June 19, 2024

Hidden Gems of the Suburbs

Summer in Minnesota. 

We all wait half a year for this great state to thaw, enjoy a few weeks of blissfully temperate weather with low humidity, and then jump right into the thick, hot, soupy Midwestern summer. It is during these months- when it is too hot to turn the oven on- that we venture out in search of a great meal, perhaps a lovely patio, the abandonment of the domestic obligations of cooking and try to soak in the narrow window of time where we don’t need to wear 15 layers simply to exist in the outdoors. 

Minneapolis has risen over the last few years in the ranks of great food cities in the United States- and though we have no Michelin Stars (that is another rant that I will just avoid for now)- there is no shortage of incredible culinary talent in the Twin Cities. However- sometimes, when we are short on time, or short on the patience required to park in Minneapolis, we just want a local, neighborhood spot to enjoy some delicious food. I’ve compiled a list of a few of my favorite spots OUTSIDE the “94 Ring” (you know the one- 494-94-694)

Perron’s Sul Lago

My personal favorite on the list- Perron’s Sul Lago in Prior Lake. Of course I am a little biased as this gem is just a couple miles from my home- but it is absolutely worth the drive if you are not local to Prior Lake. 

A small, cozy Italian joint serving incredibly fresh pasta dishes and some of the best steaks I have ever had. Yes, I know this is a bold statement. I am not usually one to order a steak at a restaurant- we have tried so many and honestly, we can do something equally great at home- so it is not my usual order. Perron’s is the exception to this- the filet, “Sul Lago style”, is a masterpiece. The chicken and wild mushroom pasta is another favorite that is not to be missed! 


This is a regular haunt for Fiat employees- whether we are meeting with a client, a strategic partner, or enjoying a team building event- Josefina never disappoints. Their craft cocktails are wonderfully balanced and bright- they have an extensive and impressive wine list- and their food is some of the best I have found outside of Minneapolis. The menu changes frequently, but there are some staples that are a must- and that brings us to the Pork Chop.

Yes, this Pork Chop deserves to be capitalized. This thick cut, smoked pork chop is always perfectly cooked and remains succulent and juicy. The bright romesco cuts through that fatty goodness of the pork, and the sweetness from the sauteed leeks compliments everything perfectly. Pork is probably the last thing I would choose to order at most restaurants- but I very rarely visit Josefina without including this in our order. 

Pau Hana

Another southern suburbs spot- with an awesome covered patio! This is the perfect place to grab a light, refreshing cocktail. Their cocktail menu is heavy with polynesian/hawaiian influence- fruity, floral, and strong. The Flora Luna is my personal favorite- light, fresh and not too sweet. 

Our favorite way to enjoy Pau Hana is to order a handful of items for the table to share- and the ones that ALWAYS make the cut are the Poke Stack, the smoked wings, truffle fries and the Show You pizza. They have a pizza oven right in the dining room- and the crust is thin, charred and chewy all at the same time. If you have a sweet tooth, the best finish is the passion fruit semifreddo- creamy, tarte and rich. A little escape to the tropics right in Savage. 


Mallard’s is an unexpected hot spot in Bloomington that is cranking out some delicious eats in a fun, casual atmosphere. The dining room is inviting and lively, and anyone can find something to enjoy on the taplist or cocktail menu. Think of Mallard’s as having really solid, elevated comfort bar food classics- think crab cakes, excellent wings, pimento cheese, great burgers/sandwiches- and then add in a cajun twist and an incredible fish menu. 

The crab stuffed salmon is my favorite thing on the menu- but close seconds are the barramundi, the shrimp and grits, and the blackened fish tacos. We have also had great experiences with their specials- always something exciting and new to try. Mallard’s is a convenient spot that is easy to get to from the southern half of the Twin Cities without having to venture all the way downtown- check it out! 

This list is by no means comprehensive- and one of the best things about summer is popping into the newest local spot to test things out- send us your list of suburbian favorites!

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