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THE GOOD LIFE
5600 W. 83rd St., Suite 100, Bloomington, 952-896-8888, parma8200.com
It’s a truism of life: Looking good makes us feel good. Does this mean we’re shallow? No: Arthur Miller spent his days penning deep dark thoughts in the Death of a Salesman vein, but still wanted Marilyn Monroe as arm candy in the evenings—it’s only human. We’re always working it, in our own fashion. Few work it as well as the new Parma 8200 in Bloomington, however. It looks like a Milanese design showroom in there: gleaming ostrich-leather-looking pillows, black-and-white-stenciled lights like Bauhaus thoughts on Victorian wallpaper. And on every table you’ll find pan-seared swordfish with a salty accent of house-made pancetta and a side of heart-healthy corona beans, a lively orange and fennel salad, or a homey plate of tagliatelle topped with a creamy Bolognese ragu. Looking good, Bloomington!
Curry & Noodle
802 Mainstreet, Hopkins, 952-681-7834, currynnoodles.com
The spicy Hyderabadi dishes like the chicken chattapatta are the spicy sensation of the West Metro—think the best spicy chicken wings you ever had, then multiply the deliciousness.
525 Winnetka Ave. N., Golden Valley, 763-544-2900, morts-deli.com
Nobody needs a critic to tell them this Jewish delicatessen is good: the line out the door every day for pastrami and potato latkes is proof enough.
Naviya’s Thai Brasserie
2812 W. 43rd St., Minneapolis, 612-276-5061
Naviya’s is known for their painstaking use of fresh herbs and just-squeezed citrus. Try the Yum Nue grilled-beef salad, a dish so well-tuned it practically sings.
Cocina del Barrio
5036 France Ave. S., Edina, 952-920-1860, barriotequila.com
Fine-dining-driven Mexican sweeps into downtown Edina. The chorizo torta is a decadent, spicy street-food treat and the chicken tinga salad pulls off the rare feat of being an entrée salad that isn’t the least bit dull.
TOP TABLES OF THE
1350 E. Hwy. 96, White Bear Lake, 651-414-9613, romananthonys.com
White Bear Lake: where multi million dollar mansions and back-woods ice-fishing houses happily coexist, and residents are united by good manners, a love of a big lake, and a taste for good things, like the zesty Italian chow at Roman Anthony’s. The meatball hero and chicken-parmesan sandwich are the best lunch picks.
King’s Fine Korean
1051 E. Moore Lake Rd., Fridley, 763-571-7256, kingsrestaurant.com
Spectacular food in a strip mall. Order anything: the dolsot bibimbop is scrumptious (especially with rice that’s roasted on the bottom). The lunch buffet is a delicious way to sample the restaurant’s considerable delights, from sushi (look for kim bap, piquant vegetarian sushi made with pickled vegetables) to kalbi-grilled short ribs, glazed to savory perfection.
4755 Central Ave. NE, Columbia Heights, 763-571-0222, bigmarinagrillanddeli.com
The biggest, cheapest, tastiest, all-you-can-eat Smorgasbord in the Twin Cities. Be sure to make room on your plate for lemony tabbouleh, red-pepper topped stuffed eggplant, and lamb shanks.
781 Old Hwy. 8 SW, New Brighton, 651-636-4670, barleyjohns.com
Take a day off work and meet a friend at Barley John’s to sample some of the state’s best microbrews at your leisure. Add a bratwurst or a smoked pork chop, and raise a glass to the good life.
Bryn Mawr Pizza & Deli
404 S. Cedar Lake Rd., Mpls., 612-377-5501, brynmawrpizzaanddeli.com
If you’re an I-394 commuter or live anywhere near Cedar Lake, go out of your way to find this spot. You won’t regret it: really good, bold red-sauce pizza, and the best hoagies west of downtown Minneapolis.
1989 Silver Bell Rd., Eagan, 651-688-3447, hobanrestaurant.com
Korean hot pots are one of life’s great healing foods, with their chilies, mineral-rich bone broth, and combination of vegetables and proteins. If you have a head-cold, if you have sadness, if you have deadlines stacked up like planes over LaGuardia in a snowstorm: Hoban’s hot pots do wonders to help solve those problems. Their spicy chicken hot pot is so complexly spiced it zooms past your ordinary senses and burrows into your spiritual center, leaving you feeling as healthy and happy as a robin singing the praises of the first days of spring.
Poor Richard’s Common House
8301 Normandale Blvd., Bloomington, 952-835-8308, poorrichardscommonhouse.com
Forgive them their shticky Colonial American thing. This sister-restaurant to Lakeville’s Molly Cool’s makes a very good Waldorf salad and a notable chicken pot pie.
8405 Lyndale Ave. S., Bloomington, 952-888-1429, purplesandpiper.com/wp
This chef-driven, local-focused spot has had some ups and downs since it opened, but it’s back with a strong lunch. Try the surprisingly craveable roast-cauliflower mac and cheese.
3501 Minnesota Dr., Bloomington, 952-841-1000, ciaobellamn.com
The wood-fired pizzas here are some of the lightest, purest, and most Italian in the metro. Be sure to try the thin-crust wild-mushroom flatbread.
981 Sibley Memorial Hwy., Lilydale, 651-905-1080, bgimarket.com
Italian food is ingredient-driven, and Buon Giorno simply has the best ingredients—by the truck-load and as far as the eye can see. The North Beach turkey sandwich has even been known to bring tears to the eyes of East Coast expats, it’s so marvelously authentic.
GREAT GRUB BACK
328 Fifth Ave. N., Bayport, 651-955-6337, bayportbbq.com
The metro’s newest BBQ joint is fascinating: The thick, sweet, well-glazed, ham-like ribs are unlike anything else offered, and, once sopped in Bayport’s signature mild-yet-zippy hot sauce (served warm!), remarkably delicious. The hot-links—house-made and gamey in an Old World way—are worth a trip alone. Don’t miss the cheese-saturated, farm-supper classic au gratin potatoes and fresh bread.
Phil’s Tara Hideaway
15021 N. 60th St., Stillwater, 651-439-9850, tarahideaway.com
Even though this great Greek eatery looks like nothing from the highway and like a 1930s roadhouse from inside, they make a wonderful lemony Greek chicken, and the Gyros-meat potato hash is the perfect guilty pleasure.
8362 Tamarack Village, Suite 124, St. Paul, 651-578-0064, sushitango.com
The most whimsical, fun, creative, and lighthearted of the metro sushi restaurants shines at lunch in its suburban location. (If you can lunch as late as 2 p.m., you can save a bundle—that’s when their happy hour on both food and drink begins.)
Tea House 2
1676 Suburban Ave., St. Paul, 651-771-1790, ourteahouse.com
There’s a good argument to be made that the Tea House restaurant in St. Paul is the best of the Szechuan chain. The food is bright and unmuddied, and the lunch specials are downright cheap: $6.50 for a giant bowl of pork and pickled-mustard green soup, and a mere $7.50 for some of the best kung pao chicken in town plus soup, rice, and an egg roll.
772 Bielenberg Dr., Woodbury, 651-578-3000, aperitifrestaurant.com
Aperitif’s $10 “Pronto” lunches are a chic value. For lunch dates with your book club, just try and avoid having every single person order the chopped salad and cup of soup combo. The flatbreads may be the best pizzas in Woodbury.
17 Best Sandwiches
REAL MEAL DELI