“The History of every […] civilization tends to pass through three distinct and recognizable phases, those of Survival, Inquiry, and Sophistication, otherwise known as the How, Why, and Where phases.  For instance, the first phase is characterized by the question ‘How can we eat?’ the second by the question ‘Why do we eat?’ and the third by the question ‘Where shall we have lunch?’” – Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the UniverseDowntown Minneapolis may be placed squarely within Mr. Adams’ third phase of civilization.  With its wealth of places to dine out, our city provides ample answers to the all-important question that phase poses.  There is no greater luxury than foregoing the grocery store, the oven, and the dirty dishes in favor of dining out, so it is my pleasure to tell you about the finest dining options downtown has to offer!

Remember you can enjoy many of these restaurants while also getting great deals and promotions during Explore Downtown Living on Saturday, September 23.  Learn more and sign up today at www.exploredtliving.com.

Central Business District

This is the heart of the action in Minneapolis, so it spares nothing when it comes to great restaurants.  If you would like the best vantage point to look down on downtown action, go to CRAVE with its 6,000 square foot rooftop patio.  There you can enjoy their grand sushi bar, daily happy hour, and gluten free menu if you don’t think that wheat is neat.  Hell’s Kitchen, with its easily identifiable Steadman-esque street sign, is a very popular and “fiercely independent” restaurant that features locally-sourced and inspired American food.  Hell’s Kitchen very rightly bills themselves as “unique but not fancy, interesting but not fussy.”  If you’d like to feel like a character in a James Joyce novel, head to The Local, an enormous, authentic Irish pub with beautiful woodwork, every libation imaginable, and a plate of fish and chips to die for.  Mercury Dining Room and Rail in its historic railroad building is a true treat, an inventive restaurant with its entire kitchen on display to watch while you eat.  Mercury’s fare is modern yet rooted in tradition, and their cocktails are truly inspired.  Finally, go to Union for its beautiful, glass enclosed year-round rooftop patio, the only of its kind in the state.  Union’s relaxed atmosphere is the perfect one to enjoy a beer and a burger in before one of Minneapolis’ sporting events.

East Town

With the brand new addition of the juggernaut U.S. Bank Stadium and Super Bowl LII coming there soon, East Town is becoming much better traveled these days.  Many restaurants are there to please, too.  Try McKinney Roe, a restaurant with an elegant and eclectic two-story dining room and expansive patio overlooking U.S. Bank Plaza.  They have a marvelous contemporary American menu, and their house specials like seafood ceviche and signature pork shank are not to be missed.  If you’re taking in a show at the Guthrie, Sea Change’s location right there makes it the most convenient place to go afterward.  Their flowing, undersea motif perfectly complements their delicious menu featuring sustainable seafood.  For a laid-back experience, head over to Day Block Brewing Company.  They have a great date night deal where you can try a flight of six of their beers with a salad and unique pizza for only $35.

Loring Park

With its eponymous public park and nearby Sculpture Garden, Loring Park is one of downtown’s best places to spend an afternoon outside.  For comfort food committed to freshness, local ingredient sourcing, and seasonality in a rustic-chic atmosphere, Eggy’s Diner is unbeatable.  The Bird is one of Minneapolis’ finest spots for daytime drinking with their bottomless Hangar 1 Bloody Marys for $10 and Mimosas for $9 with the purchase of brunch every weekend from 8 am through 3 pm, the perfect accompaniments to their delicious eggs, bacon, and other classic morning fare.  Lakes & Legends Brewing Company has a comfortable taproom in which you can try their yeasty concoctions, a great spot to enjoy family and friends over their community tables.  Challenge yourself to a game of hammerschlagen while you’re there — its chief challenge is pronouncing it correctly.

If you venture a little farther south into Uptown, go and see about the delicious buns, cakes, cookies, coffee, and more at Isles Bun & Coffee.  Their fluffy, cream cheese frosted, Mardi Gras colored king cake is the perfect thing to bring out at the crescendo of your next dinner party.  Red’s Savoy Pizza’s incredible cheese-laden pies are always the ticket for a casual night out, and their wings and sandwiches are marvelous as well.

North Loop

Once fraught with warehouses and train tracks, North Loop is now a bustling epicenter of downtown culture and dining.  Kieran’s Irish Pub is a fun spot with a big patio right next to Target Center and Target Field.  You can enjoy draft beers and classic pub fare there while listening to jaunty live Irish music.  The Loop is a nice after-work hangout with a huge menu to enjoy surrounded by their industrial-chic decor.  With their customizable buffet packages, The Loop is an optimal location to book your next family or company outing.  As one of Minneapolis’ most popular pizza parlors, Pizza Luce’s takeout boxes are an omnipresent sight downtown.  They deliver for free, offer a stellar weekend brunch, and have gluten-free options as well.  If you want one of the best burgers in the Midwest, look no further than Red Cow Restaurant & Bar.  A sophisticated twist on the classic neighborhood tavern, Red Cow offers unique and award-winning gourmet burgers along with an impressive list of beers to pair them with.  Stadium Bar & Grill is another relaxed and classic American joint, an honest and authentic restaurant to enjoy all of your favorite, classic bar foods after work or a game.


With its pleasant riverside walking and ubiquitous installations by local artists, Northeast is a wonderful place for leisure just across the river.  At Ginger Hop Restaurant you can enjoy classic Asian cuisine along with new “East meets Northeast” creations, and their Old World style bar is an uplifting environment in which you can enjoy a brew or a cocktail.  Mac’s Industrial Sports Bar boasts 27 tap beers and the best bar food in Minneapolis.  Their $4 Surly draft pints every Saturday from 7 pm to 11 pm night are an enormous draw, and they pair phenomenally with Mac’s Reuben sandwiches and French onion soup.  Kramarczuk’s offers up a wide variety of freshly prepared East European specialties including cabbage rolls, goulash, Ukrainian meatballs, and myriad sausages you can take home with you.  If you love Mexican street food, give Jefe Urban Hacienda a try.  They offer both classics and inventive specials like tacos stuffed with fried oysters and pork belly, and their tostones and tequila braised pork are truly special.  Tuggs Tavern is themed after the great riverboat days of the Mississippi, and their saloon atmosphere perfectly compliments their juicy stuffed burgers.  This cozy riverside hangout has all day beer specials Monday through Friday, hand squeezed lemonade, pool tables, skeeball, “beer rockets,” and a great view of downtown.  Pracna, the city’s oldest tavern and cafe, offers up craft beer and traditional American fare in addition to their historic environment and view of the river.  The Bulldog is a fun late night spot, serving up their full menu of delicious pub fare right up until 1 am every day of the week.  Whitey’s World Famous Saloon offers a casual pub dining experience complete with chic sidewalk seating, making it one of Northeast’s best spots for people watching.  Finally, do not miss out on Brasa Premium Rotisserie.  Their menu is inspired by the traditional dishes of the southern U.S., Caribbean, and Mexico, and their kitchen is supplied with locally sourced and natural ingredients.


By David Scheller