Mother’s Day is one of the busiest restaurant days of the year, probably because moms like to eat out. Non-moms like to eat out too, making the second Sunday in May a treat for everyone. Remember that Mom’s preferences are paramount and it is up to you to customize accordingly. Don’t sleepwalk through the same old formula this year—use your imagination and pick the best place for the situation.
Consider the food, the mood, the vibe and the crowd: Is Mom on a health kick or is she a barbecue fiend? Does Mom need a romantic night alone with hubby? Maybe she’d prefer a moms’ night out with other moms. Perhaps the celebrants will include grandparents, little kids, grown-up kids or in-laws; perhaps everyone will be in on the party. Weigh all these variables before you reserve that table (and do it soon) because there is the perfect place for each situation. We know this, because we checked it out for you. Here are our best bets.
Best Mother’s Day Lunch with Grown-Up Kids
Burgers at Cōv
You know what’s a really special occasion for Mom? The day when the kids finally pick up the restaurant tab. A 30-year-old is still mama’s baby, and it’s a beautiful milestone when that baby uses his own paycheck to pay for a meal. Lunch is great choice for adult kids because it’s not too early in the day to indulge in a celebratory flute of champagne, but leaves the afternoon free for other obligations. A fab joint for a happy midday meal is the newish Cōv in Wayzata. There are sweet views of the lake and a menu full of dilemmas: Flatbread or raw bar? Fish tacos or tomato-pesto gnocchi? There’s something jolly and carefree about a table full of burgers, and at Cōv they hand-grind quality meat to make hefty patties, cooked to your preference. Choose from a nifty array: Mom might like the tender turkey guacamole burger with lettuce, tomato relish and a house-made guacamole, creamy and chunkily mashed on the spot. $14. 700 E. Lake St., Wayzata; 952.473.5253; covwayzata.com.
Best Date Night Spot for Mom and Dad
Cheese Plate at Victor’s on Water
Grab your honey and escape to a grown-up restaurant where you can forget motherhood for a spell. At Victor’s, you’ll savor adult food, excellent service, a great wine list and an intimate space. It is admittedly kind of spendy, so it’s best for just two people—parsing the check in a large group can sour a nice evening. Now’s the time to get something rich, small and extravagant to share, like the select cheese plate, which particularly lends itself to nibbling while sipping great wine and enjoying a good conversation. Remember, the menu here fluctuates according to season and the whim of the chef: This means that whatever you order, it will be of the moment. When we checked out the cheese selection, it included Minnesota's own Northern Lights Blue, a pungent bleu which uses raw cow's milk and is served with sweet and tangy quince preserves. You might also get a Swiss Grueyere, cave-aged and nutty, or a soft fresh cheese like Calabro (Sicily) ricotta, whipped into soft peaks and served with honey and sweet pickled pepper. The appropriate bread or cracker comes with each 2 ounce serving; a selection of three is a copacetic array for sampling while sipping and shmoozing. $8 per cheese. 205 Water St., Excelsior; 952.474.8879; victorsonwaterstreet.com
Best Mother’s Day Brunch with Grandparents
Brunch Buffet at Maynard’s
Breakfast in bed is a adorably sweet Mother’s Day treat—picture a daisy pulled from the yard next to a crooked pancake—but brunch on the town is a lively event for an entire gang. Plus there are mimosas and bloody Marys! So haul Mama out of bed and take her someplace bright and cheerful. This is a great time to include the grandparents as well as the kiddies. The brunch buffet at Maynard’s has something for everyone: a little pickled herring and smoked salmon for the older set, a nice omelet for Mom and maybe a Swedish meatball for the kids before they devour a few caramel rolls. Mom will be happy to see everyone enjoying their food, especially since she didn’t have to cook it all herself. Served Sundays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Adults, $16.95. Seniors, $14.95. Kids 5–11 $7.50 (ages 4 and under eat free). 685 Excelsior Blvd., Excelsior; 952.470.1800; maynards-excelsior.com
Best Place for Moms Celebrating with Other Moms
Sashimi Platter at Yumi’s Sushi (pictured above)
