On the Road Eats: Minneapolis/St. Paul City Guide

Twin Cities St. Paul and Minneapolis serve a double dose of regional eats.
Minneapolis diner Al's Breakfast

After a night of live music, wake up with Al’s Breakfast, a narrow 14-stool eatery with a James Beard Award hanging from its shelves. Minneapolis' Burger Jones swears you’ll develop cravings for the hand-pattied Original Burger, while the historic Mickey's Diner in St. Paul serves an unforgettable patty melt 24 hours a day. Wherever you go, make it a Twin Cities special and order seconds.

1. Al's Breakfast
When Guy revisits Al's Breakfast for the second time, he finds the popular spot is "still packed and still run by the king of the joint." Regulars often enjoy Jelly Omelets in the 14-stool classic American eatery. Their short-order style hasn't changed in 60 years, and we don't want it to, either.

2. The Anchor Fish and Chips
Head to this traditional Irish fish-and-chipper for an authentic cod and hand-cut fries combo, or go a little outside the box with battered and fried sausage a fried veggie pastie.

3. Broders' Cucina Italiana
Anthony Rodriguez, director of photography for Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, insisted that this family-owned Italian restaurant is to die for. After trying the tender fettuccine alla Bolognese and experiencing the thin-crust Dynamite pizza with prosciutto, mozzarella and arugula, Guy was convinced.

4. Burger Jones
On Outrageous Food, Tom Pizzica went to Burger Jones to see the "outrageous things with burgers, fries and shakes" they serve, like the hard shake the Southern Belle, made with caramel, peach schnapps and bourbon. The most outrageous item? The Meat Your Maker, a 10,000-calorie, 16-layer burger with fried cheese curds.

5. Cupcake 
Kevin VanDeraa took a little sweetness a long way. His Minneapolis outpost, Cupcake, started with the gift of a cookbook in 1987. It hooked him on baking and now, equipped with three Cupcake Wars appearances and flavors like Boston cream pie and s'mores, the sky's the limit for his sweet adventure.

6. Dari-Ette Drive-In
Authentic Italian food at a drive-in restaurant is a rarity, but that's exactly what Angela Fida and her family have been doing at Dari-Ette Drive-In for more than 50 years. Angela cooks up fried sausage, meatballs and spaghetti with a sauce that's so secret she won't even tell Guy what's in it.

7. Fulton Brewery
The four friends who started Fulton Brewery began by home-brewing in a one-car garage in South Minneapolis. Today it's a giant brewery with seven beers and the first taproom in Minneapolis.

8. Maria's Café
You'll want to get breakfast at Maria's, and luckily they serve it all day, so it's not hard to fit it in. Jeff Mauro likes the corn pancakes (cachapas venezolanas, if you're being authentic), made with corn flour, butter and cut corn, and sprinkled with sharp Cotija cheese.

9. Market Bar-B-Que
Market Bar-B-Que met the Neelys’ high Southern standards for delicious barbecue. The family owned-and-run restaurant is the only barbecue spot in town that smokes all its meats exclusively over wood in a brick pit. Gina Neely summed up the results perfectly: "Mmm-mmm-mmm-mmm-mmm-mmm-mmm!"

10. Mickey's Dining Car
Alton stopped by this neon-lit St. Paul institution to indulge in "the miracle of hash browns" and the "amazing" chili omelette cooked in a half-stick of butter. The family-run diner "never, ever closes" and serves a friendly clientele of regular local customers and tourists alike.

11. The Nook
St. Paul, Minn., loves their "Juicy Nookies." This oozing cheese-stuffed burger (two-story Nookie Supreme upgrade available) comes with The Nook's extra-crispy hand-cut fries riding shotgun. It's a burger holy trinity: fresh beef, fresh buns, fresh fries. These "aren't just for breakfast anymore."

12. Nye's Polonaise Room
The polka music, Polish party atmosphere and great-tasting food make this establishment a local favorite. Guy thought that the fried potato and cheese pierogi were delicious, and he loved the savory and fatty prime rib sandwich.

13. Olsen's Fish Company
Olsen's is the world's largest producer of lutefisk-dried cod that's soaked and softened. The store has prepared and sold this as well as pickled herring since 1910. Bobby recommends the lutefisk, a Scandinavian tradition, for holiday meals, when it is usually served creamed.

14. Pizzeria Lola
Andrew Zimmern introduced Guy to this pizzeria. Despite his distaste for eggs, Guy indulged in the Sunnyside pizza. The My Sha-Roni! captured Guy's heart with its pepperoni and Berkshire pork sausage, while the Lady ZaZa with Korean sausage, kimchi and soy chili glaze had "dynamite" flavor.

15. Salty Tart Bakery
As a staple of Jewish cuisine, macaroons quickly became an Andrew Zimmern favorite growing up. With his mother no longer making macaroons, he was delighted when he found Michelle Gayer-Nicholson's Salty Tart Bakery. Besides melt-in-your-mouth macaroons, locals rave over her cream-filled brioche.

16. Sonora Grill
Located in Minneapolis' Midtown Global Market, Sonora Grill serves up bold and tasty dishes mixing Spanish and South American flavors. Jeff Mauro stopped by for a Caramelos taco with cheese, and just about died of happiness.

17. Wienery
Don't expect to find any shredders, slicers or food processors at the Wienery in Minneapolis — chef and owner Pat Starr hand-cuts everything by himself, even the fries. Guy gave his thumbs-up to the Italian Combo, which includes Italian sausage, roast beef, cheese and habanero peppers.

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