The Viking Bar is back! After a 10-year absence — or silence, rather — the shuttered dive bar on the U of M’s West Bank is open for business again, more than 100 years since it first opened its doors.
And it’s back with a bang. The outside is still very much a dive bar, but the interior is bright and clean, with warm wood paneling and expanded windows to let in some light. A dropped ceiling was removed, uncovering a pressed tin ceiling that was restored. There are several large TVs over the bar, and we overheard a conversation about televised soccer that indicated the Viking, just a month after reopening, is pulling in regulars who like to watch that other football.
The Viking has also put together a short but fun menu of sandwiches and drinks, along with a decent list of local beers (the usual favorites — Fulton, Surly, Bent Paddle, Grain Belt). It also has a list of “Fancy Drinks,” and the one that drew our attention was the Pickle Martini ($8.75), a concoction of Prairie Cucumber Vodka shaken with pickle brine and served with sour cornichons. This may not appeal to everyone, but at our table, the pickle enthusiasts were delighted. The sour brine paired beautifully with the cool, fresh cucumber flavor of the vodka.
When we asked the friendly server what she’d recommend to eat, she noted that Bill’s Boloney sandwich ($10) is currently the top seller, but her favorite was the Tuna Muffaleta ($11). We gave both of them a try and would happily eat either again. The “Boloney” in particular was a standout. The bologna in question has nothing to do with that pressed meat with both a first and last name, but instead comes from Peterson Limousin Beef from Osceola. The meat looked more like corned beef than grocery-store bologna; it was incredibly tender and had a gently beefy and peppery flavor that played well with its accompaniments (Muenster cheese, mustard, bread and butter pickles).
The Tuna Muffaleta was delicious too, with albacore tuna holding its own against a zippy giardiniera and a sundried tomato pesto. The giardiniera had a mild heat, nothing to be frightened of. And it paired especially well with the Pickle Martini.
So, welcome back to the Viking. We’re glad you’re here and have brought great sandwiches and drinks. Note: Periodically they offer Spinal Tap karaoke. You know you want to.
Drinks and well-made sandwiches in Cedar Riverside
1829 Riverside Ave
Minneapolis, MN 55454
Daily 10 a.m.-2 a.m.
(See website for patio hours)
BAR: Full bar
RESERVATIONS / RECOMMENDED?: No
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes / No
ENTREE RANGE: $6-$11
NOISE LEVEL: Moderate
PARKING: Day: Metered street parking; Evening: free parking in the neighboring Opitz Outlet lot after 7 p.m.