Another national franchise restaurant is coming to St. Cloud, with many wondering why we need yet another non-local eatery. Believe it or not, there are a bunch of local-owned places to eat still here. This is your ultimate list of food options in central Minnesota, where the money stays in the community.

Don't get me wrong, we all like our share of the great food at some of these franchise restaurants. Those franchises help employ many people in this area and give the area economy a boost, especially since we're a big college town with many kids that need part-time jobs. There's just something about a local, family-owned restaurant that you won't find anywhere else in the country that just feels good to be a patron at though.

Here's a ton of options right here in St. Cloud, and also a few places of notable mention in surrounding areas, separated by category to help you choose based on your taste:

General American

There's a ton of local american-type food choices in central Minnesota. The further out you go, the more likely you are to find a locally owned restaurant. From steaks, to chicken, to burgers and everything in-between, here's popular "american" food choices to consider:

  • Val's Rapid Service
  • Quarks American Bento
  • Copper Lantern
  • Anton's Restaurant
  • Jule's Bistro
  • Lily's Wings, Burgers, and Things
  • Cornerstone Buffet
  • Elmer's in Sauk Centre
  • Brigitte's Cafe
  • Nelson Brother's Bakery & Restaurant
  • Coyote Moon Grille Lounge
  • Eddie’s on Grand
  • Pearl Lake Lodge
  • Kay's Kitchen
  • Drakes Fine Food & Spirits
  • Tutti Frutti Kitchen & Farm Garden
  • Dino's Eden Lakeside Club
  • Jill's Cafe
  • Charlie's Cafe
  • The 400 Club
  • Park Diner
  • Boulder Taphouse

Bar & Grills (with full food menus)

With more bar/grills than any other type of restaurant in the area, these places are where you can get more than just fried "bar" food and frozen pizzas, but also some cocktails too...in a social atmosphere:

  • D.B. Searle's/Nick's Third Floor
  • Blue Line Bar & Grill
  • White Horse Restaurant & Bar
  • Benton Station
  • Pickled Loon Bar & Restaurant
  • Old Capital Tavern
  • Lincoln Depot
  • Ultimate Sports Bar
  • Rollie's Rednecks and Longnecks
  • MC's Dugout Bar And Grill
  • Trapper's Pub & Grub
  • Queen B's Bar & Grill
  • Greenwald Pub Bar & Lounge
  • Shooter's Saloon & Eatery
  • H.R. Pesty's
  • Hayloft Bar & Grill
  • Jimmy's Pour House
  • Howie's Sports Bar & Grill

Mexican

There's a huge craving for Mexican food in the St. Cloud area, and good amount of them aren't chain restaurants either! Which ever you choose below, you're sure to get delicious Mexican cuisine, and a lot of them are truly "authentic" from Mexico:

  • Mexican Village
  • Anejos Mexican Restaurant
  • Bravo Burrito
  • Taqueria La Campechana
  • D&L Taco Gringo
  • El Portal Mexican Restaurant

Asian

One thing you'll find no shortage of -- Asian food of all kinds. Most of them deliver, but there's a few that you can go and sit down and enjoy a meal, with a lot of buffet options:

  • China Star Buffet
  • Viet-Tien Market
  • Sawatdee
  • Hajime Asian Bistro
  • Garden Wok
  • Great Dragon Buffet

Breakfast & Lunch only

If you're looking to stop through to enjoy a place that only focuses on breakfast and lunch, there's not many choices -vs- the open all day plus dinner. Here's what we've found so far, who specialize in just the morning and lunch hours:

  • Waffle-It
  • Dolsie's Lunchbox Grille
  • The Place Diner
  • Central Perk

Italian

You could consider the area to be the pizza palace of the country with so many pizza options (literally over 50 pizza places here), but if you want a sit-down restaurant and not delivery for your Italian craving, here's what's locally owned and operated:

  • Bello Cucina
  • House of Pizza
  • Zeppole Pizza
  • Zaffiro's
  • John Dough's Pizza

Other Ethnic Food

The area is very diverse with ethnicity, so you can bet we have that too. Again, we're looking at non-franchise and local ownership...so don't hesitate to branch your taste buds out and give these a try. I've heard amazing things about each of them:

  • Cafe Renaissance - Mediterranean
  • Star of India - Indian
  • Deg Deg Grill - Mediterranean/Somali
  • Greek Cravings - Mediterranean

There's a few that I'm sure have been missed, and I'll continue to update this article as more come to mind. By all means leave a comment below if there's a place that was missed. We're trying to keep the list within 30 minutes (or so) from the St. Cloud metro.