Updated Jul 14, 2023 - Food and Drink

Where the locals eat in the Twin Cities

Quang, Meteor, The Market at Malcolm Yards and Boludo. Photos: Audrey Kennedy and Torey Van Oot/Axios

The Twin Cities is home to a host of nationally recognized restaurants. But today, we want to recognize the ones that have been quietly doing their thing for years.

  • From family-owned institutions to under-the-radar cocktail bars, here are some of the places we go back to again and again.

🍜 Quang

  • Why we love it: If there's one stop you need to make on Eat Street, it's this Vietnamese institution. It's run by five of owner Lung Tran's children and has kept its traditional dishes at affordable prices.
  • Tip: Don't sleep on the cookies at checkout. They're cheap and the size of your head.

πŸ” The Nook/Shamrock's

  • Why we love them: The sister restaurants serve great burgers with a small town feel β€” and The Nook has an adjacent bowling alley for additional fun.
  • Tip: Both have five different kinds of Jucy Lucy's, including one inspired by Guy Fieri.

πŸ‡¦πŸ‡· Boludo

  • Why we love it: These diamond-shaped Argentinian pizzas quickly became a Twin Cities favorite when the first location opened in 2018. We're a fan of the savory pear pizza with gorgonzola, dill and pine nuts.
  • Tip: The pizzas and all empanadas can be made gluten-free for an extra charge.

πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡¨ Chimborazo

  • Why we love it: This authentic Ecuadorian restaurant is a local secret in Northeast Minneapolis, known for its date night deal, breakfast menu and saltado sandwich special.
  • Tip: The Ecuadorian Elvis Sandwich β€” sweet plantain, jam and bacon on toast, served with peanut sauce β€” is a brunch must.

🍝 Broders' Pasta Bar

  • Why we love it: The family-owned Italian restaurant is a south Minneapolis staple for a reason: the atmosphere is cozy and the pasta is fantastic.
  • Tip: Their date night special is a steal. An appetizer, two salads, two entrees and a carafe of wine for $62 a couple? Unbeatable.

πŸ— Brasa

  • Why we love it: Brasa is one of the rare restaurants where the takeout is just as great as dining in. The rotisserie chicken is consistently delicious and the family-style meals can feed the whole crew.
  • Tip: The side of baked macaroni and cheese is a must-order.

🀀 The Market at Malcolm Yards

  • Why we love it: The large variety of stands in this Prospect Park food hall ensures your entire group can find something they enjoy. Plus, each eatery has a coordinating cocktail at the market's Boxcar Bar.
  • Tip: It's a popular spot and parking can be difficult to find on weekends. Consider biking or taking the light rail, which has a stop just a few blocks away.

πŸ₯© Mancini's Char House

  • Why we love it: Manny's may be the steakhouse best known to out-of-towners, but this St. Paul institution has all the charm of your favorite supper club and the menu to match.
  • Tip: Come for the relish tray, stay to watch grandparents dance.

πŸ‡ΉπŸ‡· Black Sea Restaurant

  • Why we love it: The unassuming, takeout-only Turkish restaurant in St. Paul has been serving huge portions at affordable prices for decades.
  • Tip: Order the Black Sea combo with extra fries and thank me later.

β˜•οΈ Nina's Coffee Cafe

  • Why we love it: The decades-old coffee shop in the heart of the Cathedral Hill neighborhood is the perfect spot for eavesdropping and Instagrammable lattes.
  • Tip: The locals know it's actually pronounced like "nine-ahs".

🍸 Meteor Bar

  • Why we love it: Meteor is one of the newest establishment on our list, but this under-the-radar cocktail bar on the edge of North Loop is beloved by bartenders and those in the know.
  • Tip: The shot of the moment is always worth the $4.

πŸ₯ž Good Day Cafe

  • Why we love it: This cafe and bakery in St. Louis Park is the go-to spot for breakfast business meetings and affordable family brunches.
  • Tip: The dinner menu also includes breakfast entrees.

Editor's note: This story was originally published in September 2022 and updated in July 2023.


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