Food & Drink

These Are Definitely the Most Underrated Brunch Spots in the Twin Cities

Published On 06/22/2016 Published On 06/22/2016

The French Hen

Cathedral Hill

Spice up your brunch with this French- and creole-inspired St. Paul diner. It's open seven days a week (because brunch should never be constricted to just weekends) and features dishes like a creole hash, coconut lime French toast, and some huuuuge pancakes.

Cafe Racer

Café Racer Kitchen

Seward

This Latin American brick-and-mortar restaurant, and former food truck, has been doing well with its brunch game, featuring a variety of delectable late-morning edibles. You can get some arepa preparations, a frittata, a breakfast poutine that uses yucca instead of fries, and of course, the signature Columbian street dog: a beef or soy dog, pico verde, Sriracha aioli, cilantro aioli, crumbled chips, pickled sweet peppers, and queso.

Tongue in Cheek

Payne-Phalen

This St. Paul farm-to-table bistro might be fairly well known for dinner, but it also does a pretty rocking brunch that, as of this week, runs from Wednesday to Sunday. Stop by and get two small teasers, one entrée, and one cocktail for just $25. But don't rule out the fried chicken & waffle, the pork belly hash, or the short rib & grits. Honestly, all would make for a great bunch selection.

Our Kitchen

Uptown

This one is simple: if you're looking to brunch in a classic diner, head to Our Kitchen. Sure, the menu is separated by "Breakfast" and "Lunch," but put them together and you've got -- you guessed it -- brunch. But whatever you order, get the hash browns (it's possible they rival the ones served over at Al's Breakfast).

Colossal Cafe

Colossal Café

Nokomis (& other locations)

OK, this one might not be totally underrated (most people know it at this point), but it’s definitely worth the mention because now that it has multiple locations, you don’t have to cram into the original itsy-bitsy Minneapolis spot. It’s a pretty universal opinion that the biscuits & gravy at Colossal are tops, and it's also probably the only place in town that has a few different choices when it comes to breakfast sandwiches (egg and cheese; egg, swiss, and ham; egg, cheddar, and bacon; and more).

Chimborazo

Northeast

Point blank: Chimborazo has some killer Ecuadorian dishes. The Llapingachos -- cheese-filled potato pancakes; two eggs how you like ’em; a choice of chorizo, bacon, or roast pork; and toast with guava jam -- is definitely a local favorite. But there's also the Mote Pillo, which is hominy with scrambled eggs, onions, garlic, and fresh cheese. Hell, you can even add a grilled flank steak for just $3.

Red Cow 50th Street

Red Cow

50th Street (& other locations)

If you’re a morning-burger person, this would be an obvious choice considering it won the annual Twin Cities burger battle. But beyond that, there's a lot more offered. The AM Chimichanga -- a definite must-try -- is a fried burrito filled with tinga chicken, refried beans, house potatoes, red & green chilies, cheese sauce, and over-easy eggs. And if you’re looking for something a little more north of the border, check out the selection of toasts. We're not talking your everyday order of toast; we mean ordering up some caviar, soft scrambled eggs, red onion, dill, pickled mustard, and crème fraîche over thick-cut molasses rye, or avocado, tomatoes, arugula, and goat cheese fondue over thick-cut seven grain bread. Oh, and some poached eggs with greens.

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1. The French Hen Cafe 518 Selby Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55102 (Summit University)

The French Hen is an upscale breakfast-and-lunch spot in Cathedral Hill that serves French-inflected comfort food to the denizens of Selby Ave. Expect American favorites with a touch of European flavor like praline pancakes, grilled cheese with gruyere and cheddar, and scrambled eggs with salmon and creme fraiche. The interior is bright and colorful with huge windows that encourage you to relax with a cup of coffee -- or a mimosa.

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2. Cafe Racer 2929 E 25th St, Minneapolis, MN 55406

These Latin American BBQ fanatics have turned the success of their food truck into a real live, brick-and-mortar restaurant featuring all their street food favorites plus the sophistication that only a stationary kitchen can bring. Brunch is served everyday, with classics like their signature Colombian street dog and breakfast Yucca poutine. During dinner the food gets fancier, trading quick-serve staples for more elaborate dishes that take advantage of the local meats in Minneapolis. The clean and modern interior doesn't pull focus from the food, and doesn't go overboard with the Latin American theme. For hip, casual dining with a ton of flavor and authenticity, Cafe Racer is your go to.

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3. Tongue In Cheek 989 Payne Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55130 (Payne Phalen)

Sleek and modern but still casual, this New American bistro specializes in chef-driven small plates and craft cocktails. The small, curated menu is full of locally-sourced meats and vegetables, with options for vegans and meat-lovers alike. Small plates can be ordered in flights, or you can opt for the six course meat-heavy tasting menu designed by head chef Leonard Anderson. House-infused liquors form the base of many of the unique cocktails on offer, which often use unusual salty, bitter, or spicy flavors. A backyard patio completes the restaurant with a breezy place to sip a drink and watch the city roll by.

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4. Our Kitchen 813 W 36th St, Minneapolis, MN 55408 (Uptown)

Simple breakfast just doesn’t come any better than this. We’re talking about all of your favorite diner staples like steak and eggs, pancakes and breakfast sandwiches. But the real stand out on the menu is the hash browns, perfectly crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Also serving lunch (and some pretty good burgers) this casual corner diner serves up the comfort and familiarity you want in a neighborhood breakfast spot. A seat at the counter is best, so you can watch your food being cooked, but with the limited seating space and popularity of Our Kitchen, there will probably be a wait for any seat at all.

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5. Colossal Cafe St. Paul 2325 Como Ave, St. Paul, MN 55407 (Saint Anthony Park)

This uptown breakfast spot is famous for their from-scratch made menu, including signature dishes like the yeasty pancakes known as "flappers" and the local favorite meatloaf sandwich. Using only fresh, local ingredients, Colossal Cafe serves up American comfort food on their homemade breads and rolls. The original Minneapolis location remains in the tiny cottage where it began, so seating is hard to come by. But with two other locations in the St. Paul area, there's now more than enough Colossal Cafe to go around.

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6. Chimborazo 2851 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418

For real Ecuadorian food in Minneapolis, Chimborazo is the place to go. Serving up authentic dishes like their signature Llapingachos (cheese-filled potato pancakes), Chimborazo brings the traditional flavors of South America up North. A small, family-friendly restaurant, Chimborazo's offers a wide variety of dishes including seafood and vegetarian fare (for more picky eaters). Large portions and bold flavors are staples here, as well as Ecuadorian music and tapestries on the walls. Continue tradition by ordering one of their South American wines with dinner—you won't regret it.

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7. Red Cow 3624 W 50th St, Minneapolis, MN 55410 (Southwest)

The Red Cow on 50th Street specializes in fine burgers and specialty sandwiches, made with fresh ingredients and an inventive eye. The burger menu covers a wide range of proteins, always including grass-fed beef, but also including bison, turkey, lamb, and duck depending on availability. Toppings range from the expected (lettuce, cheese, etc) to the extreme (bone marrow, piquillo peppers), but the resulting concoctions are always juicy and delicious. Local Minneapolis beers (plus microbrews from around the country) are in heavy rotation at the bar, but you can also order from a selection of red and white wines, curated specially by the owner.

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