Barley John’s Brew Pub
781 SW. Old Highway 8, New Brighton • 651-636-4670 • www.barleyjohns.com
Bars in the burbs are often devoid of character, but this brewpub isn’t. Owned by a husband-and-wife team, the teeny-tiny beer parlor has an almost bed-and-breakfast quaintness. But instead of tea and croissants, the partially solar-powered shack serves up sandwiches and its signature Wild Brunette — a unique wild rice brown ale — among other offerings. Michael Rietmulder
Beaujo’s Wine Bar & Bistro
4950 France Av. S., Edina • 952-922-8974 • www.beaujos.net
Places as endearing as this snug little wine bar are a rarity in commercial shopping districts. But Beaujo’s doesn’t feel out of place at boutique-laden 50th & France. The homey bistro is perfect for a relaxed date night, romantically lit without feeling drowsy. Offering half-glasses and flights facilitates sampling, but those not afraid of commitment can grab a bottle (or at least a full glass). M.R.
Bunny’s Bar & Grill
5916 Excelsior Blvd., St. Louis Park • 952-922-9515 • www.bunnysbarandgrill.com
Any bar that’s older than your parents is commendable, and Bunny’s 70-year run (hop?) in St. Louis Park is pretty impressive. The easygoing sports bar is still a favorite among locals and on the softball circuit. Ample TVs and solid, cheap grub (free popcorn, neato!) make this simple swill box alluring to jersey-sporters when there’s a big game. M.R.
Cocina Del Barrio
5036 France Av. S., Edina • 952-920-1860 • www.barriotequila.com
This tequila bar is no garden-variety Mexican greasy spoon. The upscale cantina has the flash to attract the posh patrons drawn to 50th & France (oh, Edina). Though you won’t find one on the menu, the red-hued Cocina sizzles like a fajita with its jazzy Southwest ornamentation. Something off Barrio’s tequila laundry list or margarita menu (try the Cesar Chavez) should get you in the mood. M.R.
Cooper Pub & Restaurant
1607 Park Place Blvd., St Louis Park • 952-698-2000 • www.cooperpub.com
“Elegant” isn’t the most likely descriptor for an Irish bar, but this West End outpost distinguishes itself with its grandeur. The suburban sister of the Local, the Liffey and Kieran’s Irish Pub, this mega-bar has a similar big-and-bold quality. When old-world aristocrats fancied a pint, we imagine they landed at a place like Cooper. M.R.
2801 Southtown Dr., Bloomington • 952-955-8137 • www.theaftermidnightgroup.com
The Bloomington branch of this cowboy-bar empire is a standout along the I-494 stretch. It’s seemingly mile-long bar and sprawling patio draws hordes of suburban patrons looking to lasso a pint or two. Mechanical bulls are as cheeky as it gets, but coaxing a slightly (just slightly) inebriated companion into robotic bronco-busting at Jack’s is always good for a laugh. M.R.
West End, Galleria & Mall of America • www.craveamerica.com
The recipe of showy fusion fare and swankily outfitted eateries has made the Crave chain a marketplace Megatron. Decry its formulaic takeover if you must, but you’ll miss out on one of the Twin Cities’ broadest happy hour menus. If do-it-all deals aren’t wooing you, consider convenience: Wherever you are, there’s probably a Crave, like, 10 minutes away. M.R.
5331 W. 16th St., St. Louis Park • 952-345-2400 • www.figlio.com
After an ill-fated rebranding saw an end to Figlio’s longtime reign in Uptown, a reincarnation of the institutional Italian-rooted restaurant/bar reappeared in the West End under new management. The new-look Figlio is building on its legacy, offering a healthy-sized happy hour menu in a fresh package. Its well-made maraschino Old Fashioned and porchetta sliders make a pleasing pair. M.R.
