If you’re a chef, getting out of bed and heading to brunch is a rare, and weary luxury since you’ve probably been stuck in the kitchen until... um, not that long before brunch starts. So when chefs do decide to suffer through, and hopefully cure their hangovers with some badass AM eats, only the best will do. That’s why we asked some of the Twin Cities' best food-slingers to share their favorite brunch spots. You’re welcome...
Chef Wyatt Evans of Heirloom
His pick: Kopplin’s Coffee (address and info)
The closest this former W.A. Frost chef gets to brunch is a cup of black coffee and a pastry, but there’s one place he prefers above the rest. According to Chef Wyatt Evans, “Kopplin’s has a great vibe in a great St. Paul neighborhood. Staff is knowledgeable and passionate, not just about coffee and responsible sourcing, but about reinvesting in their staff and community.”
Chef Thomas Kim of The Rabbit Hole
His pick: Icehouse (address and info)
When he gets the chance to hit brunch with his wife and toddler, this south Minneapolis chef goes for the place with the whole package -- good food, good drinks, and live music. Kim says, “I usually get the hash. It’s gluten free and tasty as all hell. Top that with a brunch cocktail and you're set. I order the Bloody Lisa or the Red Star.”
Chef Thomas Boemer of Corner Table/Revival
Chef Landon Schoenefeld of HauteDish/Nighthawks
Their pick: Hola Arepa (address & info)
As far as favorite brunch picks go, Hola Arepa is clearly the spot, having pulled in two votes from two entirely different Twin Cities chefs, each with a restaurant just a few blocks down the street. “It’s always a tie between their fried chicken & cachapas and the tostada chilaquiles. My son always gets the guacamole arepa,” says Boemer. And as for the cocktails, “The Wrecking Ball and their Bloody Mary are a must, I usually get one of each.”
According to Schoenefeld, “I don't get out for brunch often since I always work brunch, but when I do, I go to Hola Arepa. I love the chilaquiles and it gives me an excuse to drink mezcal in the morning.” As far as we’re concerned, that's as good a reason as any!
Chef John Ng of Zen Box Izakaya
His pick: Spoon and Stable (address and info)
Chef Ng tells us all about his love for the new heavy hitter in town and its relatively new foray into the brunch scene: “They have killer pastry selections; their chocolate croissant and their sugar snap pea salad are my picks," Ng says. "Also, the natural sunlight in the space reminds me of having brunch at some kind of resort.”
Chef Drew Ledo of the Aster Café
His pick: The Strip Club Meat & Fish (address and info)
This much-loved restaurant also has a rocking brunch, and according to the newly appointed chef of the Aster Café, it can’t be missed. “I usually just get whatever special they’re running, but it’s typically an eggs Benedict of some sort, so I tend to go with that," Ledo says. "It’s just a quality place, the plating and their fresh-made hollandaise are fantastic.”
Chef Billy Tserenbat of Sushi Fix
His pick: Yangtze Restaurant (address and info)
St. Louis Park
In the eyes of a resident Twin Cities sushi master, this St. Louis Park dim sum restaurant is where it’s at when it comes to a different brand of brunch. Chef Tserenbat suggests, “The char siu baos (pork buns), xiaolongboas (juice dumplings), and of course, the feng zhao (chicken feet); it's more about flavor and less about the meat, kind of like crawfish.”
Chef Matt Bickford of Icehouse
His pick: Cook (address and info)
There’s just something about this little St. Paul café that we just can’t get enough of and Chef/Icehouse co-owner Matt Bickford totally agrees. “I like Cook in St. Paul. The Cook Combo [$9.50] comes with two eggs, hash browns, scratch-made toast & preserves, and kick-ass breakfast sausage," explains Bickford. "They’re also chef-owned with quality ingredients & attitude.“
Chef Jamie Malone of Brut
Her pick: Victor’s 1959 Café (address and info)
The big and bold flavors of this classic Cuban cafe are the best way to get yourself ready for the day, explains Malone of the highly anticipated Brut restaurant. It’s all about the Spanish omelette that comes stuffed with potatoes, grilled onions, and cheese (for a $1 extra); a variety of delicious tropical juices; and cup after cup of its eye-opening black coffee!
Chef Mike DeCamp of Monello
His pick: Heyday (address and info)
Among all of the awards and praise given to this new restaurant over the course of the past year, this note from Chef Mike "YC" DeCamp might just be their highest honor yet. “I love supporting my friends and [Heyday's chef] Jim [Christiansen] is a great and dear friend of mine. In addition to that, the style of food they are doing there is unique to the cities and I love it,“ DeCamp says. When it comes to his recommendation, it’s “the biscuits and gravy and the grits. I think the grits are the best anywhere in town.”
