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The Best Coffee Shops In Minneapolis

The coffee scene in 2018 has never been better: excellent local roasters, incredibly creative baristas, and beautiful spaces to sit and drink and think. Here are my favorite coffee shops in Minneapolis.

  • Parallel: This room is so beautiful I want to live here. Hennepin Made (the lighting manufacturers) created this coffee shop in their building, so it’s a showcase for great design. The beans rotate but they’ve been using VERVE out of California.
  • Northern Coffeeworks: Another beautiful room within walking distance of US Bank Stadium and the Guthrie, they rotate coffee between Intelligentsia, Sweet Bloom and Ruby Roasters (from WI). Great classics, but also fun lattes with smoked sea salt or orange lavendar.
  • Bachelor Farmer Coffee: The tile in here is totally Instagram famous, but the coffee might be even better. Bachelor Farmer has their own custom roast from Dogwood, and then they rotate the best beans from around the country. Right now it’s Parlor Coffee (from Brooklyn). Obviously the food and pastries here are phenomenal too.
  • UP Cafe: The coffee shop of outstanding local roaster UP Roasters, the cafe uses the best expressions of the beans the roaster is creating. Nice sandwiches and baked goods, but really fantastic coffees, espressos and lattes.
  • Urban Bean Coffee:  Excellent coffee from Intelligentsia and Four Barrel, beautiful and perfect espresso preparations.  Greg Martin’s team is trained in the classic preparation of your favorite coffees.
  • Spyhouse: Spyhouse roasts their owns coffees and it is exceptional. I visit the North Loop shop the most, as it’s nestled in between some very cool Washington Avenue buildings, and they carry outstanding Black Walnut pastries.
  • Dogwood Coffee: Dogwood has three coffee shops (East Lake, Calhoun Square and St. Paul), and Dogwood has always been one of my favorite local roasts. Beautiful quality and bright flavor. Same is true of their coffee shops.
  • Five Watt Coffee: Five Watt is a heck of a small batch roaster, in fact the wild creativity of their coffee drinks sometimes conceals how good their plain old coffee beans are. A cold press drink with chicory; a latte with fennel bitters, the drinks are more like going to a great cocktail bar just with coffee.
  • Peace Coffee – Capella Tower: This is the best coffee shop in downtown Minneapolis and it’s not even close. Beautiful surroundings, the only Alpha Dominche Steampunk 2.1 brewer in Minnesota, great espresso too.
  • Penny’s Coffee: La Colombe beans from Philly at one of the most Instagrammed coffee shops in town. Penny’s does great matcha lattes, activated charcoal too – they also have lovely crepes and sandwiches.
  • Anelace Coffee: This is the best coffee shop in Northeast Minneapolis: the room feels good, they rotate beans but you can often find Counter Culture Coffee (one of my favorites) here.

DeRusha’s Twin Cities Restaurant Storylines of 2017-2018

There are many storylines to be pursued in the Twin Cities and Minnesota: the minimum wage is on the way to $15/hr here, without a tip credit for servers. What will happen? Will restaurants continue their shift to fast-casual? Will they add service charges? Will they close? Like most places, the restaurant scene here is exploding. So is the craft cocktail, brewing and distilling movement.  In recent years, restaurants have connected with the incredible farms that surround the urban core and are growing their own food, using the beef and pork within an hour’s drive, and really working to create a food culture in a region that didn’t have one. With General Mills and SuperValu based here, Minnesota has one of the largest food co-op cultures in the country; and a large volume of food entrepreneurs starting their own businesses.

Defining the Culture of the North

Local Beer & Spirits

Food Entrepreneurs

  • Boomchickapop: Angie’s Kettle Corn/Popcorn started in a Mankato warehouse
  • So Good, So You: Juice So Good, Coffee So Good (former Target buyer launched a juice brand)
  • WholeMe: founded by two women who wanted nutrient-dense snacks
  • Seven Sundays: Muesli & Bars
  • T-Rex Cookies (giant cookies, women-owned, quit corporate job to make cookies)
  • Mississippi Mushrooms (crazy mushroom growers, using spent grain from breweries)
  • Squarrel (square barrels to age spirits – 1/3 amount of wood)
  • Urban Organics (Largest aquaponics facility in the country in St. Paul)

Museum Restaurants:

  • FIKA at American Swedish Institute
  • Esker Grove at Walker Art Center (James Beard semifinalist for best new restaurant)

Eat-ertainment

Interesting Ethnicities

  • Asian population: large Hmong population (Hmongtown Market in St. Paul); Vietnamese population: (Pho is a favorite – Quang Restaurant, Ngon Bistro, Jasmine Deli)
  • Somali population: Safari Restaurant, Minneapolis; Afro Deli in St. Paul

