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Aug 3, 2009 12:35 PM

MSP One Night

I'll be passing thru Minneapolis on the way to a Canada fishing trip and was wondering if I could get a few recs on dinner/bar. We currently don't have a hotel reservation because we're not sure where any of the hotspots are...

We'll be flying into the airport and are thinking that we'll be staying downtown, but are open to any ideas.

Any info would be appreciated.

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  1. Can you give us a bit more direction with your tastes/preferences and budget? dinner/bar could mean a burger and a beer or white linens and imported wine (or, i suppose, about a million other things.

    things it would be helpful to know: where you are coming from, what you want to spend, what you like/dont want, and what you can't get at home you may be interested in trying here.

    5 Replies
    1. re: tex.s.toast

      My bad. You mean you can't read my mind thru the internet?

      It'll be me and another buddy on the way to a fishing trip. We're definitely not looking for any white linen dinners. More than anything, we're looking for a geographical where we can get a decent dinner and a couple drinks.

      We're both from Texas, and wouldn't mind grubbing on some local fare (not even sure what that is). We'd probably like to keep dinner in the $25 to $50 range (per person).

      1. re: bdunk11

        Local fare around these parts tends to be pretty meat-y which as texans im gonna guess isnt a big deal. as for drinks/dinner combo, id consider NE minneapolis which is a neighborhood directly across the river from downtown so easil accessed from most DT hotels.

        for dinner, id recommend Brasa on Hennepin, its a rotisserie place that does beef/pork/chicken with an amazing collection of creole/vaugley southern style sides (the cheese grits are amazing). Nice spot built into an old service station and in very close proximity to a number of fun drinking establishments. Also in the neighborhood is The Bulldog a burger and beer bar (something that may be overdone in mpls but its definitely one of the best). Im not so sure about there being hotel accomodations in NE (outside of the main commercial strip closer to downtown as a neighborhood its not known for being particularly touristy)

        1. re: tex.s.toast

          Both of these are great options. The menu at Brasa is a little limited...but I agree that it's absolutely FABULOUS (our favorite take out place by far!). The Bulldog is great, and I agree that it's one of the best burger and beer joints in Mpls. Large beer selection, and the non-burger fare I've had has also been excellent (great burgers go without saying).

          Couple of other options, Barrio - good Mexican, great vibe; Nick & Eddie ( - menu (both bar and main) is updated relatively often, cool area of downtown in Loring Park

          Brasa Rotisserie
          600 E Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55414

          Bulldog NE
          401 E Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55414

          925 Nicolett Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55402

          1. re: b ster

            Love barrio also (and its closer to - as in, IN) downtown, but i guess i figured tequila and mexican small plates werent really "our" food even if i think it is one of the best bars (and really great food) in town. That and the fact that the OP is from texas kept it off my list, but by all means, check it out.

            1. re: b ster

              A 3rd option very close to both the Bulldog and Brasa is the Redstag supper club. It will give you that up north feeling but still pamper you like a city slicker. Fish fry on Friday nights. Smelt fries anytime you want.

              Lots of local ingredients used as well.

              Red Stag Supper Club
              509 1st Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413

      2. I'm going to put one in for La Gran Colombia on Central Ave. in North Minneapolis. Excellent food (and it can get very meaty), nice service, bigger-than-Texas-size portions, and not too expensive (though not very cheap) to boot. Great atmosphere too.

        La Gran Colombia Restaurant
        2207 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418

        3 Replies
        1. re: tvdxer

          Although it may be a little more, Alma would be a great choice. It highlights local fare, and it is wonderful. Barrio is great, but being from Texas..I would not come to Minneapolis for Mexican food.

          Sea Change at the Guthrie is another outstanding choice, it is a new fish place (no entree is more than $25.) It is a great spot (in a new theater) and the building is AMAZING. You also can see the stone arch bridge from there.

          Heidi's in South Minneapolis is another gem.

          There are tons of deals for downtown hotels.

          1. re: chadradchad

            Thanks for all the recs guys!

            So it looks like we'll get a hotel in the downtown area then. It sounds like all of these recs are in that general vicinity.

