Verdant Tea is the place for what might be the Twin Cities’ most visually stunning breakfast dish. Picture this: a bowl of rice embellished with a flurry of harmonious add-ons, including velvety tofu, mildly sour pickled vegetables, chewy enokitake mushrooms, a veritable garden of microgreens and cilantro, and a steaming, nuanced broth using a wild-harvested black tea from China’s Yunnan province ($8.50). Pair it with an effervescent mimosa ($4), made using the house-brewed lychee or ginger kombucha, fresh O.J. and a splash of coriander bitters.
2111 E. Franklin Av., Mpls., 612-223-8907, minneapolis.verdanttea.com
At chic Truce, the transformation of organic fruits and vegetables into juices yields ultra-fresh, carefully calibrated libations, sold in 16-ounce grab-and-go bottles. Case in point: “Morning Greens” ($9.95). Don’t let its 1970s avocado kitchen appliance-color (that’s a leafy-greens triumvirate of kale, spinach and romaine lettuce at work) be a deterrence. Forget about virtue — although there’s plenty of that here — and concentrate on the prevailing notes of cool cucumber and crisp apple, followed by a refreshing ginger wallop. I felt healthier after one tasty swig.
1428 W. 32nd St., Mpls., 612-825-1684, www.drinktruce.com
The apple soufflé pancake at the Good Day Cafe borrows heavily from both the popover and the apple pie, a brilliant mash-up. The size of a dinner plate and perfumed with an intoxicating amount of cinnamon, this bronzed beauty ($11.95) requires a 20-minute prep time, allowing it to rise to dramatic heights. Once it’s tableside, it eventually collapses under its own weight. It’s also brazenly delicious. Fair warning: There will be a doggie bag. “I’ve only seen one person finish the whole thing, ever,” my server said with a laugh.
5410 Wayzata Blvd., Golden Valley, 763-544-0205, www.gooddaycafemn.com
Sun Street Breads baker Solveig Tofte takes her extraordinary buttermilk biscuits to the next level with crispy-skinned fried chicken, a strip of thick-cut bacon and a ladle of gleefully peppery sausage gravy ($7.50). Two words for those who plan to consume this Southern-fried delicacy on a regular basis: gym membership.
4600 Nicollet Av. S., Mpls., 612-354-3414, www.sunstreetbreads.com
Those looking for an excuse to consume pastrami before lunch need look no further than Be’wiched Deli, where the kitchen’s truly life-altering cured and smoked brisket ($9) is stacked on house-baked herbed focaccia and smothered with roasted peppers, a rowdy harissa and a pair of runny fried eggs. As breakfast sandwiches go, this one’s a hall-of-famer.
800 Washington Av. N., Mpls., 612-767-4330, www.bewicheddeli.com
The oatmeal-phobic will be pleased to find their rolled-oats expectations subverted at Anodyne Coffeehouse. Rather than convincing skeptics the easy way — through prodigious amounts of sugar and cream — the kitchen mellows the grains by cooking them in apple cider, then ramps up the color, flavor and texture factors with a handful of like-minded add-ons: dried cranberries, pecans, a hint of wild rice and skinny slices of ripe, juicy pears ($5.25). The sides of brown sugar and half-and-half are superfluous.
4301 Nicollet Av. S., Mpls., 612-824-4300, www.anodynecoffeehouse.com
A favorite, redefined
There’s French toast, and then there’s the custard-soaked bread pudding — a half-and-half mix of each day’s leftover bread and pastry, meaning every batch is slightly different — that chef Beth Fisher conjures up for a starring role on her brunch-all-day menu ($9 half, $12 whole) at the Wise Acre Eatery. Baked in the oven and then browned on the stove, this luscious treat is dressed with a nuts-and-dried-fruit granola and rests in a pool of intensely flavorful maple syrup. A dollop of pleasantly sour Greek yogurt is the inspired finishing touch. “It’s like no other French toast you’ve ever had,” said my server. Absolutely.
5401 Nicollet Av. S., Mpls., 612-354-2577, www.wiseacreeatery.com
The doors at Grand Cafe don’t open until 11 a.m., but the kitchen’s sublime eggs en cocotte ($12), a ramekin of soft, runny eggs baked with buttery puff pastry, creamy Gruyère and the barest trace of truffle oil, is well worth the wait. Runner-up: The scrambled egg-filled tacos ($2.50) at Rusty Taco. Four varieties are served all day, starting at 11 a.m.
Grand Cafe, 3804 Grand Av. S., Mpls., 612-822-8260, www.grandcafempls.com, closed Monday. Rusty Taco, 508 S. Lexington Pkwy., St. Paul, 651-698-2777; 6346 Vinewood Lane N., Maple Grove, 763-355-5064; and 522 E. Hennepin Av., Mpls., 612-315-5372, www.rustytacomn.com.
