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MSP: Downtown MPLS, After Work - Advice Needed

I need some advice for a quickly upcoming dinner with a friend in downtown Minneapolis after work (we're meeting at 5:15pm on Thursday evening).

After looking around I suddenly realize that outside of some fine dining gems, I'm very ignorant of good dinner options downtown. My friend is new to Minneapolis and I'd like to go somewhere non-chain. But this friend is also more of a Perkins than a La Belle Vie kind of eater, so I don't want to induce food culture shock.

I was trying to find somewhere like the Modern Cafe or the late Bobino, only downtown and in easy walking distance of Nicollet mall. Also the whole point of getting together is having a chance to chat, so really loud or crowded places are not a good idea (so I suspect Solera is out).

We're meeting on Nicollet very near Zelo. But Zelo is a wee pricier and fancier than I'm looking for. Is it too much to hope for a spot with good food, a decent wine list, but not fine dining and not packed to the gills at 5:30 in downtown MPLS?

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  1. Lyon's Pub would be a good place to get a great burger or other Perkins type fare, but it's not a chain and it's got character.

    You could also try the Loon Cafe. They've always got good stuff. Is the Pickled Parrot still around? They used to have good ribs.

    1. Hell's Kitchen might be another option for you. Their new space (where Rossi's used to be) is quite large. The pub area in the back is a little quieter, a nice place to catch up. Also, you are just a couple blocks away from Vincent on 11th. You can sit in the bar area, order from the full menu and enjoy happy hour pricing.

      1 Reply
      1. re: BigSal

        re: Vincent: you can eat from the full menu in the bar area, but only select items are at happy hour prices. Still a good deal if you ask me.

      2. You should bear in mind that Nicollet on Thursday evening will be busy with Holidazzle festivities. It may not be TOO bad at 5:15, but there may be an influx of bodies at some point.

        I'd second the idea of Hell's Kitchen.

        Here are some other suggestions:

        Masa - on Nicollet. If your friend likes Mexican, she or he can probably find something that they'll like. You'll like it too.

        The News Room - a very generic menu. It's not bad but not especially memorable. It's best assets are the fact that it's closer to Perkins than LBV and it's right near where you're meeting your friend.

        Ike's - a half block off Nicollet on 6th Street. I like their burgers a lot.

        To GutGrease: The Pickled Parrot is no more - it's been replaced by Drink.

        -----
        Hell's Kitchen
        80 South 9th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402

        Vincent A Restaurant
        1100 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55403

        Masa
        1070 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55403

        Ike's Food & Cocktails
        50 South Sixth Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402

        Lyon's Pub
        16 S 6th St, Minneapolis, MN 55402

        Loon Cafe
        500 1st Ave N, Minneapolis, MN 55403

        News Room
        990 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55403

        5 Replies
        1. re: bob s

          Thanks bob s.

          I figured that my lack of downtown patronage would bite me in the keister.

          1. re: bob s

            good recs from Bob S-- but i have one caveat:

            you see, i found myself at ike's somewhat recently (long story: quest for an old-fashioned ice cream sundae downtown that wasn't coldstone, turned out ike's just had "adult, alcoholic sundaes," doh!) anyway, ended up splitting a different dessert and glancing at the menu-- which is now quite pricy(!) & has some somewhat hidden costs associated with the do-it-yourself menu items. i did the math on a bacon cheeseburger and it was like $17.50 pre (downtown) tax?!?! WTF?!?! makes the burgers at vincent, 112, or any of the steakhouses look like bargains, i'd say, and the cocktails at both places are a couple bucks cheaper. . . plus our server, who was efficient in that "hurry up and tip me, i told the floor manager i'd go halves on a bag of crank" sort of way-- kind of left a bad taste in my mouth, as did the generic sysco squeeze bottle plate-painting sauce all over our slice of cheesecake. i enjoyed a meal or 2 at ike's when it first opened, and think it's a cute place, but i don't know if i'll be back. seems like it's there to screw the tourists, if downtown minneapolis gets those. . .

            for the perkins feel, isn't there a key's right there on nicollet? oh, shoot-- no wine list, right? scratch that.

            what about that little wine bar at the back of the news room that someone mentioned recently, that's such a well-kept secret i can't think of the name. . .

            flakiest. post. ever. where the heck is my coffee??

            1. re: soupkitten

              The super secret wine bar is "Taste" and the person who mentioned it was Brad...here http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5201... I keep meaning to pop in!

              ~TDQ

              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                thanks TDQ and thanks Brad B, & cheers! i swear i'm getting senile lately :)

            2. re: bob s

              Good list by bob.

              I was going to recommend Masa.

            3. Eli's on Hennepin is a little known place with decent food (I usually like their wings) and a relatively low-key atmosphere.

              1 Reply
              1. re: cheeseguysgirl

                I love Eli's and I often recommend it to folks who are going to the Orpheum or the State, but caveat pedestrian. [Sorry - my Latin's rusty.] It's a long walk in December from 8th and Nicollet to Hennepin between 12th and 13th.

              2. soupkitten mentioned Holidazzle. That will really only affect parking. You should still be able to get in places. I endorse the recommendation of Masa, which is really right across the street from Zelo. A block toward the river is a new crepe place (name escapes me right now), and that would also be good. Walking dow to the IDS tower will land you at Mission, and that might meet your criteria.

                I like Taste, but unless you want a romantic encounter with your friend, and don't mind eating off of small cocktail tables, you'll want to go elsewhere.