Friday, May 1, 2009

Ten Best Breakfasts in the Twin Cities

Nutritionists and physicians often say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Americans don’t always heed this counsel, especially if they regard the breakfast menu uninteresting and not very tasty, AND they are in a hurry to get to work. But we do have some excellent breakfast dining rooms here, with delicious fare. Here’s my list of the ten best daily breakfasts. (I will post a separate list of best weekend brunches.)

WILDE ROAST CAFE - 518 Hennepin Avenue East (Minneapolis) 612-331-4544

This attractively decorated and warm space has, in addition to coffee/espresso drinks, fine teas, and extravagant hot chocolates, a full breakfast menu including fluffy omelets, corn meal and buckwheat pancakes, waffles, “creme brule” French toast, eggs Benedict, and made-to-order oatmeal. There are also a few unusual items such as a breakfast “burro” tortilla and a breakfast pizza. A terrific breakfast special for $3.00 is available until 9 a.m. every day. The service here is especially friendly and helpful. This cafe has its own free parking lot.

VICTOR’S CAFE - 3756 Grand Avenue South(Minneapolis) 612-827-8948

Victor’s Cafe offers an excellent Cuban-style breakfast in a funky Old-Havana-style series of rooms. The mango pancakes are sublime, and many of the traditional Caribbean specialties are outstanding. It’s noisy, crowded, but fun to eat here. Friendly service, and the kitschy pictorial decor recreating pre-Castro Cuba is worth the trip alone. Prices in this South Minneapolis diner are quite reasonable. Lots of free parking on the street.

BLACK SHEEP CAFE - 705 Southview Boulevard (South St. Paul) 651-554-0155

This comfortable space and excellent coffeehouse also offers outstanding and made-on-the premises breakfasts that include steel-cut organic oatmeal, egg dishes, a selection of morning baked goods and fine teas. The coffee selection and service is world-class. It's a bit of a trek to South St. Paul, but relatively easy to
get to via the thruways. Lots of free parking in their own lot and on the street.

MANNY’S [Hotel W] - 9th and Marquette Avenues (Minneapolis) 612-339-9900

This is Minneapolis’ power breakfast dining room which serves the Hotel W where it is located. It is also the Twin Cities best steak house at night. Being the only restaurant in the hotel, it must serve breakfast (something Manny’s did not do at its former location). But making a gem out of necessity, the kitchen serves a first-rate breakfast steak, short ribs eggs Benedict (a cardiologist should call at your table if you order this delicious version of the classic dish), outrageously wonderful hash browns, fresh squeezed orange juice (promptly refilled by your waitperson) and many other breakfast specialties. Expensive, but large portions and exceptional service. Usual downtown parking problems, but easy to get to if you walk there from your office.

GOOD DAY CAFE - 5410 Wayzata Boulevard (Golden Valley) 763-544-0205

This was designed as a breakfast restaurant (it also serves lunch) next to The Metropolitan, and has a very large selection of traditional breakfast dishes, generously served and well-prepared. The dining room is large and noisy, but this is an excellent and convenient place for breakfast if you are going downtown for work from the western suburbs. A large dining room is frequently full, a bit noisy, but the prices are reasonable. Lots of free parking in its own lot just off Highway 394.

PORTER & FRYE [Hotel Ivy] - 1115 2nd Avenue South (Minneapolis) 612-353-3500

Another upscale hotel fine dining room which must serve breakfast for its guests, and has made its breakfast menu into something special. This is a chef-driven breakfast, a bit pricey as might be expected, but unusual and very delicious dishes, including the best and richest oatmeal in town, home-made breakfast baked goods, and a number of special items. Exceptional fine tea selection. Located close to Orchestra Hall and the Minneapolis Convention Center, there is valet parking, downtown meters, or walk from your office.

CHEZ COLETTE/MARKET KIOSK [Hotel Sofitel] - 5601 W. 78th Street (Bloomington) 952-835-199

The hotel serves distinctive and delicious (if pricey) French-styled breakfasts in its main dining room, but adjoining this large main dining space is a small espresso bar and pastry kiosk (offering take-out) with tables and chairs. (You can also take your food to nearby outdoor cafe seating.) Here you can have an espresso drink, regular coffee or fine tea with a very large selection of delicious brioches, French pastries and baked goods at a very reasonable price. I don’t know if it’s worth a special trip to the 494 strip, but if you’re in the neighborhood, the kiosk is a great place for a quick, civilized and tasty small breakfast. Free parking in the hotel lot.

THE NORMANDY KITCHEN [Normandy Inn] - 405 S. 8th Street (Minneapolis) (612) 370-1400

This was once the most important place for breakfast in Minneapolis (in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s), and the grandson of the man who opened it has just recreated it with a first-class chef and an ambitious menu. Specialties include scrambled eggs with smoked trout, banana French toast, yogurt parfait with granola and berries, baked oatmeal with fresh fruit and nuts, and their own pecan coffee cake. It’s a hotel dining room, and pricey, but a delicious and comfortable place to start the day with business associates or friends. Lots of inexpensive meter parking nearby, or a for-pay hotel lot.

LOBBY BAR “LB” (Hotel Minneapolis) - 215 S. 4th Street (Minneapolis) 612-340-2000

Perhaps the best of the daily breakfast buffets in town, this lobby restaurant (not to be confused with the large adjoining Restaurant Max that serves lunch and dinner) offers a substantial buffet every weekday, and it includes an omelet and waffle bar, plus most of the breakfast specialties, including juices, fresh fruit, hot and cold cereals, beverages, and Danish pastries. It’s $15 a head, but if you have a mammoth appetite in the morning (and might want to skip lunch), this is the place. Until downtown street construction is completed, however, it may be difficult to get here except by foot.

DAY BY DAY CAFE - 477 W. 7th Street (St. Paul) 651-227-0654

A bit out of the way, but well worth regular visits is this rustic and friendly restaurant serving hearty breakfasts with a large number of choices. If you can get there between 6 and 7 a.m., a very early bird special includes two eggs, hashbrowns, bacon or sausage and toast for $4.75. After 7 a.m., the same meal is $6.95. Home-made oatmeal with a fresh-made bakery item and juice is only $7.50. There is a variety of egg dishes, pancakes, omelets, cereals, fresh fruit, baked goods,and even a breakfast pork chop or 6-ounce choice steak. The indoor rooms are unpretentiously attractive, but the outdoor dining patio is intimate and splendid. Free parking in front of the restaurant.

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