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New to MSP--great mid-priced date food near Uptown?

Moved here from Portland. I've seen a lot of Italian (Rinata, Loring Pasta Bar, et. al.), but would rather have new American, if that means anything. I'm basically game for anything nicer, but would rather not pay mid-range prices for ethnic food, and my wife doesn't really enjoy an Italian experience unless it's meat- or fish-centric (i.e., not solely pasta).
Thanks for your tips!

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  1. Not necessarily great, but good, good for a date and mid-priced american: Duplex meets most of your criteria.

    1. Well, Loring Pasta Bar is nowhere near Uptown, so that loses out twice. Not too far away from Uptown is Grand Cafe (38th and Grand, Mpls) and Corner Table (43rd and Nicollet, Mpls). For Italian that's not pasta-centric, consider Trattoria Tosca (44th and Beard, Mpls).

      1. I would go to Lucia's - the wine bar side. I'd advise you to look at the dessert tray first, so you can pace yourself!

        1. Have you been to either one of Lucia's places (next door to each other - restaurant and wine bar)? The wine bar has a cheaper menu and you can always order off of the restaurant's menu.

          Another favorite of my better half and mine is Barbette.

          Here are places links for the suggestions so far:

          Lucia's Restaurant
          1432 W 31st St, Minneapolis, MN 55408

          Corner Table
          4257 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55409

          1600 W Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55408

          Grand Cafe
          3804 Grand Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55409

          Duplex Restaurant
          2516 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55405

          3415 w 44th St, Minneapolis, MN

          1. Duplex is a great choice. Cafe Heidi is an outstanding choice about 2 miles south. Cafe Maude is not much further to the Southwest, and is nearly as good as the aforementioned (though the service is a bit touchy).

            Given your aversion to mid-priced ethnic food, you might be interested in heading west to St. Louis Park. McCoys, Tryg, Burger Jones and Granite City are a pretty quick drive West on Lake.

              1. re: amgarrison

                I love Barbette - and it is elegant yet hip - a great "date" place. And you could walk around the lake afterward. :)

              2. Thanks for the suggestions, everyone.
                With regard to ethnic--my go-to when I go out is usually "ethnic," but I was in the mood for something more "upscale" and continental (although Ngon in St. Paul seems intriguing, although the reviews on Google are all over the spectrum).
                Duplex or Lucia's (and the others mentioned) look like solid bets.
                Has anyone any thoughts on Blackbird?

                1 Reply
                1. re: parkermsp

                  Blackbird is pretty good, but I've had varying levels of service there. My impression of the food there is that it's hearty, but I've only eaten there in the winter so that may explain it. For my money, I prefer both Lucia's and Barbette.

                2. another vote for lucia's, one of my fave places in msp. barbette would be a close runner up. heidi's & blackbird will be a little more expensive but probably well worth it. levain hasn't been mentioned yet, it has a great moderately priced prix fixe on sunday nights.

                  Cafe Levain
                  4762 Chicago Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55407

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: soupkitten

                    I love Levain and it's a few bucks cheaper than Lucia's, but it's not especially close to Uptown. (Having said that, it's not a great trek from Uptown to Levain - I'm just making the note to stay within the OP's original criteria.)

                    1. re: bob s

                      good points Bob. totally agree w you about lucia's being great for date night. for that matter, post-date brunch is excellent there as well ;-P

                      bryant lake bowl (same ownership as barbette) is good for "fun date"-- you can have some beers and decent grub and bowl on horribly warped and wobbly lanes, just for fun, or see a small theater production. i think this place is underrated, & it's great to vpatronize if you live in the area.

                      on the same lines, tin fish, while walking, cycling, in-line-skating, skateboarding or scootering the chain of uptown lakes, can be a fun evening.

                  2. Some good comments so far, ive been watching this thread and thinking hard about what fit your parameters, and im not sure i have so much new to ad - of the listed option in uptown proper lucia's is the clear winner, ive had great and pretty good meals at barbette over the years (as the chefs have come and gone), but the happy hour is usually reliable and the fries are some of the best in town, plus its got "outdoor" seating if you dont mind sitting on the sidewalk.

                    the thing about ethnic food in uptown is that what you'll get isnt going to be food that is produced for or marketed to those populations that grew up on it which has two major negative effects - one on authenticity and another on price. if i am reading your "rather not pay mid-range prices for ethnic" correctly youre going to want to leave uptown for your ethnic fix. Nicollet for various asian (though as a st paulite im biased towards the university corridor there are good options closer to you) lake street for mexican/south/central american - Los Ocampo compares favorably to the west-coast mexican i was raised on. Despite the wealth of ethnic options in and around uptown i just dont think any of them will give you best-in-class taste (which isn't to say some arent bad but all will cost you more than if you found divier, more authentic, versions).

                    1. On the other end of Lake Street I'd recommend The Craftsman, but it is not in Uptown. I'd second Corner Table and Grand Cafe, both are very good choices.

                      1. Well, all, quick follow-up here: went with Lucia's. Sat outside as the sun went down. I was not that impressed with the wine list--for a so-called wine bar to have a mere three reds on order by the glass, that seems to miss the mark. We went, however, with a nice 2005 (being a great year in the napa region) cab, and it opened throughout the dinner to a good degree.
                        Our food was great. Started with a trio of two local cheeses (and a third non-local, pecorino, seemed to be a cost-cutting measure--it was the largest piece by far, and also the most tasteless), but the two local cheeses (a goat, and a cheddar) were outstanding.
                        Moved onto a roasted local veggie pizza, and also the best of the night--hand-cut pasta tossed with manilla clams and sweet fennel in a saffron-aleppo pepper sauce. This was exquisite. Ended with a lovely cream anglaise with berries and a glass of decent tawny port. Prices were pretty good, and service was excellent. I give the experience a 4/5.
                        Thanks for the rec.
                        I'll review as I go along the MSP scene.