From a glorious glut of poutines to badass butchery, the Twin Cities have one of the slickest, most deliciously fattening-est food scenes around, and local editor Drew Wood is here to give you the inside scoop on how to conquer it.
Favorite Restaurant: Located right across the street from my old apartment, right now Burch is tops, though unfortunately when I lived there it was just an old pharmacy. A startlingly simple steakhouse up top and a cavernous, wood-fired pizzeria below, the every-man chef here, Isaac Becker, is a super nice dude who just so happened to win a James Beard Award for sister concept 112 Eatery. Also, the only photo in the whole place is of Eazy-E.
Best Late-Night Eats: Long a mainstay for the throngs of 1am chimichanga-cravers, Little Tijuana (simply Little T's to most) recently reopened after a major interior revamp that thankfully didn't mean changing a served-until-3a menu filled with enchilada-style burritos and two-fisted burgers.
Best Cheap Eats: Although you would never actually use one there, Cedar/Riverside's hole-in-the-wall The Wienery is about as greasy (and cheap) a spoon as they come. Check out this ungodly poutine.
Best Wings: If this place had beer (which I hear they will soon), it'd be my favorite resto in the world, let alone in MSP. Alas, :D-Spot still has hands-down the best wings in town. Genius chef Darin Koch (be sure to ask him about bees if you visit) got sick of the fine dining game and went all-in creating the most original and copious (more than 200 flavors) drumstick menu on the planet. Get the Incredible Hulk (green coconut curry) or the iconic Black Widow (soy glaze, cracked fennel, dry rub).
Best Donuts: Spurning the "get here early or you don't get no donuts" ethos of most craft bakeries, the gals at Glam Doll pump out their creatively-flavored arsenal from morning 'til 2a. Their apple fritter has to weigh a pound, and even more when topped with candied bacon.
Best Sandwich: There's a new-ish little gastro beer bar in the shadows of the old Hamm's Brewery (literally) called Ward 6, where they sling my ideally gluttonous sandwich: The Fatty Melt. A massive, grass-fed beef patty topped with bacon makes it part burger, but its sandwiched not between buns, but grilled cheese sammies.
Best Dish: I don't shy away from consuming massive amounts of meat, which is why my mind goes straight to Butcher and Boar when thinking about my favorite dish. If I were forced to pick just one, I'd have to go with their market-priced Butcher's Cut steak w/ a side of cheesy white corn grits. And maybe I'd put a footlong sausages on top.
Best Italian: St. Paul's your go-to for killer Italian, where my personal preference is for just-remodeled Cossetta on West 7th. They've got an Italian market, a cafeteria, and upscale eatery Louis.
Best Chinese: Family-owned for something like 50yrs and serving a little bit of everything, Rainbow Chinese is even my Grandpa's favorite. Their pan-fried noodles are killer.
Best Mexican: MSP has a slew of solid salsa slingers. I like Andale for tacos, but if you're talking full menu, you've gotta head just west of the river to El Burrito Mercado (they also have a Mpls outpost.
Best Food Truck: The Twin Cities are crawling with glorious food trucks, which actually makes it really tough to pick a favorite. For wieners, Nate Dogs is the jam, and as a bonus, Nate's one of the coolest kids in school. For something with a little more "hmm" to it, you'd be a fool not to try a Bangkok Burrito or Yum Yum Rice Bowl from World Street Kitchen, which also just opened a brick/ mortar.
Best Burger: There are some seriously yummy burgers in this berg (The Harriet Brasserie has one, as does Bulldog and Blue Door Longfellow), but if you want epic, then you want Forepaugh's in St. Paul. Their Ultimate Opus Burger costs $28, and comes with a 1/2lb of certified angus chuck, braised short-rib sauce, Gruyere, truffled eggs, and bacon vinaigrette. And, while you're there, try the Ultimate Truffle & Foie Gras Poutine.
Most Gut-Busting Dish: Still, the Ultimate Opus Burger pales in comparison to MyBurger's The Crippler: four patties, four slices of cheese, bacon, a fried egg, chipotle mayo, and spicy Cheetos, all created exclusively for Thrillist and still available upon super secret special request.
Best Fine Dining: I may be more of a burger man, but critically-acclaimed La Belle Vie on the outskirts of downtown just turned 15, and is the birthplace of two of the finest culinary careers in the Midwest: chef Tim McKee and sazerac slinger Johnny Michaels.
Most Romantic: The least pretentious James Beard award winning resto probably, like, ever, 112 Eatery may be chef Isaac Becker's first solo joint, but it's easy sophistication and grace make it the perfect place to take your lady friend.
Weirdest Food: When I was first confronted with a half pig's head that had been band-sawed right down the middle, butter-battered, and roasted with all the fixings (brains, tongue, ears, eyes, TEETH) at The Sample Room, I almost chickened out. Once I went all Lord of the Flies on it, though, the tender, fatty meat made even the best pork belly pale in comparison. Epic, and less than $20.
Best for Work: From what I hear, the business goes down at the most legendary steakhouse in town, Manny's.
Best Lunch: There is no better food at a beer bar than the nifty nosh at The Bulldog NE (try the LaFrieda burger), and there's no better place to munch for lunch than a beer bar.
Best Brunch: Honestly, Tilia in Linden Hills is one of the best places in town regardless of what meal you go for, but with a grub arsenal ranging from a fish taco torta to a Rueben Benedict, and a killer reverse bloody Mary, brunch has to take the cake.
Most Local Food: When like 90% of the veggies and greens come from the chef's actual garden, it's safe to say you're eating local, and that's the case at The Harriet Brasserie.