15 Best Restaurants in Brainerd, MN

Best Restaurants in Brainerd, MN
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With the tagline “A City for All Seasons,” Brainerd is the seat of Crow Wing County in Minnesota.

It’s the largest city in the county, with a population of 14,395 based on the 2020 census.

You’ll find many things to do in Brainerd since the city and its neighboring communities make up the region's economic center.

It brands itself as Minnesota’s Playground, where you’ll find great hotels, outdoor adventures, and several indoor attractions.

Brainerd has excellent dining options, too.

Indulge in savory food and get energized during your journey in this beautiful city on the historic Mississippi River.

Here are the best restaurants in Brainerd, Minnesota.

The Local 218

Signage of The Local 218
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A casual atmosphere, excellent food selection, delicious cocktails, and friendly service landed The Local 218 among the most visited restaurants in the city.

Situated on Mill Avenue, the Local 218 aims to provide its customers with an unforgettable dining experience and honor the area's history.

The Local 218’s menu has many choices to suit every palate, from appetizers and soups to steaks and pasta.

Some crowd favorites include the walleye sandwich, sesame seared Ahi tuna, and creamy clam chowder.

Besides its juicy Angus beef steaks and flavorful pasta dishes, the Local 218 also serves sweet chili-glazed salmon, seared scallops, lobster tails, chicken and waffles, and beef stroganoff.

The Barn

Pancake and bacon at The Barn
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People love eating at The Barn for its cozy and small-town atmosphere.

The Barn is part of Maid-Rite, an American casual dining franchise restaurant chain founded in 1926.

Located along Washington Street, the Barn has withstood the test of time, recognized mainly for its signature pies fresh from the oven.

Breakfast at The Barn
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You can savor flavors from the Barn Pies menu, made out of Dutch apple, blueberry, custard, sour cream raisin, pumpkin, and so on.

The Barn also serves hearty breakfast dishes, juicy burgers, mouth-watering sandwiches, mixed salads, and other specials.

The Classic Grill at Madden's on Gull Lake

Breakfast at The Classic Grill at Madden's on Gull Lake
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Madden’s on Gull Lake prides itself as Minnesota’s classic and luxury resort sprawling over 1,000 acres of property in the Brainerd Lakes Area.

Madden’s on Gull Lake offers a ton of adventures with its various recreational sites and exceptional seasonal dining options for resort and local guests combined with scenic views.

Among these is the Classic Grill at Madden's, where you can taste a locally-inspired menu in an intimate dining setting.

Beautiful view at The Classic Grill at Madden's on Gull Lake
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Its savory dishes will satisfy your taste buds, providing a feast for the eyes with its beautiful presentation, perfect for your Instagram posts and stories!

The main dishes of the Classic Grill at Madden's highlight lamb, pork, chicken, beef, and seafood, while its classic features consist of Thai Bowl, noodle dishes, and risotto.

See why the Classic Grill at Madden's is one of the state’s most beautiful restaurants.

Sage on Laurel

Sandwich and dip at Sage on Laurel
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If you’re wandering through Downtown Brainerd, you would have worked up an appetite.

In that case, drop by Sage on Laurel along Laurel Street.

Sage on Laurel has a historic and artsy atmosphere as a restaurant housed in a restored building that has become a part of the city for over 100 years.

During the spring and fall, enjoy the company of your family and friends at the shaded and verdant dining patio.

This restaurant highlights global flavors and the taste of Minnesota to set itself apart from other dining spots.

Boasting an adventurous menu, its dishes are made from scratch and infused with creativity.

Sage On Laurel also has several food options for customers on special diets.

Yesterday's Gone Bar & Grill

Sandwich at Yesterday's Gone Bar & Grill
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If you want to enjoy tasty food, great drinks, and casual games, Yesterday's Gone Bar & Grill has all these things.

Yesterday's Gone Bar & Grill on South 9th Street has become a local favorite for its chill atmosphere and classic decor.

