There’s an important difference between “eating” and “dining.” Eating is something you do every day; it can be amazing, but it’s not an
event. Dining is more like an event; it’s one part exceptional food and one part experience. There are hundreds of fantastic restaurants in Minneapolis, but some just go above and beyond when it comes to creating an experience that will stick with you long after that happy food-coma-nap you need after an epic meals. These 11 unique spots were chosen both for their food (or drinks) and for the overall dining experience.
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. Spoon and Stable
This downtown Minneapolis restaurant is truly unique - it’s built into a historic horse stable! The great atmosphere is only one small piece of what makes Spoon and Stable fantastic; the star of the show is, of course, the food. Chef Gavin Kaysen is a James Beard Award winner and a master of flavor. His dishes highlight local and seasonal Midwestern ingredients, fusing your favorite comfort foods with Kaysen’s famous French flair… and the result is deliciously beautiful.
Everything on this menu is carefully crafted, and you can definitely taste it. Some of the standout dishes are the out-of-this-world bison tartare, melt-in-your-mouth pot roast, incredibly fresh seafood, and the signature pork chop, but everything on this menu - from appetizer to dessert - is unique, complex, and stunningly plated, making this a treat for more than just your taste buds.
Oh, and then there’s brunch… which is almost indescribable. The pastries are something that as best appreciated in person… after devouring five of them and struggling to decide on a sixth.
Spoon and Stable is located at 211 N 1st St., Minneapolis, MN.
2. The Commodore Bar & Restaurant
If you loved The Great Gatsby, are a fan of the Jazz Era, or are just looking for one totally unique place to dine, The Commodore Bar & Restaurant is about to be your new favorite spot. This historic hotel has quite a history, packed with legends of the Roaring 20s and defined by a classic elegance and Art Deco style that is hard not to fall head-over-heels for.
It’s hard NOT to feel fancy here. Everything from the awe-inspiring ambience to the superbly crafted dishes are seeped in glamour. The cocktails are top-notch, appetizers like the ham and cheese croquettes and lobster deviled eggs are sure to satisfy, and the entrees are simply to-die-for. Top it all off with a decadent dessert and service that makes you feel like a celebrity make this a magical experience that won’t soon be forgotten.
Like many establishments of the era, Prohibition closed down the bar in the 1920s, but that didn’t stop the basement speakeasy from blooming into a spot celebrated by flappers and mobsters alike. In fact, even F. Scott Fitzgerald called the Commodore a favorite haunt! There’s just something special about this place that sends a shiver of excitement up your spine and makes you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
The Commodore Bar & Restaurant is located at 79 Western Ave. N, Saint Paul, MN.
FIKA is a super cool spot, and it’s way more than a simple cafe. This Nordic-style restaurant is actually located inside the American Swedish Institute, and part of the unique experience is having the opportunity to learn about the history and culture of the ancestral roots that run so deeply in our state. “FIKA” - taken from the name of the traditional Swedish daily break - gives a nod to both the rich past and modern presentation on a menu that features seasonal, locally-sourced ingredients.
The meals here are truly something special. They are prepared with great care to honor the culinary traditions and are spectacularly presented, making this a treat for both your eyes and your tastebuds. It’s hard to believe that the work of art on your plate is so reasonably priced!
If you are already familiar with Swedish cuisine, you definitely won’t be disappointed. If you are new to these dishes, don’t be scared of the admittedly difficult-to-pronounce names; be open-minded, try something different, and you just might find a new favorite meal! Save room for dessert - it’s heavenly!
FIKA is located in the Nelson Cultural Center of the American Swedish Institute at 2600 Park Ave., Minneapolis, MN.
4. Butcher & The Boar
Butcher & The Boar serves elevated comfort food like you’ve never tasted before. As their name suggests, this is a must-taste place for carnivores. They have an expert team of chefs that select the best meats, make handcrafted sausages, and put together an all-around delicious feast. If you have never tried boar before, this is the place to start… it simply doesn’t get better than this and there are a dozen different preparations to choose from.
