Minnesota isn’t just known for its many lakes and beautiful outdoor living. There are also some delicious food traditions in “The North Star State,” and identifying a select few of the best places to eat in Minnesota was no easy task. Nevertheless, we gave it our best shot. Grab your fork and dive into the tasty options we’ve explored on our list of the best place to eat in Minnesota.
1. Fika at the American Swedish Institute
First on our list of the best places to eat in Minnesota is Fika. For more than 150 years, Minnesota has been home to scores of immigrants from Sweden. It’s only natural that these folks have left their mark on the state, including the food culture in Minnesota. Although several Scandinavian dishes have become legendary in Minnesota and surrounding areas, few have become as beloved as Swedish meatballs.
Fika is located in the Swedish American Institute in Minneapolis, where they’ve taken the comforting cream-sauced meatballs to new heights of deliciousness. The meatballs are perfectly seasoned with pepper, juniper, and allspice. As per usual, these meatballs are served with mashed potatoes, sweet pickles, and lingonberries.
2. Lunds & Byerlys Grocery Stores
Minnesota is famous for wild rice soup. After all, wild rice (which is actually a grass seed) is the state grain of Minnesota and the delicious traditional soup is a beloved favorite of Minnesota natives and visitors alike. Although you can find the soup on the menu at most of the state’s restaurants, the best you will find is at Lunds & Byerlys’ grocery stores.
Lunds & Byerlys is an upscale grocery chain in the Twin Cities that has a devoted following when it comes to their iconic wild rice soup, which is studded with wild rice, crunchy almond slices, and chunks of ham.
While exploring the best places to each in Minnesota, if an old European country food is what you’re looking for, a trip to Kramarczuk’s in Minneapolis is in order. At this traditional Ukranian restaurant, you can enjoy true “stick-to-the-ribs” food like homemade sausage and boiled cabbage rolls. A favorite dish at the restaurant is Varenyky, which consists of three potatoes and three types of meat.
The restaurant has been in business since 1954 and boasts not just legendary sausage, but also a bakery and delicatessen, along with an online store. Other special dishes include Krakowska (Polish sausage), Szegedin goulash, and boiled cabbage rolls stuffed with pork.
4. Cafe Latte
If you’re in the St. Paul area near Grand Avenue, you can’t miss the turtle cake at Cafe Latte. Since 1984, the casual eatery has been a mainstay in the area and they celebrate modern comfort food. Along with soups and salads, you can enjoy several different desserts (including that turtle cake).
The turtle cake has three layers and is made with chocolate imported from Belgium. It is drizzled with buttery caramel and covered with large roasted pecans. You can also enjoy Tres Leches cakes, another favorite at the cafe.
5. Jax Cafe
Jax Cafe has been a beloved family tradition for decades, and the owners say that it’s the longest-running restaurant that’s family-owned in the state of Minnesota. They’ve been in business for more than 75 years. Jax’s menu classics include whole lobster plucked directly from the tank, shrimp cocktail, and delicious juicy steaks.
You can take photos by the trout pond as you hold up your soon-to-bed dinner trout that’s still thrashing in your hands. Located in northeast Minneapolis, Jax Cafe will be an experience the entire family will not soon forget and a notable visit to one of the best places to eat in Minnesota.
6. Matt’s Bar
Fans of Matt’s Bar in Minneapolis say you’ve never really had a burger until you try the Juicy Lucy, which is a burger that’s dripping from the inside with delicious cheddar cheese. Equally important, Pres. Barack Obama once visited Matt’s Bar, so it has become a popular go-to destination for anyone visiting the area.
The historic restaurant has been in business since 1954 and the famous Juicy Lucy was created when a customer asked the founder, Matt Bristol, to make him a hamburger that consisted of two hamburger patties and a slice of cheese between them.
7. Duluth’s Best Breads
So you want more delicious Minnesota baked goods, eh? If that’s the case, you can’t miss Duluth’s Best Breads. On Minnesota’s freezing mornings, nothing is better than a steaming cup of coffee, so why not enjoy yours with some of the bakery’s pecan caramel rolls or cinnamon rolls.