Celebrity Chefs/Owners

  • Gavin Kaysen: NYC wunderkid comes home Spoon & Stable in 2014; Bellecour opened in 2017
  • The Governor’s Sons: Bachelor Farmer/Marvel Bar as well as clothing store Askov-Finlayson is owned by Gov. Mark Dayton’s sons Andrew and Eric.
  • Reality Show winners: Pimento Grill (won a Food Network show, got a food court restaurant);  Nadia Cakes (Abby Jimenez won Cupcake Wars, and moved here looking for a good place to raise her kids)

Farm to Table

  • Literal: Wise Acre Eatery (they own their own farm; 80% of food comes from it)
  • Birchwood Cafe: One staff member is in charge of ordering from individual farms, they provide a report each year to customers. Also delicious!

Chefs Improving School Lunch

  • MPS True Food Council: Chef Steven Brown from Tilia; Alex Roberts from Alma/Brasa; Ann Kim from Pizzeria Lola/Young Joni and others help the schools come up with more delicious recipes.

Worthy Restaurants For Tourism Roundups
Finer/Business Dining

  • Alma Restaurant, Cafe and Hotel (7 room inn above this amazing cafe. The cafe is perfect for every day, the restaurant is the most consistently high-quality, high-technique kitchen in town. Wines designed to pair perfectly with the food. Service team is warm and knowledgeable. It’s a restaurant you feel like you’d like to live in, and with the hotel upstairs, now you can.)
  • Bachelor Farmer (Incredible food, anchored in the ingredients of the Upper Midwest. Stunning wine program with cold climate whites and reds and an innovative approach letting any bottle be ordered as a half. Highly trained and talented service, rock star Marvel Bar in the basement is 4-stars in its own right.)
  • Spoon & Stable, Minneapolis (The hype is legit: Spoon and Stable is the best restaurant in Minnesota. Gorgeous room, incredibly consistent and delicious food, beautiful cocktail and bar program, best desserts in the state, highly polished service: everything about Spoon and Stable is about excellence. This is not a chef trying to impress you with his talent, this is about coaxing all the flavor out of ingredients you’re going to want to eat again and again.)
  • Corner Table, Minneapolis (Famous for it’s loving approach to pork, Corner Table can do no wrong – beautiful vegetables, some of the best pastas in town. Tight kitchen must foster incredible creativity – as the quality and consistency makes Corner Table my absolute go-to. Very creative and unusual wine list specializing in Germany, Italy and Austria.  Service experience is like a symphony – many moving parts come together in perfect harmony.)
  • Bellecour, Wayzata (French bistro food done to perfection. Bellecour is focused: French classics re-imagined using technique from today. )
  • Grand Cafe, Minneapolis (Chef Erik Anderson won awards in Nashville for Catbird Seat, now he and his partner Jamie Malone are killing it in a small cafe in Minneapolis)
  • Manny’s Steakhouse, Minneapolis (the big steakhouse for big business.)
  • Meritage, St. Paul (classic beautiful French in St. Paul)
  • Saint Dinette, St. Paul (famous for their burger and bologna sandwich, young Chef Adam Eaton may be the best under the radar chef in town)
  • Heyday, Minneapolis (most inventive food in town)
  • Monello, Minneapolis (high concept, fine dining, Italian)
  • Butcher and the Boar, Minneapolis (delicious sausages, comically large Fred Flintsone-style rib)
  • Saint Genevieve, Minneapolis (champagne by the glass, French bistro)

Casual Dining

  • Revival (fried chicken, southern, also BBQ in the St. Paul location)
  • Hola Arepa (started as a food truck, focused on Argentinian arepa sandwiches)
  • Young Joni (stunningly beautiful spot focused on wood-fired cooking and pizzas)
  • Travail (a circus, tasting menu only it’s food as theatre)
  • World Street Kitchen (Food truck from a fine dining chef Sameh Wadi becomes sit down global restaurant)
  • Black Sheep Coal Fired Pizza (delicious pizza cooked over a coal fire)
  • Punch Pizza (owner founded Caribou Coffee, was invited to State of the Union by President Obama for paying employees a living wage)

The Best Restaurants In The Twin Cities

I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of stars, as people who write about food often do. The only one giving stars is Rick Nelson from the Strib. I love Rick’s writing, I generally agree with his assessments of restaurants, but I’m pretty sure the concept of what makes a 4-star restaurant worth 4 stars is outdated. My own prior assessment is outdated.

