Northbound Smokehouse and Brewpub, Rail Station, Sweet Ducky Cupcakery, and more

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The Tap loves restaurant tips from readers, so we’re awarding a Heavy Table pint glass to the best tipster each month. The Tap is the metro area’s comprehensive restaurant buzz roundup, so if you see a new or newly shuttered restaurant, or anything that’s “coming soon,” email Tap editor Jason Walker at

February’s winner: Paul Schadewald of Minneapolis.

Northbound Smokehouse and Brewpub (opens this summer)

2724 E 38th St, Minneapolis | 612.328.1450 |

The Smokehouse Brewpub project in South Minneapolis has been rechristened Northbound Smokehouse and Brewpub and will open this summer for owners Jamie Robinson, Amy Johnson, and Bryce Strickler.

Submitted by Jamie Robinson

Robinson, the brewmaster and a Town Hall alum, is planning six beers on tap — four regulars and two seasonals — and Chef Strickler is working to develop a menu that relies heavily on smoked meats and fish.

Both are quick to point out that Northbound will not serve barbecue. Rather, it will be akin to a Northwoods smokehouse, with Strickler curing everything in-house.

“I’ve been working a lot with beer brines and things like that,” Strickler said. “The menu is going to be based off of locally grown and raised meats, and it’s going to be a lot of sandwiches. Just working-class, blue-collar food. Simple, cheap, affordable, because everyone likes a good smoked sandwich.”

Strickler said he’s enjoyed experimenting with the menu to provide approachable classics — like a house-smoked whitefish dip.

“It’s a cream cheese and whitefish dip that’s served on bruschetta,” he said. “It’s really simple and straightforward, but the flavor is fantastic. I’m also really excited about the porketta sandwich. It’s something really popular from the Iron Range, and one of my favorite things to eat, so we have to have that on the menu somewhere. We’re going to have house-smoked bacon for fresh BLTs … bacon is nature’s candy, man.”

As for the beer, Robinson said the seasonal beers would his chance to experiment, while the four year-round beers would offer solid versions of popular styles.

“The lightest one is going to be a honey wheat weighing in at around 5.2 percent alcohol,” he said. “It’s got a dry finish and it’s really honey-forward, unlike other honey beers that just have a hint of honey in them, so that’ll be your summer beer, your patio beer. Then we’ll have the Light Rail Pale Ale, and that’s going to be pretty hop-forward at 45 IBU, again, dry and crisp. It’s going to be done primarily with cascade hops, so it’s going to be pretty familiar to people; if they’re familiar with Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale, it’s a step toward a more hop-forward style of that.

“We’re also going to have an IPA, and it’s going to be a big IPA. We’re dialing it in to about 7.2 percent alcohol and 90-95 IBUs. Big, big malt backbone, big hop-forward beer. We’re calling that Big Jim IPA, after my dad. Then we’ve got the smoked porter, where it’s not actually a smoked porter, it’s got a smoked undertone to it so it’s five percent smoked malt with my base porter recipe.”

Johnson, the brewpub’s manager, said Northbound was committed to having educated staff, and would require its servers to be “cicerone-certified beer servers” and pass a 60-question beer-knowledge test.

“If you can pass that test you know what you’re talking about,” she said. “Maybe you’re not super-beer-geeky, but you know your basics and you know how to speak intelligently to beer aficionados and also people who don’t know anything about beer.”

Northbound also plans to stock a full bar, with a list of whiskeys as well as several varieties of Bloody Marys.

“It’ll be exciting to have a nice whiskey and bourbon list,” Johnson said. “We probably won’t go too crazy. I saw a picture of Butcher and the Boar’s back bar and I was like, um, we won’t have that many. But we’ll try to have a nice one.”

Rail Station Bar & Grill (expanded to 40 beer taps)

3675 Minnehaha Ave S, Minneapolis | 612.729.3663 |

It’s an established joint, but the Rail Station in South Minneapolis has undergone a colossal change: upping its tap beer list to 40 and making a serious dedication to craft beers. There are now four Summit taps, three Schell’s taps, two each of Brau Brothers and Surly, and a mix of other locals including Harriet, Lift Bridge, Fulton, and Lucette.

As for food, The Tap reader Lisa Zara wrote to recommend the parmesan crusted veggie melt; you have to think the Rail Station is getting serious about quality when even its vegetarian items, instead of being the usual repurposed Gardenburgers and their ilk or overlooked entirely, are being seriously lauded. Plus, the Rail Station still has its meat raffle and bar bingo.

