Claddagh Irish Pub
Claddagh Irish Pub in Maple Grove serves traditional Irish fare and drinks, and also hosts events throughout the week.

Food for Thought: Top 15 Dining Discoveries to Satisfy Your Cravings

Looking for a unique dining experience or an exciting meal out with fellow foodies? Visit Minneapolis Northwest, where you’ll find plenty of exceptional and tasty restaurants. Authentic, international dishes flourish in this area thanks to the mix of cultures and traditions, and you’ll find surprising twists on comfort food, great happy hour deals and outstanding desserts! Here are the top 15 dining discoveries to satisfy your cravings in Minneapolis Northwest.

Crazy Cajun

Crazy Cajun

Minnesota may be known for walleye, but Brooklyn Park’s Crazy Cajun cooks up the best seafood outside of Louisiana. Authentic spices greet you as you walk in, and you can almost taste what’s in store from the aromas alone. A favorite of Minnesota Vikings players during football season, Crazy Cajun is especially known for its enormous seafood boils served with your choice of king crab, snow crab, blue crab, jumbo shrimp, mussels or crawfish, and your choice of sauce and heat level. Owner and chef John Nguyen hails from the south where his family owned their own restaurant; he learned from the best and now puts his own spin on his mother’s recipes. Mondays are All You Can Eat Crawfish, Wednesdays are Seafood Platter Day and Thursdays have a whopping deal on raw oysters. Dining tip: Wear the bib – you won’t be sorry!

8578 Edinburgh Centre Drive, Brooklyn Park. 763-568-7085

Brick & Bourbon

From our neighbors in Stillwater comes Brick & Bourbon, a craft cocktail joint with an exciting menu of high-class comfort food. Start by ordering tantalizing appetizers. For a walk on the wild side, go for the Duck Bacon Wontons, Cranberry Hummus, or opt for chicken wings with original sauces like Pomegranate Siracha and Bourbon Root Beer. Your mouth will already be watering by the time you get to the main entrees, overflowing with gourmet burgers, ribs, stuffed pheasant, and a variety of mac n’ cheeses. Regardless of what you order, take your meal to the next level with an inventive cocktail or smoking shot of bourbon. Stay tuned: Brick & Bourbon's patio opens soon!

7887 Elm Creek Boulevard North, Maple Grove. 651-342-0777

50’s Grill

50's Grill

Step back in time at 50’s Grill, where the jukebox is jumpin’, poodle skirts are swingin’ and the food is the definition of comfort. Every meal starts with complimentary warm French bread, which just happens to pair perfectly with the savory homemade meatloaf or the chicken potpie, the most popular items on the menu. While you’re enjoying your burger and crinkle fries, treat yourself to an old-fashioned malt from the sweet menu of flavors, including butterscotch, banana-chocolate or orange frosty. After all, you’ve escaped to the 1950s, well before the era of counting calories.

5524 Brooklyn Boulevard, Brooklyn Center. 763-560-4947

Lemon Grass Thai

Lemon Grass Thai

At Lemon Grass Thai, owner and head chef Ann Sengmavong brings together Thai and global cuisines inspired by her travels from around the world. Go traditional with Pad Thai or try the red, green or yellow curry or massaman curry dishes. You’ll also enjoy savory house specialties like the Bangkok duel with shrimp and chicken in a spicy lime vinaigrette, and the Bento Boxes are especially popular during the lunch rush with their balanced portion of spring rolls, crab wontons, rice and your choice of protein. Lemon Grass Thai has a full sushi menu, plus beer, wine and sake, and Chef Ann teaches cooking lessons, so you can learn to incorporate exciting Thai flavors into your own meals at home.

8600 Edinburgh Centre Drive, Brooklyn Park. 763-494-8809

Olympia Café

Experience gyro fusion at Olympia Café, where traditional Greek food meets 21st century innovation. Take a bite out of Greece with the delicious Spanakopita (spinach pie), Dolmadas (stuffed grape leaves), or Falafel Balls; then branch out to the Gyro Wontons and Jamaican Jerk homemade hummus. Naturally, Olympia’s array of gyros can satisfy any appetite, and all are served with homemade tzatziki sauce that makes your mouth go “Mmmm.” The customer-favorite Firecracker Gyro packs a flavorful punch with pepper jack, jalapenos and Omega sauce, and the chef’s favorite Omega wrap will take you for a ride with its gyro and marinated chicken mixed with Greek salad and Omega sauce wrapped into a warm pita. The Greek gods also approve of the all-day breakfast menu. Order an omelette with gyro or falafel meat – opa!

