The Big List: Frank’s Favorite Twin Cities Restaurants

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A golden cat waves next to a menu at a bar and restaurant

You wanted it, you got it: all of my Twin Cities restaurant recommendations on one page. It’s a long page, but it’s one page.

These are the places I send friends and travelers when they ask me where to eat in the area. They’re not the only good ones, of course, but these restaurants have earned my good words through months – sometimes even years – of consistently great food, drinks, and service.

They’ve been good to me over and over and over. In many cases, they’ve been good to people I care about (that’s you!) over and over and over. I know I missed a few, and there will undoubtedly be additions. Similar to my other lists, this will be a sort of living document I’ll be regularly updating. Last update: March 11, 2019.

TOP SPOTS

A sign at Butcher and the Boar advertising their Beer, Brat and a Shot special
Butcher and the Boar

Butcher and the Boar, Downtown Minneapolis
Website: butcherandtheboar.com
What I get: If I’m sitting in the dining room, I’m starting with the peanut butter-stuffed jalapenos ($6) and following that up a salmon salad ($22). That’s because I’m watching my cholesterol; otherwise, I’m stabbing the menu with closed eyes and just ordering whatever my finger lands on. If I see fried green tomatoes on the menu, I’m getting those too. I’m taking way too long perusing the bourbon list.

If I’m in the beer garden, I’m kicking things off with the hot link croquettes or hot Brussels sprouts (both $7) and getting the Beer, Brat and a Shot deal ($12): a pint of Fulton Standard, house-made bratwurst, and a shot of Jim Beam Black. I wrote a post a couple of years back explaining how to most effectively perform Beer, Brat and a Shot. Check it out!

Ronnally’s Pizza, Woodbury
Website: ronnallys.com
What I get: I’m just getting a large create-your-own pizza ($14.50 and up) with whatever toppings pique my fancy at the time BUT I’m probably also grabbing a full-sized Ronnally’s mac and cheese ($13) for the road.
I’ve had the full-sized lasagna with red sauce ($14) twice in the last three weeks, and I’m thinking about calling another order in as I type this. I’m almost always getting the garlic cheese toast on the side. It costs extra ($1 per slice) but I don’t care.

What am I drinking? Whatever I feel like! Ronnally’s is BYOB, don’cha know? Friends and I have been known to fill the five-person table in the back left corner with a mess of bottles, pizzas, and pasta plates. It’s glorious. Read more about Ronnally’s here!

6Smith, Wayzata
Website: 6smith.com
What I get: You know 6Smith for their weekly Fat Pants Friday monstrosities, a couple of which I helped create ($10). They start rolling out at lunchtime on Fridays, and are often sold out before we’re even back to our desks.

At happy hour, I’m getting the stoner fries ($7). I always ask for them to be made “extra stoner.” What that means is entirely up to the kitchen. I might also dive into a plate of sriracha-glazed chicken wings ($7) or salmon sliders ($8). I’m probably drinking Summit EPA ($4 at happy hour)

At dinnertime, I’m pretty much a 100-percent lock to chomp into a venison Juicy Lucy. Almost every restaurant has their take on the iconic Minnesota burger, but few do it like 6Smith does. Can’t miss it. Read more about 6Smith here!

Hudson Bagel and Coffee Co., Hudson
Website: hudsonbagel.com
What I get: I’m getting a cheddar bagel, toasted, with plain cream cheese ($2.49) – if they haven’t sold out of it by the time I get there. If they have, I’m getting a bagel melt ($3.69). You can’t go wrong at Hudson Bagel, though. All you have to do is enjoy bagels. Their website says it right on the front page and I’ll repeat it here with no hesitation: “Absolutely the best bagels anywhere in the bread basket of the Midwest.”

Actually, I’d shorten it: “Absolutely the best bagels anywhere.” Read more about Hudson Bagel here!

MINNEAPOLIS/WEST SUBURBS

A pizza with pepperonis and jalapenos at a restaurant in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Tavern Pie, Young Joni

Fat Nat’s Eggs, New Hope/Brooklyn Park/Mpls.
Website: fatnatseggs.com
When I go: Breakfast
What I get: I’m almost always getting the bacon avocado eggs benedict ($10.50). I’m always looking at the monthly special, because sometimes they’ve got a national treasure like a chili cheese omelette available. For an everyday omelette, I suggest Emily’s omelette. It’s the one with SPICY written all-caps in the description. Read more about Fat Nat’s Eggs here!

