The Bar Guide 2013: Uptown

Updated 4/10/2013

At Hennepin-Lake and beyond, Minneapolis’ trendiest District is full of beloved hangouts, new and old.

Heather Albrecht and Jason Loeffler talked in a corner at the crowded Republic in Calhoun Square.

Bar Louie

1348 Lagoon Av., Mpls. • 612-824-1529 • www.barlouieamerica.com

– that should get packed in the summertime. Is it July yet? Michael Rietmulder

Icehouse

2528 Nicollet Av. S., Mpls. • 612-276-6523 • www.icehousempls.com

With a name like Icehouse, you know they’re already halfway there. It means they’ve got it together in terms of Minnesota-niceness, in terms of aw-shucksness. But they shouldn’t say that, because they cannot hide their fabulosity. Something altogether different: a live music venue on Nicollet Avenue, for starters, cabaret-style, for seconds. But, then! Serious chefdom in the form of one Matt Bickford, La Belle Vie alum, now presenting you with gourmet burgers, hand-cut fries, and smoked-corn-encrusted oysters. A classic craft-cocktail program and an incredible whiskey library. And if you’re a lightweight, or an indecisive sort, there are $5 “sipping shots,” which allow you to try, say, three separate rye-, rum- or tequila-based cocktails, without breaking the bank or being 86’d for public nudity.  Mecca Bos

Liquor Lyle’s

2021 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls. • 612-870-8183 • www.lylesliquor.com,

The biggest key to the success of Lyle’s as a drinking establishment is the utter lack of windows. Combine the complete inability to judge daylight with Lyle’s constant barrage of specials and the result is a recipe for oblivious time-wasting. Albeit you are more likely to see “CSI: Miami” on the big-screen projector during the afternoon than the evening, but these interior hints aside, you get the idea. When they aren’t serving their “world famous” two-for-one happy hour, which extends to all drinks, there is likely either a craft special, cheap Jameson, mystery bottles or some such enticement to be had. But then again, this is a place with “liquor” in its name — they don’t mess around. The central feature is the bar, with pool and other leisure games greeting those who venture to the back. S.D.

Muddy Waters

2933 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls. • 612-872-2232 • www.muddywaters mpls.com

When this hipster coffee shop, immortalized in Atmosphere lyrics, moved five blocks south and nabbed a liquor license in 2011, it kept its coffee cred. But these days Muddy’s 2.0 is better known for beer than beans. Its 30 tap handles are dedicated to cream-of-the-crop local breweries and keenly curated nationals. Muddy’s active-in-the-arts demographic followed the beloved hangout down Lyndale, and at any given time there’s liable to be a local musician or two on either side of the bar, or lounging on the intimate courtyard patio (weather-permitting). With some of the best bar food in town, just about anything on its late-night menu (11 p.m.-2 a.m.) serves as superb pint accompaniment, whether you need a pair of bacon-lined beef hot dogs or not.  M.R.

Bar Abilene

1300 Lagoon Av., Mpls. • 612-825-2525 • www.barabilene.com

A bit of Tex-Mex deep in the heart of Uptown. There’s an extensive variety of margaritas, with an adequate list of taps, like Pacifico, thrown in to reflect the theme. On weekends, the restaurant tables are cleared out in favor of bodies writhing to a DJ. Happy hour is a $2-off affair. S.D.

The Bulldog

2549 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls. • 612-872-8893 • www.thebulldoguptown.com

There’s a reason for the proliferation of this franchise: They’re solid bars. With around 30 taps and an extensive variety of bottled beer, there’s gonna be something to fit your personal drinking profile. The original Bulldog’s modest square footage is cleaved down the middle by a U-shaped bar. One side contains a few dartboards in a back room, with access to a cage-like outdoor patio. S.D.

Bryant-Lake Bowl

810 W. Lake St., Mpls. • 612-874-7226 • www.bryantlakebowl.com

Both an institution and a neighborhood anchor, but not old and stogy enough to really feel like either, BLB maintains a classical hipness not enjoyed by many establishments, ever. The vintage bowling alley is a priceless entity, yes, but the live cabaret and all-day eating and drinking establishment ups the ante considerably. Where else can you roll a game, take in some burlesque and enjoy a $2.50 Schlitz? M.B.

