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If you could eat in one restaurant...

We are in MN for a family reunion. We are staying up in the Brainard Lakes area but we have to drive one of the kids down to the airport and fly him home. Husband said, "Find us a restaurant in Minneapolis." OK.

We are from Boulder, CO. We eat when we travel. We travel a lot. We'll eat anything. Price doesn't matter and neither does location, though we will be eating after 7p.m. at night. We will eat in the nastiest dive if the food is amazing. I'll put on a dress and open up my wallet for a 7 course tasting menu.... if the food is worth it.

So... what is the best Minneapolis/ St Paul has to offer? If you could recommend one restaurant that will rock my world, what would it be?

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  1. I enjoy Piccolo every time I go, and think it is a gem in Minneapolis. Cramped quarters, but the execution is great. If you're not a small plates person, however, this place is not for you.

    2 Replies
    1. re: parkermsp

      +1 on Piccolo, for me the best restaurant in Minneapolis, very creative cooking, service a cut above. Interesting wine list.

      1. re: parkermsp

        Gonna hop on the Piccolo bandwagon as well. I've only eaten there once but it was adventurous and outstanding.

      2. Travail has yet to reopen (as Travail, not as Pig Ate My Pizza), so another vote for Piccolo. When Anthpny Bourdain did a show on the nation's heartland a couple of years back (that also included Colorado--didn't know you guys were in the heartland), he commented that Piccolo was the best place he visited.

        Piccolo is also located in a neighborhood (instead of downtown). So that sort of setting might also be appealing.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Brad Ballinger

          You're all so brave to answer this question, but I think you're on the right track: it's too open-ended for me. If it were me, I'd go to some little hole in the wall mom and pop place, but I don't know what to recommend to someone who travels "a lot."


        2. At one end of the spectrum, I'd recommend heidi's or Corner Table. And at the more divier end, I'd recommend Himalayan Restuarant for the most incredible Nepalese food. All of them rock my world in different ways.

          1. I'll probably pass on the Nepalese. With Naropa University in Boulder and more climbers than you can shake a stick at, we have our fair share of Nepalese food. (Funny side story about that.... our English friends complain all the time that the Indian food in this town is REALLY all Nepalese food. Lucky for them, they've hunted down a true Indian restaurant that they say makes a proper curry.)

            I don't mean to sound like a total tool by saying that we travel "a lot". We are not world class jet setters, by any means, but we do manage to get around and we always try to eat the best a place has to offer.

            Thanks for help so far. Looking forward to more suggestions.

            1. I'm going to go out on a limb and recommend a few dishes as it's really hard to figure out what experience you are going for and I don't know how I'd pick one other than maybe by saying "that thing sounds really good."

              I'm sure others could add a lot to this list, but here's a start.

              Lower end:
              Korean BBQ pizza at Pizza Lola.

              Middle end:
              Getting about 6 appetizers/small entrees from 112 Eatery (check the menu)
              Calamatrata with raw tuna or foie gras tortellini at Bar La Grassa

              Higher end:
              Sitting at the bar at La Belle Vie for the rabbit pappardelle and lamb burgers and cocktails.
              The smoked fish/meat "toasts" course at The Bachelor Farmer. And the drinks and the unique wine menu.
              Full tasting menu at Piccolo or Alma.

              1. My wife is driving through Brainard as I write. She just texted me that a place called "The Barn" has incredible pie. FWIW.

                For TC, +1 on rabbit paparadelle in the lounge at La Belle Vie. Add some Bouillabaise and an Old Cuban, and that is about as good as it gets.

                1. OK, answering your post at face value: if *I* could eat at one restaurant, I'd eat at either On's Thai Bistro or Bangkok Thai Deli (both on University Avenue in St. Paul) but probably the former because I've eaten there most recently and it's the one I can vouch for the most at this time. It is the best of the kind of food I enjoy, which is hole in the wall/mom and pop "ethnic" (for want of a better word) food. I've had better Thai food at Lotus of Siam in Vegas and perhaps you have, too.

                  But, you're getting a lot of great recommendations, so if you've had a lot of great Thai food on your travels, then you've got many other options!

                  Have fun!


                  1 Reply
                  1. I think I'll add myself to the Piccolo bandwagon. There simply isn't anything else like it in MN. It's small, vibrant, fun.

                    On the formal side, La Belle Vie is as good as things get in MN, based on the accolades. Outstanding food and cocktails. I've only eaten in the lounge, but they have the big time dining room tasting if you really want to indulge.

                    1. A reservation at Piccolo has been made. Thanks everyone!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: cbrand

                        You won't be disappointed. The full menu (one of evrything) will probably be too much for you. You may just want to put yourselves in the hands of the staff. Tell them you are from Boulder and you got overwhelming recommendations to dine there.

                        1. re: cbrand

                          Please report back. If there's the smoked octopus terrine on the menu, get it.

                        2. Re the Nepalese comment. There is a strong connection between the climbing community in this town and the number of Nepalese now living in Boulder. My guess is that folks went to Nepal to climb and over the years encouraged people from Nepal to move to Boulder.