Journey westward through town, and your destination is none other than Macanda. The name is an homage to “Mākanda,” the Sanskrit term for “Mango.” In the culinary space, mangos represent an indigenous species originating from Asia, but they have been extensively embraced by Latin American gastronomy, becoming a fundamental element of the region’s culinary identity.
Friends and families gather over larger tables as spectacular woven lamps hang above, forming a cutting-edge, vibrant setting. Just stopping by for a drink will be an experience in and of itself. Aaron describes the space as “vibey” and “fun.”
“We have some items from Mexico City that bring in broad flavors from different genres of food,” says Aaron.
The menu is graced with refined Mexican classics that complement creative takes on the timeless taco and tostada. “It’s not typical Mexican food. It offers more unique items you would find in Mexico City,” says Aaron.
Hidden in the entryway is Hifi Recorded Bar, a vinyl lounge and record bar. On weekends, you can find both music maestros and amateur listeners sipping a cocktail while they watch as the DJ spins vinyl.
“It makes it really exciting. I actually DJ there every once in a while,” says Aaron.
Stop by this trendy establishment, where the fusion of music and ambiance paints an unforgettable canvas of sound, flavor, and camaraderie. macandawayzata.com
When celebrated restauranteurs and childhood friends, Eli Wollenzien and Deacon Eells had an inspiration to return to their small-town roots with a restaurant in Excelsior, they knew what it should be named: the “Coalition”. As Eli states: ‘Coalition is about the combined efforts of chefs, cooks, servers, farmers, vineyards and brewers and I see that partnership extending to our guests by providing the highest quality for and service in a warm and welcoming environment.”
With that objective in mind, Eli and Deacon transformed a nineteenth century historic Excelsior building at 227 Water Street into a sophisticated but warm community-like setting. The redesign of the space by Kara Karpenske of Kamarron Design, Inc. (KDI) of Edina is strongly suggestive of the roaring twenties zeitgeist with tall private booths, oversized chandeliers, and vintage lighting to enhance the look of the exposed original brick. Antiqued mirrored panels set off the white marble design bar top and warm toned leather bar stools to create a period fitting and elegant ambiance to the bar.
With the type of dining self-described as “casually sophisticated” patrons ranging from those shopping the town, corporate types looking for a good client impression, as well as the weekend “first dates” will feel welcome and at home.
But Eli and Deacon didn’t stop there. The cocktail menu opportunistically comes from well renowned and carefully selected regional sources. Respected local breweries and vineyards round out the extensive selection of wines and beers that any aficionado would appreciate. Remember Eli’s statement about partnership?
On the cuisine side, Chef Eli, highly experienced in the increasingly global and sophisticated palate of today’s patrons, added a vibrant menu of classic American dishes like beef, lamb, pork, and walleye, often with an international flair. You’ll even find some innovative dishes such as Korean tacos, complete with filet mignon and kimchi, locally sourced of course. They even have the ever-popular Yappy Hour menu items for those who bring their four-legged friends to the patios.
Coalition is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, has patio seating when the weather cooperates and is quite well known for their brunch. Just drop in and check it out. You won’t be disappointed! coalitionrestaurant.com
Indulge in a contemporary twist on Italian cuisine at Wayzata’s Josefina. While embracing the classics like pepperoni pizza and spaghetti carbonara, Josefina also boasts a selection of delectable seafood dishes, including the standout Fusilli Negra - a lobster, tomato, and mint pasta creation.
“It’s got the classics, but it also has more upscale items,” says Aaron. “It pulls inspiration from all parts of Italy.”
Just off the bay of Lake Minnetonka, Josefina sits snuggled on Lake Street and offers a warm, approachable atmosphere for locals and visitors alike.
“It’s not fancy; it’s definitely approachable, but it does have some items on the menu that like to be on the fancier side,” says Aaron.
From the very essence of the restaurant to each carefully crafted dish, Josefina manages to strike a harmonious chord between familiarity and innovation, making it a delightful dining destination. With leadership from 2022 Minnesota’s Chef of the Year, Daniel Del Prado, Josefina continues to be recognized for its intimate ambiance and offerings.
Imagine a sophisticated twist on the classic Italian meatball, for instance. This culinary gem has garnered immense popularity ever since its introduction on Josefina’s menu.
