The opening of I Nonni in 2001 was so significant that Heavy Table marked it as an important moment in its "Timeline of Italian Food in Minnesota". According to the site, the restaurant wound up "reshaping how Minnesota thought about Italian food" by taking the focus off starchy pasta dishes and focusing on meats and seafood. Groundbreaking as it's been, I Nonni is still plenty traditional: its name translates to grandparents, and moniker meant to honor the recipes and the old-world style of the owners' ancestors. Here's how you can benefit from their heritage.
I Nonni's menu changes with the seasons, rotating through old-world classics depending on what's available. But here, "old world" reaches past dime-a-dozen dishes such as spaghetti and meatballs and chicken parmiagiana. Instead, you'll find tagliatelle infused with lemon, or squid ink pasta tossed with chilies and gulf shrimp. One traditional dish that's favored by the press when it's available is the osso bucco. Per City Pages: "The tenderness of the braised meat, the rich, buttery marrow you scooped from the bone with a tiny spoon. It's one of those meals that makes it difficult to order anything else on the menu."
Critic RIck Nelson told the Star Tribune that I Nonni "kind of screams 'romance' to me." And he's not the only one. Though the slate floors and minimalist architecture are modern, vaulted ceilings recall old Italy and low lights urge diners to gaze into their companion's eyes. The Tuscan-style patio overlooks a small waterfall, and private dinners can be held in the stone-lined wine cellar.
For a light cafe lunch, head to Mendoberri Cafe and Wine Bar.
Take your pick of beer, wine, or other beverages offered on this restaurant's menu.
Bring your whole brood to this restaurant, where families can dig in to tasty and kid-friendly fare together.
Don't miss out on the great happy hour deals at Mendoberri Cafe and Wine Bar.
Dine out in the open during Mendoberri Cafe and Wine Bar's summer season when patio tables are available for use.
Music lovers can enjoy live performances at Mendoberri Cafe and Wine Bar as well.
During the restaurant's weekend rush, waiting in line is the name of the game (so avoid Friday and Saturday nights if you're looking for something quick).
Short on time? Don't wait for a driver — pick it up yourself.
We believe in rewarding our loyal customers. To do just that, we give all patrons free parking in our very own lot.
Mendoberri Cafe and Wine Bar offers various parking options, including bike parking.
Fancy snacks do come at a higher price, but wow are they delicious.
Easily charge your payment using one of many major credit card options.
Mendoberri Cafe and Wine Bar serves some of the most delicious American classics in its casual cafe atmosphere — grab a table today.
For familiar food you're sure to love, head to Moose Country for American-style cuisine.
Beer, wine, and more are also available from this restaurant's extensive drink list.
On warmer days, take advantage of Moose Country's outdoor seating.
Moose Country is a suitable restaurant for both large and small groups.
Jeans are just right for a meal at Moose Country, which embraces a casual vibe.
You can call it in, then carry it out.
Can't get enough of Moose Country's tasty dishes? They also offer a catering service for parties and events.
Free parking is always available just seconds away from Moose Country.
Prices at Moose Country typically stay below the $30 mark, so you can afford to bring along a friend or a date.
Moose Country provides morning, afternoon, and evening service, so you can easily find time to dine.
So when you're in the mood for some delicious American dishes, don't look further than Moose Country.
So enjoy a casual dining experience at Moose Country and load up on some classic American dishes.
Take a trip to Fresh French Fries in Falcon Heights and make your next meal a good one.
A nearby parking lot is readily available for Fresh French Fries' diners.
The eats are cheap here. Fresh French Fries knows a meal out should be tasty but not an investment.
Score your next slice at Boulevard Bar and Grille — this joint has pizza-lovers dishing out cream of the crop reviews.
Ready for a drink to unwind? At this pizzeria, you can pair your meal with something from their full bar.
Boulevard Bar and Grille is a fine restaurant for those with large and small parties.
At Boulevard Bar and Grille, there's no need to confine your meal to a traditional dining room — outdoor seating is available when the weather is warm.
