We don’t like to brag, but Burnsville, Minnesota is home to some of the Twin Cities metro area’s best independently owned and operated restaurants—and we don’t think that’s a secret we should keep to ourselves! These three eateries are truly one-of-a-kind and worth the trip, whether you’re coming down from the Boundary Waters, up from Iowa, or over from wherever you happen to define yonder.
The chefs and owners at these restaurants all know that quality ingredients make the difference between ho-hum and yum. To ensure freshness, their menus feature seasonal, local ingredients as much as possible. They blend tradition and innovation to serve up a scrumptious range of dishes from comfort foods to genuine surprises. Come belly up to a table in Burnsville and bite into bliss.
Chianti Grill, located near shopper’s haven Burnsville Center, serves authentic traditional and contemporary Italian fare along with aged steaks and fresh seafood. Known for its attentive friendly service and upscale ambiance, Chianti Grill is a popular dining destination for special occasions—but there’s no need to wait until your birthday or anniversary to savor lunch, dinner or Sunday brunch. Popular favorites include spaghetti and meatballs, chicken marsala, and tortellini “straw and hay,” which smothers cheesy-meaty pasta pillows with smoked ham, sweet baby peas, fresh mushrooms and a delizioso parmesan cream sauce. Some lighter fare and even gluten-free dishes are available. The creative walleye impanato bakes Minnesota’s favorite fish in a crumb crust then drizzles it with a delightful lemon-basil cream sauce. The award-winning food menu is matched by an extensive wine list featuring varietals from Italy, California and around the world. Owners Bob Gillen and Kevin Schleif welcome groups large and small to the spacious dining room and outdoor patio. Short on time? There’s also a carry-out option.
Jensen’s Café in the Heart of the City, Burnsville’s 54-acre pedestrian-friendly mixed-use downtown area, functions as the community’s de facto living room. From breakfast through dinner, locals and visitors flock to this bustling hub for hot coffee, fresh fare, and lively conversation. Owner Doron Jensen is on a mission to source “real quality ingredients all the way, the best of every last thing,” he says, so expect genuine butter and cream, scratch-made jams, extra-thick bacon, and a proprietary three-bean blend of coffee from a custom roaster in nearby St. Paul. Whether served over easy on a creative “Egg Benediction” or whipped into a fluffy generously-stuffed “Ome-Alot,” eggs are sourced from local farms. Breakfast is available all day and covers a broad range of flavors from sweet strawberries ‘n cream French toast to spicy Cajun hash. Authentic Swedish pancakes and decadent Apple Cinnamon Bread are perennial favorite treats, though Jensen’s Ultimate Bloody Mary—which is packed with candied bacon, pickled veggies, a beef stick, boiled egg and more—has ardent fans as well. Dinners like beer-battered haddock, fried chicken, taco salad and burgers can be enjoyed in or outdoors alongside your pick from the full bar.
Mediterranean Cruise Café, which is adjacent to Nicollet Commons Park, the Twin Cities metro area’s first town square green, brings the authentic tastes of the Middle East and the Mediterranean to Burnsville for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. Open the front door and you’re welcomed by tantalizing spices wafting through the air and a visually stunning space with high ceilings, gracious arches, and dramatic bar. The spectacular dining room doubles as a fitting stage for exotic belly dancing entertainment every Thursday through Sunday evening; later on Saturday nights the tables are pushed aside for a salsa dance party. Owner Jamal Ansari and his family have shared mouthwatering delicacies from Jerusalem, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Italy, Turkey and Greece with diners for decades. Hummus, gyros, flatbreads, kabobs, salads, soups, lamb, curries, pasta, seafood and more are served buffet and a la carte. Choose a seat on the outdoor patio during summer months to enjoy the sun’s warm rays.