Approximately 15 miles from Minneapolis, Lake Minnetonka is the ninth largest lake in Minnesota, and a popular place among boaters, sailors and fishermen. The towns around the lake also offer unique, upscale and casual dining experiences with locally inspired menus. Explore the best that the lake area has to offer.
Ninetwentyfive Restaurant (Wayzata)
Located in Hotel Landing near the shores of Lake Minnetonka, ninetwentyfive offers a modern take on Midwest cuisine. The menu relies heavily on local, seasonal ingredients to create dishes that let the terroir—both literal and figurative—star. Ingredients are painstakingly sourced, with seasonal bounty preserved to extend it into the winter months—just like home cooks did a century ago. There are lemon ricotta pancakes, a modern nod to Paul Bunyan. A walleye sandwich is a hit on the brunch menu. Ocean seafood is complemented by lake trout, walleye, crayfish and whitefish. Try fresh-baked breads and pastries, and house-cured charcuterie. Finish a meal with Midwestern artisan cheese or a house-made ice cream in an imaginative flavor combo. Every item celebrates a distinct season, a favor provided by the ground beneath us.
925 Lake St. E., Wayzata
Bait & Hook (Cokato)
Bait & Hook is a casual seafood bar in Cokato, Minn. (less than an hour’s drive from Minnetonka) where seafood is the star. The eatery features fresh fish and seafood, from raw-bar options like oysters to casually delicious street tacos. There’s local beer on tap, too. For a starter, try the chilled platter of fresh lobster tail, jumbo shrimp and oysters served with housemade cocktail sauce, mignotte or horseradish. Follow the first course with Kung Pao calamari or skillet roasted Brussels sprouts. Enjoy an entrée of fresh steamed whole lobster or a hand-cut prime rib with a side of creamy parmesan grits. If you’re in the mood for something a little lighter, opt for the street tacos, lobster rolls or a soup and salad.
525 Cokato St. W., Cokato
The Copper Cow Bar & Kitchen (Minnetonka)
Owners Chris and Danielle Bjorling created The Copper Cow Bar & Kitchen with the mission to bring their locally sourced and homemade cuisine from Minneapolis to the lake area. “The Copper Cow is essentially the ‘husband’ to [our first restaurant] The Copper Hen, and [has] a simpler menu with a more masculine vibe,” Chris says. The eatery serves traditional American food, including burgers made with fresh beef from Peterson Farms, sandwiched between milk-and-honey buns made from scratch every day. They also offer a selection of milkshakes—including some of the boozy variety. The menu offers starters like their caulilini (black-eyed pea hummus with roasted cherry tomatoes), salads, sandwiches and burgers. For a dinner entrée try the farmhouse duck dumplings, house-made ricotta dumplings served with duck confit, tomato ragu and pecorino. If you’re hungry for more, add on an assortment of sides including kale slaw with poppy seed dressing or the sweet potato salad with pickled mustard seeds, fresno peppers, shaved fennel, fried rosemary and apple cider vinaigrette.
5445 Eden Prairie Road, Minnetonka
Red Sauce Rebellion (Excelsior)
Deacon Eells and Eli Wollenzien launched a new dining concept (at the former site of Victor’s on Water). In the heart of Excelsior, just steps from their original Coalition, Red Sauce Rebellion is a streamlined, bright space where natural light floods in from the huge windows. It echoes what the Coalition brand does best—serving up fresh, local ingredients in a familiar way—but with an imaginative flair to bring something different to downtown Excelsior. In the summertime, the vibe in town is laid-back and coastal. Red Sauce Rebellion is a place where you can have a nice dinner or come in right off the boat. Created with the eclectic downtown Excelsior crowd in mind, the Red Sauce Rebellion space and menu were also designed to strike a balance the team thought was puzzlingly absent from Italian-American restaurants on the whole. For lunch, hearty Italian-inspired sandwiches stand in for entrees like dinner’s stars of short rib—balsamic braised, with caramelized root vegetables and pickled onions—or chicken parmesan. Their goat cheese tart, Italian fry bread and fritto misto (that’s fried shrimp with giardiniera) make for flavorful appetizers. Or choose from a number of fresh soups and salads or pizza. There’s no getting overwhelmed by the menu. One-page lunch and dinner menus are simple and modern, with food on one side and drinks on the other. As the town collectively flings the doors open to make the most of summer’s lake breezes, look for a new patio with a dedicated social hour food and drinks menu. It’s Excelsior after all, and this is lake country.
205 Water St., Excelsior