Finally, an answer to the relationship-killing “I don’t care… where do you want to eat?”

photo by Dan Gold

We’ve all been there before: You’re out with friends, your stomach is grumbling, it’s getting late, and then comes the dreaded question, “Where do you want to go eat?” At best, the question will send you into a 10 minute back and forth before you all settle on your old go-to eatery, and at worst, you enter into a quickly escalating and maddening ‘hangry situation’ that tests the boundaries and limits of your relationship.

I’m here to help.

Introducing the Charlie Awards. The Charlie Awards are like the Oscars for the Twin Cities food scene. Each year the food and beverage industry comes together to celebrate the excellence, innovation, and diversity of the cities’ culinary achievements. Named after an old favorite Minneapolis establishment Charlie’s Cafe Exceptionale, the 7th annual Charlie Awards recently gathered at the Pantages Theatre to hand out awards in nine categories such as Outstanding Service and Outstanding Restaurant.

You can make your way through the list of winners to guarantee a delicious and fantastic night out. And now since you’ll know the official award-winning places to eat around the Twin Cities, you’ll finally have an answer to the plaguing question: “Where should we eat?!”  

Here are the winners:

Outstanding Service: For a restaurant or foodservice business that excels at hospitality by being consistently outstanding and welcoming, and having an inviting and fun personality that makes people feel more at home than when they are at home.

        Winner: Mucci’s Italian

Outstanding Restaurateur: This category is for the owner of the restaurant with at least five years in the industry, who excels at running a restaurant, keeping it profitable as well as relevant, and who is an influencer in the community.

Winner: Ann Kim and Conrad Leifur owners of Young Joni, Pizzeria Lola, Hello Pizza

Outstanding Restaurant: A restaurant that continually hits on all cylinders with creative and exceptional food, atmosphere and service.

Winner: Bellecour

Outstanding Baker/Pastry Chef: A working baker or pastry chef with at least five years of experience who is an artist when creating the stuff of life or the masterpieces of desserts and morning pastries.

Winner: Emily Marks, The Bachelor Farmer

Outstanding Chef: A working chef with at least five years in the industry, who shows consistency, relevancy, creativity and isn’t resting on his or her laurels.

Winner: Jamie Malone, Grand Café

Rising Star: An under 30, up-and-coming foodservice professional whose talent and hard work guarantees he or she will make their mark on the Twin Cities community and go on to even greater contributions.

Winner: Adam Eaton, Saint Dinette

Beverage Innovator: A professional who is doing innovative work with wine/beer/spirits, either as a brewer, mixologist, sommelier, craft soda producer or bartender.

Winner: Brie Roland, St. Genevieve

Hidden Gem: An out-of-the-box restaurant, food truck or catering service that often flies under the radar of the mainstream media, but is a favorite with the neighborhood or foodie fans.

Winner: Moroccan Flavors

Community Hero: He or she uses their skills and platform to better the community, either through charitable acts or mentorship.

Winner: Lachelle Cunningham and Michelle Horovitz, Breaking Bread Cafe, Appetite for Change

Lifetime Achievement Award: Wayne Kostroski, founder of Taste of the NFL

Eat up!

And read this next:James Beard? In the Twin Cities, it’s all about Charlie