The List of Lists 2013: Bars

Updated 7/18/2013

Vita.mn readers pick their top bar destinations.

Best Twin Cities breweries

1. Surly Brewing Co.

No surprise Surly Nation rocked the vote, sending the Brooklyn Center brewery to the top of the list. Fan fervor is hitting a fever pitch with the recent opening of its taproom and the anticipation of its $20 million “destination brewery” slated to open next June. In the meantime, beer heads have the limited anniversary Belgian ale SeVIIn to lust after.

2. Excelsior Brewing Co.

Readers raised some eyebrows pegging this rather blasé brewery as their runner-up. While its taproom near Lake Minnetonka has a fun, boathouse atmosphere, the handful of beers we’ve tried have left little impression.

3. Summit Brewing Co.

While a new crop of tasty talent has surrounded Summit on the local scene, the St. Paul craft beer pioneer is still a favorite. This old dog isn’t short on new tricks, as last year founder Mark Stutrud and company freshened up in the hot-selling IPA category with the superbly citrusy Saga and launched a limited-run Union Series this spring.

4. Fulton Brewery

A senior among the new class of Twin Cities breweries, Fulton has etched itself into the top tier with beers like its sweetly balanced, year-round Sweet Child of Vine and salivation-inducing seasonals Worthy Adversary and Libertine. An optimally located taproom near Target Field with a newly minted patio doesn’t hurt either.

5. Indeed Brewing Co.

Less than a year old, this northeast Minneapolis brewery has already outgrown its suds-soaked diaper. Still in its infancy, Indeed has earned fanfare aplenty and earlier this year set course to double its production capacity.

6. Dangerous Man Brewing Co.

This taproom-only brewery is almost always bustling. Sure, a comfortably hip vibe and a desirable northeast Minneapolis location are sound bait, but brewer/owner Rob Miller’s silky chocolate milk stout and rotating small batches keep ’em coming back.

7. Lift Bridge Brewing Co.

With its crisp and spicy flagship Farm Girl and its heavenly Hop Dish (made with seven hops varieties), Stillwater’s Lift Bridge has been an east-metro anchor since 2008.

8. Lucid Brewing

Since this Kickstarter-funded operation opened in 2011, the Minnetonka beermaker has helped Badger Hill and Bad Weather (a new brewery to watch) get on their feet via alternating proprietorship arrangements that allow them to share space and equipment. Lucid’s Foto IPA has our pick for best in fleet.

9. Flat Earth Brewing Co.

Bomber-filling Flat Earth has sort of been like Summit’s lonesome little brother in St. Paul (though times are a-changin’). Last month baby bro announced its plans to move into the old Hamm’s brewery, which offers more space than its current location.

10. Steel Toe Brewing

While Steel Toe barely snuck onto this list, it belongs at the top. The workmanlike St. Louis Park brewery has quietly become one of the best (if not the best) in town. Mash-minded owner Jason Schoneman seems to favor quality over quantity, but his modest-sized roster deftly ranges from decadently dark (Dissent) to light and delicate (Sommer Vice). Michael Rietmulder

Best Twin Cities beers

1. Summit Saga

2. Surly Furious

3. Fulton Sweet Child of Vine

4. Surly Wet

5. Surly Abrasive

6. Indeed Day Tripper

7. Summit EPA

8. Dangerous Man Coconut Milk Stout

9. Dangerous Man Chocolate Milk Stout

10. Lucid Air

BEST BARS by Neighborhood

While Uptown is rife with rooftop patios, sushi joints and dolled-up drunkards, it was red vinyl booths and nearly interminable two-for-ones that held readers’ hearts. Bottle-swilling melting pot Liquor Lyle’s (2021 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls.) attracts hipsters and blue-collar barflies looking for a cheap drink, and is a windowless TV mecca for sports-watching. Despite being outgunned in the food-and-drink department by North Loop newcomers, dance pub Clubhouse Jäger (923 Washington Av. N., Mpls.) still proved king of the Warehouse District. Jäger, the easygoing home of Transmission, hasn’t lost its cachet with its mature, artier crowd. And considering northeast Minneapolis’ dive-bar history, it might seem ironic (though not surprising) that an unabashedly garish quaffing compound tops the Northeast list. Tiki carnival Psycho Suzi’s (1900 NE. Marshall St., Mpls.) edged out more modest competition with its sprawling, riverside swath of patio and neon elixirs. MICHAEL RIETMULDER

