Even though we’re not so close to the ocean, Minnesotans do love fish and seafood. With fresh fish shipped in the same day they’re caught, the state’s best seafood restaurants know exactly what to do with their products. Here are some of the best bets!
Although it now has a handful of locations across the country, the Oceanaire Seafood Room had its beginnings right here in Minneapolis. It’s the granddaddy of the seafood scene in the city, and delivers consistently with the freshest product, prepared expertly, and presented beautifully. The Oceanaire has also made a move to sourcing its products more sustainably, so we can enjoy its tasty delights well into the future.
The Angry Trout Café may have the most stunning setting of any restaurant in the state: It’s perched on a pier, surrounded by the quaint, pebble-beached harbor in Grand Marais. Specializing in local, Lake Superior fish, like cisco, lake trout, and whitefish, the café delivers fresh, tasty seafood and frosty craft beers that punctuate the beautiful views.
Stella’s Fish Café & Prestige Oyster Bar is probably the hippest seafood spot in the state. Located in Uptown, the multi-level restaurant offers rooftop dining with urban vistas of Uptown, Downtown, and Lake Calhoun. Not only does Stella’s serve some of the city’s most savory seafood, they also host a variety of fun events throughout the year, like the pre-Thanksgiving oyster-eating contest.
The newest establishment on this list, The Boat Club marks the return of a proper seafood restaurant (that’s not named for a scarlet crustacean) to Duluth. Its elegant space and classic menu—who doesn’t love a good boullabaisse?—give us high hopes for the spot, and we’re hoping it sticks around for a good, long time.
Sea Change is adjacent to the Guthrie Theater in a gorgeous, modern space with sweeping view of the Mississippi River. It was the first sea food fine dining restaurant in the Twin Cities to embrace sustainability as a core value. This means that it uses fresh ingredients, sourced and prepared ethically and with an eye toward future availability of the resources. And everything is delicious, like the crisped, skin-on Arctic char.
Porterhouse Steaks & Seafood is a gem that now has two locations, one in Little Canada and, more recently, Lakeville. This clubby spot offers up classic steakhouse takes on seafood (shrimp, lobster, walleye), along with a fresh fish of the day. The menu’s not going to knock off your socks with creativity, but everything they serve is fresh and prepared to perfection.
The Smack Shack got its start as a food truck that also provided the tasty bar food for the 1029 in Nordeast. Now with its own brick-and-mortar location, the Smack Shack has made plenty of folks lip-smacking happy with its casual seafood menu. The lobster mac ‘n cheese, lobster roll, and jambalaya are all worth the trip downtown.
Pescara is Rochester’s only home-grown, fine-dining seafood establishment, and it’s definitely worth the trip. Not only do they serve up a rotating selection of fresh catches, prepared to order, they also offer slightly-Italian takes on seafood, like cioppino and shrimp fra diavolo. The after-work crowd should take note: Pescara has an awesome happy hour.
Sea Salt Eatery is the highly popular (be prepared to wait on weekends and sunny days) concession in Minnehaha Regional Park. Even as you sit within spitting distance of Minnehaha Falls, you won’t be able to lift your gaze up from the beautiful mahi mahi tacos gracing the table before you.
It may be a Chinese-Vietnamese restaurant, but make no mistake: Shuang Cheng specializes in seafood. While they do have some seafood standards that are always on the menu, the real fun comes with the chef’s specials, which are created weekly, based on what products are fresh and available. Make the trip to Dinkytown, pop in to Shuang Cheng and let them surprise you.