C&G’s Smoking Barbecue's owner and head chef Greg Alford has spent 40 years perfecting smoked barbecue ribs, tender beef-brisket sandwiches, and crispy, in-season perch that Heavy Table writer Jason Walker called, "the best I've had in a while". Rather than adhering to contemporary trends, the restaurateur dazzles Minnesota mouths with his unique blend of traditional cooking techniques borrowed from both Louisiana, where his family hails from, and Detroit, where he was raised. His ribs––which attracted Minnesota Monthly's July 2010 feature on the best barbecue spots in Minneapolis––are the joint's most popular item and arrive with an even tenderness that is the result of a three-hour smoking and heat-distributing process. Barbecue sauce is served on the side, according to the preference of both Greg and his regular customers, who believe that the best meat should be seasoned and balanced enough to perform alone or with the subtle accompaniment of doo-wop-singing french fries.
moto-i gives diners an authentic Japanese culinary experience without requiring that they leave uptown Minneapolis. Unpasteurized draft sake is brewed inside the izakaya-influenced bar and restaurant; onsite production keeps this staple libation fresh and free of jet lag. Executive chef Omar forges Asian-fusion dishes that meld flavors such as whole fish served with handmade pickles and abura ramen peppered with smoked pork shoulder. Instead of airing football games and soccer matches, the restaurant’s TVs run live and pre-recorded sumo wrestling bouts simulcast from Japan, proving to diners that sports aren’t required by international law to include a ball.
After spending seven seasons with the North Stars, Tom McCarthy finished his NHL career in Boston, but still he couldn't shake his Minnesota roots. In 1991, he transformed an old St. Paul gas station into a full-fledged fish shack. Since taking over the operation, Dan and Tom Flanagan have grown Mac's—the namesake remains—into a restaurant named one of the five best locales for fish and chips by CBS Minnesota, serving hand-battered cuts of fried cod, walleye, and halibut with baskets of hand-cut fries. As plastic lights shaped like walleye hang over the outdoor patio, cooks accompany the meals with sides such as coleslaw, cheese curds, and homemade bites of salt-water taffy, Poseidon's favorite adhesive.
The culinary team at Common Roots Cafe believes that the best way to create a welcoming restaurant is to fully embrace local flavor in every sense of the word. Even the interior speaks to this mission?reclaimed barn wood makes up the dining room's floorboards and tabletops, the counter is composed of recycled cardboard, and the air is one-hundred percent Minnesotan. The overall effect is one of casual warmth, an atmosphere that makes the cafe an ideal spot for guests to chew on eclectic, yet accessible, cuisine and relax with a choice of 10 local craft beers.
The menu itself also bursts with hometown pride, highlighting local organic and sustainable ingredients. As much as half of the restaurant's food comes from farms located within 250 miles of Minneapolis, while some produce is picked right outside the door at the cafe's urban garden. And since the selection of ingredients alters with the seasons, the chefs adapt their dishes each month to showcase their fresh flavors. Previous offerings have included redfish tacos with jicama slaw, mac 'n' cheese with local cheddar, and house-made tagliatelle pasta topped with a hearty bison bolognese sauce. Bites are complemented with sips from a drink list featuring wines?many made from organic grapes?and local beers. And, in the unlikely event that diners leave any food on their plates, the scraps are carefully composted to continue the cafe's green production cycle.