Sweet Ducky Cupcakery (opens late March / early April)

117 W Churchill St #2, Stillwater | 651.472.1150 | Find it on Facebook

Specializing in filled cupcakes, with coffee and other goodies planned, Sweet Ducky Cupcakery is getting set to open in Stillwater. Bakers (and sisters) Nancy Zimmerman and Sally Hanks got the urge to do something special in memory of Zimmerman’s daughter, Andrea, who was killed in a car accident in early 2010, and Sweet Ducky — Andrea’s nickname — was born.

“Nancy and Sally really just want to bake,” said CEO Michael Hanks, Sally’s husband. “That has been a passion for quite some time. Andrea brought smiles and happiness to the family and friends. In her memory we want to give that to the community. Our signature product will be our filled cupcake. For example, our lemon cupcake will have a lemon curd filling.”

Hanks said Sweet Ducky Cupcakery should open in early spring.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table


  • Lucio’s Grill, 433 S Robert St, St. Paul | 651.414.9060 | Find it on Facebook
  • Patron Mexican Restaurant, 207 N Chestnut St, Chaska
  • Dr. Chocolate’s Chocolate Chateau, 579 Selby Ave, St. Paul | 651.379.3676 |
  • The Dog House, Alliance Bank Skyway, St. Paul | Find it on Twitter
  • Tibet Kitchen, 1833 Nicollet Ave S, Minneapolis
  • Eat Street Social, 14 W 26th St, Minneapolis | 612.767.6850 | Find it on Facebook
  • Saigon, 704 University Ave W, St. Paul. Open again after remodeling. | 651.225.8751 | Find it on Facebook
  • Which Wich, 2073 Ford Pkwy, St. Paul | 651.328.8044 |
  • Turkey to Go, 101 7th St S, (Roanoke Building skyway), Minneapolis | 612.655.1795 |
  • Cintia’s of Mexico, 6042 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis
  • Freestyle Yogurt, 500 Lexington Pkwy S, St. Paul | 651.699.1992 | Our take
  • The Hole Sports Lounge, 2501 University Ave SE, Minneapolis | 612.331.7474 |
  • Eli’s East Food and Cocktails, 815 E Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis | 612.331.0031 | Find it on Facebook
  • The Oceanaire, 50 S 6th St, Minneapolis | 612.333.2277 |
  • Yogurt Lab, 3104 Excelsior Blvd, Minneapolis | 612.926.8212 | Our take
Lars Swanson / Heavy Table
  • Boom Island Brewing Company, 2207 N 2nd St, Minneapolis | 612.227.9635 | Our take


  • Cafe Raisa, 15090 Chippendale Ave W, Rosemount
  • Fermentations, 236 Railway St N, Dundas
  • Joe Senser’s, 16605 County Rd 24, Plymouth
  • Marcello’s Pizza, 4112 Lancaster Ln N, Plymouth
  • Roman Anthony’s, 1350 Minnesota County Rd 96, White Bear Lake
  • Vescio’s, 601 Marquette Ave S, Minneapolis |
  • Smalley’s 87 Club, 100 6th St N, Minneapolis
  • La Fonda Mexican Eats, 433 S Robert St, St. Paul
  • Hot Diggity Dog, 614 Washington Ave SE, Minneapolis
Julie Boehmer / Heavy Table
  • BZA India’s Kitchen, 2411 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis | Our take
  • The Grand Sandwich, 1672 Grand Ave, St. Paul | Our take


