Out-of-Towners’ Guide to Minneapolis 2015

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Welcome to the Twin Cities! Don’t know where to find interesting, high quality food and drink? Whether you’re looking to splurge or eat on the cheap, we’ve got you covered. Looking to drink killer cocktails and treat a hangover the next morning? No problem. Want to know where the locals get their doughnuts, sausage, tacos, and coffee? You’ve come to the right site.

The guide is a collection of places our contributors take out-of-towners (or suggest others take visitors). It’s not a “best-of” list. It’s also not comprehensive. To keep the guide from getting unwieldy, we limited the number of categories and suggestions within each category. Therefore, there are numerous places that we love that didn’t make it into the guide. If you asked us where to eat, drink, and hang out, this is what we’d tell you (and then we’d list a bunch of back-up spots). Together, the interactive map (posted at the end of this article), the list, and the corresponding Foursquare list will help you plan your gastronomic tour of the Twin Cities.

After considering feedback on last year’s inaugural guide, we decided to split the document into two parts, one for each of the Twin Cities. We published the St. Paul guide last month, and now bring you the Minneapolis version. To avoid duplication, we have not included restaurants on the St. Paul list that have Minneapolis locations: Black Sheep Pizza, Brasa, and Colossal Cafe.

Locals: Along with using the guide and sending it to folks visiting town, we hope you will add your recommendations in the comments section (and tell us why our suggestions are completely off base). We update the guide annually, so your feedback helps us improve the document as well as provide out-of-towners with additional suggestions.

Worth the Splurge

Brasserie Zentral logo
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Brasserie Zentral; 505 S Marquette Ave, Minneapolis | Our review

The Central European vibe at Brasserie Zentral is unlike that at just about any other place in town. The white-tablecloth atmosphere is welcoming without being fussy, and “fancy” in the best possible meaning of the word. Dishes are made with impeccable consistency using top-notch ingredients. At Zentral, the fine cuisine of Vienna meets the country charm of Hungarian folk dishes and Jewish heritage food, and the foie gras menu is long and lovely.

Kenwood Restaurant; 2115 W 21st St, Minneapolis | Our review

A sunlight-infused casual spot just off the north end of Lake of the Isles, The Kenwood features seasonal fare that’s approachable, elegant, and often playful. Along with lunch and dinner, The Kenwood serves a full brunch every day, with a range of beautifully executed classic egg dishes as well as more Midwestern-inflected options.

Crystal Liepa / Heavy Table
Crystal Liepa / Heavy Table

Corner Table; 4537 Nicollet Ave S, Minneapolis | Our discussion with owner Nick Rancone and chef Thomas Boemer

For a pork-forward, impeccably executed, disarmingly comfortable taste of the Upper Midwest by way of the mid-South, a meal at Corner Table is the way to go. The restaurant’s sourcing and technique are both killer, and the ever-changing menu has a host of twists and surprises that make every visit a rewarding adventure.

Spoon and Stable; 211 1st St N, Minneapolis | Our review

The brainchild of chef-owner Gavin Kaysen, Spoon and Stable is at the leading edge of what we might think of as “comfortable fine dining.” The food isn’t flashy — there aren’t bells and whistles, meat glue, or liquid nitrogen. But it is precise, beautiful, and delicious. Spoon and Stable’s desserts — the handiwork of pastry chef Diane Yang — are exquisite, and the beverage program is first rate. The restaurant also boasts one of the more popular and well-regarded brunches in the Twin Cities.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

The Bachelor Farmer; 50 N 2nd Ave, Minneapolis | Our review

The restaurant that drew national attention for capitalizing on a “new Nordic” trend has created a nice niche for itself in the Twin Cities. Owned by Target heirs Eric and Andrew Dayton, the space feels like a slightly fancy, modern take on an old-fashioned, imagined Scandinavian heartland. And the food doesn’t disappoint — don’t miss the shareable toasts, which arrive on a tiered silver tray and feature flavors like lox and steak tartare. Make an evening of it: Head downstairs before or after your meal for cocktails in the living-room-esque Marvel Bar. If you’re in town in mid-August, don’t miss The Bachelor Farmer’s rendition of kräftskiva, a Swedish crayfish festival — it’s a fun event replete with local music, boozy snowcones (aquavit luge, anyone?), and of course crayfish.