247 Central Avenue, Osseo. 763-424-3935

India House

India House

Craving a spicy northern curry or prefer a vegetarian staple of the south? You’ll find both at India House, where authentic recipes are prepared by chefs who are trained in traditional Indian cooking. From juicy kebbabs and seasoned biryani dishes to samosas and homemade cheese, spices and flavor are on display here. The Pershawri Naan is a customer favorite – a sweet appetizer that could double as a dessert naan with its sundried coconut, cashews, raisins and cardamom crushed and blended together. India House is a place where meat-eaters, vegetarians and vegans can all dine in harmony, and the lunch buffet allows you to sample a bit of everything. Bonus tip: Visit the India House website for coupons.

11611 Fountains Drive, Maple Grove. 763-432-2241

Mad Hatter Restaurant & Tea House

For those with whimsical hearts and adventurous palates, Mad Hatter Restaurant & Tea House delivers. Situated in an historic house on the banks of the Rum River in Anoka, Mad Hatter provides a truly unique dining experience with its fabulous high tea services and scrumptious brunch menu. For entrees bursting with flavors from afar, savor Cajun Shrimp & Grits – bacon-cheddar-loaded grits topped with Cajun-spiced shrimp and scallions, or Swedish Meatballs with pappardelle pasta and lingonberry jam. The Mad Hatter Original Chicken Salad Sandwich served on cranberry wild rice bread pleases just about everyone, as does the Thai turkey burger with honey-lavender dressed greens. Then there’s the famous Crab Cake Tweedle Puff – a ridiculously delicious combination of egg and crab filling inside a pate a choux pastry puff. For an even bigger splurge, feast on the Pumpkin Cream Cheese Stuffed French Toast made with apple fritter bread! Lighter fare and gluten-free options are also available, as well as delightful tea services served with tea, scones, finger sandwiches and petite desserts.

1632 South Ferry Street, Anoka. 763-422-4160

Roasted Pear

Roasted Pear

Opened by Craig and Karen Rebers in 2003, the family owned Roasted Pear offers a warm and inviting setting to enjoy a meal. Whether celebratory or casual, it has a dish to match any occasion, and with salads, sandwiches, burgers, pastas and more, you’re guaranteed to leave full and satisfied – though you’ll want to save room for one of the daily handcrafted desserts. The Chicken Egg Rolls are a standout appetizer served with Thai Peanut and Sesame Teriyaki Sauces, and excellent happy hour deals are in full force every evening with $5 appetizers. Stick around for the popular late-night happy hour featuring $9.99 pizzas. The Minneapolis Northwest team recommends the Rueben Pizza or BBQ Chicken Pizza – both are as amazing as they sound!

9690 Colorado Lane, Brooklyn Park. 763-400-7677

Fiesta Cancun

When you want to escape to south of the border, grab a table at Fiesta Cancun. The new location in Maple Grove serves up delicious Mexican food with every heat level possible – sizzling fajitas, burritos, chimichangas, tacos and quesadillas. Start with fresh guacamole and complimentary chips and salsa before diving into the Mango Fish Salad. For a special treat, order the Top Shelf Guacamole with your choice of roasted corn, pineapple, mango or bacon and served right at your table. Excellent entrée options include the Burrito Percheron – a huge burrito stuffed with carne asada, avocado slices, cheese, tomatoes and grilled onions, all wrapped in grilled bacon slices. Larger appetites should gravitate to one of the Molcajete entrees – grilled meat cooked with vegetables, nopales (cactus) marinated in green sauce, covered with Chihuahua cheese and served in a traditional “molcajete” stone grinding bowl.

7904 Main Street, Maple Grove. 763-432-5400

Ten Sushi

Ten Sushi

If you’re a sushi aficionado, now is the time to sample the delicacies at Ten Sushi. This recent addition to Maple Grove presents gorgeous, perfectly presented sushi, sashimi and various entrees made with high-quality cuts of seafood. The flavors are complex with a nice finish, and the hibachi dishes are cooked exquisitely. Sushi boats are crafted by expert chefs who understand Japanese cuisine as an art form, and guests are routinely impressed with the selection of Ten Sushi signature rolls. The Minnesota Roll comes deep fried (but not on a stick) with salmon, white fish, tuna, eel, cream cheese and avocado with spicy eel sauce and tobiko on top. Another popular selection is the Ichiban Roll with yellowtail and jalapeno inside, topped with spicy lobster, avocado in eel and miso ponzu sauce. A complimentary fruit plate is provided when you dine-in, and the restaurant’s mochi ice cream provides a smooth finish to every meal. Bonus tip: Ten Sushi makes a quaint and charming date spot!