CC Club

2600 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls. • 612-874-7226

It baffles the mind to imagine that everything hasn’t been said about the CC. That everyone who is anyone hasn’t drunk here, hasn’t cultivated the mother of all hangovers in the cradle of a red vinyl booth, hasn’t dialed up the Replacements on the jukebox. The divey institution that’s spawned a million Minneapolis tales is your go-to when you’re ready to tie one on among characters as organic to the space as the wall paneling. M.B.

Chino Latino

2916 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls. • 612-824-7878 • www.chinolatino.com

It’s no wonder suburbanites flock to this flamboyant fusion joint, with its glitzy facade and festive sake bombs, replete with a samurai headband. Since swooping into Uptown 13 years ago, Chino has become an institution for boisterous group dining. While there’s not much of a late-night scene, a sexy bar area and backroom lounge have nightclub pizazz. M.R.

The Herkimer

2922 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls. • 612-821-0101 • www.theherkimer.com

The Herkimer’s taps are all of its own creation. While eating some tasty snacks, take a gander at the brewing equipment responsible for the Herkimer’s beers. Beware finding a favorite, though — selections regularly rotate and sometimes are retired. Equal warning is given to Vikings fans: This is Packers country. Feeling more of a liquor persuasion? They’ve got that covered, too. Looking for something different? The Herkimer has shuffleboard and a beanbag league. S.D.

Little Tijuana

17 E. 26th St., Mpls. • 612-872-0578 • www.littletjs.com

When this longtime late-night feedbag went on an extended hiatus, the Whittier neighborhood collectively whimpered. But last fall Little T’s bounced back in boozy fashion, adding a liquor license so the Tex-Mex diner’s colorful waitresses can finally serve margaritas. A 2 a.m. closing time means those after-hours grub sessions are gone, but the haunt’s nothing-fancy bar now means you can get drunk while banging out a burrito. M.R.

The Lowry

2112 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls. • 612-341-2112 • ww.thelowryuptown.com

One part casual eatery, one part beloved hipster hangout, and one part beer-and-oyster pub, the Lowry has managed to be both universally likable yet maintain an air of authenticity. In short, it’s the perfect neighborhood bar — bring the kids for Mickey Mouse pancakes, bring your buddy for a beer and a burger, bring a book and sip wine in the corner all by yourself. M.B.

Lucia’s Wine Bar

1432 W. 31st St., Mpls. • 612-825-1572 • www.lucias.com/winebar

Take all of the Parisian charm of the legendary Lucia’s restaurant, the simply elegant vibe and the understated beauty — and make drinking wine the point. The postage-stamp wine bar is that place you want to stumble on during your European vacation, and never leave. Beautiful people in candlelit bohemian simplicity, free-flowing elixir of the gods, and some spiced nuts and olives for good measure. M.B.

Lyndale Tap House

2937 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls. • 612-825-6150 • www.thelyndale.com

You’ll find it hard not to notice the endearingly tacky pictures adorning the walls: modern pinup girls in agricultural settings, animals and all. The high ceiling and high tables lend a feeling of elbow room, though evenings will often leave one feeling cramped. They have about 20 beers on tap and more in the bottle — whether that’s enough to merit the “tap house” moniker is up to you. S.D.

Morrissey’s Irish Pub

913 W. Lake St., Mpls. • 612-465-8555 • www.morrisseysuptown.com

The owners of Uptown’s first Irish bar hope their cozy pub will anchor a location plagued by turnover. When a whiskey craving strikes, the quaint drinking den is a welcome alternative to louder and larger Irish bars, as Morrissey’s will likely draw more regulars than high-volume revelers. Oh, and as the sign by the restrooms reads: “Please don’t do coke in the bathroom.” M.R.

Mortimer’s

2035 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls. • 612-871-5591

A let’s-get-drunk, not let’s-get-drinks, type of bar. There’s almost always something in the $2-$3 range, be it a 12-ounce pour of Miller Lite or a $1.50 shot of root beer schnapps — yup, Mortimer’s goes there. Empty bottles litter PTA meeting-worthy tables like fallen soldiers on the battlefield incapable of being cleared fast enough. The floor is probably more spill than wood by now, though it’s strong enough to support foosball, big-screens, air hockey, darts and an array of other arcade games. S.D.