The company boasts a motto of “product quality, slick branding, and hilarious jokes,” and their rolls are gigantic. Made from cold-fermented handcrafted dough, these rolls are so flavorful and tender that you’ll have a hard time deciding between icing or caramel. While you’re there, buy a loaf of Wild Rice Cranberry Bread.
8. Black Forest Inn
Customers at the Black Forest Inn love the authentic German food that the restaurant serves up. Their substantial menu is dived into sections like “Schnitzels” and “Very German.” Fans recommend their spaetzle or German macaroni and cheese. In business since 1965, this family-owned business is a local favorite in Minneapolis.
The family restaurant has won numerous awards, including some for the most authentic handmade European and German meals. In addition to their spaetzle (a type of noodles), their menu favorites include wiener schnitzel, sauerbraten, and their legendary black cherry torte.
9. Pizzeria Lola
If you’re looking for a lighter meal from one of the best places to eat in Minnesota, head to Pizzeria Lola, a charming and quirky pizza joint. The plats don’t match at all, and they have a fun photo booth that customers can use while they wait in the long line for a table. A customer favorite is “The Boise,” but they have several other delicious pies.
You can have traditional pizzas, but the company is known for its unusual pairings. Some examples include a pizza made with kimchi and Korean sausage, spinach pizza made with sheep’s milk feta and kalamata olives, and a pizza made with several different types of foraged mushrooms.
10. Al’s Breakfast
Located in Minneapolis’s Dinkytown, Al’s Breakfast is on the bucket lists of most visitors to the city. Blueberries are cherished in northern Minnesota,k and Al’s pancakes make excellent use of them (along with the crunch of yummy walnuts).
Also try “The Jose,” a famous dish that consists of crispy hash browns that are topped with melted cheddar, a poached egg, and homemade salsa.
Meanwhile, the waffles are completely addictive, and as wonderful as the food is, the atmosphere is just as enjoyable. You’ll have to wait. The counter only seats 14 people.
11. Red Cow
If you’re looking for a beefy variety from the best places to eat in Minnesota, you’ll be pleased with the Red Cow. With three locations in the Twin Cities, Red Cow’s menu is slightly different at each location. However, one thing you can count on at all three locations is the delicious Cowboy burger, a huge fan favorite. The restaurant also serves breakfast and brunch, so you can be enjoy a breakfast burger and even an A.M. Power Bowl, which consists of ancient grains, oven-dried tomatoes, Brussel sprouts, avocado, pumpkin seeds, eggs, and herbs.
Red Cow serves several different types of burgers, including Umami burgers, which are vegan. If you’re wanting something from the lakes, check out the Ahi Tuna burger.
Known as the home of everything Scandinavian in Minneapolis, Ingebretsen’s has tons of legendary favorites. The dish that the restaurant is most known for is lefse, a traditional flatbread from Norway that is made of potatoes, flour, butter, and cream. A holiday favorite in Minnesota, no one does it better than Ingebretsen’s.
This dish is so popular during the holiday season that the line is usually snaking out the door and winding around the block onto Lake Street. It’s not unusual for the friendly crowd to burst into song. The great thing is that you can buy lefse all year round.
13. The Mason Jar
Hot Dish may look like any other casserole to most people, but if you ask Minnesota residents about it, they will rave about the combination of chicken or beef, canned cream of mushroom soup, and veggies. Topped off with tater tots, this is a casserole that can be found all over Minnesota.
Moreover, Hot Dish is the centerpiece of a hugely competitive culinary competition at the state’s congressional delegation every year. While it’s traditionally prepared at home, you can enjoy a delicious version of Hot Dish at The Mason Jar, which is located in Eagen.
14. Duluth Grill
It’s all about wild rice at the Duluth Grill; one of the best places to eat in Minnesota. As we’ve stated, wild rice is the state grain of Minnesota and it features in several different dishes. However, wild rice soup isn’t the only favorite way to enjoy this delicious grain. At The Duluth Grill, you can savor the legendary Wild Rice Melt, which is a patty melt made with caramelized onions, pepper Jack cheese, and a roasted red pepper vinaigrette.
But here’s the best part: the patty on this patty melt is made from wild rice and it’s served on slices of grilled multigrain wheat bread. Also, it’s showcased in a burrito bowl that has wild rice flavored with lime and cilantro.