“We didn’t have meatballs on the menu at Josefina. We were like, 'Should we do that?' Today, they’re the #4 seller in the whole restaurant,” says Aaron. “People really gravitate to these classics.”
Embracing the essence of Italian culture, Josefina supplies an array of irresistible gelato flavors, a treat for those strolling by or indulging in a dine-in experience. Explore captivating options like Olive Oil and Sea Salt Caramel, just to name a few. Don’t miss this inviting experience in the heart of Wayzata. josefinawayzata.com
After leaving Wall Street, Grocer’s Table owner and CEO Lindsay Pohlad started Grocer’s Table amidst the pandemic. What many would see as a setback, Lindsay saw as an opportunity.
After attending culinary school, Lindsay ventured into the restaurant industry, wanting to create a space where the Twin Cities community could find farm-to-table dishes and a warm place to make memories with friends and family.
In 2020, Grocer’s Table opened, providing counter service in the mornings and full service in the afternoons. Confined by shutdowns and regulations, the restaurant began offering takeout and gift boxes, giving folks a flavor of what was to come at Grocer’s Table.
Today, Grocer’s Table offers everything from your morning coffee to your nightcap. For those just stopping by, Grocer’s Table offers a grab-and-go space as well.
“I’d like our guests to be inspired by all things culinary from the prepared foods to the a la carte menu, retail products, and bakery alike and to be able to enjoy our offerings at all ages and with any company,” Lindsay says.
Throughout the farmhouse-styled restaurant are displays of vendors featuring small batches of goods from small businesses.
“A lot of them are local, women-owned small businesses,” adds Lindsay.
Lindsay ventured into Grocer’s Table with the goal of offering fresh foods in an atmosphere that “feels like Old Wayzata.” The culinary team, led by Executive Chef Craig Johnson, creates all dishes from scratch and serves up new cuisine every six weeks to offer in-season ingredients.
“We try to be as seasonal as possible and tap into micro seasons,” says Lindsay. From the mouthwatering dishes to the rustic aesthetic, Grocer’s Table has quickly become a favorite among Minnesotans living both near and far. As for what’s next, Lindsay says she’s “not fully done.” Her current focus is working on an extension of the brand. thegrocerstablemn.com
Norwegian for water, the term “Vann” is a nod to the superb location of Vann Restaurant, located just a stone’s throw away from Lake Minnetonka. Locally raised, Chef and Owner Erik Skaar bought a former barbeque joint just a few years ago but had been crafting this dream of a space for years prior to opening the doors.
“My aunt and my uncle, on my 16th birthday, brought me out to New York and took me out to the Four Seasons and a couple of other places,” says Erik. “I caught the bug after going to Michelin Star restaurants and hotels.”
Sourcing fresh seafood through Erik’s impeccable imports, every element - from the cuisine to the ambiance - is meticulously curated to embody the essence of the brand. It’s no surprise that Vann Restaurant snagged the titles of Minnesota’s Best Fine Dining Restaurant and Best Seafood Restaurant in the prestigious 2022 Star Tribune Readers’ Choice Awards.
“I wanted it to reflect a cozy living room,” says Erik. “Given our proximity to the Lake, I wanted it to be nautical-themed.”
The menu showcases an eye-opening collection of globally-inspired dishes, drawing inspiration from Erik’s journeys across iconic culinary destinations like Paris and Seattle. In addition, Vann Restaurant offers a specially curated selection of wines that is sure to captivate even the most discerning of wine enthusiasts.
Meeting Beverage Director Calvin Motes through his wife, Erik says Calvin is the “wine nerd” that Vann Restaurant needed.
“I was very adamant about what kind of wines, where it comes from, and what we serve,” says Erik. “There was a long period of time where I was writing a wine list while I was cooking.”
Calvin exemplifies an unwavering passion for the exceptional wines that sit on the tables at Vann Restaurant. With unparalleled dedication, he meticulously curates selections that align with Erik’s distinctive palate, elevating the wine game in the west metro.
“He’s extremely knowledgeable and a student of his craft,” says Erik.