Heyday; 2700 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis | Our review

With inventive food, funky style, and good cheer, this restaurant exemplifies the Lyndale-Lake neighborhood. Skillfully blending creativity and restraint, chef Jim Christiansen delivers interesting, high-quality, tasty creations. And the desserts are some of the most inventive and scrumptious the area has to offer.

Joshua Page / Heavy Table
Joshua Page / Heavy Table

Piccolo; 4300 Bryant Ave S, Minneapolis | Our review

Combining non-traditional ingredients, flavors, and techniques, Chef Doug Flicker puts out unique, addictive fare. Take Piccolo’s signature dish, “Scrambled brown eggs with pickled pig’s feet, truffle butter and Parmigiano.” It may sound strange, but the flavors and textures work brilliantly. The five-course tasting menu ($59) is a great way to sample Flicker’s creations. This is the spot for adventurous, super high quality food in a casual atmosphere.

Restaurant Alma; 528 University Ave SE, Minneapolis | Our interview with chef / owner Alex Roberts

Well-executed, seasonally-driven three-course tasting menus are the name of the game here. There is almost nothing about Alma that’s flashy — in fact, it’s so unassuming you’ll probably drive right by. Sometimes a low-key, unpretentious evening of fine dining — one where you can hear your companion(s) talk, and hear yourself think — is just what the doctor ordered, and Alma’s the place to go. If you’re looking for something a bit more everyday, check out chef / owner Alex Roberts’ other restaurant, Brasa Premium Rotisserie, for a killer pork sandwich and yuca fries.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Saffron; 123 N 3rd St, Minneapolis | Our interview with Sameh Wadi

The smart new-Mediterranean food of Saffron combines Middle Eastern flavor with an cosmopolitan attention to detail and technique, and the result is some of the area’s most stunning food — both in terms of appearance and flavor. This is a place where you can have a beautifully crafted cocktail and journey somewhere new via the magic of a creative menu.

Broders’ Pasta Bar; 5000 Penn Ave S, Minneapolis | Our reflections on Broders’ Pasta Bar and reviews of Terzo Vino Bar and Porchetteria

[Editors’ Note: Broders is less expensive than the other restaurants in this category, but meals at Terzo tend to fall into “splurge” territory.]
Broders’ consistently kicks out perfectly cooked, seasonally sauced housemade pasta. Whether you’re snuggled with your sweetie at the bar with a couple glasses of wine and a piece of Bestia Nera flourless chocolate cake or at a table passing plates of pasta and risotto to share among friends, Broders’ knows how many of us at the Heavy Table like to eat — good, unpretentious food at reasonable prices, and a great wine list to boot. We’re also huge fans of the Broder family’s wine bar, Terzo, located across the street from the pasta bar. Porchetta sandwiches (also served through a window facing the parking lot during the day), thoughtful small plates, top-notch entrees (especially the branzino), and a wine program (that slants toward Northern Italy) are all dynamite.

Casual Eats

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Revival; 4257 Nicollet Ave S, Minneapolis | Our review

The little sibling of Corner Table (see above), Revival offers amazing Southern fare. It’s rightly known for fried chicken with exceptionally moist and tender meat and gorgeously crispy skin. But it’s not just a chicken joint. The cheeseburger is one of the best in the Twin Cities, and sides like fried green tomatoes, collard greens, and hush puppies are delicious. And if banana pie is on the menu, get it!

The Rabbit Hole; 920 E Lake St, Suite 101, Minneapolis | Our review

Looking for traditional Korean food? Head elsewhere. You won’t see the standard bulgogi / bibimbap / soondobu / japchae formula here. But if you’re craving a good, decidedly boozy drink and gastropub fare beyond the usual fried whatever, this place will be your jam. As a second-generation Korean-American hailing from LA, chef / owner Thomas Kim grew up with his mom’s cooking, but he draws from his experience working with Roy Choi and others to create his own spin on food. This results in things like kimchi-and-curry gravy-slathered poutine, truly addictive Brussels sprouts, and rice bowls loaded with things like soft-shell crab and habanero oyster sauce. Arrive early enough to explore the other shops in the Midtown Global Market, then lose track of time in one of the dark pojangmacha-styled booths and hang out late into the night.