Fresh Angus beef burgers are the star of its menu, best consumed with a mug of craft beer.

You can also build your burger at Yesterday's Gone Bar & Grill!

This place also serves appetizers, wraps, sandwiches, and refreshing salads.

It is a perfect hangout spot with its pool tables and other games and hosts an open mic for monthly entertainment!

El Potro Mexican Restaurant

Head to El Potro Mexican Restaurant to discover Mexican cuisine's deep rich flavors and textures.

Customers love this place on South 7th Street for its delectable food, generous portions, reasonable prices, and drink specials.

El Potro Mexican Restaurant serves Mexican food favorites, including enchiladas, burritos, quesadillas, and tacos.

You can order various chicken, beef, pork, and seafood dishes.

Finish with a beverage of your choice.

El Potro Mexican Restaurant has sodas, cocktails, wine, margaritas, and beer on tap.

Mickey's Pizza & Subs

Wrap at Mickey's Pizza & Subs
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Mickey's Pizza & Subs has become a fixture in the city since 1982, serving take-n-bake pizzas and more for children and adults.

This family-owned restaurant is on South 5th Street across from Brainerd Public Library.

Mickey's Pizza & Subs offers traditional and specialty pizzas, such as Taco Grande, Meat Lovers, Bacon Cheeseburger, and so on.

Outside the Mickey's Pizza & Subs
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Watch out for its Pizza of the Month, where you can savor a pizza at a discounted price.

Customers also order the subs at Mickey's Pizza & Subs, which makes it according to your liking.

You can choose from either freshly baked Italian white or whole wheat buns and a wide selection of ingredients to create your ultimate sub.

Complete your dining experience by ordering salads and tasting the soup for the day at Mickey's Pizza & Subs.

Sakura Express

Sakura Express is a highly recommended Asian restaurant along Washington Street.

It’s praised for its diverse menu, friendly staff, and fast service.

You can try Japanese, Chinese, and Thai food at a fair price at Sakura Express.

Customers especially love the dishes cooked on a traditional Japanese hibachi grill and its selection of sushi rolls.

Sakura Express also serves delicious lo mein noodles, udon noodles, pad thai, and fried rice to fill a hungry stomach.

You can either dine in or order takeout to enjoy the food in one of Brainerd’s vibrant parks.

Jr's No.19 Pizza & BBQ

Jr's No.19 Pizza & BBQ is a casual restaurant along Washington Street.

Previously known as Brick House Pizza, it opened as a 110-seat pizza and sandwich restaurant in 1999.

Then, it was renovated and renamed as Jr's No.19 Pizza & BBQ to reflect its unique BBQ rub, perfected after 19 different recipes.

Nowadays, it serves specialty pizzas, flavorful BBQs, and yummy cheesecakes in its spacious tables and booths.

Some pizzas at Jr's No.19 Pizza & BBQ are Taco Pizza, Italian Garlic Supreme, Seafood Alfredo, BrickHouse Supreme, and more!

You can try pulled pork or chicken, smoked chicken, briskets, ribs, and combo platters for a more hearty meal.

Finish by tasting one of the cheesecakes from its partner, the UGLY Cheesecake Company.

Slice on Oak

Slice On Oak is another restaurant that serves New York-style thin-crust pizzas in the city.

Customers rave about its specialty pizzas combining a variety of flavorful toppings that perfectly match the texture and taste of its thin crispy crust.

You can try the Classic Pizza loaded with pepperoni and sausage or explore other exciting bites such as the Thai Chicken and seafood pizzas!

You can build your ultimate pizza, too, by selecting from its list of sauces and toppings.

Other items on Slice On Oak’s menu are chicken wings and tenders, green salads, and stuffed bread.

Moreover, customers love its “pour your own, pay by the ounce” feature for beer and wine, and gelato for desserts.

Slice On Oak also hosts All You Can Eat Sundays, gives special offers, and introduces new creations.