Whether you’re celebrating an anniversary or seeking a solo night out, the Scandinavian-inspired restaurant offers a white-tablecloth experience tailored to any occasion. Allow yourself to be immersed in a place where fine wines harmonize with mindfully crafted culinary delights, creating a synchronization of flavors that’s nothing short of extraordinary. vannrestaurant.com
Buddy Boy Fine Barbeque
Buddy Boy Fine Barbeque began 20 years ago with a small roadside smoker and later evolved into a food truck that owners Joe and Jennifer Cox traveled across the country with. It wasn’t until 2010 that Buddy Boy became what it is today: a place to gather with friends and family and enjoy a real taste of Minnesota.
Located in Minnetrista, Buddy Boy offers more than your typical barbeque joint. The restaurant features a full wood-fired menu, including slow-smoked barbeque (brisket, beef ribs, pork, and chicken), wood-fired steaks, burgers and pork chops, and wood-oven walleye. The menu also boasts a variety of pasta and rice dishes, as well as salads and many gluten-free and vegetarian options.
But the best part about Buddy Boy’s wood-fired menu is where it all comes from. “Buddy Boy serves the best of what Minnesota ranchers and farmers have to offer. We receive Minnesota-grown goods daily. We have great relationships with Minnesota Grown, Minnesota Farmers Union, and local vendors,” Executive Chef and Co-owner Joe Cox says.
Buddy Boy has become a destination spot for its barbeque and prime beef brisket. Don’t believe me? The restaurant typically goes through 150 heads of cattle every three days for brisket. If that’s not the sign of a popular restaurant, then I don’t know what is.
In addition to delicious barbeque, Buddy Boy offers live music during the summer on Fridays and Saturdays and is planning music festivals on the 20 acres the restaurant sits on for the future. This winter, you’ll also be able to enjoy an outdoor winter ice bar.
Aside from the delicious food and lively events, Buddy Boy “is a place to gather with family and friends celebrating and meeting and getting to know strangers at the tables next to you,” Joe says. “Thank you so much to everyone who has supported us over the last 20 years. We hope to be a blessing to the community for many more.” buddyboybarbeque.com
Med Box Grill
“When you come to Med Box Grill, we want you to feel like you went to the Mediterranean and back but without the jetlag,” says Semih Ayhan, co-owner of Med Box Grill.
What began as a food truck in 2017, Semih and his business partner and co-owner, Tuncay Ozdenak, collected family recipes handed down from Tuncay’s grandmother and Semih’s aunt and mother to open an award-winning restaurant in Chanhassen, serving up delicious and authentic Turkish and Greek recipes.
“We both grew up with the family tradition of making big meals, and as a kid, you would always help and learn along the way,” shares Semih. “Tuncay’s family and my family are from different parts of Turkey that are famous for different dishes, so we combined our recipes to create the menu. My family has also run a bakery in Turkey since 1946, and so we’ve integrated more baking items on the menu like our freshly baked baklava.”
Everything at Med Box Grill is prepared from scratch. “We care deeply about the quality and the freshness of our food. That sets us apart. We make all our appetizers and sauces ourselves. We don’t believe in buying something in a huge tub and serving it to our customers,” says Semih.
The number one customer favorite is, hands down, the Gyro Wrap. “It’s been the favorite even when we had the food truck. We created every single dish on the menu, and they’re all like our babies, but a favorite is the kebabs. We use the best meat on the market and marinate for 24 hours. We serve and cook to order, so everything’s fresh. The dish also comes with buttery, fluffy Turkish rice and Mediterranean salad. The portions are huge,” laughs Semih.
From the music and decorations to authentic dishes and exceptional service, you’ll enjoy a level of hospitality only experienced in the Mediterranean. “Customer service is number one in our culture. We go table to table and talk to our customers. We not only wanted to bring our culture and dishes to the Midwest, offering quality and authentic good-tasting food, but we wanted our customers to feel as if they’re part of the family.”
“If you have a dream, there is a way to do it,” reflects Semih. “You don’t always see the path, but once you start walking, the path appears along the way.” And Semih and Tuncay have created a delicious path. medboxgrill.com
While embracing the classics like pepperoni pizza and spaghetti carbonara, Josefina also boasts a selection of delectable seafood dishes. “It’s got the classics, but it also has more upscale items,” says Aaron. “Josefina pulls inspiration from all parts of Italy.”