James Norton / Heavy Table
James Norton / Heavy Table

Prairie Dogs; 610 W Lake St, Minneapolis | Our review

Prairie Dogs is no mere hot dog joint — house-made franks and seriously thoughtful gourmet dogs make this one of the area’s best places to grab a quick, cheap, delicious meal. In the spirit of World Street Kitchen or Galactic Pizza, this is Uptown at its finest — cheap, yes; fast, yes; but delicious and truly original.

Kyatchi; 3758 Nicollet Ave S, Minneapolis | Our review

A comfortable, friendly, upbeat restaurant and shrine to seafood and baseball, Kyatchi is one of a small group of places in the United States that serves only sustainable sushi. Chef Hide Towaza specializes in relatively simple, delicious creations like an Iwana roll that combines artic char with shiso leaf, pickled gourd, avocado, and lemon juice. Along with first-rate sushi, Kyatchi has devastatingly good hot dogs topped with interesting, tasty ingredients, such as kimchi, egg, and avocado; a focused list of beer and sake; grilled skewers (including Limousin beef for $5, one of the best steak deals in town); and excellent ramen and other noodle soups.

WACSO / Heavy Table
WACSO / Heavy Table

Al Amir Bakery; 2552 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis | Our Central Avenue Tour

The thin, chewy Iraqi bread at Al Amir is like nothing we’ve tasted, and it’s straight-up delightful. But even if you’re not in the mood to buy Middle Eastern bread or sweets, Al Amir’s restaurant side is reason enough to make a visit to this hyper-authentic hole-in-the-wall on Central Avenue — the fire-roasted kebabs are among the best we’ve had, period.

Nighthawks Diner and Bar3753 Nicollet Ave S, Minneapolis | Our review

There’s nothing wrong with the classic American diner, but there’s nothing wrong with updating it and giving it a modern, twist, either. The smart, fresh, stick-to-your ribs fare at Nighthawks is traditional enough to make grandparents smile but clever enough to dazzle jaded high-schoolers. Imaginative twists on pie, fried chicken, meatloaf, and more make this a memorable stop and an example of how the best restaurants in the New North are taking old ideas and making them feel very new again indeed.

WACSO / Heavy Table
WACSO / Heavy Table

Chimborazo; 2851 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis | Our review

An intimate, joyful spot in Northeast Minneapolis, Chimborazo specializes in soulful, well balanced, and expertly prepared Ecuadorean cuisine — think bright kicks of cilantro, crispy starches, subtle notes of vinegar and lime, and properly prepared, tender meats and seafood. Both vegetarians and carnivores rave about this homey joint’s straightforward, full-flavored dishes.

Maya Cuisine; 1840 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis | Our review

This no-frills tacqueria in Northeast Minneapolis combines fresh, ridiculously good, authentic Mexican food with cheap booze and serves it all up with warm hospitality. Tacos wrapped in handmade, griddled corn tortillas and filled with a wide range of proteins are deliciously simple (arguably the best the area has to offer). Maya’s tamales (including vegetarian options filled with spinach and mushroom or poblano and queso) are in the same league as the tacos.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Pizzeria Lola; 5557 Xerxes Ave S, Minneapolis | Our review
Lola’s big, gorgeous wood-fired copper oven consistently produces first-rate pizzas that have a delicious, carbon-kissed, chewy, and crisp crust. Although pizza is the main attraction, Chef / owner Ann Kim’s starters (especially seasonal vegetables roasted in the wood oven), salads, and desserts (including housemade soft serve ice cream) are excellent in supporting roles. [We also highly recommend Kim’s slice shop, Hello Pizza in Edina | Our review]

Quang; 2719 Nicollet Ave S, Minneapolis | Our review of the bun bo hue

Don’t let the crowds and the wait (generally brief) dissuade you from checking out this Eat Street (aka Nicollet Avenue near 26th Street) institution. From soups (don’t skip on the Bun Bo Hue) and banh mi sandwiches to vermicelli noodle salads and broken rice dishes, Quang serves up consistently delicious, inexpensive Vietnamese fare. Pro-tip: If there are squares of banana chocolate bread on the counter, grab them … grab them all (there’s a good reason why they’re often sold out).

