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Oct 11, 2006 06:58 PM

Minneapolis - Looking for Atmosphere

I'm currently planning a trip to Minneapolis, and I'm looking for tips on Restaurants. The main ingredient we're looking for is atmosphere. Have been to Ichibans downtown and enjoyed it immensely. Is there something similar to that elsewhere in the Metro Area?

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  1. Was it the theatrics of the teppanyaki that appealed to you or the decor/location of Ichiban?

    If it was the theatrics, I would recommend visiting Origami (downtown MPLS location) and sitting at the sushi bar. Engage the chefs as they work -- I recommend indulging in omakase. Let them know your preferences and approximate price level. This is assuming you like sushi, sashimi and/or cooked Japanese cuisine.

    If it was more about the atmosphere, (again, I'm interpreting "similar" as still Asian food), 20.21 would fit the bill.

    Also check out Azia on "Eat Street" (Nicollet Ave).

    You could also replicate your Ichiban experience in another part of town. Saji-Ya is over in a neat part of St. Paul and they do teppanyaki there as well. Similar decor with indoor fountains/trees etc., although I personally prefer the food at the places above.

    Let us know if I've misinterpreted "similar" and you're wanting recommendations to include other cuisines besides Asian.

    1. Recommendations for places with other cuisines would be fabulous, as well!! We aren't sushi fans - but I've heard good things of Origami. Do they serve other things besides sushi?

      1 Reply
      1. re: MrsAbby

        Origami has excellent cooked meals as well. My most recent visit there was a table for eight, four of whom didn't have/try any sushi. Everyone was pleased. It was a little hard for me to visit and not engage/watch the itamae at the bar -- that's one of my favorite dining experiences across all cuisines and ethnicities and a main reason for my recommendation for the "atmosphere" you seek. But even at a table, it's a very good restaurant.

        For non-Asian, Masa (contemporary take on authentic ) is strong on atmosphere. Colorful, lively, semi-open kitchen dining room. Solera ( ) can be a fun atmosphere, as tapas encourage sharing/sampling/passing of plates. Along those lines, I really like Babalu ("Latin/Caribbean/Soul" ).

        All of these are lively and fun, more or less "mainstream" (along the lines of Ichiban), and rank in the 20-30 top restaurants overall in MSP depending on who you ask.

      2. Check out The Times Bar and Cafe. Their Fondue is fun.

        Another fun time is the 7 course beef dinner at Mai Village on University in St. Paul. It's only about $17, and you get a seven course meal, with each course including beef in one way or another. For a couple of the courses, you cook your beef (one involves cooking the beef in a broth, the other grills marinated beef on a cast iron grill), to assemble your own spring rollls. The food is pretty good, the restaurant is beautiful (although the neighborhood isn't), and it is a lot of fun.

        1. You could also try Black Forest Inn, across the street from AZIA. Trippy, kitschy, but fun and yummy German food and ambience.

          You could try JunBo for dim sum. Light on 'atmosphere' but dim sum is a fun party experience.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Loren3

            oooh! The mention of Black Forest Inn pops Gastof Zur Gemutlekeit (Northeast Minneapolis on University) into my head for atmosphere. Bavarian beer hall atmosphere with serenading accordian players. Fun place to go with a group of people. Mario's Kellar downstairs with live music and polka dancing.

            1. re: djohnson22

              That does sound like fun! Thanks for the tip.

              1. re: Loren3

                Be careful of when you go. At times, this place turns into a really fratty, obnoxious, drunken college kid free for all.

                ETA: Nye's Polonaise Room can be good for a similar type of atmosphere.