Food & Drink

Twin Cities' Best Restaurants for Vegetarians

Published On 01/11/2016 Published On 01/11/2016

There are those of us who forgo the carnivore’s lifestyle and instead embrace the mighty world of veggies (which can often times make dining out a less than exciting excursion). While all too often having your options limited to a selection of boring salads, side dishes, the occasional singular vegetarian entrée -- or even more likely, some kind of boring, stale veggie burger -- there are restaurants that go far above and beyond the standard, offering a variety of selections and tasting menus that cater to the less than casual herbivores. We’ve gone through and put together our top picks just for you. Because, after all, you deserve to dine just as well as the rest of us.

GYST Fermentation Bar

GYST Fermentation Bar

Whittier

Designed largely for grazing, their menu focuses primarily on various cheeses and fermented goods which is inherently perfect for vegetarians. Get their pickle plate and a cheeseboard comprised of local, regional, and international varieties (and a big ass bottle of wine), and you my friends are set. You could also get their delicious grilled cheese with house made sour kraut or, if you should be so bold, order the Sandor. It’s an opened faced sandwich featuring their excellent house made peanut butter and kimchee. Eat it once and you’ll crave it for eternity.

Birchwood Café

Birchwood Café

Seward

This place has been a champion of local food for over twenty years and has been proudly serving vegetarians regional produce from square one. They feature a rotating menu of seasonal items, and you’ll always be able to find a few delicious veggie based options for your all garden variety dining needs. Their menu currently features items like cider marinated root vegetables with celery puree, pickled radish, and pistachios, or a green curry rice with a selection of winter veggies and marinated tofu. If you’re really going after some vegetarian comfort food, might we suggest the roasted squash hand pie?

Libertine

Libertine

Uptown

While it may seem to defy conventional wisdom -- or to be some kind of horribly cruel joke -- for us to tell vegetarians that one of the best places to eat is at a restaurant that literally dedicates itself to meat, we are in fact 100% serious. While researching this, so many of the restaurants that are thought to be “vegetarian friendly” really only offer a singular entrée option and a handful of sides, soups, and salads. This place has an entire vegetarian section of their menu dedicated to non-meat based options which include things like crispy tofu with charred broccoli, yakitori, and grilled avocado, soba noodles with scallion, mushroom, nori, sesame, or caramelized cauliflower with brown butter, capers, and goat cheese fondant. They also have several salads and a list of truly delicious vegetable-based sides, so if you’re ever looking to find a place to satisfy both carnivores and herbivores alike, this is your spot.

Rainbow Chinese

Rainbow Chinese

Seward

Chinese and other Asian inspired restaurants are often a good go to for vegetarians as they tend to offer a lot of veg, tofu, or mock duck based dishes. But those who are in the know come here, as chef and owner Tammy Wong is a mainstay of the Twin Cities farmers market scene and can frequently be seen shopping for all the best produce. While the menu is rife with fresh edibles, dishes like the fried tofu, mixed veg, and black bean sauce or the mixed veggie noodle soup, are all perfect non-meat centric dishes.

Everest on Grand

Mac-Groveland

This Nepali/Tibetan/Indian restaurant might be one of few in the Twin Cities where the vegetarian options actually outnumber the meat dishes, and it’s absolutely delicious. Perhaps start with the vegetarian momos and then move on to a big bowl of noodle soup or some stir fried noodles. OR, you could check out an entire list of different vegetarian/vegan curries all of which are sure to heat up your overall dining experience.

Heartland

Heartland

Downtown St. Paul

One of the Twin Cities premier dining destinations, this place has a lot of different things going on in terms of hearty vegetarian options. It's another one of the forerunners in the Twin Cities' farm to table scene, and you’ll not only have your choice of quality a la carte items, but they have a $35 three course vegetarian seasonal tasting menu that’s perfect for a nice night out on the town.

Saffron

 

Saffron

Downtown Minneapolis

If you’re looking for a smattering of vegetarian flavor bombs, this downtown locale is absolutely perfect. In addition to a variety of delicious spreads and sides -- including the hyper-delicious fried cauliflower with feta fondue -- they’ve also got a variety of flavorful entrée options which include a variety of seasonal specials and a veggie version of their signature tagines. While you’re there you can pick up a signed copy of Chef Sameh Wadi’s new cookbook which has a lot of great Mediterranean inspired vegetarian recipes that you can make at home.

