Diners benefited from a rise of home-away-from-home restaurants across the Twin Cities area.
Two industry vets — chef Denny Leaf-Smith and front-of-house whiz Kim Tong — joined forces to create a cozy vibe inside the former Bardo on E. Hennepin in Minneapolis with a menu that bops around styles and cuisine. It functions equally well for casual drinks at the bar or a special night out, with a sublime burger and a side of crispy mushrooms or a lovely plate of scallops over carrot hummus and walnut tabouli. (JS)
Lucky Shoreview. Weary of the paucity of dining-out options in the northeast metro area, owner Carly Gatzlaff wisely enlisted a top-performing team (chefs Jonathan Gans and Aaron Marthaler, pastry chef Emily Marks, bar manager Michael Lindgren, interior designer Abby Jensen) to convert a former hardware store into a food-and-drink magnet that would boost property values in any neighborhood. (RN)
Farmers Kitchen + Bar
In the booming Minneapolis Mill District, the loss of the trailblazing farm-to-table restaurant Spoonriver in 2019 really hurt. It only made sense that the spot's new occupant would take Spoonriver's ethos to heart. Enter this all-day cafe from the Minnesota Farmers Union. The farmers themselves own it, and their stories — and the stories of the land they steward — are told in every dish, bringing a taste of the countryside to the urban core. (SJ)
The Grocer's Table
At this covers-all-bases gathering place in Wayzata, first-time restaurateur Lindsay Pohlad, working as if she's done this all of her life, gets every key component just right. Appealing all-day menus? Check. Tempting baked goods? Yep. A top-performing coffee/wine bar? Totally. In addition, there's a well curated array of grab-and-go items, great-looking surroundings and welcoming service. (RN)
Owner Heather Asbury debuted her south Minneapolis restaurant in March 2020, a few weeks before the pandemic changed everything. Little did she know that a convenient pickup window — designed for coffee and soft-serve ice cream — would become a portal for the kitchen's approachable, takeout-friendly fare, and a breakfast-lunch-dinner lifeline to nearby residents. A souped-up tented patio was another major asset. (RN)
Surdyk's Sidebar is a delightful little happy-hour and dinner nook that opened and reopened during the stutter-stop return of restaurants with a refined menu that excels. During the summer, the whole front window rolls back and provides a glorious view of the northeast Minneapolis neighborhood, providing a bit of a show while ordering a slew of small plates to share with friends. (JS)
To see more of our look back at Minnesota's food scene in 2021, including our Restaurant of the Year, standout chefs, best dining moments and more, use the drop-down navigation bar at the top of this page.