The Wake Staff rolled around town, ate as many cinnamon rolls as possible, ended up eating some caramel rolls too—and this is what happened.
Intro by Alyssa Bluhm
Last summer I started a personal challenge to try as many cinnamon rolls from different Minneapolis restaurants as I could. I started at the Colossal Café, which is also where I stopped, because after one bite I decided theirs were the best in Minneapolis. Finding the perfect cinnamon roll is like finding the perfect hairdresser—once you find someone who does it right, why go anywhere else? I’ve since started back up on the cinnamon roll challenge, but it’s a slow moving process since the Colossal Café—due to my patronage alone, I’m sure—hasn’t gone out of business.
When I let it slip to some other people on The Wake staff that I was doing this, it turned out that cinnamon rolls were their favorite food group, too. So the five of us banded together, picked some places we figured were worth trying, and spent an entire afternoon trying them out. Now I’ve knocked seven places off of my list, and you have the special privilege of knowing which ones have the Wake’s seal of approval, and which don’t. I’ll be doing something similar next summer, but with waffles, and you’re invited.
A Baker’s Wife’s Pastry Shop – Staff Favorite
By Sara Glesne
The almighty most decadent of bakeries that is A Baker’s Wife: how do I express my childish glee for the odors wafting from this place… Truthfully I’m not an entirely impartial judge, as I worked here in my formative midhigh school years. But even after all the 6 a.m. Sunday shifts spent staring at cinnamon rolls, they beckon me back. The cinnamon rolls at A Baker’s Wife put the ‘merica in “all American.” A mountain of gluten-packed, bready goodness covered in a drizzling of sugary sauce and topped with fluffy cream cheese: this baby is everything momma didn’t want you to spoil your appetite with. (Pro tip: the American Teacakes are even better.)
By Alyssa Bluhm
If a barely-baked, dripping-with-frosting cinnamon roll isn’t your thing, you ought to give Rustica a try. Their rolls, which are made out of croissant dough, are flaky and have a light drizzle of icing on top. This is truly a light snack or dessert, compared to other cinnamon rolls that could be a meal of their own. Rustica’s atmosphere, however, is not as pleasant. While plenty of seating is available, a lot of it is at giant, singular tables that require getting cozy with strangers with pretentious vocabularies and loud children. For a croissant-like cinnamon roll in a peaceful setting, I’d recommend the Franklin Street Bakery, not Rustica.
May Day Cafe
By Zach McCormick
I’m a little biased on this one because I went to high school just a few blocks away, but if you’re looking for a slightly-less-sinful version of this artery bomb, look no further. This charming little cafe in the heart of Powderhorn has been baking up wonderful concoctions with a vegan twist for their hippie clientele for years. The dough is the real winner here, with a rich, hearty roll that
would taste amazing even without frosting, baked to only-just-crispy perfection. Frosting is light on the sugar, and potentially vegan, which turned off a few of our testers, but delighted me after all of the over-the-top sweet coatings we tasted.
By Zach McCormick
This cinnamon roll was of the classic “diner” variety: pillowy, unctuous, and cloyingly sweet. Our friendly server described the frosting as “homemade” and the roll seemed fresh despite her use of a microwave to warm it up. That “homemade” frosting had a distinctly jet-puffed marshmallowy flavor, unique to this restaurant that was pleasant at first but a bit much near the end. Fans of the no-frills blue plate special cinnamon roll will dig this one, and it has the added bonus of being available all day until the diner closes at midnight, just in case you get the craving after your Uptown clubbin’.
Isles Bun & Coffee
By Alex Lauer
This had my vote for top prize, and I know it’s #1 in the hearts of many Twin Citians. Before you even open the door to the unassuming yellow and black striped shop you can smell the baked sweetness waiting inside. The Cinnamon Buns (what they call their cinnamon rolls) are giant, a two-person snack for sure. They also have “Puppy Dog Tails” for those who want a smaller version. But don’t feel bad if you want one to yourself—I always go that route. (Wake staff tips: Look for the tub of cream cheese frosting by the napkins that is free-game to add to your roll if there isn’t enough already, and if you don’t see it just ask—all the employees are super nice.)
Hell’s Kitchen – Bonus: Caramel Roll
By Justin Miller
As you walk into the dark dungeon that is downtown Minneapolis’s Hell’s Kitchen, it’s not the first place you would associate with pastry excellence. But one bite of their revered caramel rolls and the cynics melt into to converts. As owner and Executive Chef Mitch Omer explained, it’s a sacred recipe. They don’t bake their pecans in the caramel like the normal, inferior rolls, but rather they lightly sauté them in salted butter. The caramel is crafted to a perfect richness and the bun is toasty yet tender. If you like a caramel roll with integrity, this is it. (Wake staff tip: If you’re up for it, pair your caramel roll with bourbon on the rocks and you’ll have the start to a great day.)
@alexlauer: And we’re at our last stop—Uptown Diner.
I don’t think @alyssabluhm is going to make it. We’ll
probably leave her here. #WakeRollz
@ZeeMickCee #wakerollz be gettin’ all
classy at Rustica in Yuptown right now!
We’re pretending we have salaries!
@alyssabluhm: Using the upholstery in
@alexlauer’s car as a napkin #wakerollz