When it comes to local, sustainable food in the Twin Cities, it's hard to overstate the importance of award winning chef and restaurateur Brenda Langton. Since she opened her first restaurant, Cafe Kardamena, in St. Paul in 1978, Langton has been committed to serving fine vegetarian food, fresh seafood, and the best local food she can find.
Cafe Brenda, still downtown Minneapolis' premier spot for vegetarian food (and other delicious things), opened in 1985, when Brenda needed to expand to a new, larger location. The fact that Cafe Brenda is still going strong 24 years later is a tribute to its owner's cooking, business acumen, talent, and vision. I've had many great meals at Cafe Brenda over the years, most of them lunch. More than one of them has included the grilled organic tempeh reuben or the Brenda Burger, a strong contender for the best veggie burger in town. I'm not a vegetarian, but I consider becoming one each time I eat at Cafe Brenda. "The Cafe Brenda Cookbook" was published in 1992.
Spoonriver, Langton's newest restaurant, opened on the Mississippi River (near the Mill City Museum, across from the Guthrie Theater) in 2006. Spoonriver offers terrific vegetarian options, but has a more rounded menu, including (according to their website) "grass-fed beef, lamb and naturally raised pork from Minnesota sources." Spoonriver is an upscale restaurant, but still offers loads of great grab-and-go lunch options, including fantastic salads. The dinner menu includes salmon with Japanese noodles, house made ravioli, and grilled flat iron steak.
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