No one document can capture the complexity of the restaurant scene in Minnesota, which is still in the midst of historic expansion, and the rapid evolution of diner expectations as dollars shift from traditional white tablecloth experiences to more modern concepts. The timeline that follows is a continually updated snapshot of some of the most noteworthy and commented-upon openings and closings of the year.
Updated April 11, 2019
The Year in Restaurants 2019
Ziadi’s Mediterranean Cuisine Opens
A major expansion of the popular Moroccan Flavors stand into the former Rabbit Hole location in Midtown Global Market, Ziadi’s features lunch and dinner service.
P.S. Steak Opens
The former La Belle Vie space now boasts a new, steak-focused concept featuring high-flying talent including Mike DeCamp of Jester Concepts (who spent a decade in La Belle Vie’s kitchen) and Wyatt Evans (formerly of Heirloom)
Market BBQ Opens
The venerable Eat Street BBQ joint has picked up stakes and moved into a fresh new location in trendy Northeast.
Hasty Tasty Closes
Well-received smoked meats and craft cocktails weren’t able to keep the lights for this newly arrived Lyn-Lake resident.
Chef Shack (trucks and restaurant)
Street food pioneers Lisa Carlson and Carrie Summer closed their Seward restaurant late last year, but only recently did they announce that they’ll also be selling their locally famous food trucks. Their Bay City, WI Chef Shack restaurant remains open.
The Copper Cow Opens
A new eatery from the Copper Hen team, already known for its deep-fried hamburger.
Beast BBQ Opens
Another new barbecue spot during a boom time for the genre, owned by the Eli’s crew and located in the former Legends. Formerly announced as Lipstick Pig BBQ.
Lucky Oven Closes
This neighborhood scratch bakery and breakfast shop had a brief but tasty run in the Armatage neighborhood.
Mi Casa Su Casa Closes
The metro’s only Mexican-Pinoy spot called it quits after a short run on University Avenue in St. Paul.
The latest from Gavin Kaysen’s restaurant group, which includes Spoon and Stable in Minneapolis and Bellecour in Wayzata. Demi is small (20 seats) and focused on locally derived tasting menus.
D’Amico and Sons (Grand Avenue) Closes
After more than 20 years of serving pasta (and more), this Grand Avenue mainstay has shut its doors for good. Six other Minnesota locations remain open.
Sol Taqueria Opens
Tacos, elotes, burritos, and other traditional Mexican street foods are on offer at this newly opened spot
Following the death from the flu of its chef, Kyle Bell, this more-than-40-years-old mansion-based restaurant shut its doors.
T-Icy Roll Opens
The second location for this Duluth-based Thai rolled ice cream concept.
Breakfast Bar Opens
Shrimp and grits, breakfast burgers, and lobster and waffles are among the items of interest on this new breakfast spot’s menu.
Habanero Tacos Grill Opens
A new taqueria opening on a part of East Lake Street that’s still relatively devoid of Mexican food options. This is a jump to bricks-and-mortar for a long-standing food truck of the same name.
Fire & Whiskey Opens
Chef Justin Sutherland has opened yet another outpost in his growing greater metro empire, this time in New Richmond, WI. Fire & Whiskey offers a menu focused on steaks, cocktails, and Wisconsin cheese.
Oxcart Arcade and Rooftop Opens
A reboot of the Ox Cart Ale House, featuring arcade games and boozy snow cones.
A pizza- and pasta-focused spot with tableside mozzarella headed by former Copper Kitchen chef Josh Hedquist, housed inside the Emery hotel (the former Restaurant Max space inside the former Hotel Minneapolis).
Martha’s Daughter Closes
After a high profile but rocky run in Duluth, Martha’s Daughter has closed its doors—the concept will live on as a series of pop-up dinners in Duluth, Superior, and beyond.
Bark and the Bite Opens
The popular BBQ food stand (based in Sunny’s Market in Northeast) has moved to a bricks-and-mortar space in St. Paul in the former Heirloom location.
Don Raúl Opens
A new restaurant for Hector Ruiz (Cafe Ena, Rincon 38, Costa Blanca), opening at 50th and Xerxes. Menu features dishes including Tacos de Pato (duck tacos), Lechon (pork tenderloin medallions), Skuna salmon, and more.
Citing a major bump in rent, the St. Paul-based chef collective known for burgers and clever coursed meals closed on April 20.
Uptown’s stylish artisan bagel spot called it quits after a bit less than a year of operation.
Elephant Bar Opens
A new restaurant by chef Lucas Almendinger replacing the former Hygga space in Lowertown, with some Pakistani flavor influences.
Meseret Ethiopian Opens
An East African market and catering operation expands into the world of sit-down food service with this new restaurant concept on Minnehaha.
Minnesota Barbecue Company Opens
A mostly catering- and takeout-focused BBQ spot by the team behind Travail.
Russian Tea House Closes
Forty years of borscht, piroshki (Russian hamburgers), and folk music come to a close with the shuttering of this charming little University Avenue spot.
