A quick search for wine bars shows there has been no new discussion in quite awhile.
Looking for someplace for a Friday night, good wine selection AND good food. Not really loud and a place one can actually find a seat, please. Would the bar at La Belle Vie be an idea?
Riverview is close but always kind of food disappointment. I admit, I haven't been anywhere else recently.
Suggestion appreciated (Mpls or St. Paul proper most appreciated.)
Toast, in the North Loop, has a very nice food menu (the chickpea and avocado crostini is a personal favorite). It's usually a very reasonable noise level. I've always been able to find a seat, although groups larger than 4 might have a harder time.
Broder's opened up Terzo in the old Pierre's Bistro spot, across Penn Avenue from their Pasta Bar. 40-50 Italian wines by the glass, and probably good food. I haven't been yet, but will be going in a month.
Rincon 38 at 38th and Grand in south Minneapolis has about 20 Spanish, French, and Italian wines by the glass to go with their all tapas menu.
I don't think there is really a first rate "wine bar" in the Twin Cities yet. There are several places that offer nice food, but the wine selections top out at "pretty good." Nobody has really done anything special.
The LBV lounge is a wonderful place to get a drink (cocktail or wine), and the food is great. The rabitt bolognese is superb. It is not a "wine bar" though. It is an awesome bar attached to an awesome restaurant.
Rincon 38 is tapas -- super fun and the food is excellent. Wines are nice.
We also had a good experience with the (mostly) Mexican/Spanish food at Bin Wine Bar in Saint Paul. The wine is pretty good -- not great.
Not 100% sure about the "get a seat on a Friday night" as it would depend on what time you were going (when I was there at 6 a few weeks ago on a Friday a seat would have been easy, but might have been trickier when we left around 7:30), but I think the bar at Meritage would work quite well for good wine + good food.
I always like the bar at La Belle Vie as well.
One other off the wall suggestion... Sunfish Wine and Spirits Wine Bar. If you aren't keen on the glass selections, you can go next door to the wine store, buy a bottle, and bring it over. A ten dollar corkage fee might apply; I'm not exactly sure.
The definition of a wine bar varies wildly depending on who you ask. Me, I want more than a half-dozen wines by the glass, plus a wine-focused menu of small plates, nibbles, and appetizers that are good with wine. Ideally, they offer flights or small pours so you can try several wines. Otherwise, it's just a restaurant/cafe/bistro/whatever that just happens to have a few wines by the glass. (Lucia's and King's, I'm looking at you!) If that's all you want, pick a great restaurant like Alma or La Belle Vie, both of which have a nice selection of well chosen wines.
I haven't been to a wine bar for several years, but I really liked Toast the last time I went. Quiet(ish), many wines by the glass, good food that's very wine friendly.
Other places I've been - King's, Lucia's, Beaujo, Riverview - just haven't made the grade for me. I'd rather go to a better restaurant and have a glass or two of wine.
Broder's Terzo is getting a ton of good press, but from what I read, it's tiny and hard to find a seat - especially for a group.
Wherever you go, please report back! We need more current info on wine bars.
Went to Toast. It was exactly what we were looking for.
We sat outside, not loud, not rushed. Tables seemed to turn over on a somewhat regular basis. The place is very much a neighborhood joint...lots of dogs and lots of people who seemed to know the servers.
Wine choices were extensive and interesting and server was knowledgeable and gave us a couple of "tastes" so we could make some decisions.
The do not have flights (which I generally enjoy), but do offer half glasses so you can have a little variety. I am quite a lightweight so two half glasses is all I can do. Glasses were in the $7-10 range with a few well beyond that. (not sure what they charged for half glasses as I did not pay the bill.)
Food choices were also good. We had the spanish cheese and meat plate and one of the polentas. Plenty of food.
Not cheap, but a perfect evening and just what we wanted to celebrate our 15th anniversary. thanks for the suggestions.
Street parking was free and not a problem (no Twins game).
I would go back in a minute and look forward to checking out what it is like inside on a less perfect weather evening.