Local Eats: Top Ten

Anyone who knows me knows that I can be quite cheap. However, my bank account might say otherwise; every month I burn through quite a bit of money on one thing: eating out. There are few things I delight in more than adventure, food, and good company. Thus, I’ve made a habit of taking friends to try new places. Lucky for me the Twin Cities is consistently ranked one of the best cities for foodies.

I figured it was about time to “pass the plate” and share. Below is my top 10 list of Twin Cities eats:

1) Shish: Not surprising for anyone who knows me, this place is simply my favorite. This Mediterranean cafe is reasonably priced, has great service, and a warm atmosphere. For breakfast I suggest the Eggs Benedict with Corned Hash. Eggs Benedict is my guilty pleasure, but I must say Shish’s version of it is the best and most flavorful I’ve ever had. For lunch or dinner you can’t go wrong with the falafel pita or the lamb burger (complete with MINT and FETA!). The topping on the cake (other than their assortment of cakes)? They are one of the only local cafes I’ve known to serve hot horchata.

2) Khyber Pass: Just down the road from Shish, this Afghani restaurant is a hidden gem. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but when you step inside you’ve entered another world adorned in bazaar rugs and sitars. This place has great service and perfectly spiced food, including lamb and chutneys. If you are a student you can get a discount on the lunch buffet!

Khyber Pass

3) The Lowry: Located in Uptown, the Lowry boasts the best breakfast in the Twin Cities. In addition to the food, awesome cocktail menu, and warm atmosphere (literally–you walk in to a giant fireplace!), the waitstaff if probably what makes the experience the best. The Lowry hosts an interesting variety of people to say the least, and the waitstaff complements the clientele in that way: very interesting and VERY personable!

The Lowry

4) Punch Pizza: This place is a local favorite for a reason. I can’t think of anything negative to say about this place other than EVERYONE wants to go here so sometime’s there quite  await to get in. The Highland Park location is by far the best. I love coming here for a glass of wine, but I always have such a hard time picking which wood-fire cooked pizza to get. The toppings are to-die-for: prosciutto, goat cheese, arugula, eggplant, salami, etc.

5) Crave: The one word I would use to describe this place is chic. Crave is the perfect place for a Friday night out: you can dress up, let loose in the vibrant atmosphere, and enjoy the sushi and other happy hour specials. They also have great rooftop seating, weather permitting. Crave has several locations, but I usually go to the one in downtown Minneapolis, just down the street from theOrpheum (dinner and a show?!).

Crave sushi

6) The Blue Door Pub: I wouldn’t be a loyal Twin Cities dweller if I didn’t include this place. It’s consistently ranked in the top for a reason. I have honestly never had a better burger than the ones I get here. My personal favorite is the “Longfellow” at the Minneapolis location: “Stuffed with roasted garlic and herbed (rosemary, parsley) goat cheese. Topped with blackberry sauce – caramelized honey, red wine, thyme reduction.” PERFECTION. Plus, it has a great beer list!

7) Chino Latino: This place is the epitome of a fun dining experience! It seems spendy, but since you share the dishes it’s not actually too bad. The food is exotic and flavorful, mostly asian and hispanic. The atmosphere is totally hip and urban, and the place has a crude humor that keeps things interesting. Always a good time!

8) The Liffey: The food and beer at this pub is great, but definitely the best part is the rooftop seating. With a spectacular view of the Cathedral, I love coming here for a beer during a relaxed summer evening. It’s by far my favorite Irish pub in the Cities, and the menu even reminds me of the menu at the Tavern in Limerick.

View from the Liffey

9) Hell’s Kitchen: Sinfully fun… I’m not sure why I like this place so much. Sometimes if there’s live music it can be a bit overpowering. However, I think it’s a fun dining experience… really cool interior, including a knife chandelier. And the menu just has some really fun/unique ingredients: bison sausage, ham & pear panini, lemon ricotta pancakes, etc.

Hell's Kitchen chandelier

10) Lulu’s: If their saffron fries were the only thing on the menu, I’d still rate it in my top 10. Alongside the rosemary fries from SmashBurger, I can’t think of many fries that are done better than these. However, the rest of the menu is pretty phenomenal as well: from falafel to juicy lucy burgers. Plus, it’s SO cheap!

Bon Appetit!