No waffling here
Sure, Al’s Breakfast enjoys a sterling reputation among the pancake-obsessed. But there’s a downside: Many never get beyond their beloved blueberry-walnut short stacks to experience the splendor that is this Dinkytowner’s bacon waffle ($6.90). Nurtured to a delicate golden glow in a stovetop iron, the tender-as-all-get-out waffle has slices of smoky bacon baked inside, a taste treat that blossoms under a generous drizzle of maple syrup (splurge and order the real stuff; you’ll thank me). With just 14 seats, expect a wait. Which, frankly, is part of the fun.
413 14th Av. SE., Mpls., 612-331-9991
At her Lucia’s to Go, Lucia Watson defines a.m. fast food as a generous wallop of creamy, pillowy scrambled eggs dotted with cheery snips of chives ($4.95). It arrives in what feels like a flash (my running average is four minutes), seasoned with a sure hand and piping hot. While you’re waiting, give into temptation and tuck into a cinnamon-laced, vanilla-iced mini-muffin (50 cents). Or maybe two of them.
Closed Mondays. 1432 W. 31st St., Mpls., 612-825-9800, www.lucias.com
Everyone has their go-to pancake. I’ve recently claimed a new one: the Swedish pancakes ($9) at Blackbird, which gracefully reside closer to crêpe-like delicacy than flapjack heft. Chef/co-owner Chris Stevens also wisely pulls back on the sweetness by dressing them with a tangy cranberry-blueberry compote, and subbing out maple syrup with the juice from those berries. Instead of butter, there’s ricotta. Truly, perfect.
3800 Nicollet Av. S., Mpls., 612-823-4790, www.blackbirdmpls.com
Let’s cut right to the chase, shall we? There’s no better bagel in the Twin Cities than the crusty, chewy versions boiled and baked daily at Common Roots Cafe, and there’s no better expression of said bagel than a toasted “Everything” (read: garlic-, onion-, sesame- and poppy seed-crusted) stuffed with a hefty schmear of dill-infused cream cheese and the house-smoked salmon ($7.50).
2558 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls., 612-871-2360, www.commonrootscafe.com
Tater Tot-free zone
The Buttered Tin chef/co-owner Alicia Hinze prepares three daily specials each morning. Nothing against the rib-sticking loaded hash browns, or the carefully rendered scramble, but my appetite always gravitates to what she calls her “breakfast hot dish” ($8.95), a rich, eggy casserole filled with whatever is fresh, seasonal and delicious.
237 E. 7th St., St. Paul, 651-224-2300, www.thebutteredtin.com
Five flour-filled wakeup calls
With its Scandinavian and German roots, the Twin Cities has a deep bakery-loving heritage. So limiting a morning baked-goods greatest-hits pantheon to just five selections is a foolhardy exercise. But here it goes.
At his Patisserie 46, baker John Kraus turns to a premium high-fat Vermont butter to craft his exquisite croissants ($2.50). The chocolate ($3) and almond ($3.50) versions — not to mention the double-whammy chocolate-almond combination ($3.75) — approach work-of-art status.
Empire Coffee + Pastry baker Amy Kelsch cranks up the egg and buttermilk ratios in her most memorable morning muffin, then blends in a savory mix of green onions, white Cheddar and crumbled bacon ($2.50). That’s how many of the five major food groups in a single baked good?
The tightly spiraled cinnamon-cardamom rolls ($3) at Fika ignore the genre’s usual sugary profile, despite the decorative Swedish pearl sugar that baker Genna Deprey sprinkles across their deeply browned tops.
Make friends and influence the sweet-toothed by showing up with Puppy Dog Tails ($1.25), the more modestly portioned versions of the crazily addictive cinnamon rolls at Isles Bun & Coffee. Don’t forget to grab an extra — and free — dose of luscious cream cheese icing.
And hot from the fryer, it’s the ethereal raised doughnuts at Mojo Monkey Donuts, carefully glazed with mango and honey and generously sprinkled with crunchy dried coconut. Owner Lisa Clark charges $2.49 per, and they’re worth every penny.
Patisserie 46, 4552 Grand Av. S., Mpls., 612-354-3257, www.patisserie46.com, closed Mondays. Empire Coffee + Pastry, 451 NE. Stinson Blvd., Mpls., 612-331-3877, www.empireminneapolis.com, closed Sundays. Fika, 2600 Park Av. S., Mpls., 612-871-4907, www.fikacafe.net, closed Mondays. Isles Bun & Coffee, 1424 W. 28th St., Mpls., 612-870-4466, www.islesbun.com. Mojo Monkey Donuts, 1169 W. 7th St., St. Paul, 651-224-0142, www.mojomonkey.biz, closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
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