Food & Drink

The Best Restaurant for Every Type of Cuisine in the Twin Cities

Published On 11/16/2015 Published On 11/16/2015
Courtesy of Zen Box Izakaya

In the Twin Cities we’re fortunate enough to have a decent selection of cuisines from around the globe. While nobody’s perfect, and we’re no doubt lacking in a few culinary arenas, the global foods that we do have tend to be quality reflections of their native cultures, allowing us a ticket to another world for the price of a night on the town. So get the hell out there and appreciate the cumulative culinary melting pot in which we all live.

Keane Amdahl/Thrillist
Keane Amdahl/Thrillist

French: Meritage

Downtown St. Paul

When it comes to modern interpretations of French classics, you can’t do better than this St. Paul institution -- and it doesn’t hurt that it has one of the best raw bars in town either. If your wallet can handle it, start with one of the raw seafood platters and then venture toward something more classic, like the veal sweetbreads or succulent escargot, before going to town on a show-stopping rendition of the French standard cassoulet, moules frites, or a perfectly roasted duck breast.

Krungthep

Thai: Krungthep

Whittier

This sister restaurant to St. Paul’s Bangkok Deli is an absolute jewel when it comes to eating in the Twin Cities. The tom yum soup is rich, vibrant, and incredibly flavorful and the stir-fried noodle dishes are all spot on, including the obligatory pad Thai. There's also a lavish selection of Thai curries that’ll please even the most judgmental curry critic.

Rincon 38

Spanish: RincĂłn 38

Southwest

Admittedly we don’t have a lot going on when it comes to Spanish food in the Twin Cities these days, but that’s OK because Chef Victor Ruiz has got us covered. His South Minneapolis tapas restaurant offers an excellent array of small Spanish plates including things like your standard patatas bravas or roasted piquillo peppers stuffed with rich goat cheese. The slow-braised sherry octopus is always a winner as is the queso frito; fried manchego cheese with a fennel slaw and sherry glaze.

Flickr/sharyn morrow

Vietnamese: Quang

Whittier

We actually have a surprising number of pretty good Vietnamese restaurants in the Twin Cities, but you just can’t beat this Whittier powerhouse. The pho is a must and the bánh mì are pretty great, but other dishes like the variety of bun salads or the Com Thap Cam + Trung (combo rice platter topped with fried eggs) are all delicious in their own right.

Keane Amdahl/Thrillist

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Venue Node ID

3102288

Venue Name

Mexican: Las Teresitas

 

Neighborhood/Location

Nokomis

Description

This is easily the kind of place that I’d eat at every day. It’s cheap, delicious, and it has a salsa bar. No other bar is better than a salsa bar. It's also got a pretty decent selection of taco fillings that stray a bit from your basic chicken, beef, and carnitas, including tripe, lengua (beef tongue), and beef cheek. The rich, house-made chorizo also makes for one hell of a burrito-eating experience.

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Courtesy of Zen Box Izakaya

Japanese: Zen Box Izakaya

Downtown

Japanese food encompasses a lot more than just sushi and ramen, and this Downtown place is rocking the Japanese bar food scene. The saba no shioyaki is a grilled mackerel with ponzu sauce and it’s a stunning dish. The miso-braised spare ribs are tender and succulent and leave you feeling like someone extremely pudgy is warmly hugging your insides. The chicken kara-age wings are also some of the best wings in the city and yes, the ramen is tops, too. Basically, just show up hungry, order a beer, and then keep ordering food until you can’t fit anymore into your facehole. You’ll leave happier than you’ve left any restaurant in a long time.

TERZO MPLS

Italian: Terzo

Southwest

Owned by the same folks that own the legendary Broders' Pasta Bar, this little Italian wine bar has become a fast favorite. No, you’re not going to walk in and see a bunch of stodgy old pasta dishes on the menu; instead you’ll be treated to plates crafted with high-quality ingredients that have been prepared with love and care in true Italian fashion. The duck egg with sautĂ©ed king trumpet & beech mushrooms, porcini sauce, summer squash, and crispy leeks is an absolute joy to eat and the crispy herb-roasted quail is a welcome departure from your run-of-the-mill roasted chicken.

Fika

Scandinavian: Fika

Phillips

It’s a little odd, given our extremely Nordic heritage, that we don’t have a lot more in the way of Scandinavian dining, but the folks at Fika are doing a damn fine service. Lunch here takes me right back to dining in a cafĂ© in Norway. It’s fairly simple, but the flavors are undeniably Scandinavian and delicious. Try any one of the open-faced sandwiches (a Scandinavian staple) or the house-cured gravlax.

Courtesy of Katie Cannon

South American: Hola Arepa

Nicollet

South American food is one of those sorely underrepresented cuisines in the Twin Cities, but we do have a few spots that are kicking some serious culo. The folks over at this South Minneapolis food truck-turned-restaurant are bringing Venezuelan stuffed arepas to the happy masses along with some of the very best cocktails around. While arepas are the focus, there's also a variety of delicious small plates that all deliver when it comes to the flavor. And let’s not forget about the brunch, which we recently named one of the best in the city!

