HOME > Chowhound > General Midwest Archive >


Minneapols on Valentine's Day

Sigh, does anyone have a suggestion for me and my partner for Valentine's day?
We're New Yorkers who are kinda foodies and will be visiting the twin cities on Valentine's day,

Also a brunch place the next day for a semi-business brunch?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I really liked a place in St. Paul called The Strip Club (I visited the area from D.C. last spring) and it was both friendly and intimate; it has a really good view, too, because it's on top of a hill.

    4 Replies
    1. re: jkosnett

      Since alois1 is visiting from out of town and might think you're having a joke at his/her expense, I'm just going to chime in and reinforce that despite the tacky name (and tacky theme in general that carries throughout the menu), The Strip Club is an actual restaurant (strip steaks, get it?) Lots of posts here on the Midwest board about it if you want to search on it.

      Here's their website (includes audio): http://domeats.com/ (I pity the poor soul who tries to do a google search for "Strip Club").

      As for semi-business brunch, I don't know where you'll be located, but I like Craftsman on Lake Street in Minneapolis for brunch. http://www.craftsmanrestaurant.com/ab...

      Oh, and I love Meritage in downtown St. Paul for a lovely romantic dinner or for brunch the next day (again, be forewarned about audio). http://www.meritage-stpaul.com/

      Finally, I like Heartland a lot for a romantic dinner (no audio, bless Lenny Russo's heart). http://www.heartlandrestaurant.com/


      1. re: The Dairy Queen

        Just for your info - the strip club does a pretty tasty brunch as well, though it doesnt have the most "business-ey" vibe.

        Heartland is really great, but be prepared for a pretty random out of the way (though quite convenient) location in a residential neighborhood. Heartland will give you a great taste of what cutting edge midwestern food can be (before i moved here from a coast i would have thought that to be totally oxymoronic).

        I like the strip club and meritage a lot also (and in terms of traditional notions of romantic i think meritage takes the cake) but neither are really distinctly Minnesota, if that matters to you.

        1. re: tex.s.toast

          I've been meaning to get to the Strip Club for brunch, but I wouldn't take anyone there for business.


        2. re: The Dairy Queen

          Thanks for your help. I am actually quite excited to see the twin cities
          - alois1.

      2. I second the Heartland suggestion. Very good hand-crafted food that draws on local ingredients. My first choice would probably be Restaurant Alma. And I have had good experiences at the Strip Club as well.

        I would make reservations for Valentines Day for any of these places soon.

        1. If it were me, I'd head to Restaurant Alma or 112 Eatery for Valentine's Day. I'll be at home that day, so you can have my spot.

          As for a business brunch, I'm clueless (I don't do brunch). If I had only one or two associates, I'd go to Al's Breakfast in Dinkytown. But that won't work for more than 2 or 3 people. Or I might head to Hell's Kitchen, if my business associates were hip enough...

          Have a great time in the Twin Cities! I also recommend the Midtown Global Market for lunchtime snacks - like Somali stew on rice, followed by decadent treats from the Salty Tart Bakery (I recommend the macaroons).


          4 Replies
          1. re: AnneInMpls

            I do love Al's (open for breakfast only), but one should be prepared for a potentially long wait, much of it outside (and the rest of it pressed up against everyone's coats --since you'll be there in February--that hang on the pegs on the wall), as there are only about 15 seats at the counter (no tables).

            112 Eatery is one of my favs. Never had a bad meal, or even a bad dish there. It's not what one would call typically romantic, but I always have a delightful meal there with my sweetie, especially when we go with the mindset of sharing dishes. That's romantic in my book.


            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              The wait for Al's this past Saturday (for two or three) was over an hour. Thankfully I was there alone so I was able to get in in under 30 minutes. It was also a spectacular day (45 degrees) so it was actually more comfortable outside than on my stool right in front of the "kitchen".

              1. re: MSPD

                Photo of Al's.

                For the uninitiated, I'm standing in the vestibule taking the photo through the window glass (crappy cell phone camera). This is a typical day at Al's -- and this is the ENTIRE place, except for the back kitchen and the grill area which is to my right.

