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Help me complete our Minneapolis special night out itinerary

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I'm planning a birthday night on the town (husband's 40th), and need some fresh ideas.

We'll be starting the night at Steel Toe Brewing (tasting and tour) and then heading to Eat Street Social for dinner. After that, I'd like to find a nice place( or two) for after dinner drinks, more craft beer tasting and/or dessert. I want to avoid any place that is going to be packed full of 21 year olds or where we have to stand in line. Been there, done that.

Ideally, I'd like to go downtown, somewhere nice, but comfortable with maybe a great patio. Its a Friday night.

Any thoughts?

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  1. A few thoughts:

    -Eat Street Social is known as a cocktail mecca, so you might just want to stay there for a few. They have a patio too.

    -Alternatively, the lounge at La Belle Vie would be a great (quiet) place for cocktails and dessert.

    -Bradstreet Crafthouse is the downtown cocktail spot, though I can't speak to their beer selection. Ditto Marvel Bar, in both respects.

    -Not sure about the DT patio option. Rooftops are going to be younger crowd hangouts, across the board.

    1. Well, there's no patio, but I love the lounge at La Belle Vie. It's a beautiful room, with good people watching (and few, if any, 21 year olds), and no lines. We were there (the dining room) for my husband's 40th, and it felt appropriately celebratory. I'm not a beer person, so can't comment on that, but they have a great cocktail list and some excellent desserts. Not sure if it's an "after dinner" drink, but their Strawberry Blond is maybe my favorite drink ever. If you want to hit up another spot after, you can work through Loring Park to Lurcat and maybe have some mini donuts . . . .

      1. It's not downtown technically, but I'd recommend the Aster Cafe in Saint Anthony Main. Fantastic outdoor patio with great views of the river, downtown Minneapolis, and the stone arch bridge. Fulton and Surly are on tap. And because it's not downtown or in uptown, it's also not as likely to be overrun by idiots. It's definitely a step up class-wise too in terms of food and clientele.

        You also have a few other bar options available around there should you want to do some hopping like Vic's and Pracna. And if things get super exciting, you can always stroll over to Nye's and polka the night away.

        Happy B-Day to your husband.

        1. I would find someplace else for dinner, as Eat Street really is a bummer food-wise.(minus a solid burger)
          I would recommend them for a great cocktail outside. Patio and great cocktail don't exactly go hand in hand for me downtown, and fridays are busy most places it would be nice to sit and have a couple. Maybe the Aster on St. Anthony Main for a drink and patio would work. Craftsman has a good little patio too, and has been delivering solid food lately.

          9 Replies
          1. re: mitch cumstein

            Ugh, I was afraid someone would say that! I'm not sold on Eat Street either. I was running out of options, as so many places are booked up. We've never been, so I was taking a chance, but maybe that is a bad, bad idea.

            I really wanted to get into 112 Eatery, but they are booked. Maybe I should switch to Sanctuary? I need something with good food, but not too stuffy or expensive. We love fine dining more than the crowd we're with, so I need to find a decent balance. (Otherwise, I'd be headed straight for La Belle Vie!)

            Ok, so now I need restaurant recommendations too. Here's a quick snapshot of some Open Table available options:

            Black Forest In
            Café Levain
            Chino Latino
            First Course
            Grand Café
            Red Stag
            Saffon
            Sanctuary
            Sapor
            Solera
            Tryg’s
            Urban Eatery

            Muddy Waters is also available, but I'm afraid it might be a bit too "uptown" for the crowd.

            1. re: janez1

              I get the sense you are looking for something more up-to-date or somewhat trendy. Is that the case?

              In terms of a good value with good food, Sanctuary is a decent bet. I've eaten there twice and both times walked away fairly impressed. Over in NE, I don't think you can ever go wrong with the patio at Jax Cafe for a special night out, but that is a higher price point. If steak is important to the guys, Erte is always an option and they have the Peacock Lounge too. You could also think about Eli's Food and Cocktails in downtown too. It's almost never mentioned here, but I've yet to have a bad meal there and the prices are generally affordable. It's not quite as trendy as some of the other places though. Spoonriver or Sea Change by the Guthrie may fit your bill too.

              I'm not as big on Uptown for dining. I find most of the restaurants there to be over-priced and low on quality, much like Grand Avenue has become in Saint Paul

              1. re: Db Cooper

                I was trying to keep it craft beer related, but it limits options, a lot. 112 would have been perfect - great food, not too pricey, comfortable. I looked at Irish pubs, but I can't think of any with great food. Happy Gnome might be an option, but I was trying to avoid St. Paul.

                1. re: Db Cooper

                  I like the Eli's call...between that and Eli's east a table should be possible...From the list above, First course wouldnt be bad, but the service can be very neighborhood-y, and red stag has better food than eat street...I'd avoid Muddy Waters, good late nite menu though, and grand cafe is pretty cute. Off the list above I would consider
                  Sapor, Red Stag, Grand Cafe, and First Course in addition to The Eli's or possibly Icehouse(new, haven't eaten, but heard great things about the food)

                2. re: janez1

                  In season is pretty grown up, not too stuffy or expensive. Sapor, Craftsman, Heidi's patio?
                  Cafe Maude? All have waaay better food that Eat Street, but vibe is up to you.

