Twin Cities travelers and tourists unite for the sake of food! We’ve all been there — you’ve just gotten off a long flight, you’ve only had fast food from the airport or maybe a bag of peanuts or pretzels on the plane and there’s no way you are suffering through another quick meal after you land. If that describes you, look no further.
Here’s a list of 10 of the best places to eat near the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport. These are the eating establishments off the beaten path. Noticeably missing from this list are the chains that you can visit in every other state or the restaurants located in the hotels. Our picks are also all less than 10 miles away from the airport and are categorized based on what flavor you’re craving (seafood, burgers, pizza, etc.).
It’s time to get out and explore a taste of what the Twin Cities has to offer just a short drive from the runways.
Diner/Comfort Food: Junior’s Cafe & Grill
1340 Duckwood Dr. Ste 7
Eagan, MN 55123
Don’t let the strip mall location fool you, this place is all classic diner inside, serving what some say is the best breakfast in the Twin Cities. The feeling at this family-run business is just that — a small town feel. You may even be greeted by one of the owners. If you are away from home, Junior’s has all the comfort food you are looking for at an amazing value. Good luck finding their popular liver steak and onions someplace else, unless its at their other location (opening soon) in Burnsville.
Pizza: Fat Lorenzo’s
When you’ve got a craving for pizza, skip the airport chain and head straight down Highway 77 toward Fat Lorenzo’s. With huge portions and piles of oozy cheese and crust cooked to perfection, you’ll never go hungry here!
Burger: 5-8 Club
This is perhaps the most well-known eating establishment on our list. You may have seen it on the Travel Channel’s “Man v Food” and on “Food Wars” and that’s all because of their Juicy Lucy! The 5-8 Club is arguably the home of the first-ever burger with ooey-gooey cheese in the middle. Opened in the 1920s, the 5-8 Club expanded to 3 locations in the early 2000s, but its burgers and all-American dive bar flair still continue!
Italian/Pasta: Al Vento
Step back into the old country with the taste of real Italy right in south Minneapolis. At al Vento, you’ll feel like you are in one of those spendy restaurants without all the spendy prices. Diners can’t stop raving about the acorn squash ravioli and of course their classic spaghetti and meatballs. Since this food is made-to-order, the menu changes daily. We bet their al fresco dining and half price wine specials will have you saying, “perfetto!”
Bargain: Ikea Restaurant & Bistro
8000 Ikea Way
Bloomington, MN 55425
We stayed away from the Mall of America for this list (there are just so many places there), but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a bite to eat right across the street at the Ikea Restaurant & Bistro. Yes, there is technically more than one Ikea in the world, but only one in the Twin Cities. Where else can you get a $0.99 breakfast with eggs, potatoes and bacon everyday of the week all while shopping for stuff for your house?
Mexican: La Hacienda
2467 7th Street West
St. Paul, MN 55116
Another strip-mall find, La Hacienda serves up authentic dishes from Peru, El Salvador and Mexico. Ignore the outside appearance, because if you judge a book by its cover here, you will be missing out on some great food at really low prices. What it lacks in ambiance, it will make up for with its tasty and super-fresh guacamole.
Deli: Buon Giorno Italia
You know its good when your mouth starts watering when you walk in the door. Scents of fresh baked goods waft through the air and one look at the deli counter will have you salivating. Pasta, sandwiches and delicious desserts can be picked up at this deli, but know that its so much more than that. You can grab food to take with you and cook at home, have a private wine party or stay for happy hour or dinner at their sister restaurant, I Nonni, which has a patio view that will transport you into serenity.
A favorite Asian fusion restaurant amongst those in the neighborhood. The spicy dishes hold great authenticity according to restaurant goers and the captain’s curry comes highly recommended. Calling ahead to see if they are open would be wise, since some have said the place was mysteriously closed when they were supposed to be open. But we hear the spicy stir fry tastes are worth the wait!
Steak & Seafood: Ciao Bella
Ciao Bell has an elegant, intimate feeling and a tasty menu to top it off. It may be one of the more expensive places on our list, but you will get some mouth-watering food here. There’s steak and fresh fish served daily at this gem located right off of Interstate 494 on the cusp of Bloomington and Edina. Try the pasta too, a perfect combination to go with the crusty, but soft bread .