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8 Great Brunch Spots in Minnesota

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Meritage in St. Paul / Roy Son
Food & Drink // List

8 Great Brunch Spots in Minnesota

By James Norton

Brunch is big in Minnesota. From Bloody Marys in the city to buffets at lakeside resorts, here are eight great brunch spots to choose from for the hungry weekend traveler.

  1. Birchwood Cafe, Minneapolis
    Birchwood Cafe, Minneapolis

    Brunch at this Seward neighborhood cafe is locally legendary. It's particularly popular with cyclists, who appear in throngs each weekend clamoring for the restaurant's bacon and egg sandwich, beans and rice, and famous savory waffles. With a rotating selection, a recent menu featured a parmesan and flaxseed waffle with rhubarb jalapeno marmalade, lemon chive butter, bacon lardon and a sunny-side-up egg. Go on a weekday to beat the crowds.

  2. Boat House Restaurant, Winona
    Boat House Restaurant, Winona

    Whatever you order for brunch at the Boat House will be perfectly complemented by a pleasant view of the Mississippi River. The menu changes frequently, but everything from walnut French toast to orange cardamom cake to eggs Benedict (with lox and chorizo) to "breakfast poutine" have been featured in the past. Brunch is served on weekends from 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

  3. Naniboujou Lodge, Grand Marais
    Naniboujou Lodge, Grand Marais

    Brunch at Naniboujou would be worthwhile if only as an opportunity to see this Lake Superior lodge's awe-inspiring, Cree-inspired dining hall, one of the region's most beautiful places to dine. But a menu of hearty favorites crowned by a seriously delicious homemade cinnamon roll makes it one of the highlights of the North Shore. Breakfast is served daily, with a buffet option on Sundays that includes quiche, cedar-planked salmon and the ultimate North Shore mashup—blueberry wild rice sausage./travel-styles/family-fun

  4. Hell's Kitchen, Minneapolis
    Hell's Kitchen, Minneapolis

    Hell's Kitchen's brunch reputation has been built on a few hard-to-find—and seriously tasty—entrees including lemon ricotta pancakes, mahnomin porridge (a wild rice dish that’s one of Sen. Al Franken's favorites), sausage bread (yes, it contains real sausage) and house-made peanut butter (it's delicious, and goes great with the sausage bread, to boot).

    Try to snag a seat in the Minnesota Room, where the restaurant takes its dedication to its local roots to new heights. Everything from the massive stone fireplace to shout-outs to every town in the state gives the room an intense sense of place. Weekend brunch is served with a side of live music.

  5. Morgan Creek Vineyards, New Ulm
    Morgan Creek Vineyards, New Ulm

    Physical activity and brunch are generally mutually exclusive—but they don't have to be. Morgan Creek Vineyards in New Ulm offers a yoga and brunch experience beneath the winery's majestic oak tree, featuring the “benefits of practicing movement in a sacred space” followed by Morgan Creek Myst (a sweet white wine) and a light breakfast.

    This experience is only offered one Sunday a month, June-August, but the winery also serves Sunday brunch in its wine cafe May-December.

  6. Meritage, St. Paul
    Meritage, St. Paul

    You really haven't had scrambled eggs until you've had them done properly. The ones at the French-inspired St. Paul restaurant Meritage are unbelievably rich and supple, and they transform everyday fuel into an exquisite treat. The restaurant also serves a mean crab and artichoke crepe, and the banana bread French toast with locally made Gray Duck Chai caramel will please just about any fan of sweet breakfasts. Brunch starts at 10 a.m. on weekends.

  7. The Vanilla Bean, Two Harbors
    The Vanilla Bean, Two Harbors

    This North Shore spot is open daily for breakfast, and its rich-but-simple food is a tonic for both explorers coming out of the wilderness and families on relaxing getaways. Swedish pancakes and Norwegian crepes reflect the state's Scandinavian heritage, as does the hodgepodge Scandinavian Breakfast; the restaurant's cranberry wild rice French toast similarly salutes local food in a sweet and comforting way.

    If you're looking to experience a bit of local beer culture while you brunch, try the Castle Danger Hash, featuring corned beef braised in beer from the nearby brewery.

  8. Grand View Lodge, Nisswa
    Grand View Lodge, Nisswa

    You can make a pretty strong argument that Nisswa's Grand View Lodge serves up the state's greatest breakfast buffet. The tables groan with fresh juice, coffee, sausage, pastries, yogurt, fruit, pancakes, French toast, eggs and more. You're in the heart of lake country (and right on Gull Lake), so you're never far from a gorgeous view. Breakfast is served daily starting at 6:30 a.m. and is open to both guests and the general public.

James Norton

James Norton is the author of Lake Superior Flavors (University of Minnesota Press), a guide to eating and drinking on the Lake Superior Circle Tour. He is currently the food editor at The Growler magazine.