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

World Street Kitchen; 2743 Lyndale Ave S #5, Minneapolis | Our interview with chef / owner Sameh Wadi

It seems nearly every budding restaurateur in the past few years has glommed onto the low-cost, high-margin formulas of making mediocre lettuce wraps and rice bowls — which is really too bad, because it often makes us groan from boredom before we get the chance to try a tasty rendition. That said, World Street Kitchen has made itself a destination with its Asian / Middle Eastern / Latin American fusion food. (WSK is a food truck and a brick-and-mortar offshoot of Saffron, our worth-the-splurge recommendation above.) Be sure to try the silky, unctuous spiced lamb belly in a lettuce wrap, rice bowl, taco … whatever you like!


A Baker’s Wife; 4200 28th Ave S, Minneapolis | Our thoughts on the double chocolate cookie

You’d really miss out if you came to the Twin Cities without filling your face with amazing (and amazingly cheap) old-fashioned donuts from A Baker’s Wife. To supersize your experience, walk around the corner to the Angry Catfish (see below) for a hot cup of Intelligentsia or a delicious espresso drink. What’s more Minneapolitan than eating donuts and drinking fancy coffee in a bike shop?

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Patisserie 46; 4552 Grand Ave S, Minneapolis | Our first look and behind-the-scenes

The creation of renowned pasty chef John Kraus (who recently competed with Team USA in the Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie), Patisserie 46 is an excellent spot for pastry and coffee or tea. But be warned that it’s incredibly difficult to resist chasing a scone or croissant with one of Kraus’ eye-popping, inventive tarts, cakes, or macarons.

Birchwood Cafe; 3311 E 25th Street, Minneapolis | Our review of brunch

Head to this sun-dappled neighborhood hotspot to find a strong commitment to local farmers and food purveyors, but make sure you don’t leave without trying the savory waffle (available all day, and with a gluten-free option). This blinged-out waffle is loaded with flavor (asparagus, sweet corn, and cheese have been a few recent choices) and smothered in so many toppings (infused butter, syrup, lardons, compote), you won’t get syrup fatigue. Not into waffles, for some ungodly reason? The breakfast and brunch menus are wide-ranging and can accommodate most diets, from vegan to veggie to gluten-free.

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Al’s Breakfast; 413 14th Ave SE, Minneapolis | Our photo essay

One of the best things about traveling is the “you’ll never believe where we ate” stories you come home with; treat your out-of-town guests to an experience they won’t forget at the ancient, cranky, absolutely tiny confines of the legendary Al’s Breakfast, where a party of three or more is, frankly, too large for the space, and the blueberry pancakes are chewy perfection.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Bogart’s Doughnut Co.; 904 W 36th St, Minneapolis | Our interview with baker / owner Anne Rucker

If you’re the type to substitute pastries and coffee for a true breakfast, head to Bogart’s Doughnut Co. — before 10 a.m., if you’re able (there’s a very real risk of a sell-out) — for a vanilla-cream-filled doughnut and coffee. In a tiny storefront, resulting from several years of success at South Minneapolis’ Kingfield farmers market, Bogart’s steers clear of greasy sugar bombs in favor of wholesome, fluffy brioche dough and pared-down, classic toppings.

Rustica; 3220 W Lake St, Minneapolis | Our review of the kouign amann

This place makes some of the best pastries in town, from the brilliantly executed, flaky and butter-rich croissant or kouign amann, to the wholesome, impossibly delicate strawberry tart, to the irresistible bittersweet chocolate cookies. If it’s available, try the apricot soleil for a stunning combination of flaky pastry, custardy, vanilla-flecked pastry cream, and a tart half apricot: The blend of crunch and yielding texture, tart and sweet is truly a delight.


Heights Bakery; 4925 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis | Our Central Avenue tour

In operation for more than 60 years, the Heights Bakery on Central Avenue doesn’t do anything fancy — it just does traditional American doughnuts with a ton of integrity and delicious flavor. This is a taste of old Minnesota and an absolutely lovely way to start any given morning.

