It's Worth Getting Sloppy For This Grilled Cheese Taco
Mucci’s nondescript brick building might not look like much from the outside, but step inside to find a homey Italian spot that serves fresh pasta and pizzas during the week and offers donut service on the weekends. Mucci’s opened in February and is owned by Tim Niver (half of the team behind other St. Paul hits Saint Dinette and The Strip Club Meat & Fish), who describes the food as “evocative like an old-school Italian eatery, but not cliched.”
There’s a lot to keep up with when it comes to food trends, but when did donuts became Italian? “Yes, while donuts aren’t Italian, we do make some of them Italian,” Niver laughs. “We’ve had a tiramisu donut and a locatelli pecorino romano glazed donut, for example. I think it was about us doing whatever we wanted. It’s our place, and if what people want is donuts, we will do donuts.”
So, that means chef/Mucci partner Chris Uhrich gets to show off his pastry street cred by day and pizza prowess by night. When it comes to dinner, you’ve gotta try the Camilia pizza, made with garlic butter, fried chicken, mozzarella, peppadew chilies, and agrodolce. No matter what time of day you stop in, and whether you eat Italian or donuts, Mucci’s multi-faceted concept works.
Next in 2017: Niver said Mucci’s will continue catering, and are in talks to bring their pizzas (frozen) to local grocery stores and co-ops.
Linden Hills got lucky in May when Rose Street patisserie, younger sister of Patisserie 46, opened. World-renowned pastry chef and owner John Kraus has created another neighborhood space where moms with toddlers in tow can stop in for a baguette. In addition to artisanal breads, Rose Street offers breakfast items such as an amazing avocado toast, a panna cotta parfait, and bacon breakfast pizza.
“We have some items that are available at both locations, but we have others unique to Rose Street, so it is a standalone experience,” said Kraus.
The open, European-inspired space currently sees a lot of traffic on weekends, but increasingly, weekdays are bringing in more clients for business meetings at the bakery. The standout bread is certainly the miche, a hearty old-world bread made with local grains from Lonesome Stone Milling.
Next in 2017: Rose Street will branch out and do more special events, including an upcoming sherry tasting paired with small bites or bread-and-chocolate dinners. The bakery also plans to start an afternoon tea service early next year.
Most of us know Alma as an evening prix fixe dining experience, but following the November opening of Cafe Alma just next door, owner Alex Roberts has also found a daytime audience. Like the restaurant, Cafe Alma features high-quality, seasonal cooking, but in a more simple, accessible manner.
“It’s a new adventure for us,” said Roberts. “We wanted the cooking and technique in the cafe to be the same as the restaurant, but presented in a more casual and approachable way, a la carte.”
The cafe offers walk-in service at a counter, table, or bar. Stop in for chef Matti Sprague’s sustainably-sourced menu; standouts include fresh juice and bone broth, tomato-bread soup, turkey burger with chili sauce, and mint pesto winter salad. Whether you’re craving a liquid fix, light snack, or hearty lunch during the daily grind, Cafe Alma’s got you covered.
Next in 2017: Continued synergy between the cafe, restaurant, and Roberts’ other new concept, Hotel Alma. Like the cafe, the seven-room boutique hotel also opened in the Alma building in November, so you can dine, drink, and sleep all in the same space.
The Soo Line building at 5th and Marquette in Minneapolis is home to the Blue Plate Restaurant Co.’s newest concept, Mercury Dining Room and Rail, which opened in October. While downtown dwellers can stop in morning, noon and night, it’s clearly happy (or, as it’s called here, social) hour that brings in the after-work crowd. (The addition of the word “rail” to the restaurant’s name is a nod to both the behemoth of a bar and the Soo Line’s railroad roots.)
A few things elevate Mercury’s happy hour above the rest: locally brewed beer on tap from sister Blue Plate restaurant The Freehouse, creative cocktails like The Mercury Express (aperol, rosemary, bourbon, honey, and grapefruit), and the best bar snacks we’ve seen lately. Mercury does classic comfort food with unique twists, offering white truffle parmesan fries, kale three-cheese dip, and fresh-baked cheddar popovers.
“We want downtown dwellers and those who work nearby to see Mercury as their second kitchen, a place they can unwind with friends or co-workers,” said Owner Stephanie Shimp.
Next in 2017: Mercury just opened an event space next door called Shindig. It fits about 150 people and has rooftop patio access, so we bet it’ll book fast this spring and summer.
Only weeks old, Tullibee is already all over your foodie friends’ Insta feeds. The Nordic-inspired spot is housed in the also-brand-new Hewing Hotel, a completely transformed North Loop brick warehouse. The space itself is amazing with floor-to-ceiling hewn timber with leather and wool accents that will make you think of a cozy mountain ski lodge until you see the city lights shining in.
The Scandanavian dinner menu from chef Grae Nonas is dubbed an up-North experience with “lakes and woods” cuisine: sturgeon, duck, and elk are prominently featured (event the restaurant’s name is a type of whitefish). Foraging, butchery, and fermentation techniques also inform Nonas’ cooking, which will utilize the restaurant’s wood-burning oven. Early favorites have been the potato flatbread with herring roe, bison bone marrow with fermented peppers, and Norwegian cod with parsnips. Wash everything down with an appropriately-woodsy spruce tonic, and you’ll see why Tullibee has nailed after-dark dining, Minnesota-style.
Next in 2017: An enclosed rooftop bar is set to open soon, along with a sauna and spa-sized pool that will convert to a hot tub in the winter for Hewing Hotel guests.