Front Street Cafe

Are you the type who loves breakfast meals?

You may want to check out a family-owned restaurant along Front Street.

Front Street Cafe gives off retro vibes to its customers, earning recognition for its tasty breakfast food and good service.

Customers talk about its homemade chicken dumpling soup and Everything Hashbrowns.

You can also make your big breakfast at Front Street Cafe.

Aside from its breakfast specials, Front Street Cafe serves dinners including roast turkey, hamburger steak, grilled pork chop, and so on.

You can also go for its sandwiches and food baskets.

Notch 8 Chowhouse and Drinkery

Notch 8 Chowhouse and Drinkery along Northern Pacific Road earned praise for its clean, spacious, and fun atmosphere, local brews on tap, and satisfying food items.

It is inside a historic building in the Northern Pacific Center, once Brainerd’s railroad campus that became a commercial and office space.

After exploring the local businesses and shopping for unique items, you can have your fill at Notch 8 Chowhouse and Drinkery.

Tickle your taste buds with its palatable appetizers, then try some casual favorites, including handmade pizzas, salad bowls, burgers, and wraps.

Don’t miss its featured craft beer on tap for a taste of Minnesota brews or its selection of wine and spirits.

Stay updated about the special and great deals Notch 8 Chowhouse and Drinkery has to offer.

Big Jay's Pizza Arcade

For fresh pizzas and old-school entertainment, make your way to Big Jay's Pizza Arcade on South 7th Street!

Big Jay's Pizza Arcade is a social destination for families with kids with its selection of arcade games where awesome prizes await you.

Play exciting games while you enjoy a slice of its top-rated pizzas, such as the Spicy Italian, Philly Cheesesteak, and the crowd favorite, The Dill.

Pair your pizza order with its savory hot wings, salads, and a pint of beer.

Come to play and eat at Big Jay's Pizza Arcade, or give its staff a call for takeout.

Dunmire's Bar & Grill

To show that food is its love language, Dunmire’s invites everyone to its two locations in the city with different menus to satisfy each craving.

Dunmire's Bar & Grill on State Highway 210 is its first store, welcoming old and new customers to taste its phenomenal food and experience its lovely setting.

You can treat yourself here to juicy burgers, sandwiches with chips, or street tacos.

Ask your server for its pasta and mac of the day to enjoy a saucy pasta dish.

Order one of its dinners like slow-roasted pot roast and grilled chicken.

Dunmire's Bar & Grill also serves entrees in the evening, including Cajun shrimp, steaks, and a seafood platter.

Meanwhile, its prime rib is served on Fridays and Saturdays only.

Moreover, Dunmire's Bar & Grill hosts performances and exciting events to make a memorable dining experience for you.

Other Restaurants Nearby

Ernie's on Gull

Seafood at Ernie's on Gull
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Are you looking for a place that will treat you to delicious food and picturesque views?

Ernie's on Gull is the spot to be with its excellent location on East Gull Lake, Minnesota, 17 minutes from Brainerd.

Ernie's on Gull has patio seating available during summer and a marina with an extensive dock system and a gas pump.

Chicken at Ernie's on Gull
Foursquare City Guide

You’ll encounter a wide array of authentic mouth-watering flavors from starters up to entrées on the menu of Ernie's on Gull.

The restaurant serves salads, burgers, sandwiches, and tacos too.

Try its excellent list of beers, wines, and cocktails!

Come to Ernie's on Gull and reward yourself with a spectacular lakeside dining experience.

Final Thoughts

Brainerd makes an excellent vacation spot where you can try several outdoor activities, relax at its scenic landmarks, and immerse yourself in its vibrant arts and culture scenes.

More than that, you can embark on a quick gastronomic journey in this city with great restaurants.

Get a taste of different cuisines from Mexican to Asian and, of course, the most incredible flavors of Minnesota.

Try the best restaurants in Brainerd, Minnesota, to make the most of your vacation in this city for all seasons!

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