Best Of Home

Best Little-Known Eats In The Twin Cities

November 18, 2010 11:53 AM

View Comments
(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

One of my favorite things is finding a little place I’ve never heard of and having a great dining experience.  Maybe it’s the atmosphere, the food, the service or perhaps all of them!  Here are a few places I stumbled upon that hopefully you can enjoy also!

mill city cafe Best Little Known Eats In The Twin Cities

(credit: Mill City Cafe)

Mill City Cafe
205 California St NE
Minneapolis, MN 55418-3348
Directory | Website

Mill City is a small cafe in NE Minneapolis in an old warehouse.  This has become a favorite breakfast spot.  My girlfriend took me there a couple of years ago and I now wake up thinking about their homemade quiche and roasted rosemary potatoes.  They seriously have the greatest breakfast potatoes I’ve ever had.

quang restaurant and deli Best Little Known Eats In The Twin Cities

(credit: CBS)

Quang Restaurant and Deli
2719 Nicollet Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55408-1631
Directory | Website

There are probably a dozen “Eat Street” places that could go on this list (and I do have 2).  Quang’s has been a standby on Nicollet just south of downtown Minneapolis since 1989.  Serving authentic Vietnamese pho and other favorites, it’s as good as it gets.  Pho is a traditional noodle soup and it’s delicious!

al Vento Restaurant

(credit: al Vento Restaurant)

al Vento
5001 34th Avenue South
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55417
Directory | Website

al Vento (no, it’s not capitalized!) is a small, neighborhood Italian restaurant.  I compare it with Broder’s which is a favorite south Minneapolis stop for me.  al Vento is similar but has it’s own charms.  Check out their “Date Night” on Tuesdays for a 3 course dinner for $20.  You can’t beat that.

El Meson
3450 Lyndale Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55408-4151
Directory | Website

When I first joined WCCO in 1999, I lived at 36th and Lyndale in south Minneapolis, about a block from El Meson.  We used to go there for the lunch buffet at least once a week.  El Meson serves Spanish and Caribbean cuisine and it’s all really good.  The Paella is a special treat and nobody makes better Sangria.

barbette1 Best Little Known Eats In The Twin Cities

(credit: CBS)

1600 W Lake St
Minneapolis, MN 55408-2547
Directory | Website

I love Barbette.  I’ve never been to Paris but I imagine the little street cafes would be somewhat similar to Barbette.  This is not an unknown restaurant but I always get the feeling we forget about it.  It’s hidden in Uptown, a couple blocks down from Lake and Hennepin.  It’s dark yet in a cozy way.  A great place to order a bottle of wine and just take your time enjoying a meal and an evening out.

El Mariachi
2750 Nicollet Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55408-1650

I’ll admit to being a Mexican food addict.  Give me one thing to eat the rest of my life and I have a feeling tacos are involved somehow.  El Mariachi is the other “Eat Street” restaurant on this list.  There are 3 or 4 fabulous Mexican places along Nicollet but El Mariachi just sticks in my brain.  The atmosphere is nothing to rave about but the food is worth it.  Follow the locals to El Mariachi.

Gardens of Salonica
19 5th Street NE
Minneapolis, MN 5541

We just don’t have a lot of Greek restaurants that I know of.  Last spring, I was at the Food and Wine Show at the Convention Center and met the owner/chef of Gardens of Salonica.  I scooped up a couple of friends and we headed to NE Minneapolis for a meal.  Talk about a family style, homey and wonderful experience.  I had a Greek Lamb Shank that felt like it came from Grandma’s kitchen.  Great Greek food isn’t hard to find.  It’s in NE Minneapolis.

–Lindsey Peterson is the assistant program director at WCCO Radio.

View Comments
  • Kelly

    I agree with Jeff. Along with no mention of St. Paul restaurants, there’s nothing from the suburbs either. I guess I know what to expect from this “new” website – all Minneapolis.

    • Alex

      Agreed! As someone who avoids Minneapolis (don’t want to drive there)… I was hoping to hear about St. paul or WBL, Maplewood, Woodbury.. a little closer to home for me.

  • Jack

    You just can’t please some people. No, “Hey! Thanks for the tips!” Just complaints and criticisms. We’ve become a society that sees or hears something and immediately jump to negativity or criticism. It’s a sad reflection on people’s character. I enjoyed reading the article… then I saw the miserable comments.

    • Mildred

      Jack… remember, we have the right to comment about what is written. Many people want more than just Minneapolis. We have opinions, they just may not be the same as yours…

    • JamieinMN

      But Jack…..then they shoud’ve titled it “Best little-known eats in Minneapolis”.

    • Ben

      I understand your comment Jack but I agree with JamieinMN, the title of the article should have been ‘Best Little Known Eats in Minneapolis.’ I am sure these places are great and I might actually try a few but to focus on just Minneapolis is a little unfair. St. Paul has some great places too. One of my favorites is ‘The Little Oven’ on White Bear Ave and Minneahaha Ave. It’s quaint, has extremely fair prices and the portion sizes are more than enough. The food is fantastic. I suggest you try it sometime. You will be hooked for life.

  • JamieinMN

    Great minds think alike! I was JUST going to post what you had said. There is NOTHING in St Paul, nor the suburbs even! I HATE these kinds of articles. Everything is in MINNEAPOLIS!

    • Mike

      Considering the TV and Radio stations for WCCO are in downtown Minneapolis i’m guessing that many of the staff an column writers are living in Minneapolis and eating in Minneapolis often. Why don’t you organize a TV station out of Forest Lake or Chaska. You could feature the cutting edge menu’s of Applebees and Olive Garden!

