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Wander Minnesota: The Restaurant Capital Of Minnesota

If you read that title and wondered if that meant Minneapolis or St. Paul, I have a surprise for you.

(credit: Amy Rea)

But if you knew that the restaurant capital of Minnesota is
Dorset, then ding ding ding! You win.

Dorset is a tiny town with a population just over 20, but with four restaurants, making it the self-proclaimed highest per capita restaurant population in the state. Why so many restaurants for one small town? Part of it is location. Dorset is just east of Park Rapids and is located on the Heartland Trail, with the Heartland Trail Bed and Breakfast on the trail itself.

The restaurants are not all open year-round, but they operate daily during the busy summer months. If you're wondering how on earth you'd choose which restaurant to eat at if you only had an afternoon there, mark your calendar for Aug. 7. The town has its annual Taste of Dorset festival from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. And it's not just food, but games and activities and shopping.

Dorset Cafe
(credit: Amy Rea)

The Dorset Café is normally open for dinner only, except on weekends. It's a classic Minnesota supper club with broasted chicken, steak and seafood, as well as a children's menu. Also: full bar.

Dorset Mexican
(credit: Amy Rea)

Looking for a taste of Mexico? Stop by Companeros (and be prepared to wait if it's a weekend—it's not uncommon to see the line forming before the doors open for the day). Enormous platters of Mexican favorites, and margaritas to wash them down with.

Dorset Pasta
(credit: Amy Rea)

Maybe you're more in the mood for Italian, in which case you should cross the street to LaPasta Italian Eatery (also home to the Dorset General Store). The lunch and dinner menu isn't just full of pasta, though; it's also got a hefty list of burgers, all named after famous military generals. LaPasta also serves traditional American breakfasts Tuesday-Sunday.

Dorset House
(credit: Amy Rea)

Finally, you can stop by the Dorset House Restaurant & Soda Fountain, open daily for lunch and dinner with pizza, buffet, soups, sandwiches, burgers, and of course, ice cream goodies.

There's no need to go hungry when visiting Dorset in the summer. What are you waiting for?

What else is happening in our state? Be sure to check out the 10 p.m. Sunday night WCCO newscasts, where you can learn more in the weekly segment, Finding Minnesota.

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