This is, without a doubt, our favorite restaurant in the Twin Cities.
We first went to Tilia last summer and immediately fell in love with the food, the ambiance, and the neighborhood. Located in charming Linden Hills, close to both Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet, the restaurant itself is completely unassuming: no huge sign or placard, just the name on the front window. Steven Brown, the head chef and owner, welcomes guests in to his small yet wonderfully homey restaurant with food that’s exciting, fresh, and (really) affordable.
We are so excited to see how well Tilia is being received, not only because we love it so much, but because it makes great food accessible to all ages. Recently named Minnesota Monthly’s Best New Restaurant for 2011, Tilia has also been topping other Best of Twin Cities lists since it opened last spring.
Not once have we been disappointed with our meal. Tilia’s menu offers everything from soups, salads, sandwiches, entrees, and larger appetizer plates to share. There are also some great side options – we even learned to LOVE brussel sprouts after trying Tilia’s version…and who wouldn’t: they’re caramelized and sauteed with walnuts and ham! The bar is well stocked (plenty of different tap beers to try), and there’s also a lovely brunch offered on weekends.
Our most recent visit was on a bright and frigid afternoon, a typical cold winter day in Minnesota. The restaurant was ready for Christmas, both inside and out. It was busy; there was an energetic buzz in the air as everyone was enjoying their lunch. We sat at the counter where we were able to enjoy watching the chefs create and plate all the dishes. We started our lunch by sharing a crispy smoked pork belly with lentils, which we quickly devoured; it reminded us of a favorite dish from our trip to The Publican in Chicago.
I ordered a tagliatelle pasta (they offer small portions for their pasta dishes, something I wish more restaurants would do) with smoked cauliflower, braised greens, and bagna cauda, finished off with (lots) of Parmesan. It was delicious. Andrew, of course, ordered his favorite: the BLT dogs. He swears this is the best hot dog you can order in the entire state of Minnesota…considering you get two hot dogs topped with bacon, tomatoes, dill pickled cauliflower, mayo, and mustard, I tend to agree!
Andrew's BLT Dogs
Tilia is truly a Minneapolis gem. Warm, inviting, and inventive, it’s definitely a place to go back to again and again.