It’s snowing and 10 degrees outside and there’s never been a better time to head to Minnesota. As sister cities Minneapolis and St. Paul prepare to host the Super Bowl, we’re sharing our favorite spots for eating, drinking and embracing the cold. From January 26 to February 4, The Great Northern Festival in Minneapolis and St. Paul distills a winter’s worth of local traditions into 10 days of revelry—and this year it wraps with the Super Bowl, hosted at Minneapolis’ U.S. Bank Stadium. So layer up and head north—and while you’re there, check out our favorite places to eat and drink like a local, for your winningest winter yet.
There's a saying in Minnesota: there's no such thing as being cold, just being underdressed. While many cities around the country go in to hibernation during the winter months, residents of Minneapolis and St. Paul embrace the frosty conditions, bundle up and go outside.
“Wool blankets, bonfires, sipping Schnapps—there’s something very romantic about the winter,” says Eric Dayton, owner of The Bachelor Farmer restaurant and the pioneer of the New North movement.
The Great Northern Festival, Dayton’s newest project, is a 10-day celebration of all things snow and ice. The festival, which this year runs from January 26th to February 4th, culminating with the Super Bowl in Minnesota, brings together 150 years of local traditions with the national pond hockey tournament, ice sculptures at the St. Paul Winter Carnival and an urban cross-country ski race across Minneapolis. At night, art installations across the two cities are lit up, tables line the closed-off streets for outdoor dinners and the air smells crisp and smoky from snow falling on burning logs. The food is exactly what you want to eat in this weather: warm consommé out of a thermos, large roasts spinning over an open fire, housemade s’mores.
“This is just what we do in the winter,” says Dayton. “This is what winter in Minnesota is really like. It’s not cold and scary, it’s not the worst part about Minnesota, it’s one of the best parts.” So, layer up and head north to check out our favorite places to eat, drink and explore like a local, experiencing this love affair with winter for yourself.
EAT & DRINK
The Bachelor Farmer Restaurant & Café, Minneapolis
After 7 years of business and multiple accolades, this north woods-chic restaurant is still packed every night with locals and out-of-towners. People flock to the Dayton Brothers’ mini North Loop empire for the hulking “groaning boards” (think the charcuterie spread of your dreams) and Scandi-esque dishes like the tender Pork Meatballs with Pickled Mustard Greens. And don’t forget to swing by the sunny, newly opened café for a flaky cranberry Danish or the moody underground Marvel Bar that serves some of the best cocktails in town. thebachelorfarmer.com, 50 N 2nd Ave.
Daniel Del Prado’s perfectly tender and chewy fresh pastas at Martina elicit the same delirious joy that one got when eating his pillowy dumplings at his former post, Burch Steak. The newly opened Argentinian restaurant in Linden Hills is real treat from course to course, starting with the goblet-like house gin-and-tonics to the beautifully grilled steaks and seafood. This restaurant requires multiple visits because there are just too many delicious things to try. martinarestaurant.com, 4312 S Upton Ave.
F&W BNC Gavin Kaysen opened this Downtown Wayzata brasserie as an ode to his mentor Daniel Boulud. The menu has the same refinement as his insanely popular restaurant, Spoon & Stable, but veers more towards elevated French classics like pot au feu and a bubbling escargot en croute with little hats of flaky puff pastry. The beautifully renovated space, which was formerly the home of the historic Blue Point restaurant, also includes a full bakery where pastry chef Diane Yang really gets to show off her exceptional buttery inventions and homemade breads. bellecourrestaurant.com, 739 Lake Street East.
The Salty Tart, Minneapolis
Every city should be lucky enough to have a bakery like this one. Owner Michelle Gayer, who cut her teeth in Chicago under Charlie Trotter (and co-authored his dessert cookbook), fills the cases at her South Minneapolis bakery every morning with coconut macaroons (“crackeroons”), rustic tarts and fresh breads. Also, keep an eye out for her famous pie-pop ups where you can take home her roasted banana cream or chocolate chess pies. saltytart.com, 920 E Lake St.
Market House Collaborative, St. Paul
This multi-concept market is the newest venture from James Beard Award-winner and former La Belle Vie chef/owner Tim McKee. The seafood-focused mini food hall includes a sustainable fish market, bakery and café (from The Salty Tart’s Michelle Gayer), butcher shop and McKee’s eatery Octo Fish Bar where you can choose from 8 different seafood towers and get a miso-spiked lobster roll served up on Gayer’s own fresh baked rolls. octostp.com, 289 E 5th St.
