Back in the days when I was still living in Denver, I visited Minneapolis on a whim.
I’d heard the rumblings of Minneapolis’s world-famous cheese curds. At the time, I knew enough to know that this was definitely a “must try” while in town, but I still didn’t know where to get them.
I asked some locals and they led me to… a local fast food restaurant.
I won’t name names, but safe to say… a dirty drive through is definitely NOT the place to experience authentic Minneapolis cheese curds.
Despite that dreadful trip, I ended up moving to Minneapolis, permanently. I’ve now lived in the Twin Cities for nearly a decade, over which time I’ve found the REAL cheese curds. (All of which put the fast food places to shame.)
So, to avoid anyone making the same tragic mistake I did, here are your 7 best places to get cheese curds around the Twin Cities.
Map of the Best Cheese Curds in the Twin Cities
The best cheese curds: Mouth Trap at the Minnesota State Fair
I’d be committing Minnesota blasphemy if I didn’t list Mouth Trap cheese curds number one.
You’ll find a few different cheese curds at the Minnesota State Fair, but the true legends sit inside The Food Building, underneath the neon glow of the giant “Mouth Trap” sign. These curds are fueled by an astonishing assembly line that cranks out thousands of cheese curds per minute, all to satisfy the cravings of an endless line of eager Minnesotans. (The exact number is 5-6,000 pounds of cheese per day.)
And that’s the secret, I think. Within seconds, Mouse Traps cheese curds wiz from the fryer to your lips. The result is always piping-hot cheese that’s so delicious, most Minnesotans spend the rest of the year chasing the craving.
(The Minnesota State Fair is only open a few short days in August. But fear not! Twin Cities restaurants have filled the gap, with other amazing cheese curds available year-round. Read on!)
- Address: The Food Building at the Minnesota State Fair (1265 Snelling Ave N, St Paul, MN 55108)
- Website: Mouth Trap Cheese Curds
The best state-fair substitution: Bull’s Horn
I’ll never forget the first time I visited Bull’s Horn. On their busy opening weekend, me and six of my best foodie friends somehow squeezed into a meal. Like true Minnesotans, we ordered a couple baskets of the Bull’s Horn’s cheese curds, not quite sure what to expect from this brand new bar.
One bite in, and the rave reviews came flying – nearly everyone agreed that these might be the best cheese curds in the city. (Some even dared say they liked them better than the state fair! 😱)
- Address: 4563 S 34th Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55406
- Website: Bull’s Horn
The most popular cheese curds: The Nook / Shamrocks
Most locals will tell you that if you’re craving cheese curds, you’ve gotta go to The Nook.
And they’re right.
True to its name, The Nook is located in a tiny building in St. Paul’s Mac-Groveland neighborhood, but this legendary dive bar features one of the best atmospheres around. (Hint: you gotta sit in the basement. It’s got tap beer, thousands of dollar bills on the walls, and a truly retro bowling alley. What more could you want?)
But atmosphere can only get you so far, and thankfully The Nook backs up the vibe with some of the most moutwatering, ooey-gooey cheese curds around. Most people say that you have to get “The Nook Curds”, a fully loaded honey-bacon version, but I admit I’m still a sucker for regular old hand-dipped variety.
All that said, here’s the part most locals forget to tell you. If you get tired of dealing with the hype and crowds at The Nook, you can head to West 7th Street in St. Paul, just about 10 minutes away, and visit The Nook’s sister restaurant, Shamrocks. This Irish Pub boasts the exact same menu as The Nook, minus the wait. Including, you guessed it, the same legendary cheese curds.
- The Nook Address: 492 Hamline Ave S, St Paul, MN 55116
- The Nook Website: The Nook
- Shamrocks Address: 995 7th St W, St Paul, MN 55102
- Shamrocks Website: Shamrocks
Most underrated: Brunson’s Pub
Located in East St. Paul, Brunson’s Pub is an awesome dive bar that we think has one of the most underrated burgers in the Twin Cities. Of course, no Minnesota dive bar would be complete without some delicious cheese curds. And Brunson’s passes this test with flying colors. Their curds are authentically local, too – they use St. Paul’s very own Summit Beer in their beer batter.
- Address: 956 Payne Ave, St Paul, MN 55130
- Website: Brunson’s Pub
Most unique cheese curds: Red Cow
Red Cow’s curds have developed a bit of a cult following around the cities, thanks to some fresh Wisconsin cheese plus a super unique “triple berry ketchup” dipping sauce. These beer-battered chunks of goodness are delicious with every bite, and I’ve definitely brought plenty of tourists here for a rock-solid cheese curd experience.
- Address: Locations in North Loop, Uptown, St. Paul, 50th & France, and even the MSP Airport!
- Website: Red Cow
Best smoked curds: Northbound Smokehouse
Northbound smokehouse has a loyal following who passionately swear by their lightly smoked cheddar cheese curds. That smoke makes for a unique take on a classic – a subtle change that’s somehow true to its roots but fantastic nonetheless.
- Address: 2716 E 38th St, Minneapolis, MN 55406
- Website: Northbound Smokehouse
Best classic curds with a beer: Groveland Tap
There’s just something about Groveland Tap’s neighborhood vibe that will have you wanting to order a beer off the lengthy tap list. Of course, once you do that, then there’s just something about the sipping a great beer in a St. Paul neighborhood bar that will have you wanting to order some cheese curds for snacking!
Thankfully, Groveland Tap’s solid food menu comes to the rescue here. They make some of the most perfectly done, classic cheese curds in St. Paul. They use fresh cheese straight from Wisconsin, mixed with a deliciously addicting chiptole ketchup for dipping. Cheers!
- Address: 1834 St Clair Ave, St Paul, MN 55105
- Website: Groveland Tap