Lavender Editorial Staff Choose Their Favorite Dining Spots

Photo courtesy of BigStock/Grekov
Photo courtesy of BigStock/Grekov

As I mentioned before back in our Spring Dine & Drink issue this year, we love to dine out. 

That includes our staff and contributing writers. After all, we need to get out, patronize our favorite restaurants, eat our favorite dishes, relax, and unwind from our busy routines. 

Through the ebb and flow of the COVID-19 Pandemic, we still patronize our favorite places. Whether it is going out to our favorite restaurants or ordering them for delivery, we make sure that our favorite meals are presented to us for us to enjoy!

Without further ado, here is some of our favorite places to eat…

Steve Lenius 
3555 Chicago Ave. S., Minneapolis

I have loved the food and atmosphere at Jakeeno’s for years. My partner Bill and I have our “usual”—we split a small antipasto salad and then split a medium House Special pizza. Both are so good that we have eaten them for years and never gotten tired of them. Occasionally we will change things up, though, and order pasta—spaghetti and meatballs, stuffed shells, chicken parmesan over spaghetti. Again, all are excellent. During good weather, the patio in the back is a very pleasant place to be. Service is great, and friendly instead of pretentious. Jakeeno’s is Italian comfort food at its most comfortable. 

Isaac Johnson – He has Three!
Catrina’s – St. Anthony
2510 Kenzie Terrace, St. Anthony, MN

Of course you love Chipotle, but what if I told you there is a local option with more options and better flavor. Catrina’s has everything you could want in a casual Mexican grill. They have over 10 different protein options, over 10 homemade salsas, all served your favorite way with your choice of Mexican sodas and beer. Named and decorated after the famous symbol for Día de Muertos (The Day of the Dead) its a great place for you and all your friends to celebrate deliciousness in the colorful and warm atmosphere all year round! Don’t forget to grab a punch card! 

3758 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis, MN
308 E. Prince St., Ste. 140, St Paul, MN

Not many people seem to know that baseball is huge in Japan. You won’t see a sushi menu quite like this. Kyatchi’s selection of gourmet hot dogs compliment the framed jerseys on the walls. The mounted swordfish silently judges while you enjoy their former ocean mates.  The sushi is served in such a crisp and elegant way that elevates it from other sushi experiences. Additionally they serve noodle and rice dishes as well as a suburb selection of Japanese whiskey and sake. Make sure to enjoy the pleasure of their Kara-age, a fried chicken dish served with lemon and Japanese mayo. You’ll order it every time. 

Pizza Pub
500 3rd Ave. NE, Pine City, MN

This is as good as small town pizza gets. The small chain has been around for over 30 years. Cliche as it may be, they have a secret sauce that’s tough to beat. Amazing specialty pizzas like chicken Alfredo, and cheeseburger, as well as customizable options up to a 28-inch pizza! Burgers, craft beer, salad, wings, and pasta are all part of their repertoire. Set in a medieval castle theme, they have a lunch buffet, fireplaces, arcade, and axe throwing.

Linda Raines
The Naughty Greek
2400 University Ave. W., St. Paul, MN

My choice for a local favorite would be The Naughty Greek! The food is delicious, plentiful and authentic. I don’t like lamb (rather problematic on our yearly trips to Scotland!) so their pork gyros are my go-to. A warm pita generously filled with rotisserie pork, tomatoes, onions, tzatziki and fries is Greek comfort food to the max. However, my favorite indulgence is the baked Greek feta with drizzled Greek thyme honey—a slab of feta wrapped in filo, fresh out of the oven and drizzled with honey…it’s more of a dessert than a starter. On the off chance you have room for dessert, don’t miss Yia-Yia’s orange filo cake, a decadent delight of an orange cake made from filo dough, soaked in Greek honey syrup and served with vanilla ice cream. If you leave The Naughty Greek hungry, it’s your own fault. 

Ellen Krug
Normandy Kitchen at the Best Western Plus The Normandy Inn & Suites
405 S 8th Street, Minneapolis, MN

I know that it sounds darn corny, and most would never think of this place as a “favorite,” but I absolutely love the Normandy Kitchen in downtown Minneapolis. Yes, it’s attached to a Best Western, but really, the food is phenomenal (the mac n cheese is the best I’ve ever had!) and even more importantly, the wait staff are incredible–in short order, they will know, and then remember, your name. The bar, with sculpted copper ceilings and full-length windows, is the epitome of “neighbor haunt.” I can’t recommend this hidden gem enough! 

Holly Peterson
The Get Down Coffee Co.
1500 N 44th Ave., Minneapolis, MN

The Get Down Coffee Co. is less than a year old and still a relatively new part of the Twin Cities Coffee scene, but it is already one of my favorite coffee shops. The Get Down Coffee Co. is the perfect spot to start brainstorming your next creative project. Most of the design elements evoke music in some way: a wall of brightly colored records, a boom box, a mosaic featuring a Nas quote. The shop is small, but there are a couple nooks with comfy chairs, plenty of table space, and even a few seats up at the bar. I’m usually one of those elitist black coffee types, but The Get Down Coffee Co. is one of the few coffee shops where I can’t tear myself away from the specialty drinks. The universe in which I don’t order the absolutely decadent Sweet Potato C.R.E.A.M. latte (sprinkled with cinnamon and crushed pecans) or the Brown Sugar Banana Cream latte (which is topped with an entire shortbread cookie) – that universe does not exist. That said, they don’t need to dress up their coffee and they can prove it. The Get Down Coffee Co. offers coffee cuppings (tastings) on the third Wednesday of every month for $25, so you can explore all the different coffees they serve. Of course, you can also just trust your taste buds. The beans speak for themselves. 

Randy Stern
Joey Nova’s Pizzeria
5655 Manitou Rd., Tonka Bay, MN

This place became a hang out with my automotive enthusiast crew(s). The pizza is good. The appetizers are good. The pastas are good. What more can I say! Their specials are truly special and are created by the chefs at this casual pizza and Italian food place just north of Excelsior. Yes, you do get plenty of families and other folks, but we’re welcomed, too! One bit of warning: If you decide to get a slice – just get one. They are so big that you might not finish it. 

For more dining ideas, watch for Carla Waldemar’s Eat The Menu column appearing every in other issue of this magazine! Bon Appetit!

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