Best bars in Uptown

1. Liquor Lyle’s

2. C.C. Club

3. Republic

4. Uptown Cafeteria

5. Bryant-Lake Bowl

6. The Bulldog

7. VFW Post 246

8. Muddy Waters

9. Lyndale Tap House

10. Eat Street Social

Best bars in the Warehouse district

1. Clubhouse Jäger

2. Marvel Bar

3. Parlour

4. Cuzzy’s

5. Bradstreet Craftshouse

6. The Loon Cafe

7. The Depot

8. Saffron

9. O’Donovan’s

10. Kieran’s Irish Pub

Best bars in St. Paul

1. Ward 6

2. Muddy Pig

3. The Happy Gnome

4. Groveland Tap

5. The Nook

6. W.A. Frost

7. The Bulldog

8. Sweeney’s

9. The Liffey

10. Amsterdam Bar & Hall

Best bars in Northeast

1. Psycho Suzi’s

2. Grumpy’s

3. Spring Street Tavern

4. 331 Club

5. Shaw’s

6. Northeast Palace

7. Moose on Monroe

8. Whitey’s

9. Tony Jaros’ River Garden

10. Mayslack’s

Best suburban Bars

1. 3 Squares

2. St. Petersburg

3. Showplace ICON VIP section

4. Sak’s Sports Bar

5. Polar Lounge

6. Panino Brothers

7. Ol’ Mexico

8. Neumann’s Bar

9. Jimmy’s Food & Drink

10. Doc’s Landing

Best beer selectionS

1. The Happy Gnome *

2. Republic

3. The Bulldog

4. Muddy Waters

5. Muddy Pig

6. Ward 6

7. Buster’s on 28th

8. Acadia Cafe

9. Williams Uptown

10. Mackenzie

Bars that make a great cocktail

1. Marvel Bar

2. Ward 6

3. Eat Street Social

4. Cafe Maude

5. Parlour

6. Muddy Waters

7. Red Dragon

8. Saffron

9. Señor Wong

10. Spoonriver

Best first-date bars

First dates can be nerve-racking. We know you’re not really the cool, charismatic heartthrob or hottie you magically portrayed during your initial encounter. But a well-selected date spot can help maintain the illusion, or at least make it less awkward when it comes crashing down. Readers recommend kicking off your courtship at Bryant-Lake Bowl (825 W. Lake St., Mpls.) or one of the Chatterbox Pub’s three neighborhood game bars. Ostensibly, bowling and Boggle don’t scream sex appeal, but optional beer-accompanied activities can help spark chemistry once it’s obvious you have nothing interesting to talk about. The hip and intimate Muddy Waters and Kitty Cat Klub also suggest you’ve got style while keeping it casual, and the red-hued lighting in Moscow on the Hill’s bar area will make you look more attractive than you actually are. MICHAEL RIETMULDER

Best first-date bars

1. Bryant-Lake Bowl

2. Chatterbox Pub

3. Muddy Waters

4. Kitty Cat Klub

5. Acadia Cafe

6. The Dive Bar

7. Sweeney’s

8. Moscow on the Hill

9. The Loop

10. Donny Dirk’s Zombie Den

Kitschiest barS

1. Psycho Suzi’s

2. Lee’s Liquor Lounge

3. Alary’s

4. The Gopher Bar

5. The Glockenspiel

6. The Chatterbox

7. Señor Wong

8. Donny Dirk’s Zombie Den

9. Cedar Inn

10. Turf Club Clown Lounge

Best bar food

1. Ward 6

2. Psycho Suzi’s

3. Blue Door Pub

4. Señor Wong

5. Republic

6. 1029 Bar

7. Muddy Waters

8. Triple Rock Social Club

9. Town Hall Brewery

10. The Bulldog

 

Best placeS to drink before a Twins game

1. Fulton Tap Room

2. Cuzzy’s

3. Kieran’s

4. Smack Shack

5. Darby’s Pub and Grill

6. The Loop

7. The Depot

8. Pizza Lucé

9. The light rail

10. O’Donovan’s

Best happy hourS

1. Republic

2. Lyon’s Pub

3. Liquor Lyle’s

4. Origami

5. Osaka

6. Psycho Suzi’s

7. 8th Street Grill

8. Señor Wong

9. Sweeney’s

10. The Local

Best patios

1. Psycho Suzi’s

2. W.A. Frost

3. The Liffey

4. Union

5. Tugg’s

6. Darby’s Pub and Grill

7. Uptown Cafeteria

8. Stella’s Fish Cafe

9. Aster Cafe

10. Maynard’s

Best Irish pubs

1. Keegan’s

2. The Dubliner

3. The Local

4. The Liffey

5. Kieran’s

6. Morrissey’s Irish Pub

7. McGovern’s

8. O’Donovan’s

9. O’Gara’s

10. Shamrock’s

Best dive bars

1. C.C. Club

2. Driftwood Char Bar

3. Liquor Lyle’s

4. Mortimer’s

5. Triple Rock Social Club

6. Adrian’s Bar & Grill

7. Hexagon Bar

8. Matt’s Bar

9. Grumpy’s Northeast

10. The Spot Bar

Best GLBT bars

1. 19 Bar

2. Townhouse

3. Lush

4. The Saloon

5. Camp Bar

6. The Gay 90’s

7. Spring Street Tavern

8. Jetset Bar

9. Eagle Bolt Bar

10. Triple Rock Social Club

Best college bars

1. Blarney

2. Burrito Loco

3. Acadia Cafe

4. Kitty Cat Klub

5. Bullwinkle Saloon

6. The Library

7. Sally’s Saloon

8. Stub & Herbs

9. Republic (7 Corners)

10. Plums

Strongest drinks

1. VFW Post 246

2. Town House

3. Palmer’s

4. Mortimer’s

5. Nye’s

6. Gay 90’s

7. Otter’s Saloon

8. Spring Street Tavern

9. The Saloon

10. Red Dragon

Most aesthetically pleasing bars

1. Psycho Suzi’s

2. Ward 6

3. Donny Dirk’s Zombie Den

4. Republic

5. Indeed Brewing

6. Kitty Cat Klub

7. W.A. Frost

8. Nightingale

9. Muddy Waters

10. Marvel Bar

Best-kept secret places to drink

1. Donny Dirk’s Zombie Den

2. Spring Street Tavern

3. The Spot Bar

4. Frenchman’s

5. Sandy’s Tavern

6. The Cedar Inn

7. Richfield VFW

8. Señor Wong

9. Painter Park

10. Minneapolis Eