Suburban Bites: The 7 best places to eat in Bloomington

Categories: Restaurants
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Sean McPherson
Smoky perfection on a plate from Wally's.



Whether you live in the suburbs, or find yourself outside your regular stomping grounds in search of restaurant options, there's value in knowing more about all the great eats beyond Minneapolis and St. Paul's most covered neighborhoods. In our Suburban Bites series, we'll explore the best places to eat and drink in the greater metro area.

For a lot of Minnesotans, Bloomington begins and ends with the Mall of America. But this suburb has a lot more to offer than a Hooters and a parking lot. Bloomington is the fourth largest city in Minnesota, and though it is dominated by huge, national chain restaurants, if you move a couple of blocks away from the big-box food stores you can find some hidden gems. Here are seven of the high points.

See also:
The 7 best places to eat in West St. Paul

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Tony Nelson
A plate of succulent, crackling meats at Mandarin Kitchen

Wally's Roast Beef 

In last week's installment of Suburban Bites, we raved about the plain and perfect sandwiches at Maverick's in Roseville. This week we discovered another cult-classic roast beef spot: Wally's. It's a little more old-school and a little more blue-plate special than other one-off spots in this category, which makes sense because Wally's owners haven't strayed too far from the menu they opened with in 1969. Smoky, thinly sliced, medium rare roast beef is the star of the show here, tucked away in the Southtown Office Park on Penn. Go for the deliciously messy French dip or the classic Philly beef, loaded with peppers, onions, and cheese. Super special bonus: Almost everything on the menu is under five bucks. 

Mandarin Kitchen

Mandarin Kitchen is in the running for the best Chinese restaurant in Minnesota, with an exhaustive menu of Mandarin, Szechuan, Cantonese, and Hunan entrees. Long celebrated for its epic dim sum on weekend mornings, Mandarin Kitchen holds its own at dinner as well. We recommend getting an order of crispy Peking duck for your first dinner visit. The duck itself is crispy, greasy perfection that comes with sweet bean sauce and simple spring onion pancakes. Once you've had a couple of pancakes slathered in sweet bean sauce and gotten your fill of succulent duck, you may need a little meat-induced nap in your car before heading to your next location.

Lucky's 13 Pub

When we pulled up into a sea of office parks, it was hard to imagine much good food coming off the grill at Lucky's 13. But this place knows how to deliver great food quickly for a business lunch. The whole service team was working in near perfect tandem, refilling waters, grabbing depleted condiment containers, and deftly handling special orders. When we visited we opted for the chicken Cajun pasta. Not an ounce of the spicy cream sauce went to waste, as we sopped up all the post-pasta remnants with the warm rolls that accompanied our entrée. Regular readers will recall our love for Lucky's Bloody Mary, which is garnished with a half BLT sandwich and comes with a mini bottle of Coors Light. 

Green Mill

We get it. There are Green Mills everywhere, so why would the Bloomington one, nestled inside a Holiday Inn, be different? The main difference is that this is a townie bar combined with a hotel bar. The entire climate is a delightful cold front/warm front mix-up of Winnipeg folks down for a shopping trip and Bloomington firemen throwing back a couple of Captain Cokes looking to tell some Canucks how much better American hockey players are. Your referee for the night is ace bartender Melissa. She's the type of barkeep you think hates you but remembers your standard drink order before you do. And we're the type of customer who likes that. Grab one of whatever is on special, order the tasty bruschetta, and get your people-watching on.


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35 comments
missbecky2006
missbecky2006

Sorry but the Green Mill in Bloomington is GARBAGE.  I was there 2 days ago.  Standard Green Mill food, but old and stale with terrible service.  I actually do not find the fact that it is in a hotel a feature ... you walk in, and it smells like pool chlorine.  Do not love.  

Robert Abe Abraham
Robert Abe Abraham

I loved Wally's Roast Beef in Bloomington when I lived in Mn. Real roast beef instead of that nasty pink slime roast of whatever at Arby's.

EricLarsen
EricLarsen

Food Fight suggestion: Suburban Gyros.

I would like to see this Gyropolis place the other commenters are mentioning versus the Mega Gyro from Ali Baba's King of Gyros in West Saint Paul!

EricLarsen
EricLarsen

Was going to complain about Khan's being left out, then checked and realized it's technically in Richfield.  Well, when you guys get around to Richfield...