I used to think a 4-star had to have a proper host stand, valet parking as an option, more than 2 single-stall bathrooms, and a certain level of formal service. 4-stars means top of the top. But what do you do when a fast-casual restaurant is perfection? That automatically gets dinged to a 3-star because it’s not formal. And that means it’s a half-star away from the 2 1/2 star restaurants, which essentially are the “eh, it’s ok” spots.

I’ve been working on my own list, I’ll publish in a separate post.

Here’s a starting point from Rick: 4-star reviews from Rick Nelson in the Star Tribune.

Those are the 4-stars. Now let’s look at the recent 3 1/2 stars:

I’d add my own top tier restaurants to this list:

What about Brasa? Is that 4 stars? How about Mucci’s? World Street Kitchen? What would you put as your 4-star? I’ll publish my list next week.

How Awesome Is Cossetta’s in St. Paul

Is it Cossetta? Or Cossetta’s? Technically it’s Cossetta, but I’m telling you, Dave Cossetta doesn’t care what you call it as long as you remember it’s in St. Paul, and it’s awesome.

They did more than a million guests on West 7th by XCel Energy Center, and more than 500,000 cannoli. At $4.25 a crack, that’s more than $2 million in cannoli. Read my story from WCCO, or watch the video below (Dave doesn’t do too many interviews – so this is a pretty cool story. I’m still not sure how I convinced him to do it.)

Going to Cossetta and wondering what to order: I recommend the Cossetta salad with zippy Italian dressing, the sausage and peppers is incredible, their pizza is among the best slices you can get in the Twin Cities, you have to go to the bakery and marvel at the fact that the whole thing was built in Italy and shipped over to St. Paul to be assembled, the market has the best selection of salami and sopressata in Minnesota and very good bread as well. What’s your go-to Cossetta order?

Cossetta Alimentari, 211 7th Street West, Saint Paul, MN 55102

Minneapolis and St. Paul Restaurant Recap From 2016

My Minnesota Monthly co-editor Joy Summers also runs the Minneapolis Eater website, and like every year she asked my thoughts for her annual round-up of year in review posts. I thought I’d share all my answers here, so you can see my favorites from 2016 and predictions for 2017.

What were the top restaurant newcomers of 2016?
Mucci’s, The Dirty Bird, Pimento Jamaican Kitchen, Q Fanatic’s Minneapolis location, Alma’s Cafe: the big wins of 2016 were all about casual dining with big flavors and big heart.
What were your top restaurant standbys of 2016?
The Strip Club Meats & Fish, Punch Pizza Maple Grove, Borough
What was the biggest dining surprise of 2016?
The utter failure of restaurants with a lot of seats.  Scena in Uptown (which I really liked) opened and closed; Parella didn’t last long; Salt Cellar in St. Paul also bombed.
What was the saddest closure of 2016?
Saffron. Saffron had an incredible run, but knowing I won’t see Saed Wadi’s giant smile when I walked in, the great drinks at the bar, and the incredibly richness and depth of spice in Sameh Wadi’s food makes me sad.
What was your most disappointing meal of 2016?
Hoban Uptown. I ended up behind the bar looking at their wine selection because the server couldn’t tell me what was they had.
What was your best restaurant meal of 2016?
Tie: Corner Table’s French menu tasting was absolutely stellar, as was a Saint Dinette meal I had inside Xcel Energy Center. Both restaurants are run by incredibly talented, and incredibly kind people.
What are your headline predictions for 2017?
The Lexington finally opens!
Bagels are the new donuts: expect several local bagel shops to open next year
Sum up the 2016 restaurant world in one word.
Generous: It’s been an amazing year of chefs helping other chefs as they open (providing staff meals for each other, talking through challenges with getting approvals and licenses, coaching through troubles) as well as restaurants donating their time and business to charities

 

Charitable Giving Featured In The Star Tribune

What a thrill to be a part of this great article by Aimee Blanchette about celebrities giving back to charity in the Star Tribune! My kids pointed out that I’m probably the fourth or fifth celebrity out of five in their minds… but the idea of using a platform to give back is really important to me.

The Strib asked me to focus on one area of my charity work, so I talked about hunger. As a food reporter, it’s critical to me to speak out on issues of hunger, and shine a spotlight on the reality that nearly 1 in 5 Minnesotans have to make a decision at the end of every month: do I pay for my prescription drugs, buy clothes for my kids, or do I buy a healthy meal. That’s why I was the Chairperson of the Minnesota March Food Share Campaign this year [as Plymouth Magazine wrote about], and I’ll keep doing whatever I can to share more on issues of hunger with the audience.

I probable emcee about 30-40 different charity fundraising galas each year, so my charity interests run wide for sure. My other passion is the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital: we continue to proudly donate and volunteer our time with the U of M. If you’re interested in having me work with your charity – hit me up on !