Boulevard Bar and Grille's dress code is casual — diners are welcome to dress up (or down) to their comfort level.
Short on time? Don't wait for a driver — pick it up yourself.
Drivers can make use of the parking lots near Boulevard Bar and Grille.
For a quick and easy payment solution at Boulevard Bar and Grille, pay by major credit card.
Whether you're in the mood for AM eggs, a midday salad, or an evening entree, Boulevard Bar and Grille provides service throughout the day.
So come taste the pizza at Boulevard Bar and Grille for yourself and see what all the ratings buzz is about.
If you can't get enough pizza, be sure to try the pies at Boulevard Bar and Grille, which earn ratings too hot to handle.
So grab a group of friends and head to Boulevard Bar and Grille, where you can relax in a casual setting while enjoying a delicious, handmade pizza.
When you don't feel like cooking dinner, pay Boulevard Bar and Grille a visit and enjoy a hot and fresh pizza pie.
Home to Chinese favorites like sweet and sour chicken, Lucky China is a quality neighborhood spot where diners are guaranteed A+ entrees.
Keep your diet in check at Lucky China, a local restaurant with gluten-free and low-fat menu items.
You won't need to get a sitter before heading to this restaurant — kids are more than welcome at this family-friendly establishment.
Carry-out is also available for those who prefer to enjoy this restaurant's cooking from the comfort of their own home.
Driving is all about convenience, and we get that. With spaces available, we'll help speed up your night.
Lucky China offers parking for all diners, including those who travel by bike.
Take a break from the kitchen without breaking the bank! Lucky China will fill you up with top-notch fare that s modestly priced.
When you're craving Chinese fare, head on over to Lucky China and treat yourself to an upscale meal.
Whether it's chicken lo mein, szechuan beef, or dumplings, Lucky China has all of your favorites to make your takeout truly perfect.
Every iconic food has an origin story—or two or three. For years, diehards have debated the origins of everything from the mai tai to the Coney-style hot dog. The Juicy Lucy (or is it Jucy Lucy?) is no exception. Two Minneapolis restaurants claim to have invented the city’s ubiquitous cheese-stuffed burger, but who’s telling the truth?
On the same street in South Minneapolis, you’ll find both “original” iterations of the Juicy Lucy. But before we get into the specific of which is the real Juicy Lucy, let’s talk about what that might look like. One thing’s for sure: with the Juicy Lucy, however you spell it, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.
Inside this famous burger, you’ll find melted, molten american cheese—and lots of it. If you don’t want a burned mouth, it’s generally a good idea to give it a minute before biting in. When you do take that first glorious bite, the gooey cheese will rush out and everything in your life will start to make vivid sense. Now that you’re up to speed on the anatomy of a Juicy Lucy, it’s time to meet the contenders.
Matt’s BarAt Matt’s, where it’s known as the Jucy Lucy, the legend begins sometime during the 1950s. According to lore, a customer walked in one day and requested a double cheeseburger—with one slight alteration. This wild and reckless man wanted his cheese in between the patties. The legend goes on to state that this rule-breaker then remarked, “That’s one juicy Lucy!” Thus, an iconic burger was born.
Or was it?5-8 ClubThe folks at another Minneapolis institution would beg to differ. At the 5-8 Club, where the standard spelling is embraced, the staff will vehemently argue that their Juicy Lucy is the first and most faithful iteration of the famous cheeseburger. So are they right? Well, they sort of have time on their side, but the details are a bit murky.
Opened in 1928, the 5-8 Club initially functioned as a speakeasy that served light fare. Sometime during the 1950s (sound familiar?), american cheese shimmied down off the patty and right into the midst of things, and the 5-8’s very own version of the Juicy Lucy was born. Since then, it’s been scarfed down by Adam Richman on Travel Channel’s Man v. Food and even made a bucket list of “50 Things to Do in the Twin Cities Before You Die.” In 2008, the cooks set the world record for creating the largest Juicy Lucy ever made—it comprised more than 80 pounds of beef and 30 pounds of american cheese.