Sun Street Breads; 4600 Nicollet Ave S, Minneapolis | Our review

There’s little better for breakfast than a good biscuit, and Sun Street has biscuits in spades — they’ve sold them for years at the nearby Kingfield Farmers’ Market, and we’ve become particularly partial to the moist, crumbly bacon biscuit. Grab them plain, smothered in sausage gravy, or — our favorite — topped with cheddar, black forest ham, and an egg cooked to order, and your day’s off to a good start. If your idea of breakfast misses the 11 a.m. cutoff, try “The Susan” (named for former Heavy Table writer Susan Pagani) instead. The potato flax toast offers a nice crunch to support and offset the meatloaf, and the shallot cream cheese and apple butter add some welcome brightness and flavor contrast.

Good Day Cafe5410 Wayzata Blvd, Minneapolis | Our review

Life exists — and in fact, abounds — in the suburbs of Minneapolis, and Good Day Cafe’s continuing success is testament to that fact. This sprawling, welcoming institution has all the humming energy and comforting standards you could ask for to get your day rolling.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Victor’s 1959 Cafe; 3756 Grand Ave S, Minneapolis | Our interview with the crew

Those who crave a hearty Latin breakfast should adore the stick-to-your-ribs, beans-and-rice classics available at the beloved Victor’s 1959, an eatery with a cult following and a seriously Cuban vibe. This warm, convivial spot is a favorite with both visitors and locals.

Weekend Brunch

Pagoda; 1417 4th St SE, Minneapolis

Hit Pagoda right after it opens (10 a.m.) on the weekend to score some of the best fresh dim sum in the area — cart after cart of tasty morsels, prepared with care and enthusiasm. Unlike the generally swamped Yangtze, you can usually find a table, and the place can accomodate a crowd. We recommend coming with a group of 6 to 8 to really enjoy the sharable, chaotic adventure of dim sum done right.

Tilia; 2726 W 43rd St, Minneapolis | Our review

Service industry watering hole, neighborhood gastropub, jack-of-all-trades: Tilia is one of few places that can make you welcome, no matter the time of day or who you are. Case in point: visit at brunch (it’s our new year’s favorite), when the hungover masses, bleary-eyed parents, and all-too-peppy children all rub elbows, united in their search for silky, soft eggs with chewy furikake rice and nam pla hollandaise, or the mortadella and egg sandwich that fulfills the universal hangover food requirement for fat and salt. And never fear, all those kids (perhaps including your own)? They’ll be occupied with the coolest house-provided toy boxes you ever did see.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Haute Dish; 119 Washington Ave N, Minneapolis | Our review of the dinner menu

From the big, bold, lovely bloody Marys to the chicken and waffles (with bacon ice cream), Haute Dish does nothing halfway at its locally legendary brunch. This is a place where you can atone for an evening of over-celebration with more of the same. Just arrive hungry, because you’re going to leave stuffed.

Daniel Murphy / Heavy Table
Daniel Murphy / Heavy Table

Hell’s Kitchen; 80 S 9th St, Minneapolis | The Minnesota Room at Hell’s Kitchen

Hell’s Kitchen is half restaurant, half theme park, so you need to have the right mindset before you brave its subterranean warren of rooms and the din of visitors in order to get your mahnomin porridge and lemon ricotta hotcakes. This extraordinary institution is long on brash charm and has some remarkable, one-of-kind eats (don’t miss the house-made peanut butter, best enjoyed atop the tell-your-friends-about-it sausage bread), and makes for a good story to tell long after you’ve left town.

The Bachelor Farmer; 50 2nd Ave N, Minneapolis | Our review

“More Kristal, please” … is what you’ll think to yourself when you order from the bubbly cart at The Bachelor Farmer (or maybe we’re the only ones who experience a moment of fleeting aspiration à la Skee-lo). But really, the addition of a pastry cart and a bubbly cart wheeled to your table really elevates the experience of the otherwise down-home (but well done) “new Nordic” food (scrambled eggs, french toast, salad, and a rather lovely pyttipanna).

Local Color

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Crescent Moon Bakery; 2339 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis | Our Central Avenue tour

Our personal “top five flavors of Minneapolis” list would prominently feature the Afghan flatbread “football” pizzas of Crescent Moon Bakery. They’re tender, chewy, and absolutely addictive when served with a hearty splash of the cilantro-based green sauce that is the establishment’s gastronomic hallmark. Crescent Moon pizzas are available frozen, too. We’ve filled our freezer, and we intend to keep restocking it as necessary.

