Modern Cafe in Northeast Minneapolis

Jill Lewis / Heavy Table

Jill Lewis / Heavy Table

The first hint that the Modern Cafe in Northeast Minneapolis is kid-friendly isn’t too hard to find upon visiting the establishment’s website. Peeking out from behind the bar on the far-right side is a stack of highchairs huddled close to the wine rack. (Ironic or just convenient?) Parents looking for a more sophisticated dining destination than Noodles can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the staff won’t shudder when you enter the restaurant with child(ren) in tow.

The second hint comes from the friendly waitress, who first stops by the water pitcher and fills your kid’s sippy cup because the hostess neglected to bring him a drink along with the adults’ water glasses. She also talks to the young ones as if they are people and not inanimate objects, which makes both the children and parents smile.

But while the Modern Cafe may welcome kids to sit at its tables, the true test of whether it is a good choice for your family will depend on the time of day you dine and how adventurous your children are with food. The breakfast menu provides something for everyone — eggs, french toast, pancakes — and while the lunch menu offers the traditional fallback dishes of macaroni and cheese and grilled cheese (albeit fancy versions with butternut squash and spinach), the dinner menu features neither. For some kids, this won’t be a problem, especially if they enjoy homey meat-based meals like pot roast or meatloaf. But for the truly picky eaters — or downright stubborn toddlers who eat a variety of dishes at day care but won’t touch more than a handful of foods otherwise — the dinner menu is more challenging. Don’t make that a reason to forgo this charming modern-day diner. Your kids may surprise you and devour half the mushroom risotto from your plate, even inhaling some wilted spinach among the grains of arborio rice. Don’t you feel victorious?

Families on a budget, beware: Modern Cafe doesn’t offer a children’s menu, so you’ll be paying full price for that mac and cheese or potato gnocchi. At $10 / entree at lunch and $15 at dinner, that’s much more than the $4-6 price range you typically see on a kids’ menu / coloring page / placemat. Depending on the size of your little ones’ appetites and their general demeanor that day, sharing meals might be a more economical and less wasteful option — and a good way to encourage picky eaters to sample the delicious “grown-up food” Mom and Dad are enjoying.

Modern Cafe
Upscale diner in Northeast Minneapolis
337 13th Ave NE
Minneapolis, MN 55413
612.378.9882
OWNER / CHEF: Jim Grell / Phillip Becht
HOURS:
Tuesday-Thursday 11am-9pm
Friday 11am-9:30pm
Saturday 8am-9:30pm
Sunday 8am-2pm
Closed Mondays
BAR: Beer and wine
RESERVATIONS: No
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes / Very little
ENTREE RANGE: $6-8 for breakfast, $9.50-11 for lunch, $12-16 for dinner

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Jill Lewis

The great-granddaughter of an Eastern European Jewish baker, Jill Lewis cannot escape her genetic predisposition to carbs. Her love of baked goods, wine, cheese and chocolate may not come in handy for her day job as a Twin Cities PR professional, but it proves infinitely helpful for her gigs as a contributing writer for The Heavy Table and the co-author of the Cheese and Champagne blog. A former resident of Illinois, Texas, Wisconsin and suburban Washington, D.C., Jill now lives with her husband, two young sons and cat in St. Louis Park.

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5 Comments

  1. Just took our little one to the modern on friday night and I was a bit worried when she picked out a table instead of a booth. Generally I like to sort of trap her in an area without the option of escape. But it worked out fine, service was attentive and the food was great. I rarely order chicken, but the chicken breast was amazing.

    It was a nice time, the servers didn’t charge us a split plate fee or anything like that as my daughter ate from both of our plates, the other one containing the best god damn pot roast in town, probably the state, maybe the universe.

    All in all, there is no indoor playground, but there’s usually enough going on in there to keep the kids busy, just make sure you do your due diligence as a parent and bring some books and/or crayons and paper.

  2. Hmm, this is interesting. I was there recently and I didn’t find the staff particularly warm about the existence of our not-quite-two-year-old in the restaurant. They weren’t unpleasant, but I went and got my own high chair, for one thing. I don’t really care, since I have noticed that a lot of places don’t go running to get you a high chair these days (I’m looking at you, BLB), but I definitely notice when that happens. Food was good, though!

  3. Hmm, this is interesting. I was there recently and I didn’t find the staff particularly warm about the existence of our not-quite-two-year-old in the restaurant. They weren’t unpleasant, but I went and got my own high chair, for one thing. I don’t really care, since I have noticed that a lot of places don’t go running to get you a high chair these days (I’m looking at you, BLB), but I definitely notice when that happens. Food was good, though!

    I want to plug two unlikely kid-friendly places: Grand Cafe and Blackbird. The latter has great kids menus at breakfast and lunch, a cute little tin tray for the crayons, and a basket of books for various ages inside the front door. Nice touches (just don’t bring a stroller–they’re banned). Grand Cafe brings a tin box full of (admittedly grungy) toys. That thing kept my daughter busy for aaages.

  4. Author

    Thanks for the suggestions, Alexis. We’ll have to check out those restaurants.

  5. If you’re looking for kid-friendly, add Day By Day Cafe to your list (on West 7th in St. Paul)– not only do they have a huge garden area where kids can run around in the warm weather, but they bring crayons and (often) various little toys for the kids to play with…. And they have good breakfast. Not great, but good.

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