      • Becky

        I live in Forest Lake, we don’t even have an Olive Garden!! We do have a great chinese restaurant and a Norman Quacks!

      • Krystle

        LOL! Great comment!

      • Mike in MN

        Touche’! “cutting edge menu’s of Applebees and Olive Garden” LOL!

  • Ben

    Totally agree! Very bias.

  • Jake

    All I know is that Randy Moss wouldn’t let his dog eat at ANY of those places. (Just kidding. I am sure they are all wonderful . . . and very Minneapolitan.)

  • Vietnamese expert

    Quang has the worst service and filthy klitchen !!!

    • St Pauli Girl

      but awesome sea bass soup. truang nam on university in st paul is, in my opinion, the best pho in the twin cities.

      • JamieinMN

        Truang Nam French Bakery??? I always thought it was a bakery! And I’ve never seen a single car in the parking lot. I haven’t been in that area for almost a year now though…

      • JamieinMN

        Truang Name French Bakery??? I always thought it was a bakery! And I’ve never seen a single car in the parking lot. I haven’t been in that area for almost a year now though…

  • ToMN

    Some of you must not have noted that this has been a recurring article over the months. Lindsey checks out places and writes about them every so often. A while back there were some places listed in the Roseville area in the Lexington & Larpenter area. Places have been noted from around the cities.

    Chill a bit and go with the flow. :-) These look like some good additions to the list.

  • Food lover

    Try Aristos for great Greek/Mediteranian food in Stillwater. One of the best around. Well worth the trip!

  • DSR

    Quang has consistently great and fast service and delicious food. I don’t know what this person above is complaining about. I probably go there once a week and have for the past year or so.

  • Workings Of An Idle Mind

    Anyone who works for the STRIB knows that the “Twin Cities” means Minneapolis and Bloomington.

  • Midway Murph


    • george

      kelly and alex suck at life, go spend your time in another state.

  • Midway Murph

    Too many great places to name in St. Paul. Especially West 7th Street

  • Tracy

    Problem is, the people that live in St Paul are not really the kind of people to eat good food, just lots of it. That’s why the best places to eat are in Minneapolis and the best places to find fast food are in St Paul. Just how it works.

    • PK Fink

      That’s kind of rude and “biased”! I live in Saint Paul and I am Foodie. Scusi just opened and it’s a great little wine bar. 128 Cafe, Blue Door Pub, Cheeky Monky Deli, Everest on Grand, Coffee News Cafe, Shish, to name a few…
      and, really, more fast food joints than Mpls??

  • Zach

    forget the Mpls only component, I’m more curious as to how these are little known.

  • Mary

    To Jamie in MN, Trung Nam Bakery has THE BEST croissants you have ever laid your lips on. You have to get there early or they;re gone which is probably why you see an empty lot. If you haven’t hit there by noon, you’ll be disappointed. Didn’t know they have Pho though, actually don’t think they do. Could be wrong though.

  • Workings Of An Idle Mind

    Add to your lists Bronco’s Sandwiches in Anoka — great Angus beef they cook on-site along with all you can ladle home made ajus. And Guiseppe’s in Burnsville. A little hole-in-the-wall real Italian Restaurant. Probably seats 25. I’ve seen lines out the door.

    • Anna

      Oh yeah.. I second the “Bronco’s” in Anoka off 7th Avenue. and even though I know french fries are bad for me, they are soooo good with the pulled pork or Angus beef etc. Order a basket to share!

  • Linguini Lips

    Tracy probably believes Red Robin is gourmet dining.

  • Willow

    I would also love to see more suburban places featured. Not all of us Twin Citians really like to go downtown and pay an arm and a leg for parking (or can afford to), plus there is the hassle of going downtown, fighting traffic, and finding a parking spot in the first place.

    • Mike

      What “fine dining” is in the suburbs??

    • chris

      uh, none of these are downtown.

    • Todd

      These places are not in Downtown. Just because someone says Minneapolis or St. Paul does it mean downtown.

  • Alan

    Read the title of the article, best little known. Anybody can rattle off a string of best eats in Saint Paul. We know them and love them and talk about them. Just remember that the category of best restaurant was changed so Harbor View 90 miles away in Pepin couldn’t win and show up the high brow Twin Cities

  • Matt Clauson

    Its kind of funny that everyone want to knock either minneapolis, st. paul, or the subs. Whereever you go you can usually find sood food that you can’t find other places. I mean some people swear by Pizza Luce but most east siders would rather have Savoy’s on East 7th. One of the best burguers you can get is the coby beef at shamrocks. If you have a good product people will come to you.

  • lisainmpls

    Woiw JamieinMN & the rest of you…obviously too much time on your hands. I came on to get feedback, not to read your mindless bickering. Go volunteer in
    your communities & be useful!

  • Scott

    Its nice to hear Mill City is still open. I use to go there all the time but about 2 years ago they decided to become one of those places that would just open when they felt like it. After gonng there about 4 times at 2:00pm and finding it closed I decided to quite on time number 5.

    • Ruki

      That was the problem with previous management, before Mandy took over. He hired too many young alcoholics as bartenders for one, and business got really slow for other reasons, which is why they would decide to close early or open late.

  • marianne

    Has St. Paul resigned from the Twin Cities?

  • preston

    so everything is now only from Minneapolis????????

  • Molly

    How about way out of the cities on the west side. Try the Narrows bar in Navarre. It’s about 8 -9 miles west of Wayzata on Cty 15. The Sammy is to die for! Plus they have great blues music on the weekends.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Thursday Night Football

Listen Live