            1. re: chadradchad

              Sea Change and Barrio are both under the guidance of McKee (this year's James Beard Award winner for the Midwest), so I think both are great options. I guess I wouldn't completely disregard Barrio simply because it's Mexican and that's a big part of what Texas does. I guess the thought was more about a lively spot that should provide you with a great time in Mpls. Solid food an added bonus. But agree, if Mexican isn't something you want to even consider, Barrio might be a good spot for a drink or two or three.....

          2. Just so you know, bdunk, most of the recommended places serve wine and beer only - no mixed drinks. And I'm not too sure if La Gran Colombia even has a license to do that (many mom-and-pop places don't, because a license is really expensive and hard to get).

            Of the places mentioned so far, only Barrio, Sea Change,and Nick & Eddie's have a full liquor license (as far as I know). So you may want to factor that into your decision if you're looking for a martini, tequila shots, a Dark 'n Stormy, a Mango Cosmopolitan, or whatever Texas fisherfolk are drinking these days.

            Also, I'd say that Alma is pretty swanky - in fact, I'm pretty sure that they have white tablecloths, with food-obsessed people speaking in (relatively) hushed tones. Again, wine and beer only. Excellent food, though, if that's what appeals to you.

            As far as "local food", opinions vary, but I'd say it's a pint of Surly or Summit beer with a Jucy Lucy burger, a walleye sandwich, or a square-cut pizza, followed by a Pearson's Salted Nut Roll. But other than the beer, these dishes aren't easily available downtown. (And me, I wouldn't go out of my way for any of them - except the beer and the candy bar.)

            So here's one more restaurant to consider: Vincent - the bar side - for French-influenced burgers, fries, and interesting Franco-Mediterranean appetizers. The restaurant side is definitely a "white linen" place. Even the bar is just a wee bit swanky - jackets and ties wouldn't be out of place (neither are neat shorts and polo shirts) - but it's worth it for the great food. And they have a full bar.


            Vincent A Restaurant
            1100 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55403

            6 Replies
            1. re: AnneInMpls

              Alma's white tablecloths are only in your (and sometimes my) head. It is definitely what id call nice but its not pretentiously so - i didn't put it in my original suggestion even though its my favorite restaurant in MSP because it seemed a bit more upscale than pre-fishing trip dinner would suggest (but i dont fish so that could be presumptuous of me. Alma is nice, but I guess i wouldnt really call it swanky, unless you wanted to make it so - in the last year we did both a post-valentines date and went with my dad in clogs and shorts and in neither case were we really uncomfortable or out of place.

              While mediocre jucy lucy's, bad square cut pizza and canadian (previously frozen) walleye may be both "typical" TC fare and things we are "known for" i guess in my (and many of these other suggestions) i was trying to paint a picture of what we -could- be known for, which i feel is a strong reconnection with the land as a source of ingredients, which i'd say Alex Roberts (of Alma and Brasa) really gets. Did anyone else get the email from Alma saying he'd hired two part-time farm hands to help direct the best of the season into their kitchen. But yeah, wine and beer only at both of his spots.

                1. re: tex.s.toast

                  You're right - the top-quality, locally-sourced food is a much better thing to be "known for" than a Jucy Lucy.

                  No tablecloths at Alma? I guess the place is swankier in my head than it is in reality. (That's probably because I'm the anti-swanky diner - I sometimes dine in holey t-shirts and mulch-stained shorts...) But Alma is my favorite restaurant, too, when I can cope with putting on clean clothes and sitting up straight.

                  Speaking of local ingredients - the other night, I saw Alex Roberts lugging crates of eggs and produce into Brasa's kitchen. I wanted to swoop in and steal some of those eggs, as I bet they're some of the best eggs around. He really does a great job on his ingredients, which is why the food tastes so great. I've never had better chicken than the simple roast chicken at Alma...

                  Dang it, now I'm fighting the impulse to clean up, put on my dress-up t-shirt, and head to Alma's for dinner! Alas, I gotta stay home and sort through a month's recycling...


