W.A. Frost & Co.
Cathedral Hill's anchor is the restaurant to beat in the fireplace department, with three flickering beauties on the premises. Warm up over braised pork bellies and a butternut squash-miso purée, pan-roasted walleye with smoked cod brandade, chili-glazed duck breast and a fine cheese selection.
374 Selby Av., St. Paul, 651-224-5715, wafrost.com
It doesn't get much hotter than the spicy, pepper-fueled fare coming out of the kitchen at this friendly, colorful and reasonably priced University Avenue hotspot.
422 W. University Av., St. Paul, 651-222-1333, littleszechuan.com
The window seems perpetually steamed over at this warm and welcoming Randolph-and-Hamline coffeehouse, where barista/owner Andrew Kopplin brews an exceptional cup of Joe, not to mention the city's richest, most decadent hot chocolate. The superb pastries hail from Rustica, another signal that Kopplin knows what he's doing.
490 Hamline Av. S., St. Paul, 651-698-0457, kopplinscoffee.com
THREE CROWNS RESTAURANT & CATERING
In her modest, friendly storefront, chef/owner Adijat Lawal offers an extensive and inexpensive Nigerian menu that includes a number of winter-proof soups, including mustard greens with melon seeds, okra and jute leaf.
2817 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls.,
Owner Michael Kutschied's greeting at the door is warmth personified, and the timber-lined dining room (complete with flickering fireplace) is nicely cozy. Chef Patrick Atanalian's visually striking food is prepared with flair and finesse.
903 Washington Av. S., Mpls., 612-339-5058, sanctuaryminneapolis.com