15. Porchetteria Vino Bar and Porchetteria
Iron Range porketta is pulled pork that’s seasoned with garlic and fennel. To enjoy this traditional Minnesota dish at its best, you need to head to Terzo Vino Bar and Porchetteria. Made famous by Northern Minnesota’s Iron Range, this dish was traditionally prepared by immigrants who came to the area to work in the mines.
Terzo’s is a family-owned and operated establishment, and the Broder family also owns a nearby Cucina Italiana and Pasta Bar. You’ll equally enjoy the polenta bowls, and the Calabrian, which is made with seasoned roast pork and radicchio slaw made with fennel and currents.
16. Tutto Bene
Located in Bemidji, Tutto Bene is famous for making scratch dishes from local ingredients. Typically, their dishes are known for Italian-influenced techniques and ingredients, but they also infuse local heritage and ingredients in their food. The staff pays close attention to the seasons and prepares dishes accordingly.
To stay connected to their roots, the restaurant partners with local Bemidji farmers to provide delicious sides to accompany their trademark Bluefin tuna dishes when the fish is in season. Recent favorites have been Kobe bee carpaccio with capers and pecorino aioli, watemelon salad with grilled halloumi cheese, and orecciette pasta.
17. Northern Waters Smokehaus
As the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” Minnesota food has a history of taking advantage of the abundant trout that thrives in the state’s cold waters. The trout naturally lends itself to delicious smoked trout dishes, but equally delicious are the salmon dishes all for you to enjoy from one of the best places to eat in Minnesota. At the Northern Waters Smokehaus in Duluth, you can enjoy the famous Cajun Finn.
This sandwich was created one afternoon when a regular customer wanted to enjoy the smoked salmon he loved in sandwich form. Seasoned with Cajun seasoning, the sandwich features sliced roasted red peppers, scallion cream cheese, mixed greens, and sliced pepperoncini on a fresh-baked stirato roll.
18. La Ferme
In Alexandria, La Ferme is creating incredible season dishes that are made from organic, sustainable food. A customer favorite is a sandwich made of braised lamb, brined cucumbers, lettuce, and tomatoes. This delicious combination of ingredients is topped off with herbed mustard sauce.
A delicious grilled cheese sandwich is a menu staple and is made from provolone cheese, tomato, and pesto mayo served on multigrain bread. The staff at La Ferme insists on staying close to the land, and their ingredients come from local farmers. Moreover, the restaurant has a huge beer and wine selection.
19. Minnesota State Fair
Last but not least on our list of best places to eat in Minnesota is the Minnesota State Fair. If you’re doing a food tour of the state of Minnesota, you can’t miss the legendary Minnesota State Fair that takes place every August in St. Paul. Like most state fairs, this one is famous for its delicious traditional and modern treats. One of the most popular delicacies of the fair is Sweet Martha’s cookies.
You can also enjoy unlimited chocolate milk, along with sheep dogs (which are exactly what they sound like), sushi made of Spam, Reuben pickle dogs, and much more. Be sure to enjoy all of the rides before you pig out on this stuff.
Conclusion: The Best Places to Eat in Minnesota
When it comes to dining out “The North Star State” has an extensive variety of delicious foods for you to choose from. If you enjoy craft beer the 18 Best Breweries in Minnesota has several thirst-quenching options for you as well. After dining at one of the best places to eat in Minnesota, relax with a glass of wine from one of The 10 Best Wineries in Minnesota.
After dining at one of the best places to eat in Minnesota, we’d love to hear about your favorite dish. Bon appetite!
Still hungry? Then continue exploring Minnesota food and drinks for a complete culinary adventure!
Ready for more Minnesota advice, info, and guides? Whether you’re a local or a passerby, discover the best of Minnesota that our great state has to offer!
- About the Author
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Born in Madelia, MN, to a now 5-generation Minnesota family, Ryan’s MN roots go deep.
A painter by day, Ryan founded Life in Minnesota in 2013 with his wife Kelly to chronicle their musings on everything Minnesota. Ryan and Kelly are raising their 7 kiddos in Maple Grove, MN.
When he’s not shuttling his kids around to hockey practice, you might find him in the shop working on his leatherwork. Undoubtedly, there will be a family trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area every summer, and of course weekends at Grandpa’s cabin up north in the summer.