The Bar Guide 2013: South Minneapolis

Updated 4/10/2013

The south-side neighborhoods have the homey bars to match.

Wisconsin bar culture, plus Skee-Ball, at Pat's Tap. JOEL KOYAMA

Pat’s Tap

3510 Nicollet Av S., Mpls. 612-822-8216 •

Take everything that’s good about Wisconsin bar culture, distill it to its very essence, mix in a few things that are just plain good no matter where in the world you are (Skee-Ball and pork belly) and throw it all together in the hip Lyndale neighborhood. Tuesdays bring you vinyl night, and weekday days bring you two-for-one bloodies, when, let’s face it, you really need such a perk, just in time for that 2 p.m. meeting. And oh, yeah, those Skee-Ball machines are a mere 25 cents per game. If you need yet another reason to go, this is the place to enjoy your beer the old-fashioned way: in a can. Sure, you can bring your beer snob buddies. Pat’s has taps, too. And cheese curds. Mecca Bos

Buster’s on 28th

4204 28th Av. S., Mpls. • 612-729-0911 •

Around the dinner hour, nearby residents pour into this Standish gastropub like it’s the last ship on Earth during a biblical flood. But Buster’s is a worthwhile destination for folks of all ZIP codes looking to get their beer-and-burger fix. A deep, well-groomed draft lineup with a build-your-own-flight option makes this corner tavern a South Side beer-sampler’s paradise (ask about the beer of the week). Belly up and you’ll catch cooks flipping burgers behind the bar, giving it a blue-collar feel without a whiff of dive. Food-wise, there’s hardly a miss on the menu and the kitchen gets its bread from its neighbor, A Baker’s Wife. Late nights are laid-back, so when putting down quality pints without a ton of commotion is in order, bound your way to Buster’s. Michael RIetmulder

Town Hall Tap

4810 Chicago Av. S., Mpls. • 612-767-7307 •

Long before three out of five Twin Citians owned their own brewery (OK, not a real stat), the original Town Hall Brewery was drawing local and out-of-town beer buffs to its Seven Corners location. So amid the great Minnesota beer awakening, it only made sense for the beloved brewpub to expand (a third location is expected this year). There’s no on-site brewing at the Town Hall Tap, but cornerstone beers like its citrusy signature Masala Mama IPA are always flowing, like fresh air does when the bar’s garage doors open in the summer. In tribute to the brewers before them (and generally for a cool aesthetic), the walls are adorned with vintage beer signs, abetting a sleeves-rolled-up atmosphere in which to unwind. M.R.

Blue Door Longfellow

3448 42nd Av. S., Mpls. • 612-315-2470 •

This Juicy Lucy — pardon, Juicy Blucy — outpost is still new enough that table waits should be anticipated. But if the original St. Paul cow-and-craft-beer station is any indicator, the lines may never dwindle. The Blue Door’s west-of-the-river watering hole runs its small bar area tight (you have to be seated) and BDL’s lengthy, beer-garden benches are casual and convivial. M.R.

The Blue Nile

2027 E. Franklin Av., Mpls. • 612-338-3000 •

It’s not entirely clear how an Ethiopian restaurant became a craft-beer attraction, but no one’s complaining. With only 12 draft lines, the Seward spot’s tap list looks small compared with other beer bars. But as every guy with a size 7 sneaker says, it’s not the size that counts, it’s what you do with it. The Blue Nile regularly cycles its stash and hosts themed tap takeovers, as well as live music. M.R.

Café Maude

5411 Penn Av. S., Mpls. • 612-822-54111 •

At the original Cafe Maude location in southwest Minneapolis, owner Kevin Sheehy is a bon vivant with a yen for travel, especially the exotic Middle East. He’s a proponent of “civilized leisure,” the notion that relaxed chat over good food and a fine cocktail is a human right. M.B.

Champions Sports Bar & Grill

105 W. Lake St., Mpls. • 612-827-4765

A dim place where security might search you on a weekday, this saloon is a refreshing polar opposite to the more scene-ridden options in nearby Uptown. Champions is all about its laid-back but fun-loving working-class atmosphere. Drinks are inexpensive if unremarkable. Unfortunately, most of Champions’ publicity has come from its reputation as a hot spot for illicit activity. SPencer Doar

Chatterbox Pub

2229 E. 35th St., Mpls. • 612-728-9871 4501 France Av. S. Mpls., • 612-920-3221

If you’re the sort of drinker who’s not content with standard bar conversation, who needs a bit of entertainment with her zin, then the Chatterbox may be for you. Scads of games, from the electronic version to dog-eared Monopoly boards, are the name of the, um, game at these beloved neighborhood institutions. They’ve got all the other makings for a satisfying bar experience, including, but not limited to: beer, wine, burgers and tattered old easy chairs. M.B.

Kings Wine Bar

4555 Grand Av. S., Mpls. • 612-354-7928 •

Very occasionally, an establishment becomes more than just the sum of its parts. Instead of just frosty mugs with someone to serve ’em to ya, a place can become a true community center, a “third space,” the place you go when work is done and the walls are closing in on you at home. Where hospitality is, well, hospitable and lingering is encouraged. Kings is that place. Your home away from home. With better wine. M.B.

Merlin's Rest

3601 E. Lake St. • 612-216-2419 •

This British Isles-themed pub is the quintessential neighborhood bar in that it literally feels like the whole neighborhood flocks there like some daily flash mob. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself conversing with the owner or shooting the breeze with accented regulars there for a taste of home. And there is a lot of home to be had here — their whiskey selection is so comprehensive and full of Gaelic-derived names that it makes a newcomer’s decision near impossible. Walk in and order a Bushmills, and you’ll be asked which of seven kinds. S.D.

Northbound Smokehouse & Brewpub

2716 E. 38th St., Mpls. • 612-208-1450

Pair a Town Hall-tutored brewer with a meat-smoking magistrate, stick ’em in the underserved Standish neighborhood and let the googly eyes ensue. True story: We once saw a beer fan so floored by having a first-rate brewpub close to home that he bought the bar a round on his birthday. Luckily the Hiawatha Light Rail is nearby in case the Smokehouse Porter proves too addictive. M.R.

Pig & Fiddle

3812 W. 50th St., Mpls. • 952-955-8385 •

This upscale gastropub has a serious beer pedigree. The owners of acclaimed St. Paul suds spot the Muddy Pig (and formerly the Happy Gnome and Great Waters Brewing Co.) opened this similarly swine-named tavern in 2011, bringing a better-beer option to the bustling 50th & France area. Pig & Fiddle offers finer fare and 36 taps in a more sophisticated atmosphere, and is boosting beer awareness in a new neighborhood. M.R.