Note from Jeremy: This post is by Jeremy Yoder, who besides writing for every ecology and evolution blog in the world*, is also a postdoc at the University of Minnesota. So I asked Jeremy for some tips on where to eat and drink in Minneapolis. His reply is below. Thanks to Jeremy for taking the time to provide so many suggestions, including some further afield from the convention center, and a couple of gay bars.
*This is only approximately true. But most generalizations in ecology and evolution are approximations. 🙂
Marvel Bar, at 50 North 2nd Avenue (all the way on the other side of downtown from the convention center), is my number-one bar recommendation in the Twin Cities. It’s a cocktail lounge with a rotating menu of in-house specials and carefully constructed classics. (Their bartenders mix the best bourbon old fashioned in the Cities.) You might pay up to $15 for a drink there, but it’s one you can nurse all evening. However, the only food on Marvel’s menu is Cheetos, and the only beer is Hamm’s, which goes for about $2 a can and tastes exactly like that’s what you paid.
Marvel is in the basement of The Bachelor Farmer, which is a locavore (as in, salads from the roof garden) Scandinavian restaurant that’s been the hot foodie ticket since I got to town. Expect to make a reservation, and pay a premium, but it’s mighty good for a splurge. In a similar vein, a few blocks away on Washington and 2nd there’s Haute Dish, which serves deconstructed versions of Midwestern homestyle cooking, like a tater tot “hot dish” made with three enormous, cheese-filled tots.
For beer, you have a lot of options. We’re well into the microbrew stage of economic development in the Twin Cities, and almost any bar will have something local (or at least regional) on tap. Unfortunately, all the brewpubs I know of in Minneapolis are in Northeast, which is the neighborhood across the river from downtown, and maybe a little less accessible for a visitor (but if you can manage it, check out Indeed Brewing Co on Quincy and NE 15th). Almost right across the Hennepin Ave Bridge from downtown (on Hennepin and University) is New Bohemia, which has a bunch of German imports (and American German-style beers) and a wide selection of (seriously) exotic bratwursts. If you can make it all the way out to Cathedral Hill in Saint Paul, The Happy Gnome (Selby Ave and Mackubin) has an enormous tap list and great (if a bit pricey) food.
Back in Minneapolis on the downtown side of the river, there’s the Bulldog Downtown on Hennepin and 11th, which has both a good selection of beers on tap and good higher-end pub grub; or there’s Grumpy’s at Washington and 11th (closer to the U of MN Minneapolis campus than the convention center, but still on the same side of the river). West on Grant Street from the convention center is Loring Kitchen and Bar, which has a good drinks menu all around, and excellent late happy-hour specials on food and booze.
And, as I’m writing this the day after Pride weekend, I guess I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you that 19 Bar, the oldest gay bar in the Cities, is even closer to the convention center at 15th and Lasalle—it’s a dive, but there are pool tables and darts, and the drinks are as cheap as they get in Minneapolis. Although, usually, if I’m going out to a gay bar, I’m more likely to go to Jetset, which is just across the street from The Bachelor Farmer, back on 1st Avenue between 1st Street and 2nd Street.
In more general terms, the neighborhood to go to for a high concentration of good bars and restaurants is Uptown, which is (confusingly) south of downtown. Southern Hennepin Avenue has Namaste Cafe (great Indian-Nepali; try the bison squash curry) and the Lowry and Sebastian Joe’s Ice Cream; Lyndale has The French Meadow (bakery-centric, organic, amazing); and southern Nicollet has an entire stretch called “eat street” lined with restaurants of all stripes—the one I go to most frequently there is Quang’s, between 27th and 28th Streets—great cheap Vietnamese. And downtown proper has plenty of options, they’re just not ones I go to all that often.
Okay, now I feel like a glutton and a drunkard. But Minneapolis is a pretty great place for eating and drinking, as far as I’m concerned.