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Minnesota Food on TV

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Guy Fieri presides over the launch of his new restaurant in Mall of America, Chicken Guy! / Mall of America
Food & Drink // Article

Minnesota Food on TV

By Erica Wacker

Minnesota—known for signature dishes like the “Juicy Lucy” and upping the ante with innovative food trucks and farm-to-table fare—is leaving its mark on the food world, and on food-centric TV shows. The Travel Channel, Food Network and others have filmed episodes at dozens of restaurants around the state, showing the world what dining here is all about.

Here’s just a sampling of some of Minnesota’s eateries, as seen on TV.

Pizzeria Lola pizza

Pizza from Pizzeria Lola / Nicholas Kolnik

"Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives"

Chef and host Guy Fieri hits casual local favorites on this Food Network series, and has visited several Minnesota spots. 

In northeast Cloquet, Gordy’s Hi-Hat has been serving hand-pattied hamburgers, homemade onion rings and made-to-order milkshakes for more than 50 years. In nearby Duluth, Fieri sampled cranberry wild rice French toast at At Sara’s Table/Chester Creek Cafe, smoked fish at Northern Waters Smokehaus, and bison pot roast and banana cream pie at Duluth Grill.

He’s also featured many Minneapolis-St. Paul-area hot spots, including Pizzeria LolaDonatelli’s Italian restaurant in White Bear Lake, and The Nook and The Blue Door Pub for their versions of Minnesota’s famous cheese-filled hamburgers. Most recently, he visited Buster's on 28th, a Minneapolis gastropub.

"Bizarre Foods"

Longtime Minneapolis resident Andrew Zimmern loves to tout his state’s delicacies on his Travel Channel show, which focuses on unusual eats from around the globe. On his latest Minnesota episode, he manned the kitchen for a night at now-closed Haute Dish in Minneapolis, tasted guinea pig from the Hola Arepa food truck, and had a meal at the innovative Travail in Robbinsdale.

On past episodes, he’s featured the famous Ingebretsen’s Scandinavian market in Minneapolis, farm-to-table pioneers of now-closed Heartland Restaurant in St. Paul, Betty’s Pies in Two Harbors and My Sister’s Place in Grand Marais, as well as an entire episode dedicated to the Minnesota State Fair.

"Man V. Food" 

Though Adam Richman’s show focuses on extreme eating—like insanely hot chicken wings and 5-pound burritos – he also visits other noteworthy eateries on this Travel Channel series. In the Twin Cities, his stops have included local favorites Punch Neapolitan Pizza and Brasa Premium Rotisserie.

At Gasthof zur Gemutlichkeit in Minneapolis, Adam ate a meter-long bratwurst with sides. He also visited Rack Shack BBQ in Burnsville for The Hobo—meat, potatoes and side dishes all in one skillet – and Tin Cup’s in St. Paul for its Lucifer Challenge: two Juicy Lucy burgers with two pounds of fries.

"No Reservations"

On his “Heartland” episode, Anthony Bourdain spent time with chef Doug Flicker at now-closed Piccolo in south Minneapolis, which served seasonal and artfully presented small plates. Flicker has been nominated for a James Beard Award for Best Chef: Midwest, but now spends his days behind the griddle at his old-school dive bar, Bull's Horn, and as executive chef of Esker Grove at the Walker Art Center.

"Heartland Table"

This new Food Network cooking show stars chef Amy Thielen, and is filmed in her cabin kitchen in north-central Minnesota. She grew up in Park Rapids and worked under renowned chefs Daniel Boulud and Jean-Georges Vongerichten in New York City before returning to her home state. Catch her show on Sunday mornings.

Noodle Bar Minneapolis airport

Shoyu serves modern Japanese fare from Terminal 1 of the Minneapolis-St.Paul Airport

"Top Chef"

The 11th season of this Emmy-winning Bravo show featured a chef from the Twin Cities for the first time. Sara Johannes is the executive chef at Shoyu at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport, a modern Japanese noodle and sushi shop.

More recently, St. Paul chef Justin Sutherland made waves on season 16 with inventive Southern dishes and a magnetic personality. Sutherland didn't become the Top Chef, but his stint on the show did help him springboard a newfangled food empire across St. Paul. For the highest concentration of Sutherland restaurants, head to Lowertown St. Paul, where you can hop between Public Kitchen + Bar, Green Lantern, Ox Cart Arcade & Rooftop, Gray Duck Tavern and Handsome Hog

"Cupcake Wars"

Minneapolis-based bakery Cupcake has appeared on Food Network's "Cupcake Wars" multiple times, and took home the grand prize in 2012. The shop also has locations in St. Paul, Eagan and at Mall of America. Nadia Cakes in Maple Grove is also a past winner.

Customers outside Matt's Bar in Minneapolis

Matt's Bar is one of two Minneapolis restaurants that claims to have invented the Jucy Lucy / @shawneehuie

"Food Wars"

Minnesota's famous Juicy Lucy—a burger with the cheese inside the patty—was the subject of an episode of "Food Wars" on the Travel Channel. The burger battle pitted Minneapolis' Matt's Bar against 5-8 Club, both of which claim to serve the best version of this local icon. Matt's ultimately won the blind taste test.

Find a full list of Minnesota restaurants that have been featured on Food Network at foodnetwork.com/restaurants.html.

Erica Wacker

Erica Wacker is a Midwesterner through and through, growing up in Illinois, going to college in Wisconsin, and settling down in Minnesota. She loves to run, travel with her family, and go to concerts to relive her youth.