WACSO / Heavy Table
WACSO / Heavy Table

Dong Yang Oriental Food; 725 45th Ave NE, Hilltop | Our Central Avenue tour

Walk into the Dong Yang supermarket in Hilltop, snake your way through the overstocked aisles of rice and condiments, turn left, and there you are: a humbly appointed, cafeteria-like little restaurant that makes up for its ambiance — in spades — with the rich, bright, deeply flavored Korean soul food that it dishes up. If you come in the winter, Dong Yang’s blazing hot stone-bowl bibimbop will cure everything that ails you.

Matt’s Bar; 3500 Cedar Ave S, Minneapolis | Our tutorial on making your own jucy lucy

Looking for a piece of Minneapolis history? The jucy lucys (burgers stuffed with a gooey pocket of melted cheese) for which we’re famous originated at this dark, old-school dive (or at the 5-8 Club down the street, depending on who you ask). They’re a must-have in your visit to the Twin Cities. Matt’s doesn’t use the best meat, or any exciting locally sourced cheese — but there’s something exciting about nearly burning your tongue on a glut of too-hot American cheese that can be totally appealing at the right (low) price. Bring cash, or risk marking up the cost of your burger by a $2+ ATM fee.

Sea Salt Eatery; 4801 Minnehaha Ave, Minneapolis | Our review of the crab cakes

Located at the edge of Minnehaha Falls, this Louisiana-style fish shack is popular with locals and tourists alike. It’s open April through October, and enjoys long lines all season. We typically go in the mid-afternoon to beat the lunch and dinner crowds. The seafood (sourced from Coastal) is impeccably fresh and especially delicious. Along with fish tacos, po-boys, baskets of fried goodies (clam fries!), and fresh oysters, Sea Salt sports a solid selection of local beer, wine, and ice cream. A hike around the falls followed by a meal at Sea Salt is an ideal half-day excursion.

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table
Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

Kramarczuk’s; 215 E Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis

Kramarczuk’s, an Eastern European deli, makes what may be the best bratwurst in town, high praise in a sprawling metro area with no shortage of people with Polish, German, Ukrainian, and other Central European roots. Pick up and enjoy some of the shop’s baked goods, or a pile of their brats (best when beer-boiled) … and cherry bombs, sweet / hot sausages that are a summer favorite.


Fair State Brewing Cooperative; 2506A Central Ave NE, Minneapolis | Our Central Avenue Tour

“Drink like you own the place,” proclaims the back hallway wall — and it’s not just rhetoric. This clean and bright, member-owned bar — hearkening back to Minnesota’s blue-state roots — develops several of its recipes with input from members, and to good effect. Fair State consistently offers a handful of lactobacillus-soured beers on tap, ranging from a smoked wheat sour to a stout to one flavored and colored with hibiscus. Count us as huge fans of their Schwarzbier as well as the Festbier — which has just a touch of caramel sweetness up front, before waves of comforting malt cascade to a clean finish.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Northbound Smokehouse; 2716 E 38th St, Minneapolis | Our review

Northbound provides the whole brewpub experience: tasty food (we dig the chili dog and the porketta) and distinctive, house-made beer. Look for smoke to pop up everywhere (including the exceedingly tasty smoked porter this place has become known for), and get ready to stay for a while in this cozy, thoughtfully friendly neighborhood joint.

Indeed Brewing; 711 15th Ave NE, Minneapolis | Our peek into Indeed’s new cellaring program

Indeed opened strong a couple of years ago, and they’ve been going strong ever since. In winter, the lumber walls are just the aesthetic we look to to warm up; in summer we crave the bright patio and the food trucks nearby. While we absolutely adore LSD, a seasonal release made with lavender, sunflower honey, and dates (get it?), we get a kick out of the flagship Daytripper Pale Ale with its rush of citrusy hops on the nose. Find out if any of the artists’ lofts upstairs and in the surrounding area are open, and if you’re lucky enough to visit during Art-a-Whirl (in the spring), use Indeed as your live-music-and-refreshments home base between forays through the giant, studio-filled Northrup King Building a block away.