  • Bullwinkle Saloon, 1429 Washington Ave S, Minneapolis. Opens March 17.
  • Ze’s Diner, 3448 Denmark Ave, Eagan. Opens this month. | 612.207.6793 | Find it on Facebook
  • Well Seasoned, 920 E Lake St, Minneapolis (Midtown Global Market). Opens later this month. | 612.886.2489 |
  • Hajime Japanese, 10950 Club W Parkway NE, Blaine. Opens March 28. | 763.780.7944 | Find it on Facebook
  • Rincon 38, 3801 Grand Ave S, Minneapolis. Opens this spring.
  • Sparks, 230 Cedar Lake Road S, Minneapolis. Opens this spring. | 612.259.8943 |
  • Sweet Ducky Cupcakery, 117 W Churchill St #2, Stillwater. Opens late March / early April. | 651.472.1150 | Find it on Facebook
  • Devil’s Advocate, 89 S 10th St, Minneapolis. Opens in April.
  • Maruso Street Food and Cocktails, 715 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis. Opens this spring.
  • George and the Dragon, 813 W 50th St, Minneapolis. Opens in April. | 612.355.9114 |
  • Ike’s, 17805 Hwy 7, Minnetonka. Opens in April. |
  • Rodizio Grill, 12197 Elm Creek Blvd N, Maple Grove. Opens in April. |
  • Icehouse, 2528 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis. Opens in May. | Find it on Facebook
  • Selma’s Ice Cream, 3419 Saint Croix Trl S, Afton. Opens in May.
  • J.J.’s Coffee Company & Wine Bar, 1800 W Lake St, Minneapolis. Opens in May. | Our take on the original
  • Masu Sushi & Robata, Mall of America. Opens this spring. | Our take on the original
  • Bar Louie, 1320 Lagoon Ave, Minneapolis. Opens this spring. |
  • Birdhouse, 2516 Hennepin Ave S, Minneapolis. Opens this spring.
  • Nadia Cakes, 11650 Fountains Dr, Suite 207, Maple Grove. Opens this spring. |
  • Blue Door Pub, 3448 42nd Ave S, Minneapolis. Opens this spring. |
  • Mona, 333 S 7th St, Minneapolis. Opens this spring. | 612.208.7675 | Find it on Facebook
  • Northbound Smokehouse and Brewpub, 2724 E 38th St, Minneapolis. Opens this summer. | 612.328.1450 |
  • Pizza Luce, 800 W 66th St, Richfield. Opens in June. |
  • Lynden’s Soda Fountain, 490 Hamline Ave S, St. Paul (old Kopplin’s)
  • Harriet, 2724 W 43rd St, Minneapolis
  • Primebar, 3001 Hennepin Ave S, Minneapolis |
  • Indeed Brewing, 711 15th Ave NE Minneapolis. Opens this summer. | 612.643.1226 |
  • Cossetta’s, 211 7th St W, St. Paul. Existing market opening new rooftop restaurant; opens this summer. | 651.222.3476 |
  • Blood and Chocolates, 495 Selby Ave, St. Paul. Opens in 2012. | 651.492.4799 | Find it on Facebook
  • Ipotli Indian Grill, Northstar Center skyway, Minneapolis
  • Super Moon Buffet, 6445 Wayzata Blvd, St. Louis Park
  • Dangerous Man Brewing, 1300 2nd St NE, Minneapolis | 612.377.4164 |
  • The Original Just Turkey Restaurant, 3758 Nicollet Ave S, Minneapolis |
  • Hell’s Kitchen Bakery, 80 S 9th St, Minneapolis |
  • Alley Sports Tavern, 100 6th St N, Minneapolis
  • :D-Spot, Dinkytown, Minneapolis | Our take on the original
  • Burger Night, Minneapolis. Still looking for location. | 612.217.0102 |
  • Pistol Pete’s BBQ, 222 N Chestnut St, Chaska
  • Wellman’s Pub, 26 5th St N, Minneapolis |
  • Damera Ethiopian Bar & Restaurant, 823 University Ave, St. Paul
  • Humble Pie, 822 W 36th St., Minneapolis. Kim Bartmann’s revamp of Gigi’s. | 612.825.0818
  • Rocky and Shem’s Ice Cream Shoppe, 56th St and Chicago Ave, Minneapolis. Opens late 2012 / early 2013.

The Tap is The Heavy Table’s guide to area restaurant openings, closings, and other major events. The Tap is compiled by Heavy Table writer Jason Walker, and will be published biweekly. If you already subscribe to our newsletter, look for an emailed version of The Tap every other week — otherwise, you can find it on the website on alternating Tuesdays.

If you’ve got tips for The Tap, please email Jason Walker at The Tap’s Twitter feed has moved to @heavytable.


  1. Naomi

    I know it is closed, but BZA India Kitchen keeps showing up as having an instant deal with Living Social. I find this very strange. Any ideas?

  2. Sammie

    So glad someone is opening a smokehouse in Mpls! I fell in love with them up in Duluth. Smoked fish, crackers, good beer, what more can you want?

Comments are closed.