Beyond the meats, Butcher & The Boar also places top priority on using locally sourced ingredients and even grow a ton of their own produce on the roof of the restaurant! You really can’t get much fresher than this, even at the best farm-to-table restaurants. You must try their fried green tomatoes... your taste buds will thank you.
In the warmer months, the outdoor beer garden is a fantastic spot to enjoy one of the unique sausages with buddies and Butcher & The Boar’s other specialty: bourbon. While there are also plenty of beers and wines to choose from, even non-bourbon-lovers might just find a new favorite among the top-notch barrel selections served here.
Butcher & The Boar is located at 1121 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, MN.
5. Al’s Breakfast
Al’s Breakfast proves that you don’t need to be fancy to serve great food. This iconic spot in Dinkytown near the University of Minnesota is definitely one-of-a-kind; it was built into a former alleyway and is the narrowest restaurant in Minneapolis! With only 14 seats, Al’s is crazy-busy at peak hours, so be prepared to wait… we promise it’s worth it. Come with a good attitude and you definitely won’t be disappointed.
Between the epic omelettes, flapjacks, and magical bacon, it’s impossible to pick a favorite here. The menu is straightforward and packed with all of the best breakfast staples, which are prepared to glorious perfection. The best part? Al’s definitely won’t break the bank. The prices are unreal for the size and quality of your meal, which definitely takes the edge off of waiting for a seat with a growling stomach. The whole experience is something every Minneapolitan must do before they die.
Al’s Breakfast is located at 413 14th Ave. SE, Minneapolis, MN.
6. George & The Dragon
It’s hard to find a dish that is anything less than fantastic at George & The Dragon! Although dressed up as a comfy old-school British pub, this restaurant serves way more than your average pub fare and their menu is quite diverse; alongside their excellent burgers and killer fried green beans (not to mention a to-die-for cheesy bacon onion dip), you will also find a super delicious Bahn Mi sandwich, awesome salads named after British Queens, and the famous Asian Hangover… it’s five-spice pork over Jasmine rice with garlic green beans and a fried egg. Your tastebuds will explode with just one bite.
They also have an impressive beer list with some unique brews and special nitros, but one of the standout drinks is actually their homemade ginger ale! To top it all off, their prices are reasonable, especially for the quality of food you receive. Call ahead if you can, it can get quite busy at peak hours!
George & The Dragon is located at 813 W 50th St. Minneapolis, MN.
7. The Bad Waitress
Know before you go: it’s not bad service. That’s how it’s supposed to be. Just look at the name! Your server isn’t ignoring you. Yes, you take your own order. Expect to wait. It’s definitely an unique spot, but that’s part of the charm. Now that this has been made abundantly clear, let’s get to the food. It’s delicious.
It’s hard to beat breakfast served all day, and nobody does breakfast than a good old fashioned diner. The various Scramblers are awesome, the pancakes and Cinnamon Apple French Toast are super tasty. There are plenty of vegetarian and vegan options and the restaurant uses organic and locally-sourced ingredients to craft their dishes. Definitely don’t miss the “cawfee”… it’s simply divine (and bottomless!)
Don’t go into The Bad Waitress with a bad attitude. Expect an experience that’s weird and wonderful all at once. This probably isn’t the place to take your sweet grandmother if she isn’t in on the theme, but the tongue-in-cheek style here makes it definitely worth a taste.
The Bad Waitress is located at 2 E 26th St., Minneapolis, MN.
8. Psycho Suzy’s Motor Lounge
A trip to Psycho Suzy’s Motor Lounge is hard to describe. It could be middle of the darkest depths of winter, but this vibrant tropically-themed spot could convince you that you have taken a lovely little vacation to an island paradise. In the midst of summer, a seat on the patio will make you swear you’ve died and gone to heaven. Don’t even try to work out what that means until you’ve experienced this deliciously unusual restaurant.
