Musical staff

Lavender’s editorial team picks their favorite restaurants

As I mentioned in our Spring Dine & Drink issue this year, we love dining out.

This includes our staff and contributing editors. After all, we need to go out, frequent our favorite restaurants, eat our favorite foods, relax and unwind from our hectic routines.

Through the ebb and flow of the COVID-19 pandemic, we still frequent our favorite places. Whether it’s going out to our favorite restaurants or ordering them for delivery, we make sure our favorite dishes are brought to us for us to enjoy!

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

Steve Lenius
At Jakeeno’s
3555 Chicago Avenue S., Minneapolis

I’ve loved the food and atmosphere at Jakeeno for years. My partner Bill and I have our “usual”: we share a small antipasto salad, then we share a medium house special pizza. Both are so good that we’ve been eating them for years and can’t get enough of them. Every once in a while we switch things up and order pasta – spaghetti and meatballs, stuffed shells, chicken parmesan on spaghetti. Again, all are excellent. In good weather, the terrace at the back is a very pleasant place to live. The service is excellent and friendly rather than pretentious. Jakeeno’s is Italian comfort food at its finest.

Isaac Johnson – He has three!
Catrina’s – Saint-Antoine
2510 Kenzie Terrace, St. Anthony, MN

Sure 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 steakhouse. 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 Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) symbol, it’s a great place for you and all your friends to celebrate delicacies in a colorful and warm atmosphere all year round! Don’t forget to take a punch card!

3758 Nicollet Avenue, Minneapolis, Minnesota
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 complement the framed jerseys on the walls. Mounted swordfish silently judge while you enjoy their former ocean mates. The sushi is served in such a clean and elegant way that it stands out from other sushi experiences. Additionally, they serve noodle and rice dishes as well as a suburban selection of Japanese whiskey and sake. Be sure to enjoy the treat of their Kara-age, a fried chicken dish served with lemon and Japanese mayonnaise. You will order it every time.

500 3rd Ave NE, Pine City, MN

It’s as good as small town pizza. The small chain has existed for more than 30 years. As cliché as it may be, they have a secret sauce that’s hard to beat. Amazing specialty pizzas like Chicken Alfredo and Cheeseburger, plus customizable options up to a 28-inch pizza! Burgers, craft beer, salad, wings and pasta are all part of their repertoire. Set on the theme of a medieval castle, they offer a lunch buffet, fireplaces, an arcade and ax throwing.

Linda Raines
The evil Greek
2400 University Avenue West, St. Paul, MN

My pick for a local favorite would be The Naughty Greek! The cuisine is delicious, hearty and authentic. I don’t like lamb (rather problematic on our annual trips to Scotland!) so their pork gyros are my favourite. A warm pita generously filled with roast pork, tomatoes, onions, tzatziki and fries is Greek comfort food to the max. However, my favorite indulgence is baked Greek feta with Greek thyme honey – a slice of feta wrapped in filo, fresh out of the oven and drizzled with honey…it’s more of a dessert than a starter. If you have room for dessert, don’t miss Yia-Yia’s orange filo cake, a decadent delight of an orange cake made with filo pastry, dipped in Greek honey syrup and served with vanilla ice cream. If you leave The Naughty Greek hungry, it’s your fault.

Ellen Krug
Normandy cuisine at the Best Western Plus The Normandy Inn & Suites
405S8e Street, Minneapolis, MN

I know it sounds pretty darn cheesy, and most would never think of this place as a “favorite,” but I love the Normandy Kitchen in downtown Minneapolis. Yes, it’s attached to a Best Western, but really, the food is phenomenal (the mac and cheese is the best I’ve ever had!) and more importantly, the servers are amazing – in no time they will know, and then remember, your name. The bar, with its sculpted copper ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows, is the quintessential “neighbor’s den”. Can’t recommend this hidden gem highly 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’s already one of my favorite cafes. The Get Down Coffee Co. is the perfect place to start thinking about your next creative project. Most of the design elements allude to music in some way: a brightly colored record wall, a boom box, a mosaic with a Nas quote. The store is small, but there are a few nooks with comfy chairs, plenty of table space, and even some bar seating. I’m usually one of those elitist black coffee types, but The Get Down Coffee Co. is one of the few cafes where I can’t get away from specialty drinks. The universe in which I don’t order the utterly decadent Sweet Potato CREAM latte (dusted with cinnamon and crushed pecans) or the Brown Sugar Banana Cream latte (which is topped with a whole shortbread cookie) – that universe doesn’t exist not. That said, they don’t need to dress up their cafe and they can prove it. The Get Down Coffee Co. offers coffee tastings (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 rely on your taste buds. The beans speak for themselves.

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

This place has become a meeting place with my crew(s) of car enthusiasts. The pizza is good. Appetizers are good. The pasta is good. What more can i say! Their specialties are truly special and are created by the chefs of this casual pizzeria and Italian cuisine just north of Excelsior. Yes, you have a lot of families and other people, but we are also welcome! A word of warning: if you decide to take a slice, take one. They are so big you might not finish it.

For more meal ideas, watch Carla Waldemar’s Eat The Menu column which appears in all other issues of this magazine! Enjoy your lunch!