek. 50 2nd Ave. N., Mpls., 612-206-3920, thebachelorfarmer.com

Manny’s

Enough of this shim-sham cocktail business, you think. Just give me a deep glass of scotch or a huge, icy martini with plenty of olives. Your respite from the fancy and overshaken world of drinking, Manny’s pours strong drinks and spendy wines that go well with a big steak or a raft of hash browns. The Manny’s Manhattan, $20, is a lavish, almost swimmable drink made with local rye. One is a luxury; two means an Uber. W Minneapolis–The Foshay, 825 Marquette Ave. S., Mpls., 612-339-9900, mannyssteakhouse.com

Borough / Parlour  

Long known as the North Loop’s favorite cocktail stop, Parlour bar (beneath Borough) provides high-quality crafted cocktails in a darkly alluring room. A leader in the industry, Parlour is the first to bring kegged cocktails to the Target Center. Now it has taken the game to St. Paul’s West Seventh neighborhood, courting a whole new set of imbibers with a signature old-fashioned and addictive bar burger. 730 Washington Ave. N., Mpls.,612-354-3135, boroughmpls.com


Next in the Line

Chef Shack's Lisa Carlson and Carrie Summer at a SheCooks event.

Photo by Eliesa Johnson

Chef Shack's Lisa Carlson and Carrie Summer (far left and far right) at a SheCooks event.


Ask a local chef to name the defining characteristic of our dining scene, and the answer very well may be “collaboration.” You can see it in a commitment to mentorship. 

Granted, the Parasole and D’Amico clans have long fostered local talents. One product is Isaac Becker, who has created standard-setting spots such as Bar La Grassa. Now, Erik Sather of Lowry Hill Meats, Alejandro Castillon of Sonora Grill, and Daniel del Prado of the new Martina all count Becker as part of their pedigree.

In the tight restaurant labor market, your line cooks may look for more than a paycheck and training. How about a taste of ownership? Ben Rients took a risk opening Lyn 65 in Richfield, an underserved part of the metro. He learned so much that crazy first year that he’s opening his next restaurant (the coming Popol Vuh/Centro) as a team effort with his sous-chef, José Alacron. New restaurant leaders are also offering free space to experiment. Eddie Wu at Cook St. Paul opens his space to young cooks who want to test their concept with pop-up dinners. As Wu said last year, “Some of them are so sure about their food, but they have no idea how much drinks should cost. Or how much to charge, or factoring in tax and service.” 

Though Nick Vasquez, a sous-chef at Heirloom, owns no kitchen, late last year he formed the Cooks  Collaborative, which bands together restaurant workers (servers and cooks alike) to throw a dinner event. The inaugural Behind the Stoves dinner occurred at Heirloom, with promotion and support from owner Wyatt Evans. 

The collaboration generation seems to understand the power of networking. Steven Brown’s Tilia, in Linden Hills, has long been the spot where chefs could land when they’re in between gigs. A paycheck and the community of dedicated cooks may be the best way to keep talent in the industry. 

That sense of community guides the owners of Chef Shack, Carrie Summer and Lisa Carlson, who this winter launched a monthly dinner series called SheCooks. The goal here is to bring women in the restaurant industry together to connect and network. The two have also helped bring the national convention of the Women Chefs and Restaurateurs organization to the Twin Cities. It lands next month. 

Bar La Grassa, 800 Washington Ave. N., Mpls., 612-333-3837, barlagrassa.com | Lyn 65 Kitchen & Bar, 6439 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls., 612-353-5501, lyn65.com | Cook St. Paul, 1124 Payne Ave., St. Paul, 651-756-1787, cookstp.com | Heirloom, 2186 Marshall Ave., St. Paul, 651-493-7267, heirloomstpaul.com | Tilia, 2726 W. 43rd St., Mpls., 612-354-2806, tiliampls.com | Chef Shack, 3025 Franklin Ave. E., Mpls., 612-354-2575; W. 6379 Main St., Bay City, 715-594-3060, chefshackranch.com  


Bep Eatery 

Pho at Bep Eatery

Photo by Caitlin Abrams

There’s a small window of chaos in the Minneapolis skyways when lunchers head into the Habitrail seeking sustenance. Beat a path to Bep and fall in line for vibrant and fresh Vietnamese food. Counter-service workers build spring rolls with your chosen ingredients. Bánh mi sandwiches can be as spicy as you need to cut through a Monday. Order pho to go and they’ll pack broth and noodles separately so your desk lunch won’t taste even a wee bit sad. 100 S. 5th St., Mpls., 612-338-5189; 800 Lasalle Ave., Mpls., 612-338-2000, bepeatery.com 


Rose Street Patisserie / Patisserie 46  

Rose Street Patisserie

Photo by Caitlin Abrams

Is it overwhelming for an average baker to walk up to the pastry case and see technical impossibilities piled on every surface—chocolates like rock-tumbled gems and croissants with as many dough layers as a rose? Of course, John Kraus, who owns these two spots, isn’t the average baker. He’s the only American-born pastry chef invited into the elite French pastry society called Relais Desserts, and he’s the bronze medal winner of the insane competition La Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie. He’s also a Minneapolis soccer dad who offers a killer cheese pizza at Rose Street. Way above average. Rose Street Patisserie, 2811 W. 43rd St., Mpls., 612-259-7921, rosestreet.co | Patisserie 46, 4552 Grand Ave. S., Mpls., 612-354-3257, patisserie46.com


Hai Hai

Chef Christina Nguyen at Hai Hai

Photo by Eliesa Johnson

Order the sugarcane shrimp and the wallpaper: Christina Nguyen and Birk Grudem. 


Christina Nguyen is one of the most exciting young chefs in town, and her new restaurant, Hai Hai, in Northeast plays to her family’s Vietnamese roots. Check out Dara’s review for a full serving. 2121 University Ave. NE, Mpls., 612-223-8640, haihaimpls.com

Read full article by by Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl, Stephanie March for mspmagcom here

Contact

By submitting this form, you agree to the usage of your personal data in accordance with our Privacy Policy. You acknowledge that such data will be used for the purpose of fulfilling the request in which the form you are submitting is applicable. You also agree to the acceptance of occasional follow up communication(s) in response to this request, by email, SMS, phone and other electronic means. Message and data rates may apply. Reply STOP to end.
In order to comply with rules and regulations protecting your privacy, we are unable to submit your form unless you agree to the terms and usage of your personal data. To agree to these terms, close this message and check yes to allow us to use your information for follow up.