                1. re: MSPD

                  What a great picture, MSPD! It captures the mood of Al's.

                  For the uninitiated, I want to stress your last sentence - this picture really does show the *whole* restaurant.


                  P.S. My suggestion of Al's for a business brunch was semi-tongue-in-cheek. (Though it works for me, because Al's patrons are the kind of people I like to work with.)

                  For a more "normal" place with tables and waiters, try Maria's for good American and Colombian breakfast food - try the corn pancakes or the huevos pericos (or both). But expect a wait on Sundays, and ask for the back room if you want to talk - there's an amplified musician in the front room. More ideas in this thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/586480 .

                  Maria's Cafe
                  1113 E Franklin Ave Ste 102, Minneapolis, MN 55404

          2. It kind of depends on if you want to do Minneapolis or St. Paul - there's some great recommendations here for both, but I would add: If you're staying DT Mpls, you must try Barrio - a fairly new hot spot with the best margaritas EVER and amazing Tapas style Mexican dishes. It will be crowded, so prepare for that - a great "stop" with amazing service too. Cafe Lurcat is a great restaurant in Loring Park within walking distance to the sculpture garden/Walker - they have valet parking, or it's an easy cab ride or walk from DT - eclectic and interesting decor and crowd. The Sea Bass is mouth watering. For brunch, it depends on what kind of atmosphere you're going for - Hell's Kitchen has some of the best brunch food hands down and is now located on 9th & Marquette. If you want to be sure and experience Uptown, Cafe Barbette is a great choice, good coffee and always great service (on Lake St - Uptown) Enjoy your visit to Minneapolis, if you take the time to explore, I promise you will not be disappointed!

            Cafe Lurcat
            1624 Harmon Place, Minneapolis, MN 55403

            1. You should try for reservations asap, though. Open Table shows most if not all of htese places as being booked. So you may have to call around.

              2 Replies
              1. re: bob s

                Sometimes restaurants have tables available that do not show on OpenTable so it is worth a call. One place that has some OpenTable availability that I would recommend that is not mentioned above is Saffron. I like the mix of small and large plates and a number of things we had there, including the kofta meatballs and the braised lamb were very good. I think I would go to Strip Club, Heartland, 112 or Alma before Saffron, but they are all in my top 10 or so favorite places in the Twin Cities.

                1. re: LauraB

                  Agree about Saffron as a good choice. I was suggesting making calls because you can get tables not shown on OpenTable.

              2. You've probably already contemplated this as I'm sure it's a near-universal problem, but even if you can get reserrvations on V-Day, every decent restaurant in town will be jammed beyond belief, with attendant consequences for service, food quality, etc.

                That's why my baby and I are hitting the Italian Pie Shoppe for a heart shaped pizza. :)

                6 Replies
                1. re: mncharm

                  Aw, that sounds so romantic and fun and low-key. I'm a big fan of low-key, so, we're dialing it down a bit for Valentine's Day (as we nearly always do) this year, too. Alois may have to eat out, since s/he will be visiting from out of town, but here is AnneInMpls' post from last year about the special menu Birchwood Cafe had last year (I don't know if they are doing this again this year), which reminds me that you can have some pretty awesome meals at even the more "day to day" kinds of "chowhound favorite" restaurants, not just at the high end places. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4898...

                  I'll bet Cafe Levain has something special going on, too.


                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    Birchwood is doing a multi-course menu this year, rather than the small plates. They have an official V-Day dinner on Sunday, but I think they might have some of these dishes available - separately - on Saturday the 14th (which is their usual day for the "2 pizzas + a bottle of wine for $30" special).

                    Here's the 2/15 menu:


                    1. re: AnneInMpls

                      Oooh! It does sound good--I especially like that there's a meat version and a vegetarian version. I didn't see the price mentioned, did you? (Don't work too hard to find the price on my account as I know, sadly, that I won't be able to go. But, I'm curious!)


                      1. re: AnneInMpls

                        The Birchwood menu looks fantastic. I'm intrigued.

