At Faces Mears Park, Chef David Fhima's use of local, sustainable ingredients puts a contemporary spin on traditional bistro cuisine. His chefs seek out grass-fed beef for their steaks, hand-make pastas with organic whole wheat, and stock the wine cellar with as many organic and biodynamically produced bottles as possible. This approach results in fresh renditions of classic American and Mediterranean comfort foods, such as an Asian-style tuna melt on house-made sourdough and lamb tagine with a cinnamon and onion marmalade. Even the pizzas manage to incorporate some more inventive toppings, including options with everything from Sicilian andouille sausage and a fried egg to salmon, kale, and chevre.
The restaurant's dining room, designed by Billy Besson, shares a similarly casual, yet modern aesthetic. Large plate-glass windows line the front walls of the atrium section and allow plenty of natural light to flood the space during the day. The mixture of hardwood and gray-tiled floors complements the rich earth tones of the tan walls and sturdy columns. At the same time, the restaurant gets a contemporary, industrial vibe from its gleaming metal tables and Charlie-Chaplin-manned pizza assembly line.
Since 1986, 7th Street Tavern, formerly known as Champps Americana, has served up burgers and classic American dishes, satiating sports fans and families with a comfortable, welcoming atmosphere. Amid the sunlit dining room, diners at wooden tabletops have views of 25 TVs broadcasting sports games, competing with a cluster of arcade games for eyes' attention. Chefs cater to taste buds by plumping up pastas with chicken, shrimp, and vegetables and piling rolls with beef patties, barbecued pulled pork, and spicy buffalo chicken. Behind the bar, bartenders whip up specialty cocktails and margaritas and fill goblets with an expansive selection of draft beers and wine. The bar and grill draws guests with regular specials and events throughout the week, including daily happy hours, Thursday-night trivia, and Sunday brunch. Every Tuesday, the restaurant serves up free meals to children, as a magician saunters table to table, entertaining kids with tricks and balloon art, crafting replacement siblings on request.
As its name suggests, Capital View Café & Catering showcases a magnificent view of the Minnesota State Capitol building, but it's really the Mexican and American cuisine that keeps regulars coming back. The Ramirez and Lucken family brought the restaurant to life in 1993, after a family friend had tipped them off about a small café full of untapped potential that was in need of new owners. The family relied on many years of experience in the restaurant business to open a friendly neighborhood diner specializing in housemade breakfasts and lunches and generous portions. Capital View Café's breakfast menu includes both American and Mexican mainstays, and the lunch menu ranges from salads, soups, and sandwiches to authentic Mexican lunches. Their Mexican lunch roster catalogs burritos, fajitas, and the chipotle red pork dish, served in a zesty chipotle sauce alongside a stack of warm tortillas, a tastier stack of hot disks than frisbees toasting over a camp fire.
The aroma of brewing organic, fair-trade coffee from Brazil wafts through the air at 50th Street Cafe during breakfast and lunch. Behind the breakfast counter, cooks work to reinvent classic breakfast dishes. They flip pancakes made with cookie dough and drizzle them with chocolate or add fresh mozzarella and basil-pesto hollandaise to unorthodox omelets. Farm-fresh eggs and housemade hash browns, early-morning staples, arrive alongside less traditional panko-battered walleye fillets. The griddle sizzles like a knight in shining armor left in a hot car, laden with half-pound patties of Cattleman?s Selection ground beef, which end up on thick-cut sourdough toast with Old Smokehouse bacon and melted swiss cheese. That heat is also reflected in the bright hues of yellow tile and orange accents as well as whimsical calico-patterned carpets. The staff at 50th Street Cafe works to reduce its collective carbon footprint by using recyclable materials.
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.
Like all world-class competitors, the chefs at Pizza Champions know that you get back what you give. That’s why they craft each of their pizzas using dough and sauce that is made each day entirely from scratch. After a generous sprinkling of 100% real mozzarella cheese, they top each golden ring with fresh toppings ranging from traditional sausage and pepperoni to spicy banana peppers or sweet chunks of pineapple. For those who have trouble choosing, a list of six specialty pizzas offers up preapproved flavor combinations, including an alfredo pizza with grilled chicken and white sauce, and the Champion’s Special, which arrives with three kinds of meat, five types of veggies, extra cheese, and a commemorative Wheaties box.