Every morning, the bakers at Solomon's Bakery set their alarms to wake up before the rest of Uptown Minneapolis. As the sun slowly rises into the sky, they work diligently to create the loaves, pastries, and cakes that have made their bakery a popular stop on morning commutes since 2012.
Their secret—besides the dedication it takes to stare down a baguette until it cooks—lies in their organic ingredients, which find their way into everything from pumpernickel bread to fruit horns topped with Bavarian cream. Besides breads and pastries, Solomon's specializes in fresh, made-to-order juices.
North Minneapolis is nowhere near the Mexican border, but you wouldn't know that from the cheesy enchiladas and fish tacos at Pico de Gallo. This place may be named for tomato salsa, but its menu makes room for dozens of other traditional Mexican dishes that run the gamut from mild to fiery. And these guys don't skimp when it comes to washing down meals, blending strawberries and bananas into smoothies or squeezing juice from carrots with their bare hands.
Subway tiles and a tin ceiling line the cozy confines of Maeve’s Cafe, where friendly servers zip sandwiches and salads to tables populated by neighborhood regulars. The checkerboard floor and vintage decor elements evoke nostalgic memories of childhood trips to train stations, malt shops, and Bobby Fischer’s castle. The staffers aim to cultivate a similar feeling of wonder with made-to-order comfort fare, which ranges from small, shareable plates of prosciutto and olives to breakfast bagels and hearty paninis oozing with cheddar, brie, or gruyere. Hot espresso and cold-press coffee compete for the honor of raising sleepy eyelids, and sweet italian sodas refresh palates with effervescent fizz.
Born in Vietnam and raised in the United States by Chinese parents, chef Nina Wong has always infused her dishes with a variety of Asian tastes. After marrying Thomas Gnanapragasam—a third-generation Malaysian of Indian descent—Wong discovered more unique flavors to integrate into her signature sauces and syrups. Originally opened in 2005, Chin Dian Café channels the pair's unique backgrounds through Asian soups, salads, and noodle and rice dishes, even offering some gluten-free options. Popular dishes, such as chow mai fun and chicken-and-chive dumplings, keep patrons rolling in and have earned the restaurant media acclaim from the Star Tribune, Minnesota Monthly, and the dictionary.
Today's culinary triumphs are the product of thousands of years of experimentation. The staff at Annona Gourmet doesn’t see any reason why that march of innovation should end, so they fill the shop’s shelves with exotic twists on staples such as pasta, sea salt, and vinegar. 20 varieties of olive oil pour from large stainless-steel tanks called fusti, their straw-hued droplets hinting at everything from Sicilian sunshine to Persian limes. After tasting balsamic vinegar infused with cinnamon and pears or figs, patrons peruse the inventory of pastas beneath coastal murals that give one the feeling of being at a beach free of sailors with boring albatross stories. Jars of sauces and dressings hint at a spectrum of flavors with earth-tone hues, and sea salts take on the flavor of black truffles or ghost peppers in an escape from seasoning conventions.
Generally speaking, there's not a bubble to be found in bubble tea. Instead, the "bubbles" that the cold Taiwanese drink takes its name from are chewy tapioca pearls or jellies resting at the bottom of the glass, waiting for a straw to suck them up. The tea is there, however—but it's not alone. Mixed with it is the flavor of mango, matcha, or peppermint. In fact, at Steepery Tea Bar—owned by the same aficionados as the Tea Garden—more than 30 flavors combine with 10 bubble varieties to exercise creative muscles and comfort anyone who's afraid of repeating themselves.
Bubble tea is just one of the drinks at Steepery Tea Bar. And it's not even the only drink that can contain bubbles. Shakes and coolers can also hold the chewy treasures in their depths, as well as the cafe's signature drinks such as the royal tea latte. Of course, being a tea bar, Steepery brews up hot drinks too. More than 50 kinds of green, black, white, and herbal loose-leaf tea—most of which are fair-trade, organic, and inclined to give only positive fortunes to tellers—fill cups and pots.