Keane Amdahl/Thrillist

Korean: Dong Yang

Columbia Heights

This place is slightly off the beaten path, but it’s worth the trek in order to get your hands on some serious Korean food. Located at the far back end of a Korean grocery, you’ll find that the cafeteria-style restaurant offers up classics like bibimbap served in smoking-hot stone bowls, delicious and succulent kalbi beef, and a variety of different Korean soups all presented with a variety of different kimchi options. You can also find a few other dishes that are lesser known in these parts, like ddeokbokki (rice cakes in spicy gochujang chili sauce), pa jun (Korean-style pancakes), or gogalbi (spicy Korean-style mackerel).

Keane Amdahl/Thrillist

Southern: Revival

Kingfield

There’s no doubt that Southern cuisine is hitting the Twin Cities in a big way and Revival is clearly the king. Not only is it one of the best Southern dining experiences in the Twin Cities, but it's easily one of the best new restaurants overall, and after one bite of the fried chicken, you’ll happily agree. The Hoppin’ John is so good you’ll develop some kind of weird but welcomed addiction and the fried green tomatoes are as delicate as they are delicious. Let’s not forget about the burger either, because it is, without question, one of the best burgers the Twin Cities have ever had. Ever.

Courtesy of Matt Lien

Save Venue With No Dish

Venue Node ID

4122532

Venue Name

Mediterranean: Saffron

 

Neighborhood/Location

Downtown

Description

This Minneapolis staple brings Mediterranean cuisine to a whole new level by utilizing a range of fresh flavors, Middle Eastern influence, and classic French technique. The fragrant tagines sing of North African influence and the roast chicken with eggplant lovash is a true thing of culinary beauty. The menu features a variety of small and large plate options and the hummus is hands down the best you’ll ever eat.

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Nighthawks & Birdie

American: Nighthawks

Kingfield

Nighthawks is pure, 100% Americana and how could it not be; its name comes straight from the famous Edward Hopper painting depicting a scene at a classic late-night American diner. It’s the place you go when you want a solid burger, a hot dog, or some damn good fried chicken. It’s also the kind of place where you can get a piled-high pastrami sandwich with a side of potato salad, chopped liver, or a lush Cobb salad. The daily blue plate specials include things like roasted chicken, slow-cooked ribs, or mouthwatering meatloaf. Oh yeah, and this spot's got all the beer you’d need to help wash it all down. That’s what we call American!

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Keane Amdahl is a veteran Twin Cities food writer who will eat anything you call food regardless of race, creed, color, or national origin. You can find him on the Twitter box at @foodstoned.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
1. Nighthawks 3753 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55409

Nighthawks in Kingfield offers amped-up diner classics, making it a go-to spot for weekend brunches, weeknight dinners or a late-night case of the munchies. The fried chicken is some of the best in town and its list of daily blue plate specials keeps things fresh. While they don’t have a full bar, they make full use of the beers and wines that they carry by transforming them into delicious cocktails like the Sodak (pickled PBR with tomato juice), the Bellazza (strawberry & rhubarb cordial, zuccu amaro, and prosecco), or the Wide Eyed 2.0 (Big Watt cold-press, bonal, and long pepper).

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2. Grand Szechuan 10602 France Ave S, Bloomington, MN 55431

First off, this isn’t the place that you go for your standby order of General Tso’s chicken with a side of egg rolls. This is the place you go when you want to experience what the real food of China tastes like, and no, it’s not what you’d expect. The menu is separated into two parts; the first section contains the more authentic dishes and the second part features your run-of-the-mill American-Chinese cuisine, but don’t let yourself stray and stick to the items in the first section where you’ll be treated to a whole new world of flavors and textures. The couple’s beef is a cold beef dish liberally dressed with spicy chili oil, peanuts, and cilantro, and the ma po tofu has cubes of silky tofu set adrift in a fiery broth with ground pork serving to provide more in the way of texture than flavor. If you’re feeling extremely adventurous, go for the Szechuan cold bean jelly. Unless you’re already familiar with Chinese cuisine, we guarantee you’ve never had anything like it.

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

Meritage is a swanky French brasserie slinging lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch, including eats like an outrageous French onion soup, oysters, and crepes. Their wine list is expertly curated, and perfect for anyone with any range of wine knowledge.

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4. Krung Thep Thai 2523 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55404 (Whittier)

This sister restaurant to St. Paul’s Bangkok Deli is an absolute jewel when it comes to eating in the Twin Cities. The tom yum soup is rich, vibrant, and incredibly flavorful and the stir-fried noodle dishes are all spot on, including the obligatory pad Thai. There's also a lavish selection of Thai curries that’ll please even the most judgmental curry critic.

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5. Rincon 38 3801 Grand Ave, Minneapolis, MN (Southwest)

You know how completely unremarkable Rincon #39 -- the former Twins middle reliever -- was? Well, Rincon 38 is the exact opposite: an explosive Kingfield tapas joint from the fella who brought you Cafe Ena and El Meson.

