Throughout Minnesota, there are many well-known restaurants that are well worth going to. They’ve been featured in national media and are held up as some of the best dining experiences Minnesota has to offer. But there are plenty of lesser known restaurants that deserve praise, too. Here are Minnesota’s 11 best, most delicious hidden restaurants – and where to find them.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Trail Center Lodge - Grand Marais
Down the 57-mile stretch that is the Gunflint Trail, the Trail Center Lodge may just be the most remote restaurant in all of Minnesota. The restaurant is 30 miles from downtown Grand Marais, and the beautiful drive alone makes it well worth a visit. Ordering a hearty meal just makes it that much better. The enormous breakfast pancakes come highly recommended.
Address: 7611 Gunflint Trail, Grand Marais.
2. The Whistling Bird - Gilbert
The Whistling Bird is quite the surprise to most first-time guests. It is located deep in the Iron Range, an area of Minnesota not known for its restaurants. Couple that with the bright tropical theme, and you're in for a completely unique dining experience. From the vivid decor to the flavorful menu - not to mention the tropical drinks - every detail of this hidden restaurant is sure to delight.
Address: 101 Broadway, Gilbert.
3. Brass Rail - Grandy
Grandy, Minnesota, is a tiny unincorporated community about 50 miles north of the Twin Cities. But the population swells when Brass Rail opens for business - especially on weekends. This little restaurant has been serving up its famous broasted chicken for decades. Grab a beer, order a couple of sides to go along with it, and you'll have an unforgettable meal.
Address: 36868 Highway 65 Northeast, Grandy.
4. Maucieri's Italian Bistro - Crosslake
Here's another northern Minnesota restaurant that is well worth visiting. Maucieri's serves up incredible Italian food in a comfortable and cozy setting. Their menu is full of classics that will please even the pickiest eater. Next time you're in the area, give this family-owned restaurant a whirl. You will not be disappointed.
Address: 34650 County Road 3, Crosslake.
5. Bayport BBQ - Bayport
Bayport BBQ has been on the map ever since it was featured on the Food Network's
Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. But there are still many Minnesotans who aren't aware of this small-town dining destination. If you're a fan of savory, Texas-style barbecue, you'll want to stop in to this hidden restaurant in small-town Minnesota. Address: 328 5th Avenue North, Bayport.
6. Kaffe Stuga - Harris
Harris isn't much more than a wide place in the road, but Kaffe Stuga makes it worth a stop. This family-owned restaurant serves up home style meals to locals and travelers alike. The cozy decor and menu full of favorites will not disappoint. It's a great place to see a friendly face, and an even better spot to grab a delicious meal.
Address: 43821 Forest Boulevard, Harris.
7. Carl's Corner - Essig
Essig, Minnesota, is about 100 miles southwest of the Twin Cities, but that doesn't mean this tiny town isn't full of life. Much of it congregates at Carl's Corner, a homey establishment that specializes in cranking out plate after plate of flavorful food. If you're looking for a good place to stop on your travels, stop in to this hidden restaurant for a hearty meal.
Address: 21378 1st Street, Essig.
8. Trestle Inn - Finland
Because the town is over 60 miles north of Duluth, it may come as a surprise that Finland has a restaurant as tasty as the Trestle Inn. This restaurant is so hidden that it is surrounded by forest on all sides. In the winter, many guests choose to snowmobile in. But even if you drive, you're going to get an excellent meal in a friendly atmosphere. This hidden restaurant is well worth the drive.
Address: 7 Cramer Road, Finland.
9. Rapidan Dam Store - Rapidan
For those in the know, summertime in Mankato isn't complete without a visit to the Rapidan Dam Store. But there are many who are just not aware of this little restaurant. It's full of vintage charm and is located right next to some beautiful scenery. And if that isn't enough, the food is great, too. Don't leave without ordering a slice of pie.
Address: 54116 Glory Lane, Rapidan.
10. The Good Life Cafe - Park Rapids
We like the Good Life Cafe because, though it is located far from any huge metro areas, it serves up food as good as anywhere. When you step in, you'll be greeted with a modern space swimming in warmth and hospitality. And when you open the menu, you'll be delighted to discover a huge array of tasty options.
Address: 220 Main Avenue South, Park Rapids.
11. Tutti Fruitti Kitchen and Market Farm - Sauk Centre
If you really want to travel off the beaten track for your next meal, why not visit a farm? Tutti Fruitti is located on a family-owned farm in Sauk Centre, Minnesota. Not only do they sell fresh produce, but in 2012, they opened a kitchen where they dish up home-cooked meals as fast as you can order them. This little restaurant has a family friendly atmosphere that will make you feel right at home.
Address: 38914 County Road 186, Sauk Centre.
Visiting hidden restaurants is one of the most fun ways to explore Minnesota. Do you have any others to share? Let us know in the comments below!