Summer Restaurant Week 2021: The Picks!

Summer is the BEST time for Restaurant Week! All the farms and farmers markets are just brimming with the good stuff, and then our local eateries grab it and put on a plate. With style. Participation in this season’s week of eating was sponsored by the cool kids of Tock and the Minnesota Pork Board.

Something to note: This is the first RW since winter of 2020 that we have no dining restrictions! Some restaurants may still be offering the RW menu as a takeout option, but others have found it too hard with the labor shortage to manage both on-site service and takeout orders. Please, remember that restaurants were pinched for well over a year, and we’ve only been back to full throttle for about 6 weeks, some things take time to get back to shipshape. 

Now, what would I eat this week if I magically make more gut space? 

NEWBIES:

Terzo is ready for a South Minny hang with their $25 dinner. I’m a massive fan of the bucatini al’ Amatriciana which can be both smoky and spicy, but I wouldn’t blame you for ordering the risotto with roasted corn and tomatoes. 

Or go across the street for Broders Cucina and grab something to go for your own patio. My pick from either the $15 lunch or $20 dinner has to be the spaghetti basilico: heirloom tomatoes, grilled sweet corn, basil, crushed red pepper and balsamic vinegar.

Yep, it’s a trifecta. Broders Pasta Bar is in! For that $25 dinner, I would ponder all the fresh pastas with summer ingredients, and then I’d get the fettuccine bolognese anyway, because: Broders bolo. 

Welcome Bullvino’s Churrascaria to the game! The new Brazilian steakhouse in St. Paul is in with an all you can eat $35 dinner. That’s all the hot sides (cheesy breads, mashed potatoes), all the salad bar (fruits, veggies, salamis), and all the meats (pork ribs, lamb steak, garlic beef). 

Estelle in St. Paul is putting up some charmers with their first $35 dinner menu for RW. I would roll into the meal with the chicken avocado salad, because I’m powerless against feta and radish. Then, it’s a hard choice between jalapeño pesto pasta with smoked almonds, or the cheddar linguica sausage that comes with potatas bravas. Star Bar house-made candy bar for the finish, of course. 

Kona Grill in Eden Prairie and Minnetonka is new to the mix. Their $35 dinner menu will find something for everyone to love: from the kid who wants a spicy yellowtail sushi roll, to the cousin totally into eating bacon and bleu cheese salads, to the ladies out for surf & turf, and your dad who just wants prime rib and potatoes (like every day). 

Cute little Olivia’s Organic Cafe in Burnsville is on board for RW! All of their menu items are gluten-, dairy-, and peanut-free. On the $35 dinner menu, I’d start with an organic bloody mary or glass of organic wine. Then I’m torn between the crispy chicken sandwich with potato chip crust, or the eggs Benedict with breakfast potatoes. And there’s so much dessert to choose from, but I’d probably opt for fruit tart. And if you want to add on, there’s a $3 off deal on other menu items. 

Stockyards Tavern & Chophouse is fresh to St. Paul and fresh to us! The clubby steakhouse has a few meats, fish, and pot roast on the $25 dinner menu, but I’m glad to see a $10 lunch option. Choose a soup or salad (maybe a clam chowder or a Caesar) and then choose between a few different lunch plates: BLT sandwich, chicken bacon ranch wrap, pesto chicken or sausage & onion flatbread, and cheeseburger or walleye slider. For a $10-spot!

You might have to find a team to root for, just so that you can go to Tiffany’s Sports Lounge this week. One of the oldest sports bars in the metro, they are offering a $15 Hot Italian Grinder at lunch, or pop in for the $30 dinner, which has both Guinness-braised short ribs and Chilean sea bass as entree options. See? Way more than just nachos and wings. 

BEST OF THE REST:

Gosh I love a steak I don’t have to grill myself in summer. Having all the feels for the bavette steak with snap peas and preserved lemon on the $35 dinner menu at Borough. 

I feel like it might be ok to choose your RW spot based on dessert. If you’re with me on this, check out the creamsicle panna cotta on the $30 dinner menu at Cast & Cru. You’ll still get to pre-empt that with smoked duck breast with tomatillos and golden tomatoes, so you have permission.

Happy to find a big ol’ lamb chop with crispy polenta cake on Giulia’s $35 dinner menu. Especially because my table mate could get the spinach rigatoni with rapini pesto and we’d execute a splitskis. Also: they have one of the best carpaccios in town, and that is light eating while still getting your beef on.

Lake & Irving’s bargain on the $35 dinner menu is this: start with that chilled tomato soup with white cheddar croutons which is light and yet gets the tastebuds cranking. Then, you get into the Luxe burger, double Pat LaFrieda patties with cheese, foie gras truffle butter and special sauce. You might need to stand up to eat the peach cobbler cheesecake, you know, for room.

The Lexington had me at gazpacho on their $35 dinner menu. This is the one time I would have to pass on the steak Diane (but would bite yours if we were dining together), for the pan roasted chicken breast with arugula panzanella. Tho, I’m still in for the flourless chocolate cake, rhubarb be damned. 

I love that Mason Jar Kitchen is here for you daily brunchers. On their $15 lunch menu, they offer a scramble with bacon and Swiss or chorizo and cheddar with hashbrowns as your entree, which will be followed by a cupcake (because dessert is for breakfast too).

I’m voting Twin Cities Tavern 400 as the best place to bring a group of pals this time around. For either the $15 lunch or the $25 dinner, there is a nice amount of choices to mix and match. Someone get the cheese curds, someone else get the Caesar, and we’ll all dip into the hummus. I’ll take half of your your burger for two pieces of my fish ‘n’ chips, but I’m going to need some of that Cobb salad too.