Moto-I

2940 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls. • 612-821-6262 • www.moto-i.com

You know by now that Japanese food is not just about sushi and ramen. It’s also about izakaya, those little snacks that could be thought of as the answer to Spain’s tapas. And none of it would be what it is without drink. Moto-i is your perfect opportunity to make like a salaryman and get ripsnorting drunk on fine sake, brewed on site. M.B.

Nightingale

2551 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls. • 612-354-7060 • www.nightingalempls.com

In a landscape of “gastropubs,” dive bars, sports bars and bar-bars, Nightingale has somehow broken the mold. The stylish and elegant room might say “restaurant,” but at its heart it’s really a bar, with a serious cocktail program and only small plates that encourage lounging and lingering. Co-owner Jasha Johnson is a two-decade veteran of Mortimer’s, so chances are he knows a thing or two about the sauce. M.B.

Red Dragon

2116 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls. • 612-874-8877 • www.reddragonmpls.com

What is it about a combination of Polynesian cocktails, regret-inducing Chinese fried rice, a hip-hop-heavy jukebox and a crusty cast of characters? Why do we find it so enticing? Every city deserves a dive bar this perfect — situated in a hip and gentrified neighborhood, yet staunchly, stubbornly, derelict. Attracting amateurs, veterans and all those in between, on the dubious road to the Wondrous Punch. M.B.  

Republic

3001 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls. • 612-886-2309 • www.republicmn.com

Just like its sister location at Seven Corners, the newest Republic only wants to serve good beer. That means about 45 different brews available. Republic’s mission is so beer-centric that there is not a television to be seen in the place. Drink and be merry by talking to people!? The second-floor Calhoun Square location provides windows with ample scenery, nice lighting and a feeling of seclusion. S.D.

Rudolph’s Bar-B-Que

1933 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls. • 612-871-8969 • www.rudolphsribs.com

More than the sum of its parts (barbecue, drinks, Valentino theme) this Franklin/Lyndale institution is an Uptown anchor. A rare place where neighborhoods converge, with diverse audiences who can agree on at least these things: smoked meats and cheap happy hour ($3 drinks, anyone?). Where things are done more or less the same way they have been done for nearly 40 years. M.B.

The Social House

2919 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls. • 612-824-6300 • www.socialhousempls.com

Flanked by rowdier party bars, this fusion lounge is a subtler option in the Lagoon/Hennepin area. On many nights there’s a DJ, but a softer mix keeps the first-pumping at bay. Not far from Lagoon Cinema and the Uptown Theater, this underrated cocktail cranny (try the 100 Proof Hustle) is a nice post-movie nightcap spot. M.R.

Stella’s Fish Cafe

1400 W. Lake St., Mpls. • 612-824-8862 • www.stellasfishcafe.com

This seafood restaurant changed Uptown’s summertime nightlife landscape when it opened the neighborhood’s first rooftop patio in 2005. But the casual coastal eatery lures lushes year-round with daily, early and late happy hour deals. If it’s too cold for that skyline-spotting terrace, park it at the oyster bar and pretend you’re in New Orleans or grab a high-top in the clattering bar. M.R.

Uptown Cafeteria

3001 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls. • 612-877-7263 • www.uptowncafeteria.com

Like rooftop rival Stella’s, this souped-up diner’s al fresco upstairs landing is the main attraction. But its color-coordinated street-level bar bustles during happy hour. True to its name, the frisky mess hall adjoined to Calhoun Square feels like a flashier (and boozier) lunch counter that draws a mixed-age crowd. Parasole CEO Phil Roberts says the nearly three-year-old eatery is scheduled for a quarter-million-dollar tune-up in the coming year. M.R.

William’s Uptown Pub & Peanut Bar

2911 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls. • 612-823-6271 • www.williamsminneapolis.com

Uptown’s oldest bar attracts a relatively young crowd. Weeknights are fair game, especially Wednesday’s U.S. draft night when American pints are patriotically $3. But backward-capped bros reign over the upstairs billiard tables on Friday and Saturday nights and the peanut-shell-covered floor in the basement bar feels like an unkempt frat house (albeit with 70-80 taps). Buy your beers by the liter during peak hours. M.R.