Top 10 breakfasts in the Twin Cities
|Food with a little grandma-style love|
The restaurant is a sweet little spot on a quiet corner in Northeast Minneapolis, run by a family who has been in the business for nearly 50 years. The dishes are a hearty mix of sweet and savory; wholly satisfying. The drunken banana French toast is a perfect example of too much is never enough. Toasty cinnamon-swirled, custard-soaked bread is stuffed with bananas, spiked with rum-soaked raisins and drizzled with burned, buttery, sweet caramel sauce. Even a simple eggs-and-bacon affair is perfectly cooked and wholly comforting. The black currant iced tea is a refreshing accompaniment to a sunny day, and like the bottomless cup of coffee, it's a glass you'll never find empty. All the dishes are served and watched over by a staff that genuinely cares about each dish and every diner. (2859 Johnson St. NE, Minneapolis; 612.788.4778)
4. Lucia's to Go
Kara Buckner Inside Lucia's To Go
All too often, breakfast comes down to a simple either/or prospect: Either do it up and spend a lot for an expensive brunch, or eat a mess of eggs and potatoes in a skillet. Both have their time and place, but it's nice to be able to break out of the box. At the simultaneously affordable and high-class Lucia's to Go, there is no compromise. Its croissants (chocolate, almond, and traditional) are flaky, buttery, many-layered things. The plain variety will complement any other breakfast choice, and the sweet ones are a light breakfast unto themselves when accompanied by a cup of coffee or Grand Keemun tea. Lightly iced and nutty Budapest and baby Budapest buns are a stylishly restrained twist on the usual fatty frosting-bomb that is the traditional American cinnamon roll. And the crepes...oh, Lord. They range from $4 to $5 and are either sweet (Nutella, berry butter, fresh preserves) or savory (onions, ham and cheese, or greens). But both species are light, bursting with flavor, and as elegant as George Clooney in a tux. While the space can get a bit crowded, even a quick morning visit yields a great early morning meal, even if it has to be taken to go. (1432 W. 31st St., Minneapolis; 612.825.1572)
3. Victory 44 Coffee Bar
Exceptional coffee pairs so well with pop tarts (or bacon toffee)
There's no shame in loving a pop tart, but a stale, square shadow of a pastry packed with sugar colored to look like it once came from a fruit might not live up to the childhood nostalgia. Don't worry, Victory 44 Coffee Bar has you covered. Its pastry chef has crafted a sugary delight that appears to be just an average, sprinkle-festooned Pop Tart, but the reality is a sweetie of a breakfast treat--not too sugary, a butter cookie crumb crust wrapped around actual fruit filling featuring such flavors as pomegranate and berries. Too sweet? What about a slab of toffee topped with dark chocolate and bacon? Want a little more? Dig into the eggs Benedict--ethereal, thick slices of crusty bread beneath a layer of perfectly salty, porky ham topped with a globe of egg, dressed in a lemony bright, butter-redolent sauce. All of this, and it's only the weekday menu! The weekend brunch is full of even more rich, chef-style creations. Served with the sort of coffee that requires a few minutes of brewing, from Dogwood beans, it's a breakfast to satiate every appetite, from youngsters to insufferable food snobs--a seeming impossible feat accomplished with aplomb. (2203 44th Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.588.2228)
2. Colossal Cafe
The yeasty flappers--bigger than your head
There are benefits to voluntarily entering a restaurant that, kitchen space and all, roughly approximates the size of your bedroom. First, you can be openly nosy without ever appearing so. No amount of eye contact with the hot dude at the next table will be awkward. Where else are you supposed to look? Plus, hello, eavesdropping! All everyone is talking about is the food. But that's okay, because once you've tasted Colossal Café's fare, it's all you'll be talking about, too. You'd think a place that has so much skill to flaunt would put something basic like pancakes on autopilot, to focus on, say, its delicate, to-die-for pastries, but no. Colossal Café's pancakes are so special they have their own flappers. Puffy, sweet, and thick, they have an extra savory-side funk from the yeast, and a pretty dusting of powdered sugar on top. They don't even need syrup, though we can't say we fully endorse going without--the real maple syrup they provide is so full of dark caramel, northern Minnesota forest flavors that it's worth it's weight in gold. And, if you find it hard to find a seat in the claustrophobia inducing original, just take yourself across the river and check their spacious new digs, with all the old hits, in St. Paul. (1839 E. 42nd St. Minneapolis; 612.729.2377. 2315 Como Ave. St Paul; 651.797.4027)
1. Sun Street Breads
Impossible to leave without a smile on your face
Stepping inside Sun Street Breads on a bright and cheerful morning has an Oz meets Wonka sort of irresistible cheer: the bright mural, tempting pastries, and the exquisite list of menu items. The problem with meals at this popular neighborhood bakery is deciding what to order. Do you go with the tender buttermilk biscuits and gravy? But what about the sourdough tangy pancakes? There are the Downtowner rolls to be considered, too--all chock full of cinnamon and just the right dose of sugar. Also, we're not above ordering cookies for breakfast, and that Crusher, packed with salty pretzels chips balanced with toasty, sweet brown sugar is great any time of day. Add in a cup of Dogwood coffee and all is right with the world. It's just about impossible to harbor a bad mood when starting out your day inside this sweet little neighborhood spot. (4600 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis; 612.354.3414)
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4600 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis, MN