We often deride Mother’s Day as a “Hallmark holiday,” invented solely in order to sell greeting cards, but in fact it has important feminist roots. It was begun in the United States in 1908 by Anna Jarvis in honor of her mother, a social activist during the Civil War. The modern American holiday of Mother’s Day was first celebrated in 1908, and in 1914 Woodrow Wilson declared the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. Mamas, grab your credit card, leave the families at home and band together in remembrance of the righteous Jarvis women. It’s a prime opportunity to gorge on sushi, which seems to be the food most often vetoed on family outings. Yumi has ultra-fresh fish and a chic, lacquered-box setting that might even inspire a nice outfit. Try a few of the wacky-sounding novelty rolls like the Yoshi bomb or Red Dragon ($21.95–$22.95), or get the extravagant 10 piece sashimi platter to share, the chef’s choice of sliced fish gorgeously arranged. Rice and miso soup are included; ask for a sake recommendation for a fully authentic experience. $39.95. 217 Water St., Excelsior; 952.4741.1720; yumissushibar.com
Best Mother’s Day Destination with Little Kids
Kids’ Menu (and Free Popcorn!) at the Muni
When the kids are happy (read: well-behaved), Mom is happy. Kids love the Muni, especially for the free popcorn. Mom can let the kids chomp away while she chills with other adults over a frosty pitcher of beer (local Grain Belt Premium goes down easy) and one of Muni’s great sandwiches like walleye, prime rib, Cuban, pork tenderloin and more. We love the tuna melt, one of those old standbys that we tend to forget about, but a joyous and tasty reunion. You could share one with your kids or let them pick something from the fairly long kids’ menu (as far as kids’ menus go), from hot dogs to a cheeseburger to spaghetti with toast. Tuna melt $8.99. Kids menu, $4.95. 747 Mill St., Wayzata; 952.473.5286; wayzatabarandgrill.com
A Nice Mother’s Day Supper with the In-laws
Grill Gathering at Jimmy’s Food and Cocktails
The grill gathering is a smashing party platter of expertly cooked filet mignon skewers, barbecue ribs and wicked chicken wings—i.e., slathered in buffalo sauce and accompanied by celery sticks and bleu cheese dressing. You can help yourself to this or that from a shared platter, which is always good clean fun at the dinner table (as long as no fights break out over the last rib). The atmosphere at Jimmy’s is neutral but nice, reliable and special without being ostentatious. In short, it’s an ideal venue for a Mother’s Day with the in-laws. And if you can snag a table in Jimmy’s posh semi-private Fireside Room with honey-toned wood, cozy brick fireplace and whisper-soft carpeting, so much the better. $32.95. 11000 Red Circle Drive, Minnetonka; 952.224.5858; jimmysfoodandcocktails.com
Best Place for a Healthy Mother’s Day Lunch
Frittata at the Marsh
A frittata—from the Italian word “to fry”—is like an open-faced omelet: Eggs scrambled with aromatic herbs, vegetables and cheese (meat optional) then popped in a hot oven to puff up and turn golden. The Marsh offers a healthy version in the “small plates” section of the menu, and the ingredients rotate seasonally. A recent favorite was spaghetti squash, garlic, mushroom and Parmesan cheese, a flavorful, healthy, protein-rich egg dish posing as a decadent bowl of pasta. The accompanying petite salad is enlivened by a creamy, tangy dressing, the perfect foil to the lush frittata. $10. 15000 Minnetonka Blvd., Minnetonka; 952.935.2202; themarsh.com
Best Place to Make a Toast to Mother’s Day
Cocktails at Lago Tacos (pictured above)
Being a mom is tough, and there very few occasions when moms can imbibe in earnest— between pregnancy and carpooling and getting up at dawn and showing up to the PTA meetings, it can seem almost impossible for a mom to enjoy an adult beverage. Mom is overdue for a stiff cocktail or two, and the best place to make it happen is Lago Tacos, where the drink menu is as zany as it is potent. The Big Island, for example, is a tremendous bomb of sweet and sour for four people to share—Sauza tequila, blue curaçao, margarita mix and splash of Sprite. A sharp and sophisticated jalapeño cucumber margarita might please the discerning foodie-type, made from Milagro Silver tequila, fresh lime juice, jalapeño and cucumber. The prettiest of the bunch might be the pink grapefruit margarita, a mix of Sauza tequila, margarita mix, pink grapefruit juice and triple sec. Order a few drink-friendly, booze-absorbing snacks too, like the strange-sounding but super-tasting deep-fried avocados ($6.95). Margaritas, $8. 30 Water St., Excelsior; 952.300.8495; lagotacos.com.