                  P.S. Back to the OP's question - would y'all consider Solera's rooftop to be a hot spot with good food? I haven't been to Solera for years, but I liked their take on Spanish Tapas when I went - and I know they have a full bar.

                  900 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55403

                  1. re: AnneInMpls

                    is it possible there are some tables with tablecloths and others without? i am POSITIVE ive sat at bare tables because i remember being enchanted by the cool stone fork rests, but its entirely possible on my last trip that there could have been linens. suppose it says something about the food that i cant remember what the table looked like.

                    as to holes you're on your own, but in my family we always said if you didnt have stains you werent eating right (or that you had run out of tide pens)

                    im lukewarm on solera - i have had great food there and just ok food, and for the price its not worth the risk to me. on top of it all i find the prices to be pretty out of line with what you get. the last time we stopped in for just a bit and a drink i think here was 1.5 baby artichokes on an 8 dollar plate, and each half was about the size of a quails egg. Maybe an off night but for my money id take barrio and alma any day - its interesting that the bar at barrio is so much more "on" to my taste than soleras even ifthey are both Tim McKee spots, cant say if its my tastes or not but i MUCH prefer the mixed drinks at barrio.

                    1. re: tex.s.toast

                      You're right, T. Toast - Alma's tables are bare of tablecloths. Once you reminded me of those great knife rests, I now remember noting how nice they looked against the wood of the table.

                      And thanks for the updated feedback on Solera. Sounds like they're coasting on their rooftop popularity.

                      Next time I'm in that mood, I'll head to Saffron instead for their Mediterranean small plates. Speaking of which, maybe that's another idea for bdunk, though Saffron is a wee bit swanky, too - albeit more in the Alma vein than a white-linen-tablecloth place. But the food and cocktails are great, and they have a good Happy Hour deal.


                      Saffron Restaurant & Lounge
                      123 North 3rd Street, Minneapolis, MN 55401

                      1. re: AnneInMpls

                        A couple comments:

                        1) Although Alma, Saffron and Solera are slightly swanky, I've gone to all 3 wearing jeans. I regularly wear shorts when headed to Solera in the summer.

                        2) Solera's roof top is...odd. It seems rather dirty compared to the rest of the place. For me, I'd rather sit on the bar that runs along the little happy hour kitchen and watch the chef's at work. It's a pretty darn good deal during late night happy hour. $2 taps (Grain belt...yes), $2 sangria, and cheap small plates. GREAT late night spot, in my opinion.

                        3) Saffron's happy hour is also one of my favorites. Considerably more quiet than Solera, I think the food is just as good. Also, their selection of happy hour drink specials is more broad than what Solera offers.

                        Making this post, I realize I haven't been to either of those places this summer...

              1. hate to elevate drink over grub, but mightn't the op be hankering for something like the local/brit's/kieran's/mackenzie's? (irish/british/irish/scottish pubs, respectively) the best scene, if it's a balmy night, would be on the rooftop patio and bowling green at brits. the local has the dubious distinction of serving the most jameson's irish whiskey of any establishment on earth. kieran's is as close to a neighborhood pub as you'll find downtown, with the possible exception of the loon. . .

                me, i'd go to 112 or saffron, or alma. but i wouldn't think of alma as the "hotspot" the op seeks. maybe see if there is a good show at 1st ave on your arrival night? you could have that weird minnesotan "purple rain" experience LOL! honestly, i can't tell whether the op wants great food in relaxing atmosphere, or just a great bar scene with some burgers or something, or a nightclub, or just a couple of patio chairs and tall beers. . .

                1 Reply
                1. re: soupkitten

                  Is the OP going to have a car? If you're staying downtown, a lot of the options in NE aren't exactly easy to get to.

                  In the downtown area 112 is probably the best option, there's something for everyone, done well. They're coasting a little bit on their reputation, but 112 on a bad night is still better than most places on a good night. (And, you can easily walk it from Downtown hotels.)

                2. jfood would also agree that for local fare his two top choices would be Alma and 112. Coming from Texas he would carve out steaks and Q and Mexican. If SP is in the mix jfood would add Meritage as well.