Low-key libations & gastronomy: A guide to hidden gems throughout the Twin Cities

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Being up-to-date on the up-and-coming restaurant scene is the in-thing these days and with that comes throngs of humans in a space all dying to be the first Instagram post and twitter feed talking about the hot food and smooth decor. But hidden away in our small corners of the metropolis are places creating the same food for years or coming up with newer versions of old. Below are some secret corners that deserve a visit if you’re sick of the hustle and bustle of the die-hard diners and need a moment of true, culinary goodness.

La Cucaracha Mexican Restaurante

quality, old school, no-messing-around authentic mexican flair

It doesn’t get better than this darkly lit, tequila infused, family owned Mexican place on Dale and Grand in St. Paul. Looking like a little hole-in-the-wall from the outside, it exudes class and true ingredients on the inside. One step in the door and you’re drawing in the smells of authenticity and a bar staff that shakes some of the best margaritas in the metro.

36 Dale St S, St Paul, MN 55102

651-221-9682

www.lacucaracharestaurante.com

Cherokee Tavern

a steakhouse for the ages for family dinner or solo drinking

Think a clientele with a 60 year average and an obscenely cheap happy hour. We’re talking $1 Hamm’s and the staff is a delight. Belly up at the bar and spend hours doing whatever needs to be done, read a book, or bring your whole family in for steaks that are quite outstanding. Their nachos are phenomenal for a late night grub sesh and if you really wanna get wild, take a date there. They’ll never know what hit them.

886 Smith Avenue South, West St Paul, MN 55118

651-457-2729

www.cherokeetavern.com

Dusty’s Bar

be apart of history on a wednesday afternoon

It’s a Minneapolis institution. And the best time to go is in the afternoon. Belly up with the gents who have been regulars at this spot since the mid-1900’s and prepare for an epic afternoon of storytelling. The menu is a superb selection of sandwiches, cozy soups and, of course, their signature Dago. Get it with everything and a side of their never-forget potato salad. Pair it with a Budweiser and a Polish and you’re in good hands.

1319 Marshall St NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413

612-378-9831

Day by Day Cafe

hot coffee, eggs, chicken salad and every trinket your grandmother ever wanted

Situated between St. Vincent de Paul and (whatever that coffee shop is), it’s always full of a selection of young and old alike. A West 7th staple it’s worth the trip from your Minneapolis or suburban neighborhood. Try it on a weekday as weekends will be full with neighborhood regulars munching on diner omelettes and hot coffee.

477 7th St W, St Paul, MN 55102

651-227-0654

Jefe: Urban Hacienda

for an intimate happy hour or brunch

It’s the intimate cocktail spot you always wanted paired with a brunch that runs form 10am-3pm on Saturday and Sunday. With a gothic, brick exposed decor and a view of the river its a quiet alternative to the business of Aster Cafe and Vic’s. Being owned by Aster Cafe, Jefe incorporates a Mezcal list of top quality and food to match. Chunky guacamole, street tacos and classics such as sopes and tostadas. Saddle up in a corner booth with your date and let the time fly.

219 SE Main St, Minneapolis, MN 55414

612-255-2000

www.jefeminneapolis.com

Sanctuary

a fine dining gem belonging to local ingredients

This is actually a gem. A gem that houses some seriously superb ingredients in its gothic, historically pillared interior. The staff is knowledgable in everything they do and are more than excited to suggest wine pairings and dessert cocktails. The chef does featured dishes every Friday and Saturday and during the week expect a 5 course tasting menu that changes daily.

903 S Washington Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55415

612-339-5058

www.sanctuaryminneapolis.com

The Kenwood Restaurant

brunch delights hidden away

I just recently had the pleasure of dining on some eggs at this quaint spot that’s nestled in the Kenwood neighborhood. With a menu having such greats like the grilled heart of romaine salad with egg yolk vinaigrette that’s offered on both menu’s to the loaded grits with a soft poached egg, pork belly and swiss chard, this place is bringing neighborhood love to the whole area.

2115 W 21st St, Minneapolis, MN 55405

612-377-3695

www.thekenwoodrestaurant.com

Domo Gastro

classic with a new-age flair

Think quiet, kitsch, Hello Kitty and neon inspired decor laced with classic ramen and new age sushi tacos. This is a hideaway for a comforting bowl of broth, a couple steam buns and maybe a roll or two. It’s also far away from anything having to do with the wild happy hour crowd. Pop in on your way home form work on a Monday to unwind and sip a happy hour priced craft cocktail. Maybe get some work done and try not to order every piece of goodness the menu has to offer.

1032 3rd Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413

612-200-8946

www.domogastro.com

(the original) Red’s Savoy

grab a beer, take a seat and bask in the dive-y glory

Red’s a downtown staple that will never go out of style. Pizza is known as this ordering in, too lazy for pants, my dorm room doesn’t have a kitchen lifestyle. Red’s gives it the same old school toss it’s been giving for four decades. With no delivery you’re forced to enter the brick walls of downtown mystery. Dark and thick with the feel of history, sit at the bar and order a cheap beer then get the Savoy House Special. The pizzas come out on a red school lunch tray and always, always, always get a side of their homemade ranch. Get to know your bartender whilst doing so because the staff has stories that date back years.

421 E 7th St, St Paul, MN 55101

651-227-1437

www.savoypizza.com

Band Box Diner

for breakfast, lunch, dinner, late night, early morning, mid-morning

This place is what I imagine Minneapolis circa 1982 to feel like. The decor is diner chic and it’s best to sit at the counter, mingle with the cook and get all the hot sauce they have in house. Get one of their pancakes to start then dive into an omelette. Coffee is exactly what you’d expect and if the night before went a little too wild to even think about, their chili omelette is what you want in front of you.

729 S 10th St, Minneapolis, MN 55404

612-332-0850

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Hailing from the northern woods of Canada, Katelin has been writing and eating since long before her per-American days. Always a never ending passion for food and a need to get words on paper, she sometimes even does both at the same time. Being in the restaurant industry since 19, the years have given her plenty of material. Now, serving the finest of foods and richest of wines, Katelin spends most of her evenings with Bellecour in Wayzata learning from the cream of the crop and always coming home with a story to tell and a taste bud twitching.