Be sure to get your fill at Mantorville

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If you’re looking for a small-town vibe in a historic setting, you have your pick among several gems in southeastern Minnesota. Tops among them is Mantorville, only 20 miles from Rochester.

Spend a day downtown browsing the antique mall and imagining life at the earliest stages of Minnesota history. The whole town seems to have a welcoming, homey atmosphere, and the restaurants are no different. The options help to keep the decisions simple, too: Enjoy your three meals of the day at the only three restaurants in town.

In the morning, head to the County Seat Coffeehouse, 1 Fifth St. W. If it’s a nice Minnesota morning, be sure to grab a seat on the patio. Order from their full espresso bar, and then try their Webster’s Baked Oatmeal. Baked oatmeal is prepared like a custard, with eggs and oatmeal, baked, then cut into squares and topped with cream and applesauce.

"A customer brought us the recipe and asked us to try it, and it’s now one of the most popular breakfast items," says Adrianne McNiff, who owns the coffeehouse with Kristin Alexander.

If you’d like something lighter, be sure to try one of their homemade desserts and pastries, like Danishes, scones, turnovers and homemade pie. The County Seat Coffeehouse is open 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.


For lunch, go just around the block to the Old School Cafe, 515 Clay St. As the name suggests, it’s set in a 1917 schoolhouse that was moved into town from Roscoe, Minn., in the 1970s. Owner Linda Schmidt bought the building and converted it to a restaurant about 18 months ago, staying true to the school theme on the inside, featuring tablecloths in an eight-color spectrum, vintage chalkboards and old maps.

The restaurant is a family affair: Linda is co-owner with her parents, Henry and Sally Schleeter, and Linda’s kids work in the kitchen and as waitresses. Many of the from-scratch dishes are old family recipes, including the popular daily specials like meatloaf, chicken and biscuit, roast beef and tater tot hotdish. Outdoor seating is available here, too, but be sure to peek inside at the original light fixtures and maple floors.

The Old School Cafe is open 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.

Don’t forget to have a treat at The Chocolate Shop, and then finish your day at the historic Hubbell House. Try one of their most popular appetizers, the Pappas Onion Rings, and then treat yourself to one of their award-winning steaks. They have one of the best selections of cuts in the area, and near-perfect results each and every visit.

The don’t-miss dessert option is the Pappas Bread Pudding, but there are plenty of other options as well. With a 150-year history and a very consistent menu, they have to be doing something right. The Hubbell House is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Friday. Hours vary.

Kimberly Van Brunt is a Rochester freelance writer. Quick Bites runs every Friday in Life/After Dark. Send restaurant news and tips to her at

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