Alex Roberts is the mastermind behind this café-restaurant-hotel triple-threat in Northeast Minneapolis. Start your morning at the all-day café with a fried egg, mortadella and smoked gouda sandwich and an aquavit-and-carrot mimosa, then finish the night with roasted pheasant and spiced cous cous at the restaurant next-door. Food coma? Pack it in at one of the hotel’s 7 airy rooms upstairs. That sounds like the perfect day to us. almampls.com, 528 University Ave SE
At this buzzy new Minneapolis spot stripper poles, vinyl seats and cheap beer have been traded for turquoise palm frond prints, rattan lamp shades and some very impressive Southeast Asian food. Husband and wife team Christina Nguyen and Birk Grudem – the pair behind the insanely popular Hola Arepa – just opened this Northeast Minneapolis restaurant in the home of a former strip club (HaiHai means “two two” in Vietnamese, a nod to their location on 22nd street and the former tenants, Deuce Deuce). The unrecognizable space is where Nguyen is turning out some very fun Vietnamese dishes like the turmeric and dill fried cod and Grudem is slinging tropical cocktails with lychee, Thai basil and green mango. haihaimpls.com, 2121 University Ave NE.
Saint Dinette, St. Paul
Walking in to this Lowertown restaurant, you wouldn’t expect the clean, industrial space to serve some of the best comfort food in town. Chef Adam Eaton, a St. Paul native and La Belle Vie alum, draws from his Midwest upbringing and French technique to make familiar dishes like his spin on tuna casserole with confited tuna and bagna càuda and a fried bologna sandwich worth jumping the river for. saintdinette.com, 261 East 5th St.
The Lynhall, Minneapolis
This newly opened Lyn-Lake market is the ultimate one-stop-shop. The gleaming bar serves everything from a cold brew to their “reverse negroni” and the counter-service café is a gorgeous still-life of brown butter tarts, open-faced sandwiches and glossy rotisserie chickens. The homey space also houses a gleaming studio kitchen and an incubator for small food businesses. thelynhall.com, 2640 Lyndale Ave S.
Young Joni, Minneapolis
Pizza queen Ann Kim’s newest place, Young Joni, is a playful mix of her Korean mother (Young) and her Minnesotan mother-in-law (Joni). In the front restaurant, you’ll find a mix of the killer wood-fired pizzas that Kim is known for, like the broccolini pie with Calabrian chiles, Castelvetrano olives and almonds, and other Korean-inflected dishes like the Spicy Clams with Pork Belly. Step into the back bar and you’re transported to a wood-paneled cabin with Prince playing on the mixtape (yes, we said “tape”) and pours of bourbon with a side of Coors Banquet. youngjoni.com, 165 13th Ave. NE
Grand Café, Minneapolis
This 70-year-old South Minneapolis institution just got an exciting revamp from two F&W BNC’s, Jamie Malone and Erik Anderson. The duo kept the iconic sign and front paned windows of the cozy café and enhanced the interior’s Bohemian-Parisian vibe with pale pinks and a hand-painted tropical mural. The food is classically French at first glance, but each plate from the lush and creamy pike quenelle in spicy crayfish sauce to the bourbon-soaked baba with orange and Chantilly cream is flawlessly executed and tastes like the best version of the dish. grandcafemn.com, 3804 Grand Ave S.
Delicata Pizza & Gelato, St. Paul
Chef JD Fratzke, formerly of local favorite The Strip Club, and partner Matt O’Reilly are serving up fun, no-fuss Italian American food at this casual Como neighborhood spot. Place your order at the counter, then slide into a booth and share a pitcher of Fulton Lonely Blonde and a gooey fontina fondue with giardiniera while you wait for your delicata squash and prosciutto pie to come out of the oven. delicatastp.com, 1341 Pascal St.
Find the newest outpost of this local coffee shop favorite nestled in the Linden Hills neighborhood in an old brick auto shop. This is not a dash-in, dash-out kind of spot (although you can do that). The breezy, open space and the smell of buttery crepes makes you want to sit and enjoy your La Colombe coffee and contemplate what flavor of soft serve to get (and don’t skip on the house’s sprinkle-and-nut topping). Pennyscoffee.com, 3509 W. 44th St.
