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Lyn 65 by chef Ben Rients specializes in American comfort food, like fried chicken, pizza and burgers.

We’ve got our eyes (and our appetites) set on restaurants in Minneapolis, the host of this year’s Super Bowl, held at U.S. Bank Stadium February 6. Why? The city’s culinary landscape has boomed in recent years, thanks in part to a crop of cool chefs returning to their hometown roots. And despite Minneapolis’ sub-zero winters, it’s easygoing, charming and friendly no matter when you visit. Below are nine spots cementing the City of Lakes as a bona fide dining destination.

Under acclaimed chef Jamie Malone’s care, this beloved city institution feels brighter and more enticing than ever. (Photo credit: The Grand Cafe)
Under acclaimed chef Jamie Malone’s care, this beloved city institution feels brighter and more enticing than ever. (Photo credit: The Grand Cafe)

The Grand Cafe
Under acclaimed chef Jamie Malone’s care, this beloved city institution feels brighter and more enticing than ever. The dining room has been gently refreshed, with hand-painted jungle wallpaper, plenty of potted plants and pops of rose-pink in the textiles. As for the food, it’s all about refined French favorites. The entrees are exceptional, but it’s more fun to make a meal by sharing some small plates, including the icy poached shellfish with mayonnaise, bacon-studded tarte flambée and a couple of the sides, which showcase the chef’s ability to elevate the most humble vegetables. Malone is confident enough to let leeks, which typically play a supporting role in dishes, take center stage. Hers are gently poached to maintain a toothsome texture, then smothered with a rich sauce gribiche and chopped chives. To this day, I dream of them. 3804 Grand Ave S; 612-822-8260; grandcafemn.com

Martina
Though it’s only been open for a couple months, this newcomer in Linden Hills is already one of the hottest tables in town. The design is industrial and stripped back but chic — think soaring ceilings, weather wood beams and tiled bars. Sure, Martina’s a looker, but it’s the cooking of chef Daniel del Prado, who was raised in Argentina, that’s packing in the crowds. Though his menu skews seafood with many items finished in the wood-fired grill — the Spanish sunflower seed-topped mackerel is a must — the house made pastas, like the fusilli tossed with lamb shoulder, roasted tomatoes and mint, prove there’s something for everyone here. 4312 S Upton Ave; 612-922-9913; martinarestaurant.com

Lyn65 is open late, making it a popular spot for locals and industry folk alike. (Photo credit: Lyn 65)
Lyn65 is open late, making it a popular spot for locals and industry folk alike. (Photo credit: Lyn 65)

Lyn 65
While this restaurant by chef Ben Rients is technically in Richfield (an adjacent suburb), it’s a mere three blocks from the city border. Despite its slightly offbeat address in a strip mall, Lyn 65 quickly became a popular dining destination. Locals flock to it for hearty and comforting cooking that softens even the roughest days. The fried chicken is buttermilk-brined for two days, then fried to a juicy, crunchy finish in duck fat. The Neapolitan-style pizzas are straightforward and dependable, as is the Chicago-style burger, a nostalgic nod to the past with two thin patties, American cheese and pickles. As the kitchen is open later than most, Lyn65 is an equally popular after-hours hangout for industry folk. 6439 Lyndale Ave S; 612-353-5501; lyn65.com

No visit to Minneapolis would be complete with a Jucy Lucy from Matt's Bar. (Photo credit: Katie Chang)
No visit to Minneapolis would be complete with a Jucy Lucy from Matt’s Bar. (Photo credit: Katie Chang)

Matt’s Bar
No visit to the city would be complete without a Juicy Lucy, a local creation. Though tons of places offer their own riff on the burger with a melty cheesy center, Matt’s is where it all began in 1954. There’s not much to gawk at, appearance-wise, but that’s fine since you’re here just for the burger. (And at Matt’s, it’s intentionally spelled ”Jucy Lucy.”) The beef patties are thin and go straight from the freezer to the grill, where American cheese is placed on one patty before it’s smashed atop the other to create a single cheese-filled burger. Round out the cash-only experience with a half-order of fries and, as the locals say, a pop. 3500 Cedar Ave; 612-722-7072; mattsbar.com

In the buzzy neighborhood of Lowertown, St. Paul, is where you’ll discover this charming restaurant helmed by chef Adam Eaton. (Photo credit: Saint Dinette)
In the buzzy neighborhood of Lowertown, St. Paul, is where you’ll discover this charming restaurant helmed by chef Adam Eaton. (Photo credit: Saint Dinette)

