Variety is the spice of life, as it is said, and the variety of restaurants offered in the great state of Minnesota is pretty impressive. While 2015 saw the closing of La Belle Vie, possibly the finest restaurant in the upper Midwest, the year also saw a myriad of new places opening their doors sure to satisfy any palate. Some are better than others, of course, so here are a few that just opened that are poised to stay atop the food chain for years to come.
261 E. 5th St.
St Paul, MN 55101
From the inspired minds behind the beloved Strip Club Meat & Fish comes a concept that adds another level of foodie cred to the growing Lowertown neighborhood. French-American is the name of the game here, but it’s nothing like the sometimes stuffy standard we’ve come to associate with French cooking. You’re getting dishes from Montreal, New Orleans and the Gulf Coast of Mexico, which means you can have foie gras, boudin and chorizo all in the same meal. It’s fun, it’s delicious, and, similar to Strip Club, it’s perfect for both a nice dinner out with bow ties and dresses, or just a casual plate with friends.
1115 2nd Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55403
There’s no shortage of Italian food in Minneapolis, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for more. Especially not when it’s done like this. This is the place for pasta, yes, and the filled pastas might be some of the best you can find in Minneapolis. This is also the place for crudo, and there’s no doubt about it that you won’t find that raw fish delight done better anywhere. This isn’t just a restaurant where you nibble and talk about depths of flavor. You come here to enjoy classic Italian, and you’re meant to leave with the satisfaction only Italian food can give you. But this is Italian with panache, with modern twists and turns, with everything you want from chef Mike DeCamp.
4257 Nicollet Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55409
The “comfort food revolution” has taken hold in the Twin Cities, and we couldn’t be happier. Yes, a menu full of soul-hugging and rib-sticking items like fried chicken liver, pork shoulder, chicken fried steak, mac and cheese, collard greens, hush puppies, and butter beans… this is exactly what the people of Minnesota need. This is a restaurant that wants you to leave full and happy with classic American dining from a more-than-classic kitchen. You’re comfortable here, as you should be. And the food is simply delicious. Just don’t plan too much for the rest of the day, as food comas are a very real thing.
79 Western Ave N
St Paul, MN 55102
It’s hard to decide which list — the “Best Bars” list or this, the “Best Restaurants,” — that the awe-inspiring Commodore belongs on. It’s a tough call. On the one hand, you have an incredible deco bar that literally glows with bottles waiting to make you the perfect pre-prohibition cocktail. F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald were at this bar drinking gin. On the other, you have an incredible dining room with grand piano, low lighting and white tablecloths laid without crease. You have an inspired menu of small plates, entrees and sides. You have fresh oysters and a perfectly-cooked steak. You come for the classics that deserve to be classics. This is a restaurant for adults, that happens to have a beautiful bar as well.
3753 Nicollet Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55409
As if Haute Dish wasn’t enough, Landon Schoenefeld wants to put accessibly upscale dining on its head yet again. Hot dogs? Yeah, sure okay. But these aren’t just hot dogs; this isn’t your uncle’s cookout. These are hot dogs covered in roe and pickled herring. And that’s only the beginning. There is some pretty serious cooking going on in this kitchen, in the form of sandwiches, fried chicken, spaghetti and meatballs, and eggs anytime. This restaurant will probably redefine everything you thought you knew about going out for dinner, and that is a wonderful thing.
Adrian Schramm is a resident Saint Paul writer with a passion for all things local. Through his work with Saint Paul Almanac and Minneapolis Examiner at Examiner.com, as well as in the kitchens of bars and restaurants around town, he has discovered what truly makes the Twin Cities tick.