The Bar Guide 2013: Northeast Minneapolis

Updated 4/10/2013

With a bar on seemingly every corner, there are plenty of eclectic surprises in the new Nordeast.

Donny Dirk’s Zombie Den

331 Club

331 13th Av. NE., Mpls. • 612-331-1746 • www.331.mn

This heralded hipster hangout has been a staple at 13th and University, one of Minneapolis’ most charming intersections, for years. Well-worn booths and a time-toughened bartop bear the mark of a delightful dive, but its beer list goes behind low-priced lagers. Local indie bands can be found playing on the 331’s short, intimate stage almost nightly, and a cast of friendly regulars floats throughout the bar. An anchor club in the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District, the venerable venue is one of the hottest destinations during the popular Art-a-Whirl, hosting a vibrant patio party. But sipping a beer on the casual sidewalk patio is a summer-night ritual all season long. Michael Rietmulder

Donny Dirk’s Zombie Den

2027 N. 2nd St., Mpls. • 612-588-9700 • www.donnydirks.com

When you’ve done all the rest — the twee, eyedropper cocktails of Prohibition-era yore, hard-drinkin’ Nordeast dives, hotel bars, strip clubs, tiki bars — all that’s left to do is Donny Dirk’s. Because only here is there a zombie bar, which pretty much means nothing, exactly, but then everything. You see, it means that you have an excuse to get silly, to wear anything at all, and to let your inner monster escape. Swear if you want to, be that loud talker you aren’t usually, order an ice cream drink filled with crème de cacao. No one will judge you here. And that’s what this drinking thing is all about, right? Fun. You’ve come to have fun. If you want to stick out your pinky, perhaps go elsewhere. Let it all hang out? You’ve found your place. Oh, and? Leopard-skin carpeting. Mecca Bos

Nye’s Polonaise Room

112 E. Hennepin Av., Mpls. • 612-379-2021 • www.nyespolonaise.com

Saunter into Nye’s and you won’t see a single thing that tips you off as to this bar existing in the 21st century. It seems to be caught in a state of 1960s arrested development — a red-carpeted place where the Rat Pack could yuck it up or where a Robert DeNiro gangster could run his ops. Named the “Best Bar in America” by Esquire once, this Polish-American institution is really two different experiences. On the old south side lies a hallway sliver of a bar that hosts a weekly polka band. The rest of the building is the Polonaise Room, a dining lounge featuring Nye’s legendary piano bar. This place is less about specials or deals and more about its time-warp ambience. Named after original proprietor Al Nye, Nye’s is one of a kind. Spencer Doar

Eli’s Food & Cocktails

815 E. Hennepin Av., Mpls. • 612-331-0031 • www.elisfoodandcocktails.com

This East Hennepin sister bar to the original downtown Minneapolis location might be the fairer sibling. Although comparatively out of the way, Eli’s East warrants a trip with its modest but commendably tended beer list and a mature menu beguiled by its humble decor. Though situated in the land of lovable dumps, Eli’s is simply lovable. M.R.

Gasthof zur Gemutlichkeit

2300 University Av. NE., Mpls. • 612-781-3860 • www.gasthofzg.com

Mario’s Keller Bar, in the basement of this authentic German eatery, turns into an all-out polka party on the weekend. That is until the DJ takes over at midnight and accordions are exchanged for rap beats. Das boots filled with Bavarian beer are communally guzzled. Snuff is snorted via mini catapults. Generally a raucous crowd gathers at Gasthof’s to revel in German culture with party-bar panache. M.R.

Ginger Hop/Honey

201 E. Hennepin Av., Mpls. • 612-746-0304 • www.gingerhop.com • www.honeympls.com

Ginger Hop is a simple yet unique pub in good old Northeast with a cheeky Asian-fusion air. Mechanical bamboo fans give the place a languid Banana Republic air. There’s beer and wine, of course, but go for one of the boozy drinks that have nothing at all to do with bitters or tinctures. Instead, how about three flavors of Stoli with pomegranate and cranberry? Or a Thai coffee with Stoli vanil? Once you’ve tied one on, sweet-but-satisfying-style, retreat to the underground Honey, where DJs and live bands of every persuasion will lull you into a candlelit reverie. M.B.

