I've been trying to enter reviews in "Opinionated About Dining" — well, because it's fun and I was hoping to earn a gift card. But their system seems to be having a glitch, so I thought I would enlighten you all! Maybe I'll still get the gift card (or you will take me out to lunch...)
Consistently good food at very reasonable prices. Sometimes the plethora of discount options can be confusing ("can I use the Groupon with the prixe fix option?"), so just skip on the planning and go for reasonable food with fine service. Avoid the patio though — it's kind of hot and soulless. Don't miss the olive oil cake!
Have been going here more lately to support them during University Avenue construction. Really lovely atmosphere, and I appreciate the commitment to sustainable food. That said, the meal sometimes feels lacking *something,* — maybe I need to get to know the dessert menu better.
I know this place is the darling of Minnesota dining, but I say "meh." Perhaps too convinced of their own popularity, I find portions small, seasonings so-so, and service rushed. And don't even get me started about the wild inconsistency of their truck!
Consistently good food (and great beer!) And what's not to like about tater tots? The only downside is that you have to eat at truly weird times (like lunch at 2:48pm), in order to get a seat. Though this *should* be kid-friendly due to the food, it's not due to the crowding.
Not a trendy, flash in the pan kind of place, but instead consistently good food and a lovely atmosphere (and one of the best patios in the Twin Cities!) Large appetizers, so beware of getting filled up in advance. Very reasonable pricing, especially at lunch, and a romantic date night venue. Try to talk them into making the gnocchi with 4-cheese sauce, though you may have to diet for a few days afterwards....
Another sustainable, consistently good place (and the easy parking is a nice plus.) An especially greta place for a lunch meeting, where the menu is reasonably priced and they don't rush you. I dream of the lobster. Plus extra props for the summer block party!
In all the buzz this place has had recently about possible closure due to light rail disruption, there has been a lot of recent backlash. I have to agree with many that the food is fine, but not amazing, and significantly more costly than nearby, hole in the wall Asian places. But the lovely interior really is worth it, especially with kids.
I always end up liking Brasa more than I think I will. As a non-red-meat-eater, they did not have much to offer me in the beginning, but they have expanded that (especially on Grand Ave.) I have heard good things about their catering as well. But somehow, the ala carte nature can mean you have to keep a close eye on the bill.
Ok, well any bakery is bound to be good, right? But Rustica would win more points with me if they didn't overcook all their baked goods. The first bite of the crusty treat is nice, but it grows old fast.
St. Paul Cheese Shop
The cheese is delicious, but do yourself a favor — but the cheese, and some bread, and go home and make a sandwich. It's a chilly, drab place to dine in, and the sandwiches are rather expensive for what they are. Still, their blue cheese — mmmmmmm.....
Oh, how I love Tilia. The perfect food, the changing specials, the delicious breakfasts, the perfectly satisfying meals. The lovely toy box for kids. The warm coziness of the space. Unfortunately, everyone ELSE loves Tilia too, so we never end up going because of the wait.
Remember when this place was new and super big? Everyone would go for the big plastic bowls of meh barbecue and feel all in touch with their inner farmer? Well, it's no longer new, and there are much better places to go for barbecue. Really not worth leaving your grill.
My love of Punch is well-documented on the internet. Sure, the pizza is not for everyone — some really hate the olive oily mess that the inside of the pizza becomes, or the salty blackness of the crust. I, however, love the salty-sweet mix, especially of the margarita pizza. I think we eat here weekly.
This is the kind of restaurant you anticipate more than love. The small plates are lovely, the intimate feel of the room charming, but it always leaves me feeling a little cold, and with a big bill.
Bar la Grassa
There's a reason this place is so popular and keeps packing them in. From the delicious pasta, to the variety of foods, to the great service, to the see and be seen atmosphere, it's still one of Minneapolis' top places.
If I could eat every meal at Heartland, I would. Out of all the places that have a great commitment to local dining and sustainable food, Heartland tops the list. The prix fixe menu always feels like an occasion, but if you don't have enough time for that, there's always the bar.