Tori 44, Minneapolis
Website: toriramen.com
When I go: Lunch
What I get: Any given office day, you’ll see me around 11:30 a.m. swearing with delight over my bowl of DRAMEN ($15). If I’m in the mood for cold noodles, it’s the hot hot Dan Dan Noodles ($12). Groups of us will get the boneless chicken wings ($7) and a bottle of root beer ($6). Fun fact: the root beer here is made by Hopkins-based LTD Brewing. Read more about Tori 44 here!

Choo Choo Restaurant and Bar, Loretto (ROAD TRIP!)
Website: choochooloretto.com
When I go: Lunch/happy hour
What I get: Mark’s Choo Choo Wings ($9.95/dozen). I’m either getting a dozen wings for myself and relaxing inside the caboose at lunchtime, or I’m flying out there to get three dozen wings for a team putlock at work. At happy hour, you guessed it: Mark’s Choo Choo Wings, but with a tall Summit EPA. Read more about the Choo Choo here!

Constantine, Minneapolis
Website: constantinempls.com
When I go: Happy hour
What I get: Look at this happy hour! LOOK AT IT!! I get the 3 for $13 because obviously, and that’s usually some combination of a burger, tater barrels, house wine, or the beer/bump. Since one item by itself is only $5, you can easily make a 4 for $18 meal and be no less satisfied. I know. I do it all the time.

Ninetwentyfive, Wayzata
Website: ninetwentyfive.com
When I go: Happy hour
What I get: One order of wild rice pine-nut fritters ($11) is rarely enough – I often wind up ordering two. I also really enjoy the pulled pork sliders ($14). The ninetwentyfive burger isn’t cheap ($16), but it’s an absolutely savage delight. I’m probably having a glass of red wine with it (varies). Read more about ninetwentyfive here!

Lions Tap, Eden Prairie
Website: lionstap.com
When I go: Burger Time
What I get: I’m getting a Double California ($9.90 without cheese; $11.05 with cheese) and an order of French fries ($2.45). Depending on who I’m with, I’m possibly following this up with three more single cheeseburgers ($4.75 apiece). Whaaaaat?! Sometimes we’re hungry. Read more about Lions Tap here!

Young Joni, Northeast Minneapolis
Website: youngjoni.com
When I go: Dinner/Pizza Time
What I get: I’m still feeling out the Young Joni menu, but I’m comfortable putting Ann Kim’s new restaurant here in advance of the many, many Tavern Pies ($15) I’ll enjoy before my time is up. 
You’ll want to make a reservation if you stop in. Even if you’re not coming at peak hours, you’re playing a dangerous game if you just drop in expecting an open seat. I’ve never been in the back bar, and I refuse to call it a speakeasy.

Sea Salt Eatery, Minneapolis
Website: https://seasalteatery.wordpress.com/
When I go: On weekends during the spring and summer when they’re open (check website for seasonal hours).
What I get: I get the pound of catfish ($18) and probably a crab cake ($12). My dude Hornish wants one order of calimari to himself ($10.95) but always gets two because he knows everybody is going to bogart his whole order if he doesn’t. Read more about Sea Salt Eatery here!

ST. PAUL/EAST SUBURBS

A dish of macaroni and cheese sits on a counter
Mac and Cheese, Ronnally’s

COOK, St. Paul
Website: cookstp.com
When I go: Breakfast, special events
What I get: If I came for breakfast, I came for the Skip’s Choice ($15). Best steak and eggs in the Twin Cities. Fight me. I have it with coffee ($3). They get it locally from True Stone Coffee Roasters.

I can’t get there for lunch often, but I really like the Bi Bim Bop bowl ($12). I get this with an Eddie Wu ($3.50), a mixture of chai tea and lemonade. If I’ve had that kind of day, I dial up a Drunken Wu ($7), an Eddie Wu with sake mixed in.

If you ever hear an announcement about a pop-up at COOK, anytime, drop whatever you’re doing and go. Just go. Read more about COOK here!

D Spot, Oakdale
Website: http://www.eatatdspot.com/
When I go: Wing O’Clock, yo!
What I get: Puff the Magic Dragon ($9/half dozen, $15/dozen) is what I dial up when I don’t want to think about it, but the Vaporizers (same price) are crazy nice, too. I often come here feeling adventurous, so I’m all over the map here. Did you read about the time I tried eating chef Darin Koch’s hottest wings and Koch himself had to come out and check on me?

D Spot takes good care of people who can’t handle heat, and I don’t just mean their far-reaching selection of mild wings (My play: Samurai wings). The burgers and fries here don’t get nearly the attention they deserve. D Spot was doing the 50/50 beef/bacon patties before it was cool, and you can still get one there for $7.99. The Cajun fries will hook you until the basket is empty.