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6. Quang Restaurant 2719 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408 (Whittier)

Since '89, this south Minneapolis restaurant's been slinging bahn mi sandwiches, soupy, sticky pho, and spicy platters full of chicken, beef, shrimp, veggies, and fried rice way under the radar. With its bare, practically unlabeled concrete exterior, it's not wonder Minnesotans have been driving past this massive hidden gem blindly for decades, leaving most of its seat open for the taking most times of the day.

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7. Las Teresitas 5744 34th Ave S, Minneapolis, 55417 (Nokomis)

There's no messing around at Nokomis' Las Teresitas. Although they've got a massive menu - over 100 items! - these folks are only serving up what they want, and what they want is straight forward Mexican food. Chow down a $2 taco filled with your choice of one of eleven meat options (including tongue, cheek, and brisket), or go big with a combo and choose three items at once. Go ahead, clear your not-so-busy schedule.

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8. Gandhi Mahal 3009 27th Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55406 (Longfellow)

All it takes is to step foot in this place and you’ll be completely sold. Like a lot of Indian restaurants, the menu can be large and intimidating, but I’ve yet to be disappointed with anything on it. The goat curry is fantastic and rich while the chicken tikka is a delicious take on classic butter chicken. Also, if you order tilapia, it's raised right there on site. It doesn’t really get any fresher than that.

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9. Zen Box Izakaya 602 Washington Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55415

The wings at this Downtown Minneapolis spot are some of the best in the Twin Cities. They're marinated overnight in a homemade teriyaki sauce before they hit the fryer. Be sure to stop by and try some.

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10. Terzo 2221 W 50th St, Minneapolis, MN 55410 (Southwest)

Terzo Vino Bar is not only one of the best Italian restaurants in Minneapolis, but it’s also one of the best spots for a glass of wine in all of Minnesota. With a cellar holding over 1,000 bottles of 300 different selections, the wine list updates often, allowing you to become well-versed in the Italian way of wine. Plus, it’s reasonably priced (by-the-glass options for just $10-$15), which is perfect because Terzo’s also has some great food that screams to be paired with a decent glass of vino. Expertly prepared dishes include duck egg with sautéed king trumpet and beech mushrooms and a prosciutto-wrapped pork loin with fingerling potatoes and dandelion greens.

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11. FIKA 2600 Park Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55407 (Phillips)

Since fika means "daily break", why not take the opportunity to do so in a place actually called FIKA! Located in the Nelson Cultural Center, this Nordic-inspired museum cafe is an award-winning lunch spot that serves up authentic Swedish fare, as well as an assortment of coffee, beer and wine.

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12. Hola Arepa 3501 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408 (Downtown)

Originally a food truck, the brick and mortar incarnation has a menu is stuffed with long-braised meats, crumbly cheese and their fiery sauces. They've got a great drinks menu too.

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13. Dong Yang Oriental Foods 735 45th Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55421

This Hilltop place is slightly off the beaten path, but it’s worth the trek in order to get your hands on some serious Korean food. Located at the far back end of a Korean grocery, you’ll find that the cafeteria-style restaurant offers up classics like bibimbap served in smoking-hot stone bowls, delicious and succulent kalbi beef, and a variety of different Korean soups, all presented with a variety of different kimchi options. You can also find a few other dishes that are lesser known in these parts, like ddeokbokki (rice cakes in spicy gochujang chili sauce), pa jun (Korean-style pancakes), or gogalbi (spicy Korean-style mackerel).

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14. Revival 4257 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55409

This place is serving fried chicken and other fine Southern fare.

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15. Saffron 123 N 3rd St, Minneapolis, MN 55401

Saffron is a Middle Eastern fine dining restaurant that brought people to North Loop before it was cool. Brothers Saed and Sameh Wadi have created a critically acclaimed menu of creative, contemporary, seasonal Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes with selections of tapas, appetizers, entrees, and tagines. High points include the lamb tagine, with Persian spices, gold potato, pistachio, and pomegranate molasses, as well as lamb brain, served with olive oil stewed tomatoes, garlic, and parsley. Saffron is luxe and exotic, with Moroccan stained glass lamps shimmering against a high ceiling, bringing light to the deep red and exposed brick walls.

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16. Fasika Ethiopian Restaurant 510 Snelling Ave N, Saint Paul, MN 55104 (Midway)

Ethiopian cuisine is something that so many have yet to try, but its unique array of flavors, textures, and various stewed bits all come together in a series of tasty mouthfuls. The predominance of berbere adds a lush depth of flavor that pairs incredibly well with slow-stewed vegetable and meat dishes, but your best bet is to go in with a few friends and order one of the big sampler plates served on the customary spongey, chewy injera; an Ethiopian flatbread that’s used in lieu of utensils. The lamb key wot is a favorite as is the alcha wot, a curried beef stew. It’s also great for vegetarians, as dishes like kik alicha wot (curried split peas) or the misir key wot (lentils stewed in berbere) are just as hearty and delicious as any of the meat ones.

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