Kado No Mise, Minneapolis
Tokyo-native chef Shigeyuki Furukawa delivers simple, elegant Japanese fare at this casual North Loop restaurant. Sit at the counter and sip on a Ginza 75 (Aquavit from the local Tattersall distillery with green tea, house peach liquor and sparkling wine) while you chat with the chefs delicately forming nigiri and grating fresh wasabi on pieces of shark skin. The three-part concept also houses a tasting menu-only Kaiseki on the top floor and a tucked-away Japanese whiskey bar, Gori Gori Peku, with plush leather seats and rare pours like the Hakushu 18. kadonomise.com, 33 N 1st Ave.
The Lexington, St. Paul
Go back in time to when this historic Grand Avenue landmark was a glimmering supper club for St. Paul’s elite in the post-prohibition days. Almost 90 years later, new owners and a well-known local chef (Butcher & the Boar’s Jack Reibel) are breathing life into this velvet-cushioned jazz bar once again with Singapore Slings and new-age relish trays. thelexmn.com, 1096 Grand Ave.
Esker Grove, Minneapolis
Tucked inside the Walker Art Center, Esker Grove draws in locals and wary museum-goers with views of the sculpture garden and chef Doug Flicker’s beautiful seasonal food, but they stay for the drinks. Jon Olson, a La Belle Vie vet, serves up contemporary twists on classic cocktails (a playful nod to the modern art museum), like the Verde Bloody, a tomatillo-and-cucumber juice spiked with aquavit and topped with a bouquet of shaved vegetables. eskergrove.com, 723 Vineland Pl.
Tattersall Distillery, Minneapolis
When drinking around Minneapolis and St. Paul, the name Tattersall will pop up on a lot of cocktail lists. Do yourself a favor and stop by the Northeast distillery’s own taproom. The cocktail room features massive 10-foot windows, a wrap-around bar and exceptional cocktails using their award-winning spirits, like the barreled gin and fernet. tattersalldistilling.com, 1620 Central Ave NE Ste 150.
Truce Juice, Multiple Locations
This local juice company now has 3 airy shops scattered across the Twin Cities. Our favorite location is nestled in St. Paul’s historic Cathedral Hill neighborhood just across the street from Revival’s St. Paul fried chicken outpost and around the corner from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s birthplace. Pick up a “C of Green” (orange, pineapple, fennel, mint, romaine and spinach) for you and a house made veggie dog treat for your pupper. Also, keep an eye out for Truce’s newest location in downtown Wayzata, set to open in mid-January. drinktruce.com
Mucci's, St Paul
St. Paul restaurateur Tim Nivers and chef/partner Chris Uhrich’s unassuming little restaurant on Randolph Avenue serves some of the best Italian food in the Twin Cities. The walk-in only red sauce joint has the massive meatballs and towering lasagna that you’d expect, but it’s their montanara-style pizza that is a must-try. Before being coated in toppings like taleggio, mushrooms, truffle and pine nuts and baked off in the oven, the dough takes a quick dip in hot oil for a lusciously soft interior and a golden crisp crust. Oh, and don’t miss the “doughnut hours” on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Starting at 8 am (and until sold out – which happens pretty quickly), the Mucci’s team pumps out their infamous “doughscuits”, a dough layered like a biscuit, but fried and glazed like a donut. Drool. muccisitalian.com, 786 Randolph Ave.
Norseman Distillery, Minneapolis
The entrance to this modern cocktail room is on a loading dock in an industrial neighborhood near the U of M campus, but trust us, it’s well worth a visit. The bar mixes up cocktails with spirits from the boutique distillery, like the Valhalla with aquavit, lime, bitters and their herbal, chartreuse-inspired Olympia liqueur. They also serve a full menu and have a pretty delicious brunch with a full menu of alcoholic and 0% ABV brunch cocktails. norsemandistillery.com, 451 Taft St NE.
Bauhaus Brew Lab, Minneapolis
Located in the old Crown Iron Works building, this massive, colorful taproom has some of the best beer in town. Enjoy live music while playing corn hole and sipping on their SkyFive, a citrusy “Midwest Coast” IPA. bauhausbrewlabs.com, 1315 Tyler St NE.
