I spent the long (President's Day) weekend in Minneapolis with family per my annual tradition and of course we had a fantastic time. The Minneapolis food scene has just exploded in recent years and every time I visit I have such a positive experience. After having talked with a co-worker yesterday, we agreed that there is often a misconception about this - it's a totally underrated city at times! I wanted to recap everywhere I ate and drank so if you have plans to visit the twin cities any time soon, you have a resource to reference for some good eats.
A low-key and partially indoors winter market that includes a nice variety of vendors who sold everything from cheese spread to barbecue to strudels and infused juices. The market was smaller than we were anticipating but it could have just been the day (edited to add: the market is much more extensive in the summer!). The "Lowertown" location is great - it shares a building with OCTO fishbar and James Beard Award winning bakery Salty Tart (see next) so you can hit a few different places in one stop if you want.
After perusing the market, do not miss the chance to visit this bakery on your way out. Our group split the sour cherry chocolate chip cookie and a croissant (obviously) and both were insanely good. I am no croissant expert by any means but this was for sure the best one I have had. The seating is limited but they also have a lunch menu that I would love to try out on another day. Side note: on my way out of town I noticed one of these in the airport as well!
Just down the block from the market is Hygga, a charming cafe with a very community feel to it. By the way if you are unfamiliar with the term, "hygge" it seems to be all the rage lately and refers to acknowledging a feeling or moment, whether alone or with friends, at home or out, ordinary or extraordinary as cosy, charming or special. My mom and I split a BLT, cup of broccoli cheddar soup and a beet salad. Everything was tasty but I was most impressed with the atmosphere. I could see myself hanging out here for hours with some coffee and a book.
A solid coffee shop on Grand Avenue in Saint Paul, Bread & Chocolate was the perfect place to grab something warm to drink while browsing some of the local shops. I ordered their apparently well-known Swedish coffee (which was served with milk and spiced with cardamom and cinnamon) and it was the perfect amount of sweetness after lunch.
We visited two breweries on our trip but only ordered a beer at the first. Urban Growler was hosting a Bock release party and the weather was nice enough to have fire pits going outside for the celebration. My group split a couple of their pre-selected flights and really enjoyed all of the tasters (I especially liked the Midwest IPA). They also have a lot of indoor seating and a food menu which is a nice treat for a brewery. We popped into Bang next door to check out their space but unfortunately ran out of time and were not able to stay for a drink in there. Next time!
One of the highlights of this trip was a pop-up Sri Lankan dinner hosted at Our Kitchen (a diner that serves breakfast and lunch) in Minneapolis. Due to the Valentine's Day holiday we were treated to a five-course meal and it was such a unique experience. Heather Jansz (also known as The Curry Diva) hosts these dinners on Wednesdays and Saturdays on a weekly basis. You have to make a reservation in advance but I would highly recommend trying this out for a special non-traditional night out. We were served butternut squash soup, a beef/chicken cutlet over vegetables and yogurt sauce, a lamb dish, vegetable roti, then a warmed pear dish for dessert. Everything was seasoned just perfectly and was layered with so many amazing flavors. It was delicious food and a great dining experience all rolled into one.
We visited Lawless for an after-dinner drink and while I was not a fan of the drink I ordered (a variation of a gin and tonic that tasted watered down) a few people in our group ordered hot buttered rum and it was served with a s'more! So creative and fun. You even get to roast your own marshmallow and assemble it yourself, which definitely makes a visit here worth it.
If you are looking for a restaurant with amazing food without the pretentious vibe, look no further than Young Joni. In fact they describe their atmosphere as "both welcoming and sophisticated" and I think that about nails it.
To start, they have a speakeasy attached that more than makes up for the long wait times with creative and boozy cocktails that you can enjoy before sitting down to dinner. If you like peanuts you must try the Good Grief (just trust me on this one). Once in the restaurant, my group immediately commented on the stellar service. This is one of those places where family style dining is recommended and the plates come out as they are ready, so if you feel comfortable enough to share amongst the table I would go for that option. We went with the cauliflower, short ribs (the one thing I probably wouldn't order again although tasty), Japanese sweet potato and La Parisienne pizza which was just perfect. This is a place I would definitely want to hit again the next time I come back to town.
On my last day, we ate lunch at this bright and clean fast casual place and I really loved the Buddha Bowl dish that I ordered. It was a good size (especially since I couldn't take leftovers with me), the presentation was nice and the flavors really worked together. They also have soups, sandwiches, fresh squeezed juices and even some beers on tap if that's what suits your mood. This would be a nice option for a faster, yet still delicious lunch while bumming around town.