                  1. re: janez1

                    I could be wrong, as I don't drink beer, but I think Blackbird Cafe is beer-friendly / centric. They've had a few things on their Facebook lately about specific beer-events. The food is good too, and it's upscaley-casual.

                    1. re: semanticantics

                      Blackbird is indeed beer-friendly, and the food is very good, but I have a feeling they might be packed on a weekend night. DItto for my favorite, Tilia, were beer is presented with the same seriousness as wine, and the food is fantastic.

                    2. re: janez1

                      Of these choices, I would vote for Saffron or Red Stag. Saffron has excellent food but not much of a beer focus. Red Stag has good food, does a great job with beer, and you could go to the Bulldog NE afterwards for a wide selection of craft beer. Another option for post dinner drinks would be the Acadia Cafe on the West Bank, if beer selection is a paramount consideration. They just installed a Cask Bar with three casks on tap. Atmosphere however is pretty collegiate/bohemian, which I find charming but some find annoying.

                      http://www.acadiacafe.com/

                      1. re: lizpeck

                        I agree with Saffron. The food is unique and very good, and they do have an interesting cocktail program, as well.

                  2. How many of you are there? At first, I got the impression it was you and your hubby. but then I read your comment about Muddy Waters being too Uptown for "the crowd."

                    Craftsman has fantastic outdoor seating, and good (but small selection) of craft beers on tap.

                    Victory 44 has a nice deck, wonderful food, and good (but small selection) of craft beers on tap.

                    Buster's has very good burgers and onion rings and lots of craft brew on tap, but it may be more casual than what you have in mind. There is outdoor sidewalk seating.

                    Also in the more casual than you may have in mind category is Black Sheep Pizza, which also has a nice selection of craft beers on tap.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: Brad Ballinger

                      I'm embarrassed to admit I've never been to Busters. Is it toddler-friendly at all?

                      ~TDQ

                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        I bring my kids there, it really depends on the time you go. Daytime or afternoon isn't bad, but it is a pretty serious beer bar after about 6, and busy. Not to say that you can't do it, but prepare to endure looks of judgement as you occupy a table with your kids that people are waiting for...

                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                          I see families with kids of all ages at Busters! I agree with Mitch that after a certain time (say, 7:30 or 8) the families tend to migrate home.

                          1. re: drew13000

                            Yes, that is approximately when we turn into pumpkins, too!

                            ~TDQ

                          2. re: The Dairy Queen

                            Others have commented about the vibe being toddler friendly before a certain hour. But I would also add that the menu is for more grown up tastes. That doesn't mean that non-adventurous children won't find something there, but those children would feel more comfortable at a nearby place like 5 and 8 or even Cedar Inn..

                            1. re: Brad Ballinger

                              Currently, whatever is on a grown-up's plate is the best thing on the planet, except that pizza trumps everything. I see pizza on Buster's menu so we're good.

                              ~TDQ

                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                "whatever is on a grown-up's plate is the best thing on the planet"

                                Agreed, with the possible exception of the grease quotient on Buster's onion rings. Yummy, yes. Healthy, not in the least. :o)

                        2. How about Butcher and the Boar? I haven't been there yet. Maybe those who have can comment.

                          But they have a good variety of small plates including lots of homemade sausages. And a rooftop beer garden with a good selection. This might be just what you're looking for.

                          http://butcherandtheboar.com/

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: karykat

                            The BATB is great for drinks but the food could be hit or miss. It was miss for me but I had high expectations. If I were to go again, I would work my way down the beer list and realize that there's food there too. The menu is diversified enough that most could find something that they like. There's plenty of options for sharing as well. The food is priced a bit on the higher side but if it's a "special" night, I don't think it's outrageous (it wasn't bad in my opinion, just what others have said). For a group - great beer/drinks decent food, could be a viable option. Great patio.

                          2. If you're looking for a night of Beer/dinner/cocktails in that order, I'd recommend Saffron, Solera or Levain for dinner. Then Bradstreet, Marvel Bar, Porter & Frye or Eat Street Social for cocktails. If you're looking for dessert with those cocktails, I think P&F or Eat Street would be the best bet.

                            1. I don't think anyone's mentioned Icehouse, a new place on Eat Street. They've gotten some raves (Heavy Table at least) on their desserts, and they have interesting cocktails and a decent beer list. I went once for lunch-- food was perfectly nice and at least a little interesting (not blown away, but good); aforementioned desserts were quite good (had the bourbon mint sundae! and the peach pie-- both nice small portions and delicious). And the drinks are indeed quite something-- one named "Satan Smiles and Spreads His Wings" is actually served with a religious tract as a coaster. So if you're not turned off by blasphemy, it might be a good bet!

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: mtullius

                                I mentioned it upthread and the patio at Icehouse is pretty nice, with a mini sculpture garden vibe. The drink list does look pretty inspired and the food is rumored to be good. I have been for drinks a couple times and the music aspect in the main room(size of stage and style) can be a bit imposing for talking depending on who is playing. The jazz ranges from laid back to pretty experimental, but I will say, that there isn't really anything else like it in town.

                                1. re: mitch cumstein

                                  One thing to note, this weekend is the Uptown Art Fair which means it's going to be a zoo. Just something to consider when making you plans dining and drinking wise.