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MSP: Neighborhood bars, Mpls

We are on the hunt for a nice "neighborhood"-type bar in Minneapolis. The kind of place where you immediately feel comfortable on your first visit. The kind of place with friendly service, and above average bar food (or simply a few consistent "old standby" items). Does such a place exist?

Ideal locations would be South Minneapolis, Uptown, the Lakes area, or up 35W.

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  1. Chris, have you tried Adrian's on 48th & Chicago in S. Minneapolis? A little bit divey, but the hamburgers are good and the feel is as you described.

    Perhaps Westrums, on Nicollet between 46th & 50th? (I moved across the river before the smoking ban went into effect, but keep meaning to get back there.)

    2 Replies
    1. re: KTFoley

      KT... I haven't tried either of those, but they are now on the list! Thanks!

      1. re: KTFoley

        I would second Adrians. And I think Westrums is on 42nd and Nicollet. I know it's not between 46th and 50th. I lived two blocks from there for 15 years.

      2. Bulldog on Lyndale and 26th. Has a good selection of beer and above average food. The noise level is a bit high. Bartenders and other food service workers frequent the bar. The NE location is bigger and you can get lost in the shuffel. Have not tried the food in the NE location.

        4 Replies
        1. re: ibew292

          i had some food there. the cubano was actually decent. i'm originally from chicago and i'm impressed with the selection on their bar menu. some great standards like a real chicago hot dog

          1. re: anolli

            yeah i thought the cubano was good too-- although i would upgrade the foodservicy bun. buldog ne has worked out a few kinks it had when it first opened and it has a good selection of monk-brewed beer.

            katebauer both of the bulldog locations have full lq license, although it would be easy to think they didn't from their menu's focus on the beers-- wake up bar MGRs!

          2. re: ibew292

            I second the 'Dawg. Great beer selection -- I recommend the Mud Pie veg burger (tasty) and the Tots & Cheeze. Beer and Tots. It doesn't get any better.

            1. re: ibew292

              According to a review by Dara Moskowitz, the two Bulldogs (Lyndale and NE) only share a common owner (out of several) and a common name. BTW she raves about the food at the NE location.


              I haven't been to either but may check them both out sometime.

            2. Great topic! Can people post whether the places they suggest have a full liquor license? We live near Adrians and they only have 3.2 beer.

              2 Replies
              1. re: katebauer

                Actually, I don't know if they have a full liquor license, but they definitely are not a 3.2 beer joint. They have Bell's Two Hearted Ale on draft and I recently sold them some Koningshoeven Trappist Tripel in bottles. Very nice stuff!

                Full disclosure: I import beer, live in Minneapolis, and occasionally sell some around town.

                1. re: L Hoff

                  Good to know - I just took my husband's word on it (he's kind of whiney about moving to S. Minneapolis so far away from any bars (.8 miles)) ;).

              2. I love the Chatterbox. I love their burgers and their fries are some of the best in town. It does have a high hipster quotient, but I'm comfortable with the fact that not I'm not one of the cool kids (not even in an ironic sense.) I think they have a strong beer and wine license.

                1 Reply
                1. re: advicepig

                  We went to the Chatterbox last night for the first time in a long while. I was delighted with the lack of smoke (like I said, it had been a while), but I think the food isn't as good as it used to be. The onion rings had some sort of odd, thick, hard batter on them, which was disappointing, and my hamburger wasn't as good even as Longfellow or Highland Grill's are. So, while I don't know where else one could go in town to play Atari while listening to Flock of Seagulls and such [ahem] fine other music from my youth, I won't be going back for the food.

                2. Try these:
                  Maxwell's on Washington - Just off 35W between the Mobil station and Grumpy's.
                  Whitey's - Right on Hennepin in NE Mpls

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: rskubic

                    If you're going that far - Spring Street Station a couple of blocks off Central in NE. Full bar, great draft beer, good food.

                    I hang at Runyon's - again full bar and love the "buffalo" shrimp. Also one of the best rachels in town.

                  2. In NE:
                    Spring Street (Full bar, food, good specials)
                    Whitey's (Full bar, food, bad specials)
                    NE Grumpies (Full bar, no food, ok specials)
                    Terminal Bar (Full bar, no food, terrifying regulars, great specials)
                    Mac's Industrial (Full bar, bad food, ok specials)
                    Mayslacks (Full bar, pretty good roast beef sammiches)

                    While not a bar, I like the Sample Room better as a place to get a cocktail than as a place to get food. It's comfy.

                    I like Ely's in the Loring neighborhood as well. Moreso when it was under different ownership, but still nice.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Foureyes137

                      i think whiteys' food has slumped quite a bit & now go across the street to NE bulldog.
                      NE grumpies is a great rec
                      terminal, i agree, is terrifying

                    2. Matts Bar on 35 and Cedar fits that description. I just moved to the neighborhood and have gone there a few times on Friday nights. The bartenders (owners too?) are really nice. I have gotten a plain old grilled cheese and a beer and it was good. If you are okay with Kraft singles. Once we tried to go early like, 7ish and it was packed but I would recommend it overall.