RJ Riches, Mounds View
Website: rjrichesrestaurant.com
When I go: Breakfast
What I get: If I need to show someone the pancake, I get the Riches challenge ($10.99). That’s two eggs, a potato (I get hashed browns), a meat (I get ham) and one large buttermilk pancake – and there’s no proper way to articulate exactly what “large buttermilk pancake” means here. I get a chocolate chip pancake.

If I need to show someone the omelette, I get that ($11.99). It’s a five-egg omelette that comes with hashed browns, and by “comes” I mean they’re stuffed inside the omelette. Now imagine how big that pancake probably is. Read more about the RJ Riches pancake here AND read about the omelet here!

A large pancake covers its plate on a counter at a restaurant in Newport, Minnesota
North Pole Restaurant

North Pole Restaurant, Newport
Website: northpolerestaurant.com
When I go: Breakfast
What I get: I’m most likely getting two chocolate chip pancakes ($7.50). If I’m really hitting it hard, I dial up the North Pole breakfast special with a ham slice ($9.50). I’m drinking twice as much coffee as a normal person would.

The North Pole is technically open until 7 p.m. Monday-Friday, but I’ve never had anything but breakfast. Read about the North Pole Restaurant here!

Salty Tart Bakery, Minneapolis/St. Paul
Website: saltytart.com
When I go: Lunch
What I get: I’m in-and-out during the work week with a Beet Bowl ($10) and maybe a quiche ($5). There’s no way in hell I’m missing out on the salted caramel tart ($5) though. The place is called Salty Tart. Of course you get the salty tart!

Half Time Rec, St. Paul
Website: halftimerec.com
When I go: Happy hour
What I get: Half Time Rec has burgers specials throughout the week (find them here!) and great Game Day specials, but the drinks benefit most at happy hour here. That’s fine. I’ll still reach into the hot dog menu for a Cork ($10). The Paddy Shack Burger is happy hour-priced full time ($10) and is cruising toward staple status in St. Paul.

The Nook, St. Paul
Website: crnook.com
When I go: Burger Time, happy hour
What I get: I’m getting an order of Pot O’ Gold wings ($12.25/dozen) if I’ve got a group. Otherwise, I’m getting a Juicy Nookie Burger ($11.25) with waffle fries ($2.25 extra) and that’s that. If seating is available in the basement, that’s where you sit. Make sure you’ve got an extra $1 bill handy.

A burger stuffed with cheese curds and topped with French fries sits on a restaurant table in Minnesota
Poutine Burger, Dan’s Bar and Grill

Dan’s Bar and Grill, New Trier (ROAD TRIP!)
Website: dansbarandgrill.com
When I go: Hardcore Burger Time
What I get: In the span of a month, I tore through their stuffed burger menu. The Poutine Burger ($10.95) is a revelation, but I most often keep it simple with a Scooter Burger ($10.95). Do you take the waffle fries upgrade here? You take the waffle fries upgrade everywhere! Come on. Read more about Dan’s here!

Mama’s Pizza, St. Paul
Website: mamaspizzaparlor.com
When I go: Dinner
What I get: I might get a large build-your-own pizza ($14 and up) but I’m definitely getting a large order of mastaccioli ($8.50). Baked cheese and two meatballs on top brings the total to $14.00, but I never head home without it. For what it’s worth, my mother-in-law loves the special Hot Diego ($10). The miniature ice cream cone at the end of your meal is free. Read more about Mama’s here!

OCTO Fish Bar, St. Paul
Website: octostp.com
When I go: Happy hour, dinner
What I get: I get at least one shrimp steamed bun at happy hour ($4.50) and follow that with the octopus bolognese ($16). The pacu ribs aren’t on the menu right now, but I really enjoy them. Read more about OCTO Fish Bar here!

Revival, Mpls./St. Paul
Website: revivalfriedchicken.com
When I go: After my friends and I have all gone into Feast Mode.
What we get: Everything. We roll at least five people deep. This is the only way I do Revival. We get a whole chicken ($29), Tennessee Hot. At least two of us get Revival Burgers ($11.50 single/$14.5 double/$18.5 triple). At least two sides of maraconi and cheese hit the table ($6 apiece). I get the mashed potatoes and gravy ($5), no matter how much other food I’ve ordered.

1 COMMENT

  1. One thing about the R J Riches pancake. I take the leftovers home and use it to make bread pudding. Really nice.

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