Best Restaurants

Best Restaurants 2012

Our annual critics' picks of the top eateries in the Twin Cities

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Grand Szechuan


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Kitchen politics aside, it’s great to see more hot and spicy Szechuan eateries opening up in our blond state. Grand Szechuan recently opened a second location in the west metro, and it’s firing all guns: Dan dan noodles, ma po tofu, and spicy pork seem to kick it in any location.
10602 France Ave. S., Bloomington, 952-888-6507; 187 Cheshire Lane N., Plymouth, 763-404-1770, grandszechuanmn.com




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Travail


Travail was recently named a best new restaurant by Bon Appetit magazine, and those of us who were waiting for it to quiet down a bit so we could get a table gave a bittersweet hurrah. Given the plates of affordable, dead-on modern food, the ebullient atmosphere born of natural camaraderie, and the bare-bones beauty of the space, we’re not surprised lines form at 4 pm and Bon Appetit came knocking.
4154 W. Broadway, Robbinsdale, 763-535-1131

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Victory 44


Like any chef, Erick Harcey has had his share of ups and downs, but now his focus is squarely on his north Minneapolis eatery, and we are grateful. Not only does his chef-driven menu continue to pump out winners, but he’s annexed the coffee shop next door to expand his repertoire with breakfast offerings that will knock you into your day. Biscuits and gravy aren’t pretty, but they eat so good.
2203 44th Ave. N., Mpls., 612-588-2228, victory-44.com



4 Nearby Notables


Anchor Fish & Chips
It’s the fish and chips. It’s the helicopter burger. It’s the Guinness.
302 13th Ave. NE, Mpls.


Northeast Social
It feels like a giant dinner party here every night.
359 13th Ave. NE, Mpls.


Gardens of Salonica Anna
Christoforides is quietly putting out some fresh and tasty Greek food that will surprise: think braised octopus and wild- caught cod.
19 NE 5th St., Mpls.


Aster Café
Live music, light café eats, tea-infused cocktails, and the best Parisian-flavored patio in town.
125 SE Main St., Mpls.




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Masu Sushi & Robata


It’s fun to see modern, edgy Tokyo design in a Japanese joint, and Masu lets the vibe carry through to the food. The sushi is stunningly creative and artfully delicious, and the small-plate izakaya dishes can be excitingly odd. Shredded dried squid with mayo and masago? At a time when there seems to be a sushi den opening on every corner with the same requisite list of rolls, Masu is nicely pushing to the next level.
330 Hennepin Ave. E., Mpls., 612-332-6278, masusushiandrobata.com

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Restaurant Alma


Brasa stems from chef Alex Roberts’s upbringing, but his Restaurant Alma seems to stem from his soul. The space remains tranquil and humble, much like the James Beard Award–winning chef who avoids the limelight. But it’s the plates that sing with a perfected balance, flavor, and technique executed with an unassuming complexity. Dinner here is sustaining.
528 University Ave. SE, Mpls., 612-379-4909, restaurantalma.com



Modern Cafe


It’s quirky but not affected. That’s because authentic neighborhood guy Jim Grell has played his own game just to see if anyone wants to come along for the ride. Recently, finally, he’s added a full bar and cocktails, which means Wednesdays can now become meat and whiskey pairing night. There’s some kind of magic in this 18-year-old place known for its pot roast, which continues to court new generations of eaters.
337 13th Ave. NE, Mpls., 612-378- 9882, moderncafeminneapolis.com




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