Have a road trip of a thr night in milwaukee ( going to the ball park - are the bratwursts really as good as the guidebooks suggest ? ?), fri/ sat in minneapolis (staying graves 601) and sunday in madison ( staying at doubletree) en route to chicago.
Looking for recs for brewpubs with good food, or quintessential or ' do not miss' places for lunch and dinner. Not partic fussy re cuisine, but prefer a casual vibe to anything too overpriced or stuffy.
Also any top recs for bars, clubs or streets for bar hopping near to where we are staying, partic in MPLS ? We are in our thirties so no frat boy or touristy gaffs please.
Finally ( and I admit this is a bit sad ) are there any decent websites which would give an old Prince fan an idea of where would be cool to go when in MPLS - am travelling from UK and cannot get a decent guidebbook for the city here.
Thanks for any advice you can give
re: u.of.c. eddie
Bunky's, Caspian Cafe, Lao Laan Xang, Dobhan, and Maharajah are all pretty good. Check the Isthmus Dining Guide (which also has a vegetarian category) for their locations & hours, etc.: http://www.thedailypage.com/eats/
VegMadison.com has more vegetarian suggestions: http://www.vegmadison.com/restaurants...
re: u.of.c. eddie
If you're already at the Farmer's Market, you'll probably want to go across the street to the Cafe Soleil, which is run by L'Etoile, the famous restaurant upstairs. The food is not solely vegetarian, but there are plenty of vegetarian choices, including wonderful baked goods.
In Minneapolis, you'll be in the middle of downtown, which is great for bar hopping. I don't get downtown much, but I really like Solera for Spanish tapas and Vincent for French food (Vincent has an especially good happy hour on Monday-Friday from 4:30 to 6:30). Neither of these places is known for the beer, however.
Nye's Polonaise is a fun place to go - for the alcohol and piano bar, NOT the food. It's on Hennepin Avenue just across the river (half a mile from your hotel). If the weather's nice, make time for a stroll along the river - there's an island in the middle that's very scenic.
The Town Hall Brewery is a brewpub near downtown. I've never been there, but I've heard good things about the beer in this thread: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/327606
And your hotel is just down the street from First Avenue, which is where Purple Rain was filmed. You MUST go. Check out prince.org - see the Minneapolis FAQ - for more info on First Avenue and on Paisley Park, Prince's studio in Chanhassen (a suburb way out west). And you could drive out to Lake Minnetonka to see the location of the lake scene in Purple Rain, except I don't know exactly where on the lake the scene was filmed (and I should know this - I'm a Prince fan, too).
P.S. Are you really travelling from Milwaukee to Minneapolis and then back east to Madison? Those Wisconsin towns are just an hour apart from each other, but Minneapolis is 5-6 hours drive to the west. Unless you're flying, you'll get very familiar with Highway I-94, which is boooooooring.
at the risk of blowing my anonymity, and in the name of full disclosure, I work @ the graves 601...here are my recs (sorry...too lazy to link right now, you'll have to google some of these):
112 eatery is a great spot close to the hotel for a fab dinner @ a reasonable price...you'll have a tough time getting a tbl @ this point, so just sit @ the bar. John usually works on Fri/Sat and is an engaging conversationalist & is up on the local music scene.
Cosmos is in the hotel if you want to spend the $$$ (lunch is well priced and the menu is quite broad and well executed)
If the weather is good you ought to hop the light rail train (1 block from the hotel) and take it down to Minnehaha Falls (~20min each way)...there's a FANTASTIC simple cheap fish stand in the park called Sea Salt Eatery that serves the best fresh lunch in town.
If the weather is not so good, Town Talk Diner (another "gastro-pub") @ Lake St. and Hiawatha is a 2 block walk from the train & does a great brunch and fantastic dinner...sit @ the bar, and you'll get a great show to go with the great food. their bartenders make you feel @ home and the vibe is excitably laid-back, plus the music they play is always interesting and the drinks are out of sight. It's the type of place where time would fly by if you spent a late morning and full afternoon drinking.
Solera has great tapas (on Hennepin Ave, near the hotel)...we like to hit it for appetizers & sherry. Right across the street is our "competition", the Chambers hotel...tres chic w/ a John Georges Vongerichten restaurant. If you look like a trendy Brit, you'll fit right in...all the art is of the YBA movement.
You MUST visit the bar @ Nye's Polonaise (cross the Mississippi River on Hennepin...$7 cab ride from the hotel, which I recommend, because you won't be able to resist the urge to over-imbibe in this place)...the food is so/so, but the evening atmosphere on the weekend is one of a kind. Right in the same neighborhood is another fab "gastro-pub" called The Bulldog, as well as Whitey's which is a nice little neighborhood dive. Punch Pizza is also a block away and is, for my $, the best pizza in the Twin Cities.
Hell's Kitchen (7 blocks) has the most unique breakfast in Minneapolis.
If you are looking for a late nite scene, perhaps with a snack craving, check out either Azia or Temple...both are owned by the same chap, and are dead sexy spaces which run late night happy hours.
Town Hall is the best brewpub in MPLS, and does a pretty decent pub lunch. My fave local beer @ the moment is Surly Furious IPA, but they don't have a pub of their own, and it can be hard to find around town...Bryant Lake Bowl has it, and would be a fun place to check out.
I used to live in Milwaukee, and while the brats @ the park are good (use the special stadium sauce) you would be missing out if you didn't go to Solly's for a Butter Burger...before or after a tour of the neighboring Sprecher Brewery is a great taste of indie Milwaukee (if you really wanted to court a heart attack you could then hit Kopp's Frozen Custard for dessert)
We always stop @ Ella's Deli in Madison...tremendous kitsch factor.
If you feel like GREAT Spicy Szechuan cuisine, make the trek to St. Paul for LITTLE SZECHUAN...it is the real deal...try the pea shoots and the spicy short ribs. it's really the only place we'll drive over to st. paul for.
The brats at Miller Park are certainly fine, but I think the Polish and Italian are even better. Most of the bars that I like in Madison are within a block or two of the capitol building, so if you stay close to there you'll be well set.