                      7 Replies
                      1. re: cfors

                        You can't go to Matt's Bar and get a grilled cheese! Get yourself a Jucy Lucy (no "I" in the "jucy") and you'll become a regular.

                        My recommendations for neighborhood bars in Minneapolis:
                        Chatterbox Pub
                        Matt's Bar
                        Lyle's Liquor Lounge (uptown)
                        CC Club (uptown)

                        1. re: cfors

                          looks homey and nice to me.

                          i am almost afraid to ask, but what is the jucy lucy?

                          1. re: mrnyc

                            A jucy lucy is a cheese-stuffed burger and it was invented in Minneapolis. The cheese is on the inside! My favorite is at The Nook (Randolph at Hamline) in St. Paul, but Matt's was rumored to have invented it.

                            Here's a discussion from a thread on general topics:



                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                              hmm. the pre-par-broiled version you can keep. otoh, the fresh version sounds fine.

                              but now i'm wondering -- how does it improve a cheeseburger?

                              1. re: mrnyc

                                I've always felt that the distinguishing feature of the Jucy Lucy over the traditional cheeseburger is that the cheese can remain molten and cook much longer with the burger than it can with a cheeseburger -- on which the cheese eventually dries out and/or burns. As a result, the molten cheese and the meat cook together and infuse a cheesiness into the patty itself, as opposed to just sitting on top of the burger as an "extra."

                                In a less-than-stellar Jucy Lucy, the cheese will just sit in a small pocket in the middle of the burger and not really infuse any flavor into the patty. That is one of the reasons that there is a certain art to making a good one.

                                1. re: Chris Mitra

                                  well makes sense to me. imo trying this kind of local chow item is certainly a must-do on a visit to the twin cities.

                                2. re: mrnyc

                                  it's one of those things you gotta try-- 9/10 are believers after that

                                  i still remember lucy fondly, though i don't eat them anymore.

                          2. I agree with the people who mentioned Bulldog, Maxwell's and Mayslacks. All three really do have good menu items, plus the friendly atmosphere you're looking for.

                            1. Thanks, everyone! We tried Chatterbox tonight, and it was fun! The back room was hopping for a Wednesday night. The burger was good, and the black bean soup smelled especially good (although I didn't try it, my friend did). I did not love the fries because of the slight curry flavor, but next time I will just try the sweet potato fries. I like the concept of the "build your own mac & cheese" -- next time I'm feeling like comfort food, I will have to try that. Service was *really* friendly.

                              What's best is that now we have this great list of other places to try!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Chris Mitra

                                The build-your-own mac and cheese is to die for! It's the ultimate comfort food! I like mine with bacon and broccoli. Mmmmmm!

                              2. We went to the Bulldog NE for dinner and drinks tonight. The food was pretty good, we shared soft pretzels that came with a great horseradish mustard and then I got the black bean burger. The burger and fixings were good, the bun was quite hard. After about an hour there the noise was too much to take. I probably won't go back on a Friday or Saturday again.

                                1. The Bulldog is cacaphoniously noisy. This is unfortunate because the hot dogs are good and they have a large selection of Belgian beers of which I am inordinately fond.

                                  Gigi's (36th & Bryant) and Riverview Cafe (42nd Ave S & 38th St) are coffee shop/cafes with wine and beer licenses, but they have a nice neighborhood ambiance.

                                  1. If you are close to the Seward neighborhood in South Minneapolis, Tracy's is a great neighborhood bar. It's located on Franklin Ave and 22 St. I have been going there for years because of the comfortable atmosphere, friendly service and it is very affordable. They have a full liquor license as well and your basic bar food.

                                    1. I gotta recommend Mannings in the Como (SE Minneapolis, near the U) neighborhood, at 2200 Como Ave SE. It's one of the few places my incredibly nonchowish husband will eat, so I'm sick of it, but it's the uber neighborhood bar in terms of the regulars (nonscary and quite Minnesotan) the free popcorn, the 32.-oz beers, the 70's paneling.

                                      It's a big room, quiet and they keep the TVs on low, with full liquor license and several beers on tap. Extensive menu of regular bar food things..seasoned fries are good. I go for the grilled fish sandwich with cheese. I like the ambiance but, as stated, am sick of the food. But bar food gets old easily.


                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: jeanmt

                                        i used to walk thru the alley to mannings when i moved back to the cities after college-- it IS a good neighborhood bar, & i forgot about it! (snarky flashback to housemates drinking pink wine in mannings and trying to look sophisticated LMFAO)

                                        1. re: jeanmt

                                          And, don't forget the almost magical hangover cure, ultra doughy onion rings. Very weird - and addictive.

                                        2. Try the 58 Club (58th and Cedar) They borrowed or paid Matt's for the recipe for the Juicy Lucy and it's just a super comfortable place. The kind of bar that you can take the whole family (grandma & grandpa and the kids)

                                          1. You have to come down 35W just a little bit and visit Sandy's in Richfield, on Penn and 66th. This little hole in the wall has famous burgers that are truly wonderful. See the olive burger, sounds bad, but wait til you try! It's located in a little white house on the Penn side, very small and serve only beer and soda, if I remember correctly. Also, super cheap.