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If Minnesota Had Michelin-Starred Restaurants

Food critic Jason DeRusha lists local restaurants that he would award with Michelin stars


Pan-seared scallops at Restaurant Alma

Photo by Tj Turner

When we visited Madrid and Barcelona, we looked to see what restaurants in those cities had Michelin stars. The two we visited (Lua in Madrid and Pakta in Barcelona) were both absolutely incredible. Delicious, inventive, great ambiance. This got me thinking about Minnesota, and how our restaurants would rank if we did have Michelin stars.

Bear in mind the star system is rather secretive. One star means "very good cooking in its category," two means "excellent cooking, worth a detour," and three means "Exceptional cuisine, worthy of a special journey."

There are no restaurants in Minnesota that fall into that 3 star category, in my opinion. I'm using Chicago as my guide, and Alinea and Grace are the three star restaurants there. Frankly, if you look at the style of restaurants that get two or three stars, they're all tasting menu restaurants. If that's a qualifier, Travail may be the only restaurant here that would even fall under consideration. From a food quality and creativity standpoint, then Piccolo may qualify.

But the one star restaurant is still a big deal—Chicago has 17 of them right now. There's also a Bib Gourmand category, which represents "quality food at a reasonable price." Chicago has 58 of those. I'm trying to judge on a standard of excellence, not on a Twin Cities curve. Looking at our best, compared to what gets recognized as a one star in Chicago, I've come up with nine restaurants. Looking at their Bib Gourmand list, I've come up with almost 20 Bib Gourmands here.

Jason DeRusha's One Star Twin Cities Restaurants​
Spoon and Stable
Restaurant Alma
112 Eatery
Bachelor Farmer
Corner Table
Surly Brewers Table
Travail Kitchen and Amusements

On the bubble: Monello, Heartland

I believe these nine restaurants are outstanding and are of comparable quality to the One Star restaurants in Chicago and to the One Star spots I experienced in Spain. Piccolo may be close to a Two Star restaurant experience, frankly. Monello is too new for me to put in the one star quality—I need to eat another couple meals there. I also feel like I haven't experienced Heartland enough to say if it's in or out.

Jason DeRusha's Bib Gourmand Restaurants
Borough Minneapolis
Brasa Premium Rotisserie
Butcher & The Boar
Hola Arepa
Joan's In The Park
The Kenwood Restaurant
Pizzeria Lola
Q Fanatic
Saint Dinette
Smack Shack
St. Genevieve
Strip Club Meat & Fish
Terzo Vino Bar
World Street Kitchen
Zen Box Izakaya

This is in alphabetical order. I believe these are the restaurants that offer great food and a great value as well. What am I missing? Do you disagree? Let me know in the comments!

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