Tongue in Cheek

Tongue in Cheek

Payne-Phalen

At first glance this newish St. Paul restaurant might appear to be fairly meat centric, but they do offer a few standard menu items suitable for any real veg-head, oh and also, a FULL eight course vegetarian tasting menu. So if you’re looking for a full on veggie experience, this is a place worth noting.

Haute Dish

Haute Dish

Downtown Minneapolis

Another one of the Twin Cities' best known places for meaty dishes also has a lot to offer all you herbivores. In fact, two nights a week they feature a very special 4 course vegetarian tasting menu designed with just as much thought and care as their meat dishes. Instead of being regulated to salads and a few sides of roasted vegetables, you can get things like a bahn mi with fried seitan and eggplant pate, or gnocchi with taleggio custard. Also, if you haven’t had their house salad yet, it’s as delicious as it is crazy to look at.

Restaurant Alma

Marcy Holms

You’d better believe that one of the Twin Cities' most beloved dining spots knows how to treat their vegetarian customers. Chef Alex Roberts and crew specialize in three course tasting menus and their choose-your-own vegetarian prix fixe is just as thoughtful and laboriously cared after as their carnivorous options. For $42, you can pick any three seasonal courses, which currently include things like a celery root sformato with melted leeks, hazelnuts and a frisee-black truffle salad, fresh ricotta gnudi, or a coconut and rice crepe with roasted butternut squash, sweet onion, and cucumber. Finish, sit back, and enter foodie nirvana.

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Keane Amdahl is a veteran Twin Cities food writer and while he doesn't always eat his vegetables, when he does, he'll let you know about it. Follow his rabbit tracks on Twitter @FoodStoned.

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1. GYST Fermentation Bar 25 E 26th St, Minneapolis, MN 55404 (Whittier)

For those of you that love all things fermented, cured, or foods that are otherwise preserved, this is the place for you! Think charcuterie boards, cheese plates, and sandwiches paired with a variety of delicious wines or craft beers.

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2. Birchwood Cafe 3311 E 25th St, Minneapolis, MN 55406 (Seward)

This cozy, farm-to-table breakfast and lunch spot serves seasonally inspired fare as well as home cooking faves like waffles, pancakes, and eggs.

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3. Libertine 3001 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408

This Uptown restaurant is bringing the beef, pork, and lamb hard, plus serving up some exotic cuts of meat in the process: lesser known chops like feather steaks, point steak, and onglets are on the menu here. But don’t worry veg-heads, they’ve got plenty to offer you too, like an entire section of the menu that's dedicated to vegetarian dishes.

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4. Rainbow Chinese 2739 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55408 (Whittier)

Rainbow Chinese takes everything you'd expect of an average Chinese joint, from the decor to the menu, and ups the ante. Polished wood floors, crisp white tablecloths, and plenty of plant life set the scene for Chinese food that's too good to put right in a takeout box. The menu's split into rices, noodles, and several meat options, and unlike the plain orange chicken that you're used to, the spicy cilantro pork and curried chicken won't be cooked before you order them.

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5. Everest on Grand 1278 Grand Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55105 (Summit Hill Crocus Hill)

This cozy Tibetan/Nepalese resto is full of hearty vegan and vegetarian options, like curries and noodles. Don't forget to hit up the lunch buffet with all you can eat fare for a cool $11.

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6. Heartland Restaurant & Wine Bar 289 5th St E, St. Paul, MN 55101 (Downtown St Paul)

Heartland Restaurant is committed to serving a menu of ingredients indigenous to the American and Canadian Midwest. This menu changes nightly and features two fixed price options as well as extensive a la carte selections. Heartland’s food selections mix and match small plates, large plates, and sides, ranging from soba noodles with autumn harvest vegetables and mushroom broth to a house charcuterie selection with pickles and Summit beer mustard, as well as chorizo sausage with kraut, cornbread, and honey mustard. The interior is elegant yet understated, with glossy light wood parquet floors and soaring ceilings with exposed beams.

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7. 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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8. 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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9. HauteDish 119 Washington Ave N, Minneapolis, MN 55401 (Downtown)

The much-lauded Dish, between the Warehouse and Gateway districts, rocks a menu with artfully presented, reinvented takes on Midwestern classics like mac and cheese with king crab and truffle oil, blackened fish tacos and, steak and potatoes. Perfect for empty stomachs at any hour, Haute offers choices for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but if you go in after the late evening, you'll be able to choose from a long list of house cocktails and dozens of draught beers from nearby breweries.

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10. Restaurant Alma 528 University Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414

The low-lit, brick interior creates an intimate feel ideal for when you’re aiming to impress, and it also doesn’t hurt that the food is easily some of the best in the Twin Cities.

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