Taco Arcada Opens
The latest new concept from the Duluth Grill / OMC Smokehouse / Corktown Deli team, combining a bar, arcade, and “fresh-Mex” food.
The Prodigal Pub Opens
A British Isles-inspired tavern now open in the former Gyst space near Eat Street.
Gazta and Enhancements Closes
The high-end cheese pairing restaurant in Keg and Case food hall on West 7th in St. Paul has closed to rebrand as a more casual grilled cheese concept under the O’Cheeze name.
Lee’s Liquor Lounge Closes
After 62 years of operation, this legendary dive bar and live music venue is calling it quits.
Pimento at Keg and Case Opens
After months of delays, the Keg and Case food hall location of Jamaican street food-restaurant Pimento is now open.
Pig Ate My Pizza Reopens
Pig Ate My Pizza, a popular Travail collective-owned pizzeria, has reopened after a renovation that incorporates a brewery into the business model.
Lola on the Lake Closes
Lola on the Lake, a pavilion restaurant on the northeast corner of Bde Maka Ska, suffered what police are presuming to be an arson attack and is closed until further notice.
The Fitz Opens
The Fitz is a more casual, Justin Sutherland-run reboot of the former Fitzgerald’s space in St. Paul’s Cathedral Hill neighborhood, featuring deep-dish pizza.
Cheese Louise Opens
Brunch, salads, and gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches makes up the bill of fare at this food-truck-gone-brick-and-mortar in Linden Hills, run by Cheryl Rossi (an alum of Lucia’s in Uptown) and business partner Holly Miller-Byzewski.
Duluth Coffee Company Canal Park Opens
A second location for Duluth Coffee Company has opened, extending its footprint into Duluth’s popular Canal Park neighborhood and operating in conjunction with the Ripple Bar at Hoops Brewing.
Magic Noodle Opens
The former Taste of Thailand has reopened as Magic Noodle, with new, hand-pulled noodles on the menu.
Olive and Lamb Opens
The former Marina Grill and Deli has reopened with a clean, modern look and an emphasis on Mediterranean fare such as falafel and lamb burgers.
Treats Cereal Bar and Boba Opens
Cereal combined with soft serve ice cream and boba tea drinks are the hallmarks of Treats Cereal Bar and Boba, a new spot on Grand Avenue in St. Paul.
El Cubano Opens
El l Cubano has made the jump from food truck to bricks and mortar in West St. Paul. El Cubano joins a growing community of Cuban and Cuban-inspired restaurants including Key West Bistro, Victor’s 1959 Cafe, and Guavas Cuban Cafe.
Marla’s Caribbean Closes
Marla’s, a beloved South Minneapolis institution known for its chickpea doubles and other Trinidadian fare, called it quits after a decade-plus run.
Alejandro Castillon (formerly of Sonora Grill) has taken advantage of the massive smoker at the old Hasty Tasty location to bring smoked meats together with house-made tortillas to Lyn-Lake with Prieto.
Moose Bear Wolf Opens
Bryan Morcom (an Iron Range native and former chef de cuisine at Alma) has opened an ambitious “local first” restaurant in Ely, Moose Bear Wolkf. The restaurant is open on a pop-up basis and may or may not continue past this year’s summer season.
Falls Landing at Artisan Plaza Opens
The next step for St. Paul mainstay J.D. Fratzke (Bar Brigade, Strip Club Meat and Fish) is a supper club-style restaurant at the Artisan Plaza in Cannon Falls called Falls Landing.
Fire and Whiskey Closes
The newest piece of the Justin Sutherland / Madison Restaurant Group empire, opened in March, has already shut its doors.
Bistro La Roux Closes
The former Cajun to Geaux truck turned bricks-and-mortar in Circle Pines has shut its doors, but may reincarnate in its truck format once again.
Mucci’s Minneapolis Opens
The incredibly popular St. Paul-based Italian-American spot Mucci’s has opened a branch across the river in the former Meyvn space.
Loon Cafe St. Paul Opens
A second location for Loon Cafe, the 37-year-old Minneapolis stalwart, opened in the former Great Waters in St. Paul.
Famous Dave’s (Uptown) Closes
Amid a local boom in serious BBQ, Uptown mainstay Famous Dave’s has shut down its Calhoun Square location, known as much for its live music program as its food.
Alemar Cheese Co. Opens
A well-regarded Mankato-based creamery has opened a facility at Northeast Minneapolis’ Food Building, taking the slot once occupied by Lone Grazer.
The former Scena has become an Asian-inspired restaurant and club by Gene Suh, who owns Lyndale Tap House, Hammer & Sickle, Aloha Poke Co., and The Fremont.
MN Slice Closes
The MN Slice pizza shop at food hall Keg and Case, operated by the Rose Street Cafe / Patisserie 46 group, shut its doors July 15, 2019.
Rose Street Cafe Opens
The rapidly expanding Rose Street Patisserie empire continues its growth with a cafe space in the former Schmidt Brewery complex on West 7th in St. Paul, this time in the Rathskeller building.