Chef Gavin Kaysen of Spoon & Stable
His pick: The Kenwood (address and info)
When it comes to brunch for one of the Twin Cities' top chefs, this south Minneapolis neo-classic spot, run by Chef/owner Don Saunders, is the place. “The neighborhood feel, the service -- if i am not working at my restaurant for brunch, this is where I want to be,“ Kaysen says. He suggests going for the cheddar grits with kale and duck egg.
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1. Icehouse2528 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis
2. Kopplin's Coffee2038 Marshall Ave, St. Paul
3. Hola Arepa3501 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis
4. Spoon and Stable211 North First St, Minneapolis
5. The Strip Club Meat & Fish378 Maria Ave, St. Paul
6. Yangtze Restaurant5625 Wayzata Blvd, St Louis Park
7. Cook St. Paul1124 Payne Ave, Saint Paul
8. Victor's 1959 Café3756 Grand Ave S, Minneapolis
9. Heyday2700 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis
10. The Kenwood Restaurant2115 W 21st St, Minneapolis
This laid-back Whittier spot hosts live indie and jazz music acts daily in a two-story, polished industrial bar and restaurant (complete with plenty of large, comfy leather booths for the whole party). Head upstairs and watch the show, or stay downstairs for gourmet European and American fare like lobster gnocchi or a lamb platter. And it wouldn't be a real night at the Icehouse without going for one of their specialty cocktails or something from its massive top-shelf whiskey collection.
The high-aesthetic St. Paul coffee shop's all elegant dark wood (on its stool-lined coffee bar), red leather, brass-studded chairs, and sleek plank flooring, and widens their selection of locally baked munchies and fair trade organic beans that're "carefully selected for their exceptional character," so like, the opposite of Mr. Bean.
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.
The crew puts a lot of work and effort into the array of exquisite dishes and cocktails at this Downtown/Northloop. While nabbing a reservation might still be a little difficult, walking into the bar hasn’t ever really been an issue -- and you can order the full menu there, or choose from the equally delectable bar-only menu. The pastries are a solid choice for brunch, and mix up your typical Sunday mimosa morning with a Coffee 43 cocktail, which features cold-press coffee, Licor 43, tequila, and cream.
Grass-fed beef is the name of the game at St. Paul’s premier meatery, an independent St. Paul chop and fish house, helmed by chef JD Fratzke. Strip House exhibits incredible use of ingredients from small, local farms, but it’s also distinctly unique and almost rustic despite its overall level of refinement and balance. The drink menu changes seasonally and the results are always spectacular, but even the long-standing staple drinks, like the Cobra Kai, are simply stunning.
This St Louis Park resto specializes in Szechuan and Mandarin style Chinese cooking, including dim sum, Moo Shu pork, barbecued pork, General Tso's, and lobster Szechuan style. Try the dim sum for a different type of brunch.
The folks at Cook in Payne-Phalen are whipping up hearty American breakfasts (though you'll find some Korean influence on the menu as well) featuring locally sourced and scratch-made specialties, like bread-pudding French toast with a caramel banana sauce, short rib Benedict, and a good ol' fashioned plate of eggs, toast, and hash browns. Whether you’re in the mood for a traditional diner-style breakfast or a straightforward lunch, Cook has you covered. Asian inspiration can be found in plates like Korean-style pancakes (ground yellow beans mixed with spicy sausage, spicy cabbage, and bean sprouts) and the Seoul Cubano sandwich (short ribs with Korean pepper flakes, spam, pickled Korean peppers, gruyere, dill pickles, and spicy mustard on grilled and pressed house bread).
Rethink your typical brunch routine by heading to this compact Cuban cafe in Southwest Minneapolis, where signatures and doodles from customers cover the walls and booths, a clear display of the huge fan-base Victor's has amassed through specialties like banana pancakes, eggs Havana, and ropa vieja. Get ready for a wait for this colorful spot, which stays lively from morning to night. It's well worth it once you get your hands on some wild-rice & banana porridge or the Cuban sandwich with locally smoked honey ham, slow-roasted pulled pork, and Swiss cheese on freshly pressed Cuban bread.
When it comes to affordable yet elegant cuisine, Heyday is your spot. It's easily one of the best restaurants in the Twin Cities, if not the country. Head to this rustic-chic space (it sports exposed brick and a gorgeous wooden-beamed ceiling) for favorites like the chicken liver tart, chilled blue mussels, and grilled quail, which all help to create a downright exquisite menu. Be sure to leave room for at least one of the inventive desserts including pea shell sorbet, and wash it all down with a creative cocktail like the Don't Think Twice with pisco, aperol, grapefruit, and elderflower.
Not to be confused with Kennywood, this resto has decidedly fewer roller coasters (pretty much none), isn't in Pennsylvania, and features way better meal options for brunch and dinner, served every day except for Monday, which they say is for "bacon prepping", i.e. the only acceptable excuse for being closed.