Rose Street Patisserie, Minneapolis
You can find some of the best pastries in the country right here in Minneapolis thanks to pastry genius and owner of the beloved Patisserie 46, John Kraus. He recently blessed the Linden Hills neighborhood with this second shop. At Rose Street, Kraus (who led the US Coup de Monde team last year) offers the same glossy, domed confections and flaky pastries he’s known for, plus fresh sandwiches, silky pureed soups and a selection of oblong thin-crust pizzas. The expansive, two-story space also has plenty of room to hunker down for the day. rosestreet.co, 2811 W. 43rd St.
Keg & Case, St. Paul Coming soon
This monstrous food hall from Nick Rancone and Thomas Boemer, the duo behind the super-popular Revival, is set to open in the former Schmidtt’s Brewery building in Spring 2018. The space, which boasts an impressive list of permanent and rotating vendors like Patisserie 46 and The Gentleman Forager, will also house their newest restaurant, In Bloom. There, a 20-by-18-foot wood-powered hearth will anchor the room and handle all of the restaurant’s cooking. In the winter, you can also take a spin on the food hall’s personal skating rink or huddle around a bonfire with a hot chocolate from Five-Watt Coffee. kegandcase.com, W 7th Market.
Wilson & Willy’s Neighborhood Goods, Minneapolis
From a waxed anorak jacket to a cast-iron Finex skillet, get everything you need to survive in the (urban) north woods at this cool little North Loop shop. What to buy: Unfortunately, the bear-sized Bernese Mountain dogs that hang around the store are not for sale, but you can pick up a Leatherworks MN leash for your own pooch. wilsonandwillys.com, 211 Washington Ave N.
The Foundry, Minneapolis
A haven of clean, organic minimalism, The Foundry is a treasure trove of Japanese tea pots, linen kitchen towels, goat hair dust brushes and neutral ceramics. What to buy: The jumbo pinecone candles made with Minnesota beeswax – very hygge. thefoundryhomegoods.com, 125 N 1st St.
Golden Fig Fine Foods, St. Paul
This beloved specialty food shop on Grand Avenue is in the middle of expanding their cozy little store to nearly double the space. In addition to their own line of vinegars, spice blends and more, they also sell locally crafted crackers, cheeses, jams and confections. The expanded space will allow for a bigger cheese case and produce section, plus an entire line of baked goods from Minneapolis-based Turtle Bread. And hey, if Obama is a customer http://www.startribune.com/a-presidential-visit-to-golden-fig/264947461/, it must be worth a visit, right? What to buy: Barsy’s smoked almonds from Minneapolis. The “smokies” are dusted in nutritional yeast and hickory smoked. goldenfig.com, 790 Grand Ave.
Arlee Park, Minneapolis
This Lake Nakomis corner boutique started by twin sisters and photographers Jamie Hewitt Budnick and Ashley Hewitt Lemke has an ever-changing rotation of 70’s vintage denim, thick wool sweaters, brass trinkets and rattan arm chairs. What to buy: Visit regularly to see their unique prints salvaged from local Twin Cities estate sales. arleepark.com, 3000 E 50th St.
Askov Finlayson, Minneapolis
Stop into the Dayton Brothers’ men’s clothing and home goods store to shop their own line of Nordic-cool clothing, or for a quick game on the old-school dome hockey table. What to buy: Dress like a local and pick up one of Askov’s iconic North hats for yourself. askovfinlayson.com, 204 N 1st St.
The Hewing, Minneapolis
This chic New Nordic hotel in the North Loop has nailed all of the cozy details you are looking for on a cold winter day. The lobby is appointed with deep leather chairs huddled around a fireplace, the 124 guest rooms all have plush beds covered in crisp white linens and even your morning coffee arrives cozied up in a Faribault Woolen Mill koozie. Bonus: It’s also just around the corner from some of the best restaurants and shops in the country. hewinghotel.com, 300 Washington Ave N.
St. Paul Hotel, St. Paul
There’s a reason this timeless hotel has been considered the place to stay for over a century. The 255 rooms are impeccably appointed, it’s situated right in the heart of historic downtown St. Paul and the grill in the lobby has a classic steakhouse vibe that always pleases. saintpaulhotel.com, 350 Market St.