In 2009, Tim McKee of La Belle Vie became the first Minnesotan to win the James Beard Foundation's coveted Best Chef: Midwest (BCM) award. Spend any time in his elegant dining room — or the restaurant's soigne lounge — and the question that instantly pops to mind is, "What took so long?" Splurge on the tasting menus, which run $70, $85 or $145 in dining room, $45 in the lounge.
510 Groveland Av., Mpls., 612-874-6440, www.labellevie.us
At 112 Eatery, BCM 2011 winner Isaac Becker has a gift for appealing to wide-ranging tastes with dozens of smartly conceived, instantly appealing dishes. Don't miss the harissa-bacon-fried-egg sandwich, the sweet-and-sour crab salad, the lamb scottadito, the steak tartare, the cauliflower fritters, the butterscotch budino … the list could go on. And on.
112 N. 3rd St., Mpls., 612-343-7696, www.112eatery.com
Part of the joy of dining at Restaurant Alma is that chef Alex Roberts (BCM 2010 winner) offers a create-your-own three-course menu ($50, with a $42 vegetarian option) packed with difficult-to-choose, hyper-seasonal options. The soothing, wholly Midwestern setting and superb service are other pluses.
528 University Av. SE., Mpls., 612-379-4909, www.restaurantalma.com