2016 Kind-Of-A-Big-Deal Readers’ Choice Award Winners


Illustration by Brent Schoonover

Restaurant – Red Cow

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Red Cow St. Paul

Sure it’s fun to save up for a once-a-year dinner at the hot and new fine dining spot, but when Growler readers are craving a satisfying meal made with quality ingredients on any ol’ day of the week, they turn to Red Cow. No white linens or rarified menus—just a comfortable atmosphere and downright, tasty     burgers, fresh salads, and a hearty brunch.

New Restaurant – Hi-Lo Diner

Hi Lo Diner Craft Cocktail83

Fender Bender at Hi-Lo Diner // Photo by Kevin Kramer, The Growler

A gleaming diner car with great cocktails, breakfast classics done with care and panache, great burgers, and the finest pie on Lake Street—no new restaurant has captured our attention this year like the feel-good, updated throwback of the Hi-Lo Diner.

Seasonal Restaurant – Sea Salt Eatery

Sea Salt

Oysters at Sea Salt

Is there any greater summertime joy than to sit in the park with a plastic cup of cold white wine, with a tin full of oysters and a po’ boy on the way, all with the rush of Minnehaha Falls in the background? In Minneapolis, if it’s summer, it’s time for Sea Salt.

Food Truck – The Anchor Fish & Chips

Anchor Fish and Chips Food Truck

Anchor Fish and Chips Food Truck // Photo via Anchor Facebook page

With food truck offerings becoming more elaborate and expansive with each new season, your favorite, The Anchor, is a paragon of simplicity: the perfect battered Atlantic cod and classic hand-cut fries. Besides a cup of mushy peas, what more do you need?

Burger Joint – Blue Door Pub

Blue Door Blucy

The Mount Blucuvious at Blue Door Pub // Photo via Blue Door Pub Facebook page

Not only do you want a juicy lucy, but you want it topped with pastrami and cream cheese, or Canadian bacon and pineapple, or mornay sauce with a cup of au jus, or one of the other heart-stopping renditions that can only be had at the Blue Door Pub.

Taquería – Taco Cat

A vegetarian taco at Taco Cat featuring fire roasted eggplant, fermented honey, fried garlic, pickled habañero relish, preserved lemon // Photo via Taco Cat's Facebook page

A vegetarian taco at Taco Cat featuring fire roasted eggplant, fermented honey, fried garlic, pickled habañero relish, preserved lemon // Photo via Taco Cat’s Facebook page

A man, a plan, a bike, tacos. The cult-favorite palindromic delivery service has chained up its single speed at Midtown Global Market, where it’s now serving tacos and burritos that rival the best in the Metro.

Pizzeria – Pizza Lucé

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Pizza Lucé // Photo via Pizza Lucé Facebook page

Minnesota has some great pizza joints, but there’s one that takes the cake—or rather, pizza pie. With a crisp wheat-based crust, Pizza Lucé’s creations can satisfy the carnivorous meat lover to the vegan-focused diner. On top of all that, there are gluten-free versions and the option to build your own pizza. Now, that’s amore.

Barbecue Joint – Bark and the Bite


Bark and the Bite’s food truck // Photo via Bark and the Bite’s Facebook page

Proper infusion of the smoke, knowledge behind the slow and low technique, and skilled hands behind the seasonings, sauces, and sides. These are the elements that make up the magical mixture of great barbecue. And the place you deemed as the best in the land—and lip smackin’ good—is food truck and Northeast Minneapolis takeout counter, Bark and the Bite.

Vegetarian-friendly restaurant – The Duluth Grill

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Lettuce growing outside of The Duluth Grill // Photo via The Duluth Grill’s Facebook page

If you’re vegetarian, eating out can be a disappointing prospect. Too often restaurants’ vegetarian dishes are sad afterthoughts. But at The Duluth Grill, vegetables take center stage in a number of substantial dishes that leave vegetarians nourished and satisfied.

Brunch Spot – Hi-Lo Diner

Hi-Lo Bloodys

Bloody Marys at Hi-Lo Diner // Photo via Hi-Lo Diner’s Facebook page

You could go classic—eggs, hash browns, bacon. Or you could tackle a Hi-Top—a gigantic puff of fried dough with toppings that range from pulled pork to pico de gallo. Either way, with a morning cocktail, you’re in for a stellar brunch at Hi-Lo Diner.

Butcher Shop – Von Hanson’s Meats


Von Hansen’s // Photo via Von Hansen’s Facebook page

T-bone steaks? Check. Double-smoked bacon? Sure thing. Sage and onion stuffed chicken breasts? You betcha. With personalized service and a wide selection of quality products in a old-fashioned meat market environment, Von Hanson’s strives to “meat” the needs of every carnivore.

Cheese Shop – Surdyk’s Liquor & Cheese Shop

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The cheese case at Surdyk’s // Photo by Aaron Davidson

Asiago, and Gruyere, and manchego, oh my! With hundreds of varieties of cheese from all over the world, Surdyk’s is the place we go to for dairy decadence. And better yet, Surdyk’s shop also has a curated selection of specialty grocery items to accompany your cheesy party platters.

Bakery – A Baker’s Wife

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A Baker’s Wife // Photo by Aaron Davidson

The simplest things are often the hardest to perfect, which makes the plain cake donuts at A Baker’s Wife downright miraculous. If you’re stopping by for their wonderful breads, cakes or pastries, it may be impossible not to grab a couple donuts for the ride home.

Donut Shop – Glam Doll Donuts


Donuts at Glam Doll // Photo via Glam Doll’s Facebook page

If there’s anything better than seeing their bright pink box appear next to the office coffee maker, it’s going to Glam Doll, getting a Femme Fatale or a Dark Angel (or let’s be real, probably both) and a cup of coffee, and starting the day in a retro, sugary rush.

Coffee Shop – Spyhouse Coffee


Spyhouse Coffee // Photo via Spyhouse’s Facebook page

Everything about Spyhouse, from their coffee to the atmosphere in their four Twin Cities locations, is refined down to its most basic elements. When you strip away all the frills, what you’re left with is a truly unique and genuine experience.

Grocer / Co-op – Mississippi Market


Mississippi Market’s West 7th Street location // Photo via Mississippi Market’s Facebook page

Started in 1979, Mississippi Market Natural Foods Co-op is your trusted grocer for organic, locally-grown produce, sustainable meats and seafood, and fresh, made-from-scratch deli and bakery foods. And with three St. Paul locations, it’s easier than ever to get your hands on quality food.

Farmers Market – Minneapolis Farmers Market


Minneapolis Farmers Market // Photo via Minneapolis Farmers Market’s Facebook page

Nestled in the concrete jungle of downtown Minneapolis is the seasonal oasis of fresh vegetables, fruits, and farmstead products for all to enjoy. From sunflowers to squash, potatoes to pastries, the Minneapolis Farmers Market is the bounty of the county, or should we say, state.

More 2016 Kind-Of-A-Big-Deal Award Winners:

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