I thought I would start a thread on restaurants in the MSP area for those who may be coming to the Midwest gathering. I'll just start it off with some of my favorites and some newer restaurants. I'm sure others will chime in with their recommendations/favorites.
My current preference is Brasserie Zentral in downtown Minneapolis. It's the sister restaurant to Meritage in St. Paul, which is also one of my favorites. The theme/food is central European, and you'll even get a pretty good Balkan wine selection.
The Warehouse District (also referred to as the North Loop) has several really good restaurants, all roughly within in a mile of each other. Bar la Grassa, 112 Eatery, Bachelor Farmer/Marvel Bar, Borough/Parlour Bar, and the newest restaurant making a splash, Spoon And Stable. This last one is absurdly hard to get into. It is Gavin Kayson's restaurant, formerly of Cafe Boulud. it just opened in late November or early December.
Some of my other favorites are Alma (by the University), Picolo, Tilia, Butcher and the Boar, Fika. Picolo dishes are smaller and of the more delicate style. But Bourdain in his Midwest show several years back said it was the best restaurant he ate at in the Midwest. That was a while ago, but I still love it. Butcher and the Boar has good sausages, meat and bourbon. And Fika is in the Swedish American Institute. It's a great lunch place. I also like brunch at Tilia.
There is a new restaurant called The Third Bird that I had an extremely good meal at too. And on my list of places to try is a new Fermentation Bar called Gyst. There is also Travail Kitchen and Amusements. I don't know how to describe it really. It's dishes are modern/inventive and the atmosphere is more like food theater. if you are into that, it is also an option.
Of course, I am missing a lot of bars, dive places, and good restaurants, but I thought I would just throw these out as a start.