Food & Drink

The Best Brunches in Minneapolis and St. Paul

Updated On 05/04/2017 at 05:15PM EST Updated On 05/04/2017 at 05:15PM EST
Birchwood Cafe
Birchwood Cafe | Megan Swenson/Birchwood Cafe
The Buttered Tin

Buttered Tin

Lowertown St. Paul

This sunny and cozy corner cafe has the eats and sweets to keep Lowertown residents well-fed. The line may be out the door, but it’s well worth it at the Buttered Tin: egg-based breakfast dishes paired with an amazing pastry case make it our top St. Paul spot.

What to order: The Buttered Tin Hash with house-made pastrami, potatoes, kale, squash, and egg

Heyday

Uptown

Even though this Lyndale destination opened three years ago, it’s still in its heyday, especially at brunch. It serves up amazing dishes like yogurt panna cotta, ham and lox, and classic eggs Benedict, all in a sophisticated space.

What to order: The Heyday Brunch ($29 for two dishes plus coffee or a specialty brunch cocktail)

Hell's Kitchen-Minneapolis

Hell’s Kitchen

Downtown Minneapolis

Who knew hell could be such an appealing place? The atmosphere is totally worth descending below ground for brunch -- just prepare to be creeped out if you get stuck sitting underneath the chandelier made of knives. In addition to a variety of dishes -- four different kinds of Benedicts, including bison! -- there’s also live music.

What to order: Lemon-ricotta hotcakes

Victor’s 1959 Cafe

Kingfield

This colorful Cuban outpost slings up the best non-traditional brunch food in town, where dishes include mango pancakes, fried sweet plantains, and yuca frita. If you can’t get away for a tropical vacation, coming here is the next best thing -- just be prepared for a line because the place is small and tables are scarce. Make sure to grab a Sharpie from your host so you can scrawl your name on the wall along with thousands of other diners when you’re done.

What to order: Sweet plantain omelette

Cook St. Paul

Payne-Phalen

Cook has been called the “little diner that could.” It’s a small enterprise but one with major heart in the Payne/Phalen neighborhood and many of the classic brunch dishes feature a Korean twist, a nod to the chef’s heritage. Things like gochu fruit (fruit with lime juice and Korean chili flakes) and gingerbread pancakes are things you just won’t find anywhere else.

What to order: Korean pancakes made with yellow beans, sausage, cabbage, bean sprouts, and topped with a poached egg

Megan Swenson/Birchwood Cafe

Birchwood Cafe

Seward

Easily the best healthy brunch option in town, Birchwood Cafe offers a locally sourced menu that’s vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free friendly. When you sit down (preferably on the patio) for a weekend meal, choose from tofu hash, birdseed toast, or the popular FYG (fruit, yogurt, granola).

What to order: The savory waffle made with sweet potato, brown rice, and kale

HauteDish

North Loop

HauteDish prides itself on “modern Midwestern cuisine” and nowhere is that more evident than brunch, with classics like pigs in a blanket, bologna sandwiches, and corn dogs updated with upscale twists. Inside an old building in the North Loop, the space manages to be both laid-back and elegant at the same time -- just like the food.

What to order: Pig in a Blanket (smoked shoulder, pepper jack, poblano gravy)

Victory 44

Victory 44

Victory/North Mpls

Finding a place to nosh in North Minneapolis is more challenging than in other neighborhoods, but hipster haven Victory 44 is really all you need. In true minimalist style, Victory keeps it simple with just five brunch dishes on the menu, so if you usually have a hard time making up your mind, this could be the place for you.

What to order: The Elvis Waffle with peanut butter mousse, bacon, and bananas

Hola Arepa

Lyndale

If you’re looking for Latin-style brunch, consider this airy neighborhood cafe known for its Venezuelan-stuffed arepas filled with meat, cheese, and vegetables like pickled cabbage. Just make sure to have plenty of napkins on hand, as we can attest that these things are messy.

