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Picking the place for your next meal can be rather daunting. It’s easy to fall back to the familiar, but we beg you not to do that, for the Twin Cities is brimming with numerous selections to please every palate. Keeping in mind your ravenous stomachs and differing taste buds, we created an extensive menu of our favorites—fabulous, delicious, distinctive eateries that guarantee good memories, good food and, most importantly, a good time.
Ike’s Food & CocktailsDuring the week, Ike’s offers breakfast from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m., complete with flapjacks, Belgian waffles, cinnamon-swirl French toast, tangy eggs Benedict, made-to-order omelets or breakfast quesadillas (all served with crispy hash browns). But on the weekends, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., they take it up a notch. As you take your seat a mammoth caramel roll (enough for four or more) is placed before you. Then with your choice of eggs comes a family-style platter of flapjacks, hash browns, bacon and sausage. And if you weren’t quite stuffed yet, warm, freshly baked chocolate chip cookies come with the bill. 50 S. Sixth Street, Minneapolis, 612-746-4537
Hell’s KitchenThis has got to be one of the coolest breakfast eateries around. Said to be named partly for the famous New York neighborhood as well as the cook’s environment in the kitchen, this “hot” restaurant is open weekdays from 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and weekends from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., serving breakfast and lunch. Think of the fare as traditional American breakfast food with a twist, including such morning bites as Bison Benedict, scrambled eggs with shrimp, or Hell’s Breakfast Stir-Fry. 89 S. 10th Street, Minneapolis, 612-332-4700
The Original Pancake HouseWhether or not you’re a “breakfast person,” The Original Pancake House will turn you into one. These flapjacks are unlike any you’ve ever tried. You can’t go wrong with the original, but if you’re looking to add some flavor, try the Hawaiian or coconut pancakes. Smother them with a dollop of butter and a drizzle of warm syrup and you’ll instantly get a melt-in-your-mouth sensation. Three Twin Cities locations, www.originalpancakehouse.com
Keys Café and BakeryFor a hearty breakfast from the heart of downtown, head to Keys Café and Bakery in Minneapolis and check out their wide range of early morning pick-me-ups (though you can get a great Keys breakfast any time of day). The Keys bakery makes some of the best cinnamon and caramel rolls around, but if you are looking for a full breakfast, Keys also offers delicious cinnamon French toast and made-to-order egg breakfasts. Try the Loon omelet with wild rice and mushrooms, or build your own. A family owned restaurant since 1973, Keys Café is a great local haunt to hit before a day on the town. Keys Cafés can also be found in St. Paul as well as five other locations in the suburban metro area. 114 Ninth St., Minneapolis, 651-731-5397, www.keyscafe.com
MasaExperts of Italian cuisine, locally based D’Amico & Partners traveled outside its comfort zone last year and created a dining experience that showcases Mexican food at its finest. A trendy little space of white tablecloths and light wood furnishings, Masa serves authentic cuisine from regions including Veracruz, Puebla, Baja and Yucatan. Choose from appetizing small plates such as fried panela cheese with raw tomatillo salsa, chicken enchiladas, or Sopes Surtidos: three corn tortillas with chicken, beef and roasted pablano chile peppers. Add a refreshing, light margarita and you’ll swear you’re south of the border. 1070 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, 612-338-6272
SoleraLocated on the main drag of Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis’ Theatre District, this Spanish restaurant is just right for a pre-show dinner or late-night bite (the tapas bar is open well past midnight most of the week). The menu is filled with classic small plates like ham and cheese croquetas, spiced Marcona almonds, clams with Romesco and baby tomatoes, and grilled bread with Serrano ham and Manchego cheese. Each plate runs between $4 and $10, so pick a few of your favorites and pass them around the table. And don’t forget to order a pitcher of the sweetest sangria in town. 900 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, 612-338-0062
Maynard’sYour mouth will begin to water just thinking about the Italian seasoned waffle fries and sour cream, or the breaded calamari with hot and sweet peppers. That’s what you’re up against when you hit Maynard’s for apps. They claim their service is second to none, so even if you stop for just an appetizer or two, expect to be treated like a king or queen. If you stop for a late-night bite, enjoy the happy hour prices Sunday through Thursday 8 p.m. to midnight, and Friday and Saturday 9:30 p.m. to midnight. 685 Excelsior Boulevard, Excelsior, 952-470-1800, www.maynardsonline.com.