Friday, April 24, 2009

Top Ten Fridays: Restaurants 2009

It’s that time of year again, time for the TPWK foodie awards. It was a boffo year for dining in spite of the economic downturn. The City Pages has had its say, and now it’s my turn.

Restaurant of the Year – Café Heidi

You know your food is good when you can open at the precipice of a recession and pack out a room on a weekday, in spite of uninspired service and cold (!) red wine. I’ll wait for my wine to warm up if it means I don’t have to pay even $20 for the best entrees in town. Of course, you’ll want to hit up the appetizers as well, and my wine was still pretty good for $5. So far the “let’s contrast with the City Pages” thing is off to an inauspicious start. But this one is kind of a no-brainer.

Runner up: 112 Eatery

Best Vietnamese – Jasmine 26

Jasmine Deli + Cool room = splendid restaurant. The coconut hot pot is the best think to happen to coconut milk since curry, and the food is uniformly excellent.

Runner Up: Quang

Best Happy Hour – Café Vincent

Home of the best burger in town, Vincent apparently uses the thing as a loss leader during their happy hour. Add to that a list of credible wines for $3, and excellent cheap eats, all in the coolest spot on Nicollet Mall, and this particular cheap bastard is sold. Consider this. There are hundreds of happy hours and this town, and everyone agrees this is the best. That’s hard to do.

Runner Up: Conga Latin Bistro

Best Restaurant Nobody Knows About – Café Bonxai

Tucked away on University and Snelling, next to a Fantasy Gifts, and across the street from the American Bank Building (aka WTF plaza), Bonxai is a true underdog. Fortunately, they know their way around dense, creamy, spicy Thai fusion. If you have to wait a bit for your food, you then have ample opportunity to count the aquamarine tiles across University.

Runner Up: Gangchen

Best Restaurant Everyone Knows About – 112 Eatery

What could I tell you that you can’t already Google? Go hither.

Runner Up: Town Talk Diner

Best restaurant in a suburb – Bahn Thai Cuisine

I’ve said it once (four times actually), and I’ll say it again, this is the best Thai food in the Twin Cities. Want cosmos and lo mein? Go to Uptown. Want Tom Kha Kai? Go to New Hope.

Runner Up: Jun Bo

Best Date Restaurant – Chai’s Thai

Most famous for its innovative evocation of the underutilized (in Minnesota) BYO option, Chai’s transports you to a much more romantic place in a much bigger city. From the slanted, sliver-thin room to the understated décor to the catchy (albeit preening) name, Chai’s is the perfect place for two. And only two. Oh, and they do some lovely work with baby bok choi.

Runner Up: Duplex

Best American – Be’Wiched

America invented the sandwich. Be’Wiched pulled a Sony and perfected it. Want to know if a place serves good sandwiches? Order the same thing twice. If the meat, bread, condiments etc… occupy exactly the same space in each plating, you have found a good sandwich.

Runner Up: Blue Door Pub

Best Bar – Saffron

I’m a sucker for bars with little tables and seats, especially if you can score the corner spot and sort of use the wall as a chair. Little table or high table, the bar at Saffron restaurant features excellent ambiance and excellent drinks. The bartenders serve innovative and compelling Middle Eastern interpretations of standard cocktails like the Bloody Mary and White Russian. During happy hour, their meatballs and mini-burgers are to die for.

Runner Up: Moto-i

Best Restaurant that Needs a Minneapolis Satellite – Blue Door Pub

Not just another spin on Minnesota’s own Juicy Lucy, the Blucy, which features bleu cheese and garlic stuffed in the middle in lieu of American Cheddar, has created a sort of hysteria in the Merriam Park neighborhood of St. Paul. So much so, in fact, that it has become nearly impossible to find a seat in the tiny room. A second location would thrive in Northeast, or even the Victory Memorial neighborhood. Bring it on.

Runner Up: The Muddy Pig

Best Pizza: Punch

Minnesota has an undeserved rep as a lousy pizza market because we don't have true "New York Style" pizza. So what? That's what New York is for. We have Punch, which uses about the best ingredients you can find and cooks them in the most intense grill I have ever seen. The service is quick, the restaurant rewards regulars with free stuff, and the wine is cheap.

Runner Up: Pizza Luce

What are your favorites?


Blogger Adam Omelianchuk said...

You are right about Be’Wiched. It is my newest addiction. I often eat there right after work. And though I only get the same thing every time, the same thing is very very satisfying.

1:48 PM  

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