What to order: Breakfast arepa with black beans, Cotija cheese, aioli verde, and a fried egg.

Courtesy of The Copper Hen

The Copper Hen Cakery & Kitchen

Whittier

Eating at The Copper Hen is kind of like eating in an Anthropologie -- the decor is classic, shabby chic, and rustic. The brunch appropriately features lots of seasonal ingredients, locally grown produce, and cute tablescapes. Copper Hen also makes everything from scratch, making it basically the grown-up version of your grandma’s kitchen.

What to order: The Copper Benedict

Tilia

Linden Hills

Tilia takes non-traditional brunch items, like a Reuben sandwich or a fish taco, and uses them as the foundation of eggs Benedict and tortas. The resulting menu is both familiar and surprising. While Tilia is small and doesn’t take reservations, quaint Linden Hills is a perfect neighborhood to browse while you wait for a table.

What to order: Mortadella and fried egg sandwich with Cheddar and Dijon mayo

Wise Acre Eatery

Tangletown

You can’t get much more farm-to-table than a restaurant that gets 95% of its ingredients from a single farm; in Wise Acres’s case, that’s Tangletown Gardens in Plato, MN. The brunch menu features dishes crafted from hoop house greens, farm potatoes, Wise Acre bacon, fresh eggs, and hand-rolled butter.

What to order: CSA Hash with cottage ham and cornbread

Flickr/jpellgen

Hazel’s

Audubon Park

Named after the current owner’s grandmother, Hazel’s feels like a charming, homey hideaway straight out of the ‘70s. It wasn’t always well-known, but word got out and now it’s impossible to get in without a long-ish wait. However, the classic comfort food -- eggs, chicken-fried steak, a meat waffle -- is totally worth it.

What to order: Drunken Banana French Toast with rum-soaked raisins, pecans, and homemade caramel sauce

Jax Cafe

Northeast

Jax Cafe started as an old-school supper club in Northeast in 1910 and has evolved to serve one of the most notable brunches in the city. In the ‘70s, most Minnesota restaurants were closed on Sundays, so when Jax started to do a Sunday brunch, it was a true outlier. Now, nearly 50 years later, it serves a buffet to more than 300 people every Sunday morning. For just one (fairly low) price, you can pile your plate high with poached salmon, blinis, waffles, and carved meats.

What to order: Sunday Buffet Brunch ($24.95/adult)

Black: Coffee and Waffle Bar | Black: Coffee and Waffle Bar

Black: Coffee and Waffle Bar

Como

Sometimes all you really need in the morning is coffee and carbs. Black delivers with local Dogwood coffee and malty waffles with your choice of toppings. While tables are often occupied by students spilling over from Dinkytown and the U, once you’re served a strawberry cheesecake, s’more, or apple strudel waffle, you won’t mind squeezing in at the communal counter.

What to order: Fat Andrew Waffle topped with peanut butter, powdered sugar, cinnamon, bananas, and whipped cream

St. Genevieve

Lynnhurst

Intimate, cozy, and elegant, this small French bistro does brunch with only the best Champagne. Dishes manage to be both dainty and substantial, like the quiche with crispy pork belly, escargot with oyster mushrooms, and Tartine Madame with a sunny-side-up egg.

What to order: Freshly made beignets

Al's Breakfast

Dinkytown

Al’s is a Dinkytown institution, and with only 14 stools at the counter in this narrow nook, be prepared to wait. The short-order style breakfast is unlike anything else in town, with pancakes as big as your plate, greasy hashbrowns, and thick slabs of bacon. Just be prepared -- Al’s hasn’t changed much since the '50s, and that includes not taking credits cards.

What to order: The Dinkytown Omelet with Cheddar, ham, and onions

Flickr/sharyn morrow

Cafe Maude

Armatage

Maude Armatage was one of the first women elected to office in Minneapolis when she joined the parks commission in 1921; now the Armatage neighborhood in South Minneapolis and this cafe are named after her. The cozy bistro excels at brunch with a forward-thinking menu that pairs eggs with sides like garlic-mint yogurt and harissa.

