When you want to eat at a classic restaurant in the Twin Cities, what locations springs to mind? Is it the age of a restaurant that makes it a classic? Is it the décor or if it is still a family-owned spot? Whatever your idea of a “Classic” Twin Cities restaurant, I have a few that rank amongst my favorites.
For more than 70 years Mancini’s Char House has been a St Paul tradition. Located on West 7th Street in St Paul and, run by the same family for over 70 years. Mancini’s knows what it does well and sticks to the classics like beef filets, sirloins, new york strips, lobster tails, and walleye broiled or fried. Each dish comes with a foil-wrapped baked potato a side salad, and Mancini’s signature relish; pickles, and sliced tomatoes doused in Italian dressing. The bread is their incredible char-grilled buttered white and pumpernickel garlic toast. Live music on Friday and Saturday nights packs them into the red and brass accented lounge to dance and hear bands like “A Touch of Class” and “The Midas Touch.” Have a dance with a friendly octogenarian and don’t forget to order a Pink Squirrel or a Grasshopper next time you visit.
For over 50 years Erich Christ and his family have run the German restaurant the Back Forest Inn. The restaurant is located near the Minneapolis College of Art and Design at 1 East 26th Street at the heart of Eat Street in Minneapolis. The Black Forest is known for their authentic German menu including their famous bratwurst, and spaetzle made fresh every day and their Schnitzels, Sauerbraten, Potato Pancakes and Liver and Onions and Cabbage. Don’t miss their potato pancakes and spaetzle and cheese with their pork shank, which are my personal favorites. Their outdoor dining patio, with an active water fountain, is a hidden gem on Eat Street and feels like an urban oasis.
Located on West 7th Street since 1933 is DeGidio’s, which is still family-owned. Today, the grandchildren of Joe, “Kid Bullets” a famous St Paul bootlegger who opened the restaurant after prohibition ended run the restaurant. DeGidio’s is known for its classic Italian food at reasonable prices. Try their Soprano sized made from scratch meatballs with the same red sauce they have been preparing for over 50 years. Gluten-free? no problem. “Kid Bullets” grandkids have updated the menu and the décor in DeGidio’s. They also have a full bar and gluten-free pasta, but they have not lost the comfort food items like Chicken Parmesan, Fettuccini Alfredo, Lasagna or their famous Mostaccioli with Italian sausage or meatballs.
Lindey’s Prime Steak House in Arden Hills has been the “Place For Steak” for over 60 years. Run by the second generation of the Lindemer family Lindey’s is known for their Sirloin steaks. There are 3 on the menu as well as the only other non-steak menu item, the broiled shrimp. Each steak comes with family-style sides including salad, hash-browns, toasted garlic bread and sweet pickled watermelon rinds in a cup. This place feels rustic and comforting and the hashbrown platters with those perfect hunks of steak always have me coming back for more.
Jax is a Classic American restaurant that dates back to the 1930s and is located in North East Minneapolis. Known for their Saturday and Sunday Brunch Jax has been the place to celebrate your special occasion for over 75 years. King Cut Prime Rib, Lobster, Crab Legs and traditional steak house favorites accompany the famous Jax house salad with creamy garlic dressing and the “net your own” Rainbow Trout from their patio trout pound (April-October). Whether you are going for their specialty crab rolls or potato pancakes, call ahead for special events as Jax will print you a keepsake matchbook to commemorate the occasion.
No classic restaurant list in the Twin Cities would be complete without mentioning Murray’s Steakhouse in Downtown Minneapolis, an institution since 1946 and the home of the butter knife steak. Murray’s restaurant occupies the oldest building in the city, built-in 1880 and is run by the third generation of the Murray family. At Murray’s you will find Seasoned waiters and classic cocktails still await you as does the chateaubriand for two or the 28 oz strip, sirloin butter knife steak carved tableside with French onion soup or Caesar, au gratin potatoes or mashed and do not forget the delicious golden buttered garlic crisps or classic Oysters Rockefeller.