2801 Snelling Av. N., Roseville • 651-379-1180 • www.grumpys-bar.com
Though bearing little resemblance to its two Minneapolis counterparts, the Roseville Grumpy’s is a welcome divergence from the strip malls. The space that once housed a Majors and KFAN the Restaurant got Grumpy-stamped five years ago, bringing its surly-faced logo and microbrew preference north. The view ain’t much, but its brick patio is an enviable place to unwind on warm nights. M.R.
11997 Singletree Ln., Eden Prairie • 952-941-3262 • www.konagrill.com
Excuse the grannies waddling into the restaurant side for a 5 p.m. dinner (hey, it is Eden Prairie). Kona’s bar brings in a more mixed demographic during its happy hour rush, ranging from young professionals to older, let-loose career types. Across the street from Eden Prairie Center, the sushi-and-more establishment lies in a hopping second-ring pocket that freeway commuters can easily flock to. M.R.
Lucky’s 13 Pub
1800 American Blvd. W., Bloomington • 952-405-2213 • www.luckys 13pub.com
Since popping up in Mendota in 2007, Lucky’s has undergone its own suburban sprawl, adding locations in Bloomington and Plymouth. The Bloomington bar has turned an ex-Bennigan’s space into a hotspot for happy hour-goers and A-list celebrities (well, we saw Jeff Passolt there once). Lucky’s is also a beacon for Bloody-thirsty brunchers (check the BLT garnish) looking to rage with midday bingo. M.R.
McCoy’s Public House
3801 Grand Way, St. Louis Park • 952-224-9494 • www.mccoysmn.com
This coolly casual “public house” is a beery pillar of the Excelsior & Grand development. With 20-plus taps and a sleek and slender bar area, McCoy’s makes it possible for St. Louis Park residents to grab a superior microbrew or two without broaching city limits. Aesthetically, the contemporary ale house is a step above a standard pub, but carries no added pretense. M.R.
3401 Louisiana Av. S., St. Louis Park • 952-929-6810 • www.parktavern.net
The fact that cosmic bowling plays well with both 8th-birthday parties and beer-gutted pitcher-pourers is as mindblowing as “The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones” (for real, that was cray). But it’s 21-and-up when the weekend black lights hit at 10 p.m. at this blue-collar galactic bowling-alley bar. Park Tavern is a SLP staple for rollers, revelers and bar-fly sports fans. M.R.
3849 Gallagher Dr., Edina • 952-835-6440 • www.pinstripes.com
As big-box bars (er, “bistros”) go, Pinstripes is a crowd-pleasing addition in the office-saturated sphere near I-494 and France Avenue. The two-level bowling and bocce bar offers indoor recreation and a prime second-story patio with a fire pit overlooking Centennial Lake. Consider knocking back beers and pins here after work, or when planning a company outing or your uncle’s birthday party. M.R.
13000 Technology Dr., Eden Prairie • 952-546-6722 • www.santorinimn.com
The World Wildlife Fund may not be aware, but should anything ever happen to this simple Greek bar and restaurant, a significant cougar population and the, uh, boys who love them will be displaced (well, they’ll probably just go to Redstone). The relocated restaurant is a veritable puma’s net, especially on the summer-night swinging patio bar. M.R.
Sky Deck Sports Grille & Lanes
401 E. Broadway, Bloomington • 952-500-8615 • www.skydecklanes.com
As the old tagline went, “There’s a place for fun in your life: Mall of America.” How true, if Build-A-Bear Workshop and Orange Julius get you totally psyched. But at least this fourth-floor bowling alley/game bar has air hockey. Scarf pizza and mozzarella sticks (sweet!) while bowling with the bumpers up. It’ll be just like your childhood, only drunker. M.R.
Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar and Grill
1623 Park Pl. Blvd., St. Louis Park • 763-450-9999 • www.countrybarmn.com
If ever there was a time to attempt to pull off a Tapout T-shirt with cowboy boots, a night of countrified clubbing at Toby Keith’s would be it. Hoist a mason jar of Miller Lite (probably) or watch weekend bands get the ranch-sized barroom rodeo rowdy. It might be more True Religion than Wrangler, but cowboy ballers can procure VIP “barns.” M.R.