16362 County Road 30, Maple Grove. 763-710-5522 

Wagner’s Drive-In

Wagner's Drive In

A classic throwback drive-in, Wagner’s provides an experience in addition to a fast meal. The fresh, made-from-scratch ground beef burgers are juicy, grilled to perfection and come with a variety of tasty toppings. The menu has other all-American favorites including hot dogs, fried chicken, French fries and onion rings, plus shakes, malts and sundaes. Wagner’s has been serving up smiles for more than 35 years, and it continues to be a Minneapolis Northwest staff favorite! Bonus tip: Stop by Wagner’s on Mondays for its weekly classic car show.

7000 West Broadway Avenue, Brooklyn Park. 763-533-8262

Nadia Cakes

Calling all cupcake connoisseurs! Look no further than Nadia Cakes, where you’ll find a tempting selection of award-winning cupcakes with fresh, made-from-scratch cream cheese frosting and toppings and flavors you have yet to imagine. Owner and head designer Abby Jimenez is a self-taught pastry chef and named the cupcake shop and custom cake studio after her middle child. Nadia Cakes was seen on season one and two of TLC's “Fabulous Cakes” and was the winner of Food Network's “Cupcake Wars.” Nadia’s menu is sprinkled with always-available daily flavors like Salted Caramel, Triple Chocolate and Red Velvet. But you’ll have to stop in yourself (or check online) to see the what daily flavors the cupcake artists have concocted. You might find Banana Split or Honey Lavender cupcakes, or S’Mores and Lucky Charms treats. If you fall in love with these cupcakes while visiting Minneapolis Northwest, you’re in luck—Nadia Cakes ships nationwide. Bonus tip: Nadia also serves edible cookie dough and pup-cakes for your four-legged friends.

11650 Fountains Drive, #207, Maple Grove. 763-575-8885

Fat Nat’s Eggs

A lot of times, it’s the unsuspecting places with modest surroundings that have the best food, and Fat Nat’s Eggs fits perfectly in this category. This well-loved, locally owned diner pulls no punches and packs no pretense with its menu of simple, hearty breakfast and lunch offerings. Choose from eight different kinds of Benedict including the Bacon Avocado Benedict or the David Benedict made with corned beef hash. Excellent specialties like Sammy’s Triple Fruit Fritter, Fat Nat’s Slider and the El Jefe Omelette with homemade spicy salsa might also be up your alley. If you’re in the mood for a lunch feast, check out the freshly prepared sandwiches and burgers. Either way, Fat Nat’s is hearty, savory food that’s sure to get your day started right. 

8587 Edinburgh Centre Drive, Brooklyn Park. 763-425-0117

Sweet Taste of Italy

A locally owned Italian eatery in Brooklyn Park serves a variety of pizzas and pastas.

“Homemade” is the word to know when it comes to this family owned Italian eatery. From the meatballs to the lasagna to the secret red sauce and the freshly baked bread, nearly everything is made from scratch. Signature pizza specialties at Sweet Taste of Italy include the Monson Monster (a Sweet Taste of Italy staff favorite), Noah’s Ark (topped with every meat available) and Tropical Paradise (ham and pineapple with peppers and onions). Above all is the Sinners Special made with spicy pizza sauce, pepperoni, bacon, sausage, onion and giardinera; sure to make you sweat, this one is as hot as hot can be! All You Can Eat spaghetti, mostaccioli or penne alfredo is the restaurant’s daily special, served with garlic bread and a salad or soda, and all menu items can be enjoyed at the restaurant or ordered to go.

9576 Noble Parkway North, Brooklyn Park. 763-493-4733

BONUS

New eateries are popping up in Minneapolis Northwest each year, and we couldn’t finish a list of dining discoveries without one of our new favorite dessert spots…

Wonders Ice Cream

Wonders Ice Cream

Wonders Ice Cream features fun rolled ice cream with the wackiest and most delicious combinations of ingredients and toppings. The ice cream is made on the spot and you get a front row seat to watch the workers prep the ingredients, pour the liquid ice cream and form it into rolls. One cup of ice cream includes five to six rolls, making it a hearty treat or a dessert for two, and the quick freeze time makes the ice cream extra creamy. The menu of flavor combinations works well together; think Reese’s and Banana or Honeydew Pebbles (as in Fruity Pebbles!). Our favorite is the Cookie Monster with blue mint ice cream, whipped cream, crushed Oreos and chocolate chip cookie crisps. You can go crazy building your own creation, too, using multiple flavors of ice cream and add-ons, customizing your dessert just how you like it. Bonus tip: Wonders can make all their flavors dairy free – just ask!

11630 Fountains Drive, Maple Grove. 763-273-4676

We’d love to hear about your own dining discoveries, too. Share your stories and photos with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #WeLoveMNW and you may be featured on our website! And while the weather’s nice, check out Where to Eat and Drink in Minneapolis Northwest During Patio Season. Then head to our MNW Bucket List for your guide to must-see attractions and experiences in the Twin Cities. 

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