★ BEST FRENCHY MAITRE D' ★
Nico Giraud of Meritage
410 St. Peter St., St. Paul,
Nicolas Giraud is charming, smart, and wine-wise, not to mention French. Ask him to read all the Burgundies out loud—it’s worth it.
★ BEST REASON TO BREAK CURFEW ★
Masu Sushi & Robata
330 Hennepin Ave. E.,
Late-night eaters have a new haunt. The midnight hour can find itself as busy as
★ MOST DRIVEN (LITERALLY) ★
7 pm at Masu. This is the realm of post-event eaters and those with East Coast habits (not so much the blind drunks you’ll find a couple hours later looking for pizza). They provide a happy hum to the place as they dig into steamed buns, pork belly ramen, robata, and sushi to which a plate of cake ’n’ eggs at some greasy diner couldn’t hold a candle.
791 Raymond Ave.,
St. Paul, 651-888-2255,
She might be the hardest-working woman in the biz. It’s been a scant three years since Erica Strait pedaled—on a bike—smoothies and falafels at the Kingfield Farmers Market. This naturally led her to launch a food truck, which naturally led her this past year to open the quaint shoebox restaurant of Foxy fame. Service is lightning fast, and the food, blissfully, is deliciously slow. Starring three signature falafels crafted from sprouted chickpeas—fresh herb, fragrant curry, or brilliant beets—with a trio of sauces (cucumber mint yogurt, lemon tahini, harissa), the menu evolves daily. She’s always adding to her repertoire, recently with lamb burgers, a gorgeously thick, crisp cauliflower “steak,” and now brunch items! What’s next?
★ BEST REASON TO BOOK A ROOM ★
601 1st Ave. N.,
The splashy see-and-be-seen days may have passed on to other spots, but Cosmos is still putting out serious food and has one of the best pastry chefs in the state.
★ BEST STEAK HOUSE FOR VEGETARIANS ★
The Strip Club Meat & Fish
378 Maria Ave.,
St. Paul, 651-793-6247,
If you love your carnivore enough to eat alongside her, you’ll be happy here with the most amazing roasted cauliflower with hominy and parm, Brussels with feta, and crispy fried veg, but you will still be mocked.
★ BEST PLACE TO FALL OFF THE VEGETARIAN WAGON ★
Manny's Steak House
825 Marquette Ave.,
You tried. Applause for the effort, but if you’re gonna fall, fall hard with a bludgeon of beef or a plate of thick-cut Nueske’s bacon for starters.
★ HOT TREND ★
Beer's Plus One
Beer lovers who love their beer sometimes want to keep that love pure and simple. Let’s not fussy up our night of beer drinking with too much food, and definitely not too much fussy food. You might say that it all started in Ireland with Guinness and fish and chips, just like at our beloved Anchor Fish & Chips (theanchorfishandchips.com). But lately it has become even more simplified. Devil’s Advocate (devilsadvocatebar.com) opened this year with a dazzling array of beers and a menu focusing on meatballs, just meatballs. Now New Bohemia Wurst+BierHaus (newbohemia usa.com) has entered the game with a raucous amount of beer and a smattering of wurst with some dipping sauces for flash. Note: burgers don’t count in this discussion, as they occupy an entirely different culinary plane. They do.
★ FRESHEST CATCH ★
Sea Salt Eatery
4801 Minnehaha Ave. S.,
Truly we are landlocked . . . except from April through October when the ocean and its fruits are unleashed on the waiting hordes at Minnehaha Park.
★ BEST CHEF'S TABLE ★
2903 Lyndale Ave. S.,
There’s no better place to sit and watch the crafty machinations of one of the Twin Cities’ top chefs than in the great glass kitchen.
★ BEST NEW UPTOWN BAR ★
3001 Hennepin Ave. S.,
Things are always a-churning in Uptown, the land of the young and renting. Lately people have been bemoaning the upscaling of Uptown, with retail giants and national chains taking over the real estate once know for its local, quirky independence. Well, a local has moved back in. Matty O’Reilly spent his early 20s in a house a few blocks off the corner where he now has installed a second outpost of his popular beer hall. On the second floor of Calhoun Square, Republic doesn’t have the glammy glimmer that Bar Louie has, nor does it have the prime street-side access of Primebar. But it does have a great beer list, a low-key vibe for the non-rooftoppers, absolutely scrumptious buttermilk wings, and a local, quirky independence.
★ BEST DELIVERY ★
3016 Lyndale Ave. S.,
Maybe the best reason to get a divorce and move back to Uptown. You can’t cook if she got all the utensils, right? And that chicken with double chili pepper will burn your anger right out of you.