Minnesota is full of renowned restaurants that have gotten lots of local and national press. These spots tend to fill up quickly, with hungry diners hoping to get in on the latest and greatest that Minnesota chefs have to offer. That’s always fun, but there’s something to be said for the more low-key spots in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. These 11 mouthwatering restaurants may not be world-renowned, but you can go there knowing that you never need a reservation. Take a look:
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. The Viking Cafe - Fergus Falls
Located in downtown Fergus Falls, this historic restaurant has been family-owned for nearly 50 years. The cozy, welcoming interior will make you feel right at home, and the food is simply delicious. Locals and out-of-towners flock to this eatery for great breakfast options and tasty lunch items. For example, you can’t go wrong with the Fancy Nancy: homemade hash browns smothered in mushrooms, green peppers, onions, tomatoes, and cheese. It’s a great way to start your day.
Address: 203 West Lincoln Avenue, Fergus Falls, MN.
2. Newt's - Rochester
If you’re looking for a great burger in Rochester, Newt’s is the place to go. Newt’s may not look like much on the outside, but the friendly staff and fair prices keep bringing people back. The Marvin Burger is a standout menu item created by and named after a cook. Your taste buds will be more than satisfied by the secret blend of seasonings with cheddar cheese, hardwood smoked hickory bacon, and tangy chipotle mayo. Yum!
Address: 5231 East Frontage Road Highway 52, Rochester, MN.
3. Chickadee Cottage Cafe - Lake City
The small town of Lake City, located on the banks of the Mississippi River, is the perfect little place to go when you want to get away for awhile. For lunch, check out the cute yellow house called Chickadee Cottage Cafe. This beautiful cafe, with its pretty front flower garden, serves the tastiest breakfast you’ll find in the area. The smell of homemade breads and desserts will draw you in, and the amazing staff and delicious food will bring you back again and again.
Address:317 North Lakeshore Drive, Lake City, MN.
4. The Rustic Inn - Two Harbors
If you only make one stop on your trip up to the North Shore, make sure its to Rustic Inn. Large portions and great prices have been the name of the game at this restaurant since it opened in 1986. Today, many visitors have made this charming eatery their favorite place to stop for a fantastic bite to eat. Service is always quick, but you won’t want to leave! Top off your meal with a slice of homemade pie.
Address: 2773 MN 61, Two Harbors, MN.
5. Babani's Kurdish Restaurant - St. Paul
Babani’s Kurdish Restaurant, located in St Paul, was the first Kurdish restaurant to open in the United States! Offering dishes that cater to both herbivores and carnivores, the traditional spices used in Kurdish cooking bring unique flavor to every menu item. The Kubey Sawar - crushed wheat made into a dough and filled with lean ground beef, spices, and onion then sauteed in olive oil - is a standout palate pleaser.
Address: 32 Fillmore Avenue East, Saint Paul, MN.
6. Stewie's Subs - Forest Lake
It’s hard to find a great sub shop that isn’t a major chain, but we’re here to tell you about what may be the best sub shop in the state. Stewie’s Subs serves up classic favorites such as the Italian and the Philly, with some local favorites thrown in there as well. The Mio Dio, consisting of turkey, pepperoni, salami, onion, green pepper, tomato, cheese, lettuce, and Italian mayo, is a guilty pleasure for many. You’ll never need a reservation at this shop, but you should get there early for lunch. This little restaurant fills up fast!
Address: 804 Lake Street South, Forest Lake, MN.
7. Merlin's Family Restaurant - Princeton
Breakfast is the favorite meal of the day at Merlin’s Family Restaurant. Many tout the eggs benedict as the best they’ve ever tasted. Not only is the food delicious, but the portions are so large that you could split an entree and still be stuffed. With daily breakfast specials, there is something for every diner in your group at Merlin’s. And excellent news for breakfast lovers: Merlin’s will prepare your breakfast dream dish all day long!
Address: 504 19th Avenue North, Princeton, MN.
8. Minnesota Nice Cafe - Bemidji
We’ve all heard of Minnesota Nice, but now you can eat it, too. The Minnesota Nice cafe is a charming spot in Bemidji that features fast, friendly service and great food. The house-made biscuits, served with a heaping of sausage gravy, is an absolute must-try. Next time you’re in Bemidji, be sure to overlook this friendly family eatery.
Address: 315 Irvine Avenue Northwest, Bemidji, MN.
9. The Dam - Orr
In the northern reaches of Minnesota lies the tiny town of Orr. There may not be a lot of people here, but there is a fantastic restaurant that serves great food to people from miles around. The homemade soups are a fan favorite, especially the chicken noodle! Weather too warm for soup? You can’t go wrong with any of the sandwiches on the menu - but good luck picking one out of the many delicious options. The menu at The Dam is quite extensive, so come hungry!
Address: 4247 Highway 53, Orr, MN.
10. El Agave - St. Peter
Next time you’re craving Mexican food, El Agave might be exactly what you need. The colorful decor inside will have you feeling like you’re at a fiesta, and the large portions of great dishes will leave you stuffed. If you’re overwhelmed by the many excellent menu options, try the Burritos Deluxe. It’s two burritos - one chicken, one beef - topped with lettuce, pico de gallo, and sour cream. You’ll absolutely love it.
Address: 814 N Minnesota Avenue, St. Peter, MN.
11. Bello Cucina - Marshall
This Italian eatery is a gem in the town of Marshall. Bello Cucina has become a staple for many who crave hand-tossed pizzas. But this restaurant delivers more than great pizza. Any of the pasta dishes is a delight, but the Boom Boom Pow is a knockout. It consists of spicy smoked bacon, asparagus, and garlic over linguine. Yum! But if that won’t do it, there are plenty of other great options. Your meal at Bello Cucina will have you planning your return trip before you even leave.
Address: 100 W College Drive, Marshall, MN.
Ever been to any of these mouthwatering restaurants? Got any others to add to the list? Let us know in the comments below!