Best of Food + Dining 2013

Best New Kid Food: Parka
Best New Kid Food: Parka

Old Favorites

Best Cocktails: Parlour

There’s no disputing that the cocktail game is being played at a whole new level in town. Mixologists work magic with liquids, outdoing each other by reimagining what can coexist in a glass; everything is new, new, new. At Parlour, the bar in the basement of Borough, that new magic is wrought with something additional that is essentially old, old, old: truly convivial service. Thanks to lead barman Jesse Held, the crew is on the top of its game in creativity and hospitality, which can go a long way for the uninitiated in the ways of bitters, heritage liqueurs, and all things old that are new again. 730 Washington Ave. N., Mpls., 612-354-3135, boroughmpls.com

Best Kept Secret Tacos

Remember Speedy Gonzales racing through those Looney Tunes cartoons urging everyone to “¡Ándale! ¡Ándale!”? That’s how we feel about the cheap, fast, great tacos, burritos, and carnitas adobo at gas-station resto Andale Taqueria & Mercado. 7700 Nicollet Ave. S., Richfield, 612-259-8868, andaletaqueriaymercado.com

Best Kept Secret Pizza

When Sun Street Breads bakery-cafe in Kingfield stopped serving dinner, many were sad. But owner Solveig Tofte brought back some sunshine by launching Monday pizza nights that feel like neighborhood dinner parties. From 6 to 8 pm, pop in for a hand-tossed pie, plus beer and wine. 4600 Nicollet Ave. S., Mpls., 612-354-3414, sunstreetbreads.com

Best Places to Be Inspired

When you’re having writer’s block, or overwhelmed-mom’s block, or I’m-tired-of-winter block, or any-other-thing-that-gets-you-down block, a change of scenery will do you good, and these places have cool scenery all day long:

  1. Parka (parkampls.com)
  2. Cheeky Monkey (cheekymonkeydeli.com)
  3. Aster Cafe (astercafe.com)

Best Sammie: Thanksgiving Sandwich @ The Buttered Tin

This scratch bakery and everyday breakfast and lunch joint opened with a mind-bending Easter ham sandwich, then one-upped itself with the Thanksgiving version: slow-roasted turkey piled with stuffing and topped with mashed potatoes and gravy. It’s the midwestern good life in one unforgettable sandwich. 237 E. 7th St., St. Paul, 651-224-2300, thebutteredtin.com

Best Wine List: Terzo

Italian wine is its own world, one we’d been missing since D’Amico Cucina closed up shop. Terzo, which means “third,” is the third of the Broders’ restaurants, a wine bar with a to-die-for list of Italian antipasti (ooh, that prosciutto board) and hundreds of Italian bottles. They range from the rustic, chewy peasant pleasers of the boot heel to the pricey, refined options from the boot top. 2221 W. 50th St., Mpls., 612-925-0330, broders.com

Best Ethnic Mash-Up: World Street Kitchen

With the Korean taco came the idea of blending street food to create new exciting fare. WSK is built on the idea of breaking culinary boundaries, exhibited by a couple of Middle Eastern guys excelling at Bangkok burritos, Moroccan fried chicken on biscuits, and Yum Yum rice bowls. 2743 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls., 612-424-8855, eatwsk.com

Best 'Hood to Get Your Drink On

With the stately, historic Grain Belt building looming over the neighborhood, it makes sense that young brewers are inspired to set up shop in its shadow. With the opening of cutting-edge small-batch brewer Dangerous Man (dangerousmanbrewing.com), laid-back old-worldish Indeed (indeedbrewing.com), and party hall 612 Brew (612brew.com) all within a few miles of each other, the brew district is happily alive and kicking once more.

Best Beer Garden

Best Beer Garden Prove your Minnesnowtan cred by hanging outside at Butcher & The Boar year-round. 1121 Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-238-8888, butcherandtheboar.com

Best Trending Edible: Juicing

Truce Juice (drinktruce.com) in Uptown put juicing on the local map. Then came Zula (zulajuice.com), which delivers fresh-pressed juices right to your door. Bringing the flavor game to a new level, Juice Works (thejuiceworks.net) is wooing the food set with innovative tastes. Whether you juice to cleanse, to detox so you can retox, or just like to drink your veggies, the juice boom has only begun.

Best Breakout Food Star: Amy Thielen

When the news broke that actual real, nice, normal person and real-life Minnesota mom Amy Thielen was going to have a show on the Food Network, no one could believe it. Not even her family. “My aunt said, ‘What’s your schtick going to be?’” Thielen says. It wasn’t that anyone thought she didn’t have the talent—after all, she cooked in New York City, and her book The New Midwestern Table is a brilliant update on authentic local flavors made better with contemporary techniques. But can you succeed in modern food television without schtick? She doesn’t drive a Ferrari. She’s not a pinup with a sauté pan. She’s a normal good person and good cook! Let’s hope this marks a return to food television in the style of Julia Child and Jacques Pepin, when schtick was secondary to know-how and the genuine urge to share food—in this instance, midwestern food as we know it to really be: true, normal, and good.

Best Surprise: FIKA and American Swedish Institute

Seriously, with our Nordic stoicism, who would have thought that a Swedish museum and its atrium café would become a major contender in the dining and nightlife scene? FIKA puts up beautifully curated plates of simple New Nordic cuisine, and the institute has invited itself to the party by throwing weekly happy hours, giant crayfish dinners, midsummer bonfires, and an adults-only Halloween bash. The New Nordic is looking sexy. 2600 Park Ave. S., Mpls., 612-871-4907, asimn.org

Best Retro Love: The Bundt Pan

The Bundt pan is about as classic as hot dish and has long been a point of state pride. Created in 1946 by St. Louis Park’s Nordic Ware—a company that West Elm put on its “Shop the Midwest” map—it’s yet another Minnesota heritage item enjoying renewed national interest. nordicware.com

Best Way to Start Your Day

In the pancakes vs. eggs war, the savory waffle at Birchwood Cafe is the best tiebreaker around. 3311 E. 25th St., Mpls., 612-722-4474, birchwoodcafe.com

Best Friend to Goat: Ian Gray @ The Gray House

Goat is having its day, what with a goat burger debuting at the ballpark this year. But once you’ve dipped your toe into the kiddie pool (get it?), head to The Gray House to truly understand the beauty of goat meatballs, pasta with goat ragu, and other sophisticated renditions. 610 W. Lake St., Mpls., 612-823-4338 thegrayhouseeats.com