When you want to go out to eat in the Twin Cities, you definitely have plenty of options.

To honor the food community, award-winning food journalist and diner-about-town Sue Zelickson dreamed up the Charlie Awards.

After the trophies -- awards printed on plates -- were handed out at the Pantages in Minneapolis, the crowd feasted on potato salad and Jell-O shots re- created from the award's namesake, Charlie's Café Exceptionale. It was long considered one of the best restaurants in Minneapolis before it closed in 1982.

"It brings back memories of my childhood and all of the good times we had there," Zelickson said. She added that she loves dining out because "it's a form of entertainment -- it's delightful!"

It's also about the food. When forced to pick, Zelickson's favorite dishes are the Brussels sprouts and cauliflower at Lurcat, one of the many restaurants owned by D'Amico and Partners, which was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Richard D'Amico named his favorite as squid with black rice at Masa. Mike Phelps of Green Ox Meat Co., who won best emerging food professional, adores the pot roast at the Modern Café. Patrick Weber of Art Institutes International selected the Yum Yum Rice Bowl from the World Street Kitchen food truck. Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak chose pasta negra from Bar La Grassa, the breakfast sandwich from Bread & Pickle and Lonely Blonde by Fulton Beer. Chef Raghavan Iyer, of Turmeric Trail spices, favors French fries, especially those at La Belle Vie, Yum! and Burger Jones.

Outstanding chef winner Tim McKee of La Belle Vie also couldn't pick just one dish, so he went with his meal from earlier in the day. "Our chickens are laying eggs now, so I had eggs," he said, scrambled with spinach and cheddar.

If only there were a way to order from his home kitchen.

Sara Glassman • 612-673-7177