I love this time of year—between the fresh scent of pine trees and the abundance of baked goods, it’s hard not to get caught up in the beauty of the holiday season in Minnesota. Even if you aren’t in a celebratory mood or despise the white stuff, there are so many new restaurants to explore and devour.
Red Rabbit’s Americano
This new restaurant from Luke Shimp is the first that isn’t a Red Cow. Red Rabbit is a collaboration with chef Todd Macdonald, who returned to Minnesota after time building an impressive resume out east. After a brief turn at Parella, he joined Shimp to create the new restaurant that opened in December on the corner of 2nd and Washington Avenues. It aims to be a great neighborhood pizza and more kind of gathering place. The food is just a little bit fancier than Red Cow (although, it’s still very easy going) and there’s an impressive amount of wine. While I’m figuring out how exactly to attack this inviting menu, I’m going to be downing this refreshing cocktail made courtesy of Ian Lowther. There’s a whole book, but the Americano is so perfectly fresh and light, it’s begging to be paired with every meal (or happy hour). redrabbitmn.com
Banish from your memory all thought of that foul thing called fruitcake before slicing this tender, enriched bread baked with the utmost care, at Cossetta’s in St. Paul. Painstakingly created from the Italian tradition, the sugary crunch of the crust gives way to chewy bread, hints of orange, and just a bit of candied fruit. It’s a divine holiday treat. (Also, you can use leftovers to make French toast for visiting family—it totally counts as an extra present to everyone.) cossettas.com
Pajarito’s Elote-style Brussel Sprouts
The new Mexican restaurant from chefs Stephan Hesse is now open, and it is hard to choose which plate or taco to order first. Best to hold back the hangries with these addictive little charred tender nubbins. Tossed in a creamy, salty mix of mayonnaise and cotija cheese, they disappear at an alarming rate. pajaritostp.com