What to order: The Maude Burger with caramelized onions, avocado, bacon, and a fried egg

Modern Times

Powderhorn

A sign of the times? Off historically rough Chicago Ave, this eclectic, boho cafe is a literal bright spot thanks to a fluorescent paint job. If you’re into DIY design, there’s plenty of creative work on the walls, a collection that rotates every month to feature local artists. The brunch menu embraces the hippie vibe with dishes like vegan pancakes, a feta-mint burger, and tempeh and tofu.

What to order: The Chakra Khan scramble with veggies, brown rice, eggs, and Cheddar

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1. The Buttered Tin 237 7th St E, St. Paul, MN 55101 (Downtown St Paul)

A buzzy corner cafe in St. Paul, the Buttered Tin is as warm as its name evokes, serving up popular brunch plates like huevos rancheros Benedict and biscuits & gravy, plus savory sandwiches like a beef short rib Reuben. The true stars at this sunny spot are the desserts though, which are available to-go at the bakery counter. We're talking cinnamon rolls, cupcakes, and the Buttered Tin's take on a classic Twinkie.

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2. Heyday 2700 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55408 (Uptown)

When it comes to affordable yet elegant cuisine, Heyday is your spot. It's easily one of the best restaurants in the Twin Cities, if not the country. Head to this rustic-chic space (it sports exposed brick and a gorgeous wooden-beamed ceiling) for favorites like the chicken liver tart, chilled blue mussels, and grilled quail, which all help to create a downright exquisite menu. Be sure to leave room for at least one of the inventive desserts including pea shell sorbet, and wash it all down with a creative cocktail like the Don't Think Twice with pisco, aperol, grapefruit, and elderflower.

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3. Sonora Grill 920 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55407 (Powderhorn)

With new digs and a full bar at Midtown Global Market, Sonora Grill is a great place to grab a taco before venturing onto other foods at the Global Market.

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4. World Street Kitchen 2743 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55408 (Uptown)

WSK offers a beautiful amalgam of global flavors that introduces Uptown diners to tastes of the Middle East, Asia, and the Mediterranean with additional American and Mexican influences, all in a fast-casual brick and mortar version of their food truck that started it all. “Fusion” menu items include Bangkok burritos, yum yum rice bowls, and the sweet onion stuffed falafel burger. It’s a family-run joint, and the Wadi family certainly has done an awful lot to progress food culture in the Twin Cities via its restaurants, food truck and cookbook.

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5. Meritage 410 Saint Peter St, St. Paul, MN 55102 (Downtown St Paul)

With tiled floors, warm wooden accents, and high ceilings that capture tons of natural light, Meritage has all the trimmings of a classic Parisian brasserie, including the exceptional fare and expert wine list. Situated in Downtown St Paul, it's a prime spot for date night or dinner before a show, though stopping in for weekend brunch is highly encouraged too, when dishes like an omelet du jour, eggs Benedict, and eggs en cocotte are prepared. At lunch and dinner, you'll find traditional plates like steak frites, roasted duck breast, and swordfish au vin, plus plenty of fresh selections from the oyster bar.

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6. The Copper Hen Cakery & Kitchen 2515 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55404 (Whittier)

The Copper Hen is as adorable as it the name implies, offering a variety of from-scratch breakfast sandwiches, savory hand pies, and homemade yogurts & granola inside a country-chic space in Whittier. You'll want to come to the always-popular brunch for decadent options like the Farmhouse B.E.L.T. (slab bacon, fried egg, arugula, and heirloom tomatoes on country bread), biscuits & gravy, short rib hash, and buttermilk pancakes with cinnamon whipped cream. Though you can have a sit-down meal from brunch through dinner, it's always a smart move to swing by the bakery counter for a quick treat like a Mason jar cake or cast-iron skillet cookie.

