Best Restaurants

Best Restaurants 2012

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


The Bachelor Farmer

The most talked-about restaurant of the year. Chef Paul Berglund courts the older set with nostalgia and the younger set with technique. His modern take on Nordic cuisine has people redefining their memories. Don’t miss the toasts, and try the meatballs at least once. But it’s the dishes you didn’t expect that will hook you. The underlying Marvel Bar writes the book on cocktail creativity.
502nd Ave. N., Mpls., 612-206-3920,

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Matt Bickford and Mike Ryan aren’t just the sandwich kings anymore. Their scratch kitchen churns out killer brunch plates and an array of nightly dinner specials as well. Maybe you didn’t know they’d added beer and wine, tasting menu nights, and holiday pickup for their turducken. A nice evolution, indeed.
800 Washington Ave. N., Mpls., 612-767-4330,

Haute Dish

A cool-kids haunt of the first order, Haute Dish is like a clubhouse for North Loop loft dwellers. The bar is well stocked with rye and whiskey, the service is laid-back, and chef Landon Schoenefeld’s seasonal menus satisfy cravings for new executions while delivering that important feel-good Midwestern satisfaction. The meat-centric menu gives way on Sunday nights to the best vegetarian tasting menu around.
119 Washington Ave. N., Mpls., 612-338-8484,

Bar La Grassa


Isaac Becker’s second restaurant (his first is 112 Eatery; see opposite page) remains one of the hottest reservations in town. Is the James Beard Award the charm? Nah, La Grassa manages to be distinct enough for out-of-towners but comfortable enough to draw a cult of regulars. His creative pasta and snacky bruschetta have become definitive plates in our eating scene.
800 Washington Ave. N., Mpls., 612-333-3837,


Sea Change


Tim McKee might be the name on the door, but the name on many people’s lips is Jamie Malone, the new chef du cuisine. Since Erik Anderson left, Malone has carried on in his tradition while making the menu more fun and approachable. It’s a great spot for lunch, or take a seat at the raw bar when chef Holly Carson is in residence. It’s always a good time, meaning don’t slate it as pre-theater only or you’ll miss out.
806 S. 2nd St., Mpls., 612-225-6499,



Yes, Brenda Langton was a pioneer of local/organic food before it was de rigueur, but it’s more important to note that this chef isn’t stuck in the past. Her tiny corridor of a restaurant on the edge of the Mill City Farmers Market and Guthrie plaza keeps veggie heads and carnivores alike happy with fresh preparations that simply respect all ingredients. The lamb burger with Moroccan spices and the French toast laced with coconut milk and scented with rosewater and cardamom prove Langton won’t be limiting herself anytime soon.
750 S. 2nd St., Mpls., 612-436-2236,

6 Nearby Notables

Simply the best sushi-driven happy hour.
251 1st Ave. N., Mpls.

Pizza Lucé
Your late-night haunt for creative pizza pies.
119 N. 4th St., Mpls.

Moose & Sadie’s
Laptoppers and design creatives live off the organic egg breakfasts and fresh, eclectic lunch and dinner options.
212 3rd Ave. N., Mpls.

Toast Wine Bar
Focusing on local, organic, and biodynamic wineries is all good, and so is the thin-crust pizza and baked polenta.
415 N. 1st. St., Mpls.

One of the most romantic and cozy spots with Old World vibe and New World food.
903 Washington Ave. S., Mpls.

Zen Box Izakaya
New to the neighborhood with a distinctive Japanese beer selection and all things not-sushi served late.
602 Washington Ave. S., Mpls.

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