When you need an afternoon or after-dinner treat, there isn’t another ice cream spot like Milkjam Creamery. That may sound like an exaggeration, but flavors like Ridin’ Duuurty, Uma Thurman, Hard Knock Life, and the shop’s namesake, Milkjam, are pretty unique. Sameh Wadi, formerly of Saffron and currently of World Street Kitchen, opened the shop in January and we knew it was good when people were lining up in the winter for ice cream.
The “super-premium” wacky/gourmet flavor combos and feature ingredients like rose meringue, extra virgin vanilla, and goat cheese. If that isn’t enough to satisfy your sweet tooth, you can (a) get the specialty Jam Bun, Milkjam ice cream sandwiched between a local Glam Doll donut or (b) order the “All of Them” sundae, a sampler of one scoop of each flavor available that day. If that’s not a sugar rush, we don’t know what is.
Next in 2017: We haven’t heard anything yet, but who knows? With the recent closing of Wadi’s Saffron, he has said, “we are not yet done dreaming.”
The food truck trend is still alive and well in Minneapolis, and this year’s hottest newcomer was a purple-and-orange Winnebago that rolled up in May. Wyn 65 is the brainchild of the team behind Lyn 65, the fried chicken eatery in suburban Richfield. Wyn brought a smorgasbord of Lyn favorites to downtown this year, including fried chicken (sold by the piece,) collard greens, pimento mac and cheese, and doughy biscuits.
While many brick-and-mortar restaurants have spawned food trucks, Wyn 65 does a nice job of staying true to Lyn 65’s southern roots while also bringing a few new things to the table like the fried green tomato BLT. The result is a complementary extension of Lyn 65, rather than a duplication on wheels.
Next in 2017: Wyn 65 will offer mobile catering for events ranging from “casual to classy” -- including weddings.
1. Mucci's786 Randolph Ave, Saint Paul
2. Rose Street Patisserie2811 W 43rd St, Minneapolis
3. Café Alma528 University Ave SE, Minneapolis
4. Mercury Dining Room and Rail505 S Marquette Ave, Minneapolis
5. Tullibee300 N Washington Ave, Minneapolis
6. Milkjam Creamery2743 S Lyndale Ave, Minneapolis
Eating at this West 7th Italian restaurant comes close to eating in your own home. Owner and Chef Tim Niver likes to work the room, adding to the cozy, familial vibe of the purposely small dining space. Getting a table at Mucci's is first-come-first-served, which makes seating a group difficult, but it is so worth it. House-made pastas and traditional Italian pizzas (big slices of mozzarella, entire leaves of basil, and thin crust) are the shining stars here. Not in the mood to wait for a table? You can order any of the dinner dishes for takeout, too.
The younger sister to Patisserie 46, Rose Street has European influence in both its bright, industrial-chic look and its bakery treats and hearty artisanal bread, which is made with local grains from Lonesome Stone Milling. You'll have a difficult time deciding from the display case's luscious eclairs, melbas, and fruit tarts, but don't linger too long -- there'll be plenty of other guests in line behind you, particularly on weekends. Beyond pastries, there are comforting breakfast dishes on the menu, too, such as avocado toast, a panna cotta parfait, and bacon breakfast pizza.
Like its sister restaurant next door, Café Alma offers a sophisticated menu of small plates, sandwiches, salads, and entrees like miso-glazed salmon and smoked chicken rillettes, but without the prix fixe price tag or necessary reservations. Presented in a more casual manner, the sustainably sourced dishes in this bright, stylish space range from light snacks to hearty plates and are served all day. Stop in for Chef Matti Sprague’s tomato-bread soup, turkey burger with chili sauce, or mint pesto salad. You can even pair them with fresh juices (go for the carrot & apple) or low-proof cocktails (they're served during the day, after all), such as the Somewhere in the Bergamot with sweet vermouth, Barolo Chinato, lemon & earl grey elixir, and kumquat-infused orange bitters.
Housed inside the historic Soo Line Building at 5th & Marquette, Mercury is a chic neighborhood bistro with handcrafted cocktails, local brews on tap, and a full menu of comfort food with an upscale twist (prepared in an open kitchen), such as buttermilk fried chicken with a sweet pepper aioli and bolognese with truffle butter & goat cheese. If you're not sitting down for a full meal, the behemoth-sized wooden bar is ideal for posting up with some snacks and drinks. You can sip on beers from sister restaurant The Freehouse, plus creative cocktails like The Mercury Express (aperol, rosemary, bourbon, honey, and grapefruit), while noshing on elevated bar food such as white truffle parmesan fries, kale three-cheese dip, and fresh-baked cheddar popovers.
This Nordic-inspired restaurant is housed in the appropriately woodsy Hewing Hotel, a transformed North Loop warehouse with floor-to-ceiling hewn timber as well as leather and wool accents reminiscent of a cozy mountain ski lodge. Chef Grae Nonas' Scandanavian dinner menu is a truly up-North experience, featuring sturgeon, duck, and elk plates that showcase Nonas' usage of traditional foraging, butchery, and fermentation techniques. Beyond those rustic delicacies, some other favorite dishes include a potato flatbread with herring roe, bison bone marrow with fermented peppers, and Norwegian cod with parsnips. You'll want to pair your pick with a spruce tonic, of course.
Inventive ice cream flavors with cheeky names -- Ridin’ Duuurty (Oreo milk with Oreo chunks and salted peanut butter), Uma Thurman (greek yogurt with a passion fruit lychee swirl) -- are what make this Lyn Lake shop such a hit. You'll even see long lines in winter at the popular parlor, where ingredients like rose meringue, extra virgin vanilla, and goat cheese are used in its unique frosty concoctions. You can also treat your sweet tooth to next-level offerings like the specialty Jam Bun (Milkjam ice cream sandwiched between a local Glam Doll donut) and the “All of Them” sundae, a sampler of one scoop of each flavor available that day.