The baristas at J. Arthur's Coffee strive to cultivate appreciation for artisanal coffee by focusing on unblended coffee with unique characteristics. The shop trades directly with farmers that use sustainable methods, developing relationships with individual coffee-bean producers who are dedicated to distributing high-quality beans that taste magical but don’t sprout into beanstalks. J. Arthur’s blends espresso drinks with whole and 1% milk from Autumnwood Farms, a local family-owned operation that only raises grass-fed cattle. As patrons sip lattes and scarf down house-made sandwiches, live musicians fill the air with soothing tunes.
At the suggestion of her son, Mary Hogan-Bard named her coffee shop Claddagh Coffee. The name (pronounced kla'-dah) is an Irish symbol of two hands holding a crowned heart. It signifies love, friendship, and loyalty—qualities embodied by the West End cafe. The hands-and-heart logo appears on everything from windows to tees, and its meaning comes alive as baristas cheerfully craft Midwestern-roasted coffee, espresso drinks, and Irish-themed specialties. An espresso drink named Ceili (Gaelic for "dance") combines caramelized pineapple puree with coconut-cream milk foam. Foodsmiths prepare breakfast pastries, small plates, and paninis with organic ingredients, and hosts lead events including live concerts and book discussions. Large umbrellas, which can also be used to accent very large tiki drinks, shade the outdoor patio. Catering is available.
Though inspired by the northern California cafés of the early 1980s, Espresso Royale fits right in with Michigan’s modern coffee drinkers—in 2014 readers of The Michigan Daily voted it Best Coffee Shop for the fifth year in a row. Their coffees include a house blend developed in 1987, which has since been joined by a seasonally appropriate autumn spice blend and a southern Italian-style espresso called Napoli. Royale's customers also clamor to the counter for favorites such as raspberry mochas, mint hot chocolates, and ginger dragon, a tea layered with fresh lemon and steeped ginger root that can be served iced or heated by a dragon named Ginger.
While living in China, Master Chef Yang learned how to sauté, season, and stir-fry every dish at Cafe 99. His menu honors Chinese culinary traditions, with entrees paying homage to regional cuisines Yang sampled while traveling through the country. After each trip, he hand-picked region-specific foods to comprises dishes such as whole halibut stewed in wild chili sauce, mandarin beef with golden garlic, sizzling steak in black pepper sauce, giant walnut shrimp, and a chrysanthemum sole fillet in tomato sauce, a 2012 Taste of Chanhassen Grand Prize winner. In addition to popular items such as sweet-and-sour chicken and vegetable lo mein, he also uses his culinary talents to showcase some of China's more exotic ingredients and flavor combinations, such as wild sea cucumber or beef tendon in chili sauce.
No matter what you order, the eatery's no-frills decor allows these colorful dishes to be the stars of every visit. Those eager to sample more exotic flavor combinations can visit Tian Jin, Cafe 99's sister restaurant, which was also featured in Mpls.St.Paul Magazine.
The founder of Finnish Bistro, who moved to the United States from Finland decades ago, recently passed the torch to a new owner, Sandra Weise. With the same care for authenticity that the restaurant’s founder brought to bear, Sandra curates a menu full of fresh fish, lefse flatbreads, and Finnish-style baked goods—as well as sundry continental, European offerings. A robust selection of traditional delights includes pickled herring, beets, and cucumbers, as well as smoked salmon, salami, and spicy reindeer sausage.
Patrons can peruse fresh-baked goods on display in glass cases, ranging from the familiar—donuts—to the more unique—their signature almond kringlers and gluten-free flourless tortes. When the weather is nice, guests can sit outside to enjoy Finnish eats and listen to the wind whisper about its recent trip to Europe.
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.