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7. Hell's Kitchen 80 S 9th St, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (Downtown)

In a gorgeously Gothic subterranean space in the heart of Downtown Minneapolis, you’ll discover chef-owned Hell's Kitchen, which is known for its, well, heavenly all-day brunch. Alongside hearty dishes like the fan-favorite wild-rice & hazelnut porridge, lemon-ricotta hotcakes, and the aptly named Juicy Lucifer burger with a molten cheese center, it hosts live music during weekend brunch, plus late-night “rock-the-house” shows Thursday through Saturday that run 'til the wee hours of the night. It prevents things from getting too hellish with painted reminders on the wall to ditch "surly attitudes" and "stingy tips."

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8. Hen House Eatery 114 S 8th St, Minneapolis, MN 55402 (Downtown)

You're heading to this sunny and spacious diner in Downtown Minneapolis for all-day breakfast made from locally grown ingredients, including a stacked roster of omelets, breakfast sandwiches, and multiple takes on eggs Benedict. It's an ideal brunch spot for those low-key Sunday mornings, but if you're stopping in for lunch or dinner, turn your attention to the lineup of grilled cheeses, particularly the avocado tuna melt (pickles, bacon, tomatoes, and mozzarella), and the popular weekday happy hours with specials on wine, beer, and appetizers like beef empanadas and mac & cheese bites.

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9. Victor's 1959 Café 3756 Grand Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55409 (Southwest)

Rethink your typical brunch routine by heading to this compact Cuban cafe in Southwest Minneapolis, where signatures and doodles from customers cover the walls and booths, a clear display of the huge fan-base Victor's has amassed through specialties like banana pancakes, eggs Havana, and ropa vieja. Get ready for a wait for this colorful spot, which stays lively from morning to night. It's well worth it once you get your hands on some wild-rice & banana porridge or the Cuban sandwich with locally smoked honey ham, slow-roasted pulled pork, and Swiss cheese on freshly pressed Cuban bread.

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10. Grand Cafe 3804 Grand Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55409 (Southwest)

Elegant in its simplicity, Grand Cafe in Kingfield offers an unfussy bistro setting that's become one of Minneapolis' hottest brunch spots -- literally and figuratively, thanks to the large white oven in the center of the dining room, and decadent dishes including omelets with seasonal vegetables, corned beef hash, and eggs Benedict made with either ham or Grand's own house-cured gravlax. There are cures to your sweet tooth on the menu as well, such as brioche French toast with whipped cream, orange caramel sauce, and toasted pistachios. Brunch is the reason to come, but dinner certainly hits the mark too, featuring mostly French-inspired plates like cassoulet with duck confit and blanquette de veau.

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11. Cook St. Paul 1124 Payne Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55130 (Payne Phalen)

The folks at Cook in Payne-Phalen are whipping up hearty American breakfasts (though you'll find some Korean influence on the menu as well) featuring locally sourced and scratch-made specialties, like bread-pudding French toast with a caramel banana sauce, short rib Benedict, and a good ol' fashioned plate of eggs, toast, and hash browns. Whether you’re in the mood for a traditional diner-style breakfast or a straightforward lunch, Cook has you covered. Asian inspiration can be found in plates like Korean-style pancakes (ground yellow beans mixed with spicy sausage, spicy cabbage, and bean sprouts) and the Seoul Cubano sandwich (short ribs with Korean pepper flakes, spam, pickled Korean peppers, gruyere, dill pickles, and spicy mustard on grilled and pressed house bread).

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12. HauteDish 119 Washington Ave N, Minneapolis, MN 55401 (Downtown)

The revered HauteDish, between the Warehouse and Gateway districts, rocks a menu with artfully presented, reinvented takes on Midwestern classics like mac & cheese with king crab and truffle oil, blackened fish tacos, and steak & potatoes. Perfect for empty stomachs at any hour, Haute offers choices for breakfast (go for the chicken & waffles), lunch, and dinner, but if you go in later hours, you'll be able to choose from a long list of house-made cocktails and dozens of draft beers from nearby breweries, too.