                        Just so our New Yorkers know, Birchwood is a very informal, casual place: you go through a line and order and then they deliver to your table. At least that's what they do normally. Maybe they have more formal service with their VD menu. But the room is very homey with some character.

                        I wonder if they take reservations for this kind of dinner? I don't think they do normally.

                      2. re: The Dairy Queen

                        "Aw, that sounds so romantic and fun and low-key."

                        Almost enough to make you vomit, isn't it? :)

                        1. re: mncharm

                          Not at all. I love all the schmaltz. I was at Franklin Street Bakery a few days ago and noticed their beautiful valentine's cupcakes. You gotta take advantage of this stuff since it only happens once a year, and no one knows what next year will bring!



                    2. I would highly also recommend Alma for dinner. Its a midwest version of Blue Hill in NYC. Meritage is also excellent.


                      1. Though I am strictly a lurker, I must ad my recommendations as both a displaced New Yorker twice removed and a hard core Chowhound-er. Onto the special VD menu places!

                        Porter and Frye rocks my world. And their tasting menu for VD has the place buzzing (I teach at the spa upstairs) That said, I have not been to La Belle Vie *yet*, but P&F is as close to Per Se as I have found.

                        Heidi's is a lovely and romantic spot, and I enjoy it very much. Plus, it's very local, the food is beautifully prepared and the service has been spot on. They are having a special tasting menu for VD. I'm sure I'll wish I was there too.

                        Levian is also serving their spectacular flora and fauna pre fix tasting menu with a VD theme.

                        Three Rivers Parks District is hosting a three course meal (locally sourced), followed by a sleigh ride and locally made desserts served complete with a roaring bonfire. I would be interested to see what you thought of the TC after an outdoor dessert in February.;) (this was my first winter here. Survival of the coldest!) You'll have to look this one up online.

                        As for the next day, the Grand Cafe is a lovely breakfast spot, but maybe not formal enough? More quiet brunch with your in-laws than power brokering. I also like Craftsman, as well as Hell's Kitchen.

                        I second the whole "make your reservations now" sentiment. Everything around here books fast!

                        Hell's Kitchen
                        80 South 9th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402

                        Grand Cafe
                        3804 Grand Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55409

                        2903 Lyndale Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55408

                        Porter and Frye
                        1115 Second Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55403

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: ehadley

                          ehadley, I'm glad you came out of lurking to make this post, and encourage you to do so more often. It's so nice to have fresh perspectives! That Three Rivers Parks District event (actually, it seems they have several, although, only one three course dinner) sounds really romantic and Minnesotan. I wish I'd known about it before I made my plans as it sounds like a lot of fun. Perhaps they'll do this next year, too?



                          1. re: ehadley

                            Wow. You've really assembled the high spots. (Although I would add Alma.)

                            The sleigh ride Three Rivers thing sounds really creative! Wonder who is doing the food.

                            1. re: ehadley

                              I had breakfast twice at Hell's Kitchen during four days in the area last May. I subsequently decided it is the best breakfast place in the U.S. of A....

                            2. Can I deviate and ask for any recommendations for a group of single friends that plan on going out for dinner on Valentinues day and want to avoid the whole full house/romantic/long wait/high prices/bad service fiasco that Valentines day is? So far I'm thinking Glueks but would welcome other recommendations. Thanks!

                              9 Replies
                              1. re: galewskj

                                Maybe Jun Bo or Little Szechuan? Not places people typically think of as "romantic" but that can accommodate groups?


                                1. re: galewskj

                                  I just mentioned this post to my sweetheart. He says you're probably better off at Gluek's than the places I recommended, if you're hoping to mingle.


                                  1. re: galewskj

                                    Gasthof is a pretty good place to be single. If you're going downtown, I prefer the Loon to Glueks for cheap eats.

                                    I'd second Jun Bo, and I think they'll have their full dim sum menu available at that time, which is perfect for large groups. And nothing says the "down with romance" like dining in a gutted out Chi-Chi's and eating jellyfish.

