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!

(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.

(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.

(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.

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