Editor’s Note: Modern Cafe is now closed.
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.
Upscale diner in Northeast Minneapolis
337 13th Ave NE
Minneapolis, MN 55413
OWNER / CHEF: Jim Grell / Phillip Becht
BAR: Beer and wine
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes / Very little
ENTREE RANGE: $6-8 for breakfast, $9.50-11 for lunch, $12-16 for dinner