Masa - upscale authentic Mexican. Voted by several publications as best new restuarant. 11th and Nicollet.
Bulldog NE was just added to Esquire Magazine's best bars in the country. They re-invented bar food.
I'm also a diehard for the oldies but goodies in Uptown: Chino Latino and Figlio. Figlio tends not to get a lot of mention, but the fact that it's been around for nearly 25 years indicates it's doing something right. I enjoy every trip there. It's upscale, trendy Italian.
Chino Latino, as the name might suggest, is Asian/Latin fusion. It's got atmosphere and hipness to spare, the food is served in share-able portions, and the drinks are fun. It made Rachael Ray's list of hot spots in the Cities.
I don't think anyone's mentions 112 Eatery yet - a real hotspot. Lots of food with a NY sensibility there. Good luck with getting a table, though! (Ah, edit in - I see someone posted basically the exact same thing - consider this a big, hearty "second" for the suggestion.)
Another great place in Uptown area is Cafe Lurcat - the seabass is always amazing, as are the fries. If the brussels sprouts are on the menu - get them. Someone there has figured out a way to make brussels sprouts a "must have." If you're just stopping in for drinks, get an order of their sliders - some of the best mini burgers around.
for neighborhood joints...
Best pizza that I've had in america is Punch Pizza --3 locations but I go to highland Park near st kates.
I like Broder's Pasta Bar for consistantly good and interesting pastas 50th and Penn
Big 10 Subs at the U of M East Bank....Love their hoagies.
Not to restart the perennial Punch/Nea/Whatever debate, but I don't think ANY pizza in Minneapolis would qualify as the best in America. I would stick with Foureye's list as a starter.
PS. We had Punch (East Hennepin) Saturday night on our way to Art-A-Whirl. Tasteless, salty, and soggy. My chowspouse loves it. I still don't get it. Toast's on the other hand is interesting.
Heartland in St. Paul is one of my favorite restaurants anywhere, period, and one of the gems of the upper Midwest. Lucia's is also terrific. The Sample Room was a great suggestion from MNLawGirl.
For another favorite neighborhood spot, try the Birchwood Cafe in Seward (inexpensive to moderate, very casual) for any meal.
Hell's Kitchen (downtown) and Barbette (Uptown, near Lake Calhoun) are my favorites for breakfast.
Might I suggest not going to downtown and pick neighborhood goodies? They are not fancy but good food.
El Meson (Carribean and Spanish) or Victors 1959 Cafe (Cuban - my favorite breakfast spot) in the uptown Minneapolis area
Emily's Lebanese Deli in northeast Minneapolis
Sample Room in northeast Minneapolis
I'm from northeast Minneapolis - and a recent article featured on Star Tribune gave a beer and restaurant guide in Northeast.
If you want top tier - I would say Foureyes got it right. Especially Bellanotte - don't go unless you want an empty wallet and an unsatisfied stomach.
MNLawGirl, since you mention El Meson -- did you know their new place Eno Cafe is now open? It's on 46th a little ways west of 35W (not quite to Rustica at Bryant Ave). The only input I've heard so far was pretty favorable on Jeremy Iggers' blog. I like El Meson so I've been eager for this place to open for months.
It's actually spelled Vescio's, and it's old-school Italian-American food. The original Dinkytown location has sustained many a poor college student.
But even though I crave the sausage dip and the square-cut pizza from time to time (comfort food associated with my picky childhood), I wouldn't recommend it to a visitor. The pasta is mushy, and they put the same red sauce on everything - luckily, it's a pretty decent red sauce.
There's a better place across the street - Kafe 421. But even this one, nice as it is, wouldn't be on my "Minneapolis Top Eats" list. (Instead, I'd go with Foureyes137's list.)
i concur that Foureyes' list is the one i'd go off of, adding bob s' list if the op's tastes run to the eclectic/sustainable-- to bob s' list i'd add spoonriver/cafe brenda.
my personal choice for eating out on an expense account would be alma all the way and first and foremost; then 112, lucia's and vincent in no particular order. i used to love manny's when i ate big huge steaks (can't do it no more), had some great meals at origami but of late it has been iffy-- the op wants some neighborhood joints, so i'll plug hell's kitchen and al's for breakfast, see KT Foley's links for more on these, and suggest a lunch on eat street, in dinkytown, or at midtown global market-- i don't know the op's tastes. . .
Foureyes137's list is pretty comprehensive. For geography's sake, you should know that all of the restaurants that were listed are located in the downtown Minneapolis area, other than Alma, La Belle Vie, and 20.21 (which are within a 5-10 minute cab ride from downtown).
Other recommendations that are not in downtown Minneapolis:
Lucia's (new American with emphasis on regional foods- located in Uptown -- 10-15 minutes from Downtown www.lucias.com).)
Heartland (also new American with emphasis on regional foods - located in a neighborhood in St. Paul -- 15 minutes from Downtown Minneapolis www.heartlandrestaurant.com).
Fugaise ("new" French - across the river from Downtown www.fugaise.com
Also, if you are looking for food and entertainment, I would recommend The Dakota, which is Downtown. It's a jazz club with pretty good food (www.dakotacooks.com)
Quick short list for Minneapolis expense accounting:
Alma (new american)
Oceanaire (seafood, same as all the other Oceanaires)
D'Amico Cucina (italian posh)
112 (new american, good luck getting a table)
La Belle Vie (french/new american Lounge or Dining Room, again hard table)
Cosmos (new american/fusion)
Solera (tapas/spanish fusion)
Chambers Kitchen (new american/fusion, I'm not a fan, but people seem to like it)
There are many many others I'm sure people will list their favorites. Word of caution: I suggest avoiding Bellanotte, for some reason it is on the expense account radar for those we entertain from out of market due to some good marketting, but it is absolutely terrible.
In what part of Minneapolis will you be staying?
Will you have a car?
How long or how far are you willing to travel?
How many meals are you planning to eat out -- any breakfasts or lunches?
What is your price range?
What foods or cuisines do you prefer -- or avoid?
Have you checked out any of these recent threads on the similar topic?