The Winner Is … We may never know who was responsible for the first Juicy Lucy, but the cheese-stuffed burger has since become a staple at some of the best restaurants in Minneapolis, and that’s certainly something we can get behind. At times like these, it’s best not to think of things in terms of who’s right and who’s wrong. When it comes to the Juicy Lucy, pretty much everyone wins.
Photo: courtesy of the 5-8 Club's Facebook page
As many know in Saint Paul, restaurants aren’t necessarily the best place to find their favorite dish. Mention the word booya to someone from the St. Paul-East Metro region, and the wave of nostalgia is palpable as they remember neighborhood gatherings, playing games with their cousins and classmates, the grownups dancing, their uncles ladling fragrant stew into bowls and freezer containers.
Mention the word booya to anyone outside the area, even other Minnesotans, and you’ll likely get a confused high-five. The dish is so regional that many Minnesotans who aren’t from the St. Paul area have never heard of it.
You Won’t Find Booya at a RestaurantAs mentioned, you probably won’t find booya served at Minneapolis restaurants—unless, that is, there’s a special event. Also known as booyah, bouja, or other phonetic iterations, its roots, like those of many regional dishes, are murky. According to the most told tale, a schoolteacher organized a community picnic. To feed everyone, he gathered ingredients from neighborhood families for a traditional Belgian soup he called bouillon.
The word booya also refers to the gathering at which the booya is served. Usually a community event in the fall, such as a church or school fundraiser, some booyas have been running for decades.
But What Is Booya?At its most basic, it’s a thick soup or stew ostensibly of Belgian origins, per that schoolteacher. Its broth is made from pig bones. It usually includes pork, beef, and chicken, sometimes oxtail as well. Chopped veggies and beans are added.
The seasoning blend that each crew uses is heavily guarded. Longtime booya chefs cook from top-secret recipes that have been passed down from chef to chef, some for decades. Fans are known to wait ardently all year for their favorite booya, toting to-go containers so they can freeze some at home.
Never Too Many ChefsEven the crafting of the booya is a community endeavor. Neighbors donate ingredients, such as vegetables and meat, lend the cooking team tools and utensils, and most of all give their time to the dish’s creation.
A good booya can take up to three days to make—some even go for a week. As it’s meant to feed many mouths, it requires prep time for pounds of vegetables and meats and hours upon hours of stirring and simmering and stirring some more. It takes at least two people to pull it off; some booya chefs put together teams of sous chefs and simmer attendants to help with the work.
And then there are the pots. Booya is cooked and served in enormous batches, enough to feed hundreds, and therefore requires huge kettles to make sure it’s cooked properly. Some municipalities own their own set; the Highland neighborhood’s kettles are more than 50 years old and collectively simmer over 350 gallons of the stuff. Another crew’s pots are so big, they stir their booya with canoe paddles.
Where to Get ItIn the St. Paul areaHere are some traditional booyas that serve up a stew many residents say might be better than what’s served at the best restaurants in Minneapolis:Obb’s Sports Bar & Grill holds a booya in the fall plus one for New Year’s Eve.Even if you miss the yearly fall booya at the Church of St. Agnes, you can pick up some frozen at the church kitchen on Sundays.For a hearty breakfast, hit up Maplewood’s St. Jerome Catholic Church, where the ladles hit the pots at 7 a.m. for the fall festival.You have to act fast to get some of the Roseville Fire Department’s fall booya—they start serving at 11 a.m. and usually run out by 1 p.m.Out of StateAs booyas are also popular in Wisconsin (and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan), you can find the dish at these restaurants:Motor Bar, the café at the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee, serves a bowl of booya stew made with chicken and beef.Green Bay’s Kroll’s West Restaurant serves slow-cooked booya in a diner-style setting.Find chicken booya crafted by comfort-food specialists The Rite Place, also in Green Bay.