The Tiki bar drinks are certainly a highlight, but the food at Psycho Suzy’s shouldn’t be overlooked, especially the pizzas. They have some truly unique combinations, including the Thailand Island (roasted chicken, pineapple, thai chili, green pepper, and pickled carrots with spicy peanut sauce) and the Riviera (sausage, herbed goat cheese, and balsamic onion with Pinot Grigio garlic sauce). The burgers and sandwiches here are pretty darn delicious too, and you will definitely have a hard time picking just one appetizer (hint: order them all… you know you want to).
We think Suzy says it best when trying to explain what the heck is going on here: “Psycho Suzy’s has been lighting up Nordeast Minneapolis with a passive-aggressive mixture of bad taste and good Minnesota hospitality.” No amount of hilariously kitschy decor could overwhelm the power of a good meal.
Psycho Suzy’s Motor Lounge is located at 1900 Marshall St. NE, Minneapolis, MN.
9. Betty Dangers Country Club
Don’t be put off by that name; this is not your typical country club. In fact, it’s pretty much the opposite of a country club. I mean… there’s a Ferris Wheel. A glorious, giant Ferris Wheel with an amazing view of downtown Minneapolis. Sure, there’s also an 8.5 hole (mini) golf course…but with holes named “800 lb. Gorilla in the Country Club” and “Free Bear Hugs Ahead!” even the most adamant non-golfers can’t help but crack a smile. Everything about this place is a fantasy, and we love it.
Betty Dangers Country Club has a small menu of Tex-Mex dishes; head for the Taco Bar. The standout stars here really are the drinks… and the unabashed irony served on the side. Come for the margaritas and the eclectic experience, order the food as hangover prevention. It’s not fine dining, but from the top of the Ferris Wheel, who cares?
Betty Dangers Country Club is located at 2501 Marshall St. NE, Minneapolis, MN.
10. Galactic Pizza
Stepping into Galactic Pizza is like diving into a comic book! The superhero theme here is absolutely one-of-a-kind, and the playful atmosphere definitely makes for a unique experience! Alongside your favorite pizza combinations, your find some fun new toppings to try, and every pie is available in vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free preparations.
Everything about Galactic Pizza is endearing, from the delicious pizza to extra friendly staff to the fantasy world created inside. Even if you decide on delivery over a trip to this vibrant pizza joint, you’ll still get a full serving of fun - the delivery drivers don superhero costumes!
The theme here runs deeper than just the presentation; Galactic Pizza was created with a specific vision for a positive future, including the use of organic, sustainably-grown, local ingredients, recyclable and biodegradable packaging, and donating 5% of profits to charity. It’s hard not to love a fantastically tasty spot with a mission to make the world a better place!
Galactic Pizza is located at 2917 Lyndal Ave. S, Minneapolis, MN. Check out their
for delivery information and an online ordering option!
11. Travail Kitchen & Amusements
This list wouldn’t be complete with our Travail Kitchen & Amusements. This restaurant is like nothing you’ve ever experienced before. It’s out-of-this-world, unbelievably delicious, and they aren’t exaggerating about the “amusements” part… this meal is as much a show as it is a fine dining experience.
There are no menus here. You don’t make reservations, you buy tickets. They aren’t cheap (they range from $74 to $113, depending on day and time) and seating is limited because this culinary performance is meant to be enjoyed on a personal level. Meals are prepared right in front of you, include 14-20 chef’s choice tasting courses, and integrate all kinds of molecular gastronomy tricks that truly looks like magic.
The whole experience is impossible to describe… the complex, rich, playful dishes aren’t just for your tastebuds; this meal is inspiring to all of the senses. The dazzling display will leave your head spinning, and it’s is worth every penny.
Travail Kitchen & Amusements is located at 4124 W Broadway, Robbinsdale, MN.
Are you hungry yet? Just writing this list made our stomachs growl! There are so many unbelievably awesome spots to eat in Minneapolis, but you should definitely add these restaurants to your bucket list!