Jeff Lahr
Jeff Lahr

Shantytown needs be on this list.

Aaron Michael Scherbel
Aaron Michael Scherbel

Also, pretty sure the Mall of America is in Bloomington, is it not? I know they have a restaurant or two worth mentioning. Oops.

Nicole Duff
Nicole Duff

City Pages, where they know absolutely everything about a 10 block radius and Google the rest.

Chris Porto
Chris Porto

If mandarin kitchen didn't make the list I was going to respond with an angry comment. Still might be my favorite Chinese place in the twin cities.

Shayla Bocock
Shayla Bocock

Clearly, the author forgot Timber Lodge Steakhouse.

Nik Papazois
Nik Papazois

Seriously??? Where's Gyropolis? That is hands down the best restaurant in Bloomington! Hunan & Golden Wok and 1st Wok and David Fongs are all better than Mandarin or 98 pounds! Surabhi & Tandoor.... Oh, my City Pages, you seriously botched this one bad!

curtismsp
curtismsp

A pretty good list. But one entry doesn't make sense. They send you to Green Mill to find a fake townie bar inside a Holiday Inn, when the genuine townie bar down the street, Shantytown Grill, doesn't get mentioned. Other noticeable omissions: Kincaid's, David Fongs, Gyropolis -- all Bloomington originals.

Aaron Michael Scherbel
Aaron Michael Scherbel

This series is just making City Pages look bad. Clearly your "writer" has never even been to half the places written about; (s)he is also pulling them straight off the top of Google Search. Seriously, please stop. You are not doing any of these businesses or any of these cities any favors with your patronizing articles that mention places like Green Mill as one of the 7 best places to eat at. Not that Green Mill is bad, but they are in almost every city, so it's really just insulting. If you can't find 7 legitimately unique places for each city, write a shorter article or don't write it at all.

DP Wieland
DP Wieland

Actually, Bloomington is 11 miles from Minneapolis, and having grown up in Bloomington, I endeavor to spend my time anywhere else.

Lara Zimberoff
Lara Zimberoff

This would be clever if Bloomington were more than 10 miles from Minneapolis, but it's not. Do you never leave the city limits or something?

DP Wieland
DP Wieland

The eighth best place to eat in Bloomington involves getting in your car, LRT, bike, cab, or flying car and eating downtown instead.

Keith Morioka
Keith Morioka

What about Surhabi's? the most authentic Indian in the Twin Cities!

osukasensei
osukasensei

Maybe you should of been to more places before you wrote this. Way to shit on our city with your poorly put together BEST of article.

Lara Zimberoff
Lara Zimberoff

India Cafe, Tandoor, and Blue Point Grill (GREAT happy hour) are also critical omissions. Green Mill? Really? It's not terrible but there are plenty other non-chain options exclusive to Bloomington that are way better.

Lara Zimberoff
Lara Zimberoff

Whoa whoa whoa...How in the HELL did you leave Gyropolis off the list?

Mc'Real Dtj
Mc'Real Dtj

Ok who says these are the best places, your reporter is clearly a dumb fuck and should be fired

Mc'Real Dtj
Mc'Real Dtj

Im to poor for this shit and green mill better not be on the list, the food is horrible and nothing close to special plus very small portions

Bridget Gernander
Bridget Gernander

The Gyros Grill on Old Shakopee near Cedar is my absolute favorite in Bloomington. The chicken curry special is awesome and they make their own spicy chutney-like condiment that is out of this world. There is no contest between the food at Gyros Grill and the Green Mill.

Tim Stang
Tim Stang

lucky 13? id rather eat dog poo

OlWillyClinton
OlWillyClinton

Sunrise Donuts gets a thumbs up from me, but you left out David Fong's and Gyros Grill on Old Shakopee Road. Gyros Grill is a locally-owned restaurant with about 15 tables and one or two people working behind the counter. Imad is one of the most appreciative business owners I have ever had the pleasure of frequenting until I left my job close to his business. Go pay him a visit.

Oscar
Oscar

Settle down its very subjective. But ill follow your lear. You are completely wrong about Gyropolis. Clearly you dont know food. Seriously, everyone just settle down.

curtismsp
curtismsp

11 miles from Minneapolis, but 0 miles from the airport that gets you to Minneapolis.

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