                                    1. re: kevin47

                                      Thanks for the recommendations. Wow, you prefer the Loon to Glueks. Interesting. I recently went to both having never been to them. To me, Glueks food was much better, although their Glueks beer is not so good. I think the cheap clubby nature of the Loon rubbed me the wrong way, whereas Glueks seemed like it had some authenticity.

                                      1. re: galewskj

                                        I wouldn't mount a passionate defense for either one, to be honest, but I think the Loon wins on account of their mexican selections (chili in particular). I'll also take the Loon fresh squeezed greyhounds over Glueks' horrendous beer.

                                    2. re: galewskj

                                      This may be FAR off the mark but here's where I wanted to take my uncle for VD (sadly he'll be out of town): White Castle.

                                      1. re: MplsM ary

                                        I've done that, and it was fun. But, it's actually quite romantic (shocking, I know, but, really.) I wouldn't go there with a big group expecting to avoid the whole lovey, dovey romance thing.

                                        The staff dresses up in nice attire (several looked like they were wearing their prom dresses) and they have table service and a menu. Chicken sandwich is listed under "poultry" and fish sandwich under "seafood", which made me smile. Candles on table, a roaming photographer (don't know if they'll still do that now that polaroid is officially dead or soon to be dead), little heart decorations everywhere.

                                        And you have to have reservations. Book now (seriously), they fill up fast.

                                        The time I went there was a very nervous high school couple clearly on a first date (adorable) and several older couples who do this every year, and so on. They try hard to make it a special deal and take it pretty seriously.

                                        And, with tip, for two, you can get out of there for about $10.


                                      2. re: galewskj

                                        For the group of single friends... How about one of the little private rooms at Solera or Fuji-ya (both rooms I'm thinking of have those floor tables where you lounge around on pillows). I've done both with groups of girlfriends and had lots of fun. They're free, and probably available on a night when many are going out as couples. You would have your own little space to relax and have fun while eating, and both places have nice bars to hang out afterwards.

                                        1. re: midwaygirl

                                          Oh, midwaygirl, you remind me of another place that has a big table with a private room that seems like it would be fun, and that's Pagoda in Dinkytown.


                                      3. I think you might be hard pressed to find a table at some of the smaller nice restaurants around town (Alma, etc.) for V-Day. I know Fugaise has been booked solid for almost a month already since they're running a special tasting menu. Pretty much every place I can think if has already been suggested, so I'm not going to bother, but I just wanted to throw that out there. Good luck!

                                        1. Porter and Frye gets my pick, I had one of the best meals of my life there which was matched by the service, request a booth downstairs if you can, very secluded. They describe themselves as Midwest Modern, so since your here, might as well try something distinctly midwestern. Oh its dark and romantic downstairs too.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: saintfirky

                                            how about REAL chocolate,,Who do see for REAL chocolate in MPLS/StPaul

                                            1. re: footlong

                                              Funny you should ask we have premier chocolatiers in the Twin Cities.

                                              Rogue Chocolatier sells his chocolate through Surdyks. France 44 and Kopplin's Coffee. i linked to Surdyk's as you can find BT McElrath there as well.

                                              Surdyks Liquor and Bistro 2go
                                              303 E Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55414

                                              Chocolat Celeste
                                              2506 University Ave, W St Paul, MN

                                              BT McElrath Chocolatier
                                              , Minneapolis, MN

                                              1. re: footlong

                                                I just stopped in for the first time at Legacy chocolates on marshall in st paul (just down from izzy's). all their truffles come in different levels of darkness, we sampled a couple 99's - ultra dark - and a few 85s. for my taste, and this is considering i like dark chocolate a lot, the 99s were SUPER dark, with substantial bitter notes. the 85s were a very well balanced, but still very dark shell. all the ganache centers are the same, regardless of what darkness level the shell comes in. im going to post a separate review, but the chipotle was particularly notable for its impressively smokey flavor, and seriously spicy kick.

                                            2. Definitely would recommend Grand Cafe or Lucia's for dinner if you can get in...and I would also recommend Victor's cuban cafe or Grand Cafe for brunch. If you're downtown and want the big city experience ( and the high taxes) then go to Chambers or Solera for a more formal experience.

                                              1. I look forward to Heid's tongiht.