 Keegan’s Irish Pub

16 University Av. NE., • 612-252-0880 • www.keeganspub.com

Guinness toucans flutter in suspended animation on the walls of Keegan’s. This Irish bar’s greatest feature is its creative seating layout. Absent are banquet hall tables; present are booths of a variety of shapes in a refreshing array of asymmetry. They possess the requisite Irish brews for an outfit of this type. Irish music can be heard weekly and while specials are far from unordinary, they do feature larger pours. S.D.

Mac’s Industrial Sports Bar

312 Central Av. SE., Mpls. • 612-379-3379 • www.macsindustrial.com

Just across the river from downtown, this no-frills sports saloon is a convenient cubbyhole that draws a mixed, down-to-earth clientele. Mac’s offers a variety of nightly specials, a sturdy tap list 27-strong and seriously underrated bar food. The snug bar area is adorned with a few TVs, empty Grand Marnier bottles (a service industry favorite) and a Big Buck Hunter machine, which every workingman’s bar should have. M.R.

Mayslacks

1428 NE. 4th St., Mpls. • 612-789-9862 • www.mayslacksbar.com

While fixies now fly around Nordeast like a hipster beehive, the neighborhood has a strong blue-collar heritage. Among its innumerable unassuming establishments, Mayslacks is a standout. All one needs to fit in at this come-as-you-are bar is a pint of Grain Belt and good-natured decorum. A decent-sized stage sees a string of local bar bands on weekend nights. M.R.

New Bohemia

233 E. Hennepin Av., Mpls. • 612-331-4929 • www.newbohemiausa.com

The Twin Cities can’t seem to get enough beer bars, and this Northeast newbie is a nice addition. The small sausage hut/beer hall only slings suds and vino (emphasis on the suds), but with 30-plus taps choices are hardly limited. Tall windows welcome natural light into this transformed Panera Bread, and beer-garden-style seating coupled with a massive TV makes for an underrated game spot. M.R.

Northeast Social

359 13th Av. NE., Mpls. • 612-877-8111 • www.northeastsocial.com

The gentlemen of “The Social” are no ordinary restaurateurs. They are the sort of men who bring their sensibilities from years of world travel. Who wear white linen pants with shoes that match, who deliver gratis snifters of beer, ring a bell and declare a “social.” This means it’s time to raise a glass and imbue the space with even more of its indelible conviviality, its tin-ceiling grandeur, its white-linen-pants air of special occasion. M.B.

Psycho Suzi’s

1900 NE. Marshall St., Mpls. • 612-788-9069 • www.psychosuzis.com

What started out as a crazy-train adventure in kitsch is now an even bigger, badder crazy-train adventure in kitsch on the river, with gazillion-person outdoor patios, dance floors, pickle rolls, pizza and of course, Tiki. If it’s class you’re after, this place ain’t for you, which is exactly the point. As the good people of Suzi’s are happy to remind you, “Good taste is for suckers.” M.B.

The Sample Room

2124 NE. Marshall St., Mpls. • 612-789-0333 • www.the-sample-room.com

Named after the Gluek’s Brewery Sample Room, first designed to allow a man to sample the beer before loading his horse and carriage with the stuff, the Sample Room of today still boasts the vintage charm of yore. Only now, in addition to beer (and spirits and wine) one can sample, say, rainbow trout en papillote. Three-dollar happy hours make the sampling that much sweeter. M.B.

 

Stanley’s Northeast Bar Room

2500 University Av. NE., Mpls. • 612-788-2529 • www.stanleysbarroom.com

When Stanley’s took over the space that housed the storied Stasiu’s, there was concern that its legendary urinals (you read that right) would be displaced. Thankfully, the antique latrine attractions remain, but the makeover brought about a beefed-up beer list, with 32 taps. Stanley’s has a small-town sensibility (bingo games, meat raffles), but its microbrew focus smacks of city sophistication. M.R.

Tony Jaros’ River Garden

2500 NE. Marshall St., Mpls. • 612-789-9728

To be frank, Tony Jaros’ is kind of dingy. But that’s exactly why people love it. The classic dive bar is a party-bus fixture, partly due to its signature “Greenies.” For all we know they could just be grain alcohol and food coloring, but these stiff little cocktails served in plastic cups make bachelorette parties freak. M.R.

Whitey’s

400 E. Hennepin Av., Mpls. • 612-623-9478

This neighborhood hangout is dominated by a huge wooden sculpture of an old-school burlesque showgirl. It’s worth a stop just to see this item worthy of an episode of “American Pickers.” It’s a more antiquated space with antique cash registers behind the bar, but fear not — they take plastic. M.R.