Saint Dinette
Since the area is dubbed as the Twin Cities, make it worth your while by taking an easy 25-minute drive out to Minneapolis’ sister city, St. Paul. In the buzzy neighborhood of Lowertown is where you’ll discover this charming restaurant helmed by chef Adam Eaton. His menu is certainly French-leaning with pâté, tarte flambée and tartare, but expect lots of terrific outliers, too. The griddled house made bologna sandwich is a top- seller, and the luscious bucatini tossed with uni and pancetta is sigh-inducingly good. There’s also always a creative spin on octopus, no matter the season. Right now, Eaton is frying fork-tender chunks of octopus and potatoes and tossing them with pimenton and aioli — a nod to the classic Spanish tapas. 261 5th St E, St Paul; 651-800-1415; saintdinette.com

Open morning through night, The Bachelor Farmer touts a cafe, bar, dining room, and plenty of private dining rooms. (Photo credit: The Bachelor Farmer)
Open morning through night, The Bachelor Farmer touts a cafe, bar, dining room, and plenty of private dining rooms. (Photo credit: The Bachelor Farmer)

The Bachelor Farmer
Opened in 2011 by brothers Eric and Andrew Dayton, The Bachelor Farmer helped put Minneapolis on the radars of culinary-minded travelers across the country. Open morning through night, the spacious restaurant, housed in a historic brick-and-timber warehouse, touts a cafe, bar, dining room and plenty of private dining spaces. In short: it’s one of those rare spots that fits the bill for any occasion. The menu honors its northern roots, as evidenced by sprouted “northern grains” with pheasant confit, and smoked rainbow trout with fingerling potatoes. It’s the signature toasts, however, that take top billing. Crispy slices of housemade bread arrive with your choice of savory toppers, ranging from fresh cow’s milk cheese to shaved pork pastrami. 50 N 2nd Ave; 612-206-3920; thebachelorfarmer.com

Revival
Minnesota-born and Southern-raised chef Thomas Boemer made it his mission to turn out faithful renditions of the food of his youth. To that end, Revival’s menu is familiar through and through. Kick off your meal with some pimento cheese and fried green tomatoes before tucking into the fried chicken. Whether you go with white or dark meat, we recommend the Tennessee hot, whose irresistible blend of subtle heat and sweet will have you finishing the entire basket in a flash. And don’t forget to order up some sides. The vinegar-based red slaw is an especially good partner to the piping hot, cooked-to-order poultry. 4257 Nicollet Ave S; 612-345-4516; revivalfriedchicken.com

Spoon and Stable, located in the hip North Loop neighborhood, is a New American restaurant that’s driven by approachable, yet slightly elevated cuisine. (Photo credit: Spoon and Stable)
Spoon and Stable, located in the hip North Loop neighborhood, is a New American restaurant that’s driven by approachable, yet slightly elevated cuisine. (Photo credit: Spoon and Stable)

Spoon and Stable
When chef Chef Gavin Kaysen decamped to his hometown of Minneapolis from New York in 2014 (leaving behind a cushy gig helming the celebrated Café Boulud, no less) many wondered the same thing: what’s his next move? Spoon and Stable, located in the hip North Loop neighborhood, is a New American restaurant driven by approachable, but slightly elevated cuisine. The house tartare swaps out beef with hand-chopped bison paired with harissa aioli and crunchy socca, while the pot roast is accompanied by a cheesy potato purée, mushroom confit, and if you’re feeling extra spendy: seared foie gras. Word on Kaysen’s efforts spread quickly. After four short months, Spoon and Stable nabbed a Best New Restaurant nomination by the James Beard Foundation. 211 N 1st St; 612-224-9850; spoonandstable.com

Alma
Slow and steady has been owner and chef Alex Roberts’ mantra since opening this city mainstay in 1999. Initially, Roberts launched with just a small restaurant offering a fixed-price three-course menu showcasing local ingredients, a rarity in the local dining scene, before spreading his wings with Alma Cafe and a cozy namesake boutique hotel with seven rooms in 2016. The cafe serves as a lovely all-day nook, doling out pastries like the signature lemon-currant scones for breakfast, farro and chickpea salads for lunch and local grilled ribeyes for supper. The restaurant has made some changes, too, with dinner now priced prix-fixe or a la carte. 528 University Ave SE; 612-379-4909; almampls.com