Grumpy’s Northeast; 2200 4th St NE, Minneapolis | Our thoughts on Heggie’s Pizza at Grumpy’s Northeast

We’ve been all about Vino & Vinyl for years: Head to Grumpy’s on a Thursday night with a record in tow, and you’ll contribute to the soundtrack for the evening, get a free drink, and down some buy-one-get-one-free glasses of house wine (if you’re smart, perhaps to the tune of “The Final Countdown”). Add to that a locally made, burn-your-mouth-hot Heggie’s (frozen) pizza, and you’re in for a good night. This kitschy beer-sign-covered place is so tiny, and the clientele so Minnesota Nice, that it will quickly feel like your neighborhood dive, even if you don’t live in Northeast (it’s okay, many of us don’t, either) If you’re lucky, you may stumble upon a Vikings game-day tradition: once in a while, the owner hosts a free grill-out for whomver’s around, replete with his diverse, 30+ bottle mustard collection.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Surly Brewing; 520 Malcolm Ave SE, Minneapolis | Our reviews of the food and beer

Surly has garnered plenty of national press of late, and with good reason: not only did the dynamic brewery popularize the richly citrus, grapefruit-inflected IPA that’s now ubiquitous in Minnesota, it also spearheaded a bill to allow breweries to sell pints on-site (Yep, that’s a new one for Minnesota. So are Sunday growler sales.) Stop by the resulting $20 million compound to experience the fruits of their labor: savor an Amager Bryghus collaboration in Todd the Axe Man, wander the grounds, grab some bar snacks (hot frites!), or check out the brewery’s take on fine dining upstairs. And if you get bored, you can always hop the green line, cross over into St. Paul, and make it a brewery crawl!


Parlour; 730 Washington Ave N, Minneapolis | Our review of the burger

Head below street level for one of the flashier scenes in the up-and-coming North Loop. On a busy weekend night, here’s where you’ll see a mob of 20- and 30-somethings with the disaffected tone and flashes of jewelry and bags that come with plenty of expendable income. No matter, because if you can snag a table and grab a burger (oh, the burger!) and a drink, you’ll feel at home regardless of how you fit in. We’re particular fans of the knife fight, a punchy concoction of mezcal, house grenadine, grapefruit-lime cordial, Campari, habanero, and salt solution. Make sure to head across the street to Bunker’s afterward — especially on a Sunday or Monday night, when local funk extraordinaires Dr. Mambo’s Combo play each week.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Eat Street Social; 18 W 26th St, Minneapolis | Our review

It’s not uncommon to hear screaming and clanging at the otherwise bistro-y Eat Street Social. Appreciative guests often buy a “round for the boys” in the kitchen, and the front of house brings the same (albeit quieter) vim and vigor to the bar program. The cocktail menu is constantly changing, but there’s always an excellent rendition of an old fashioned (none of that Sprite or maraschino cherry stuff you hear about) and a tea-infused gin and tonic. Better yet, the bar devotes a similar level of creativity to a full-fledged non-alcoholic bev menu: if you or your companions aren’t feeling like the strong stuff, you definitely won’t be relegated to a Coke.

Marvel Bar; 50 2nd Ave N, Minneapolis | Our review

The term “mixologist” can be pretentious or fussy or just plan inaccurate; a lot of so-called mixologists are nothing more than drink-slingers with overly cared-for facial hair and attitudes. The folks moving the shakers at the Marvel Bar, on the other hand, live up to the promise of the fancy title — they deploy exotic ingredients with serious thought and care, and produce cocktails that can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the best stuff slung on either coast and beyond. Add the chic, dimly lit, speakeasy vibe at Marvel Bar, and you’ve got a recipe for a great night on the town.

Bjorn Christianson / Heavy Table
Bjorn Christianson / Heavy Table

Du Nord Craft Spirits; 2610 E 32nd St, Minneapolis | Our review

The general rule for cocktails goes like this: you want them strong, good, and cheap, but you can never find more than two out of three of those qualities at any one place. Not so at Du Nord, where the gin and vodka distilled on site is poured into lovely, ass-kicking, delightfully affordable concoctions. The atmosphere at this South Minneapolis neighborhood watering hole is cool and casual, and you’re guaranteed to impress an out-of-town crew when you stop in for a beverage or three.

Bradstreet Neighborhood Craftshouse; 1930 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis | Our highlight of the seasonal Ambitious Cactus cocktail

We still remember when Bradstreet Crafthouse first opened in a pretty basic local cocktail scene, bringing with it a few very expensive ice machines and a PR onslaught celebrating the bar staff’s use of five different kinds of ice. Fast forward to today, when craft cocktails and ice balls are more commonplace, and Bradstreet is in a new (and far less pretentious) location, but the drinks are just as solid. Start with one of the standbys — like the Cooper’s Union or Bradstreet Cocktail — and an order of polenta fries for a refreshing reprieve after a day at Lake of the Isles.


Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Five Watt Coffee; 3745 Nicollet Ave S, Minneapolis | Our preview

Five Watt is best known for its friendly service and specialty drinks that incorporate everything from bitters and herbs to innovative simple syrups and flavored sugars. But coffee purists need not worry: Five Watt also makes excellent pour overs and espresso.

Angry Catfish Bicycle + Coffee Bar; 4208 28th Ave S, Minneapolis | Our review

One of several cafe / bike shops in the Twin Cities, Angry Catfish serves first-rate cups of Intelligentsia coffee and espresso drinks. There are far worse ways to kill time than sipping great coffee while ogling beautiful bikes and gear.

Natalie Champa Jennings / Heavy Table
Natalie Champa Jennings / Heavy Table

Peace Coffee; 3262 Minnehaha Ave, Minneapolis | The Peace Coffee Alchemy Series

Peace Coffee is one of those coffeehouses that has it all — warmth, charm, room to spread out and hang, plus thoughtfully sourced, carefully prepared, locally roasted coffee that’s long on flavor and personality. Along with spots like Angry Catfish and Five Watt, it’s place you can visit with your coffee-centric out-of-town friends and make a favorable impression. And you can score a pound or two of beans for home brewing while you’re at it.

Anelace Coffee; 2402 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis | Our review

This austere, stylish new cafe in Northeast Minneapolis is serving some of the most impeccably balanced, beautifully presented coffee drinks that it has been our pleasure to drink locally, or frankly anywhere else.

Spyhouse Coffee; Four locations, all in Minneapolis: Broadway, 945 Broadway St NE; Hennepin, 2404 Hennepin Ave S; Nicollet, 2451 Nicollet Ave S; Spyhouse West (North Loop), 907 Washington Ave N

Though there’s a common thread of locally roasted espresso, a well-edited list of specialty drinks (we like the Mata Hari — a cinnamon and honey-inflected latte — or whatever’s seasonal), and quirky wi-fi passwords tying the four Spyhouse locations together, that’s about it. That’s one of the reasons we love Spyhouse: each shop reflects the neighborhood in which it resides, from the slightly urban grunge and artsy clientele of the Nicollet location to the sleek, marble-and-glass storefront in the increasingly yuppie North Loop. No matter which shop you visit, know that it’s a representative local experience.

Ready to hit the road? Explore the map below — and use our Foursquare list — to plan your gastro-tour!


  1. Jim

    This is fantastic! Kudos for a very thorough and spot-on tour. The only change I would make is switch out Du Nord for Tattersall in the Cocktails category. I’ve been to Du Nord three times and have been underwhelmed each time, while Tattersall impresses.

    Thanks for a great guide that I’ll share with all of my out of town visitors!


  2. Anna

    I’m disappointed to not see Lucia’s (in any form) on your list. The attention to sourcing local food, the excellent food, and the pleasant environment, all make it one of my favorites for date nights, morning croissants, or light lunches. For out of town guests, I make it a must.

  3. Josh

    I’d add to casual eats Marla’s Caribbean, one of my favorite spots for warming up with spicy food during the winter.

  4. Eric Larsen

    Really looking forward to the St. Paul version, as it is so much closer to home. If the categories are the same, there is only one omission I will get bent out of shape about.

    Not going to attempt a third one covering the ‘burbs? Travail? Pig Ate My Pizza? I Nonni? Khan’s Mongolian BBQ?

  5. Eric Larsen

    Hah! I just realized you did do St Paul already, but it was so long ago (weeks!) that I had forgotten. And I *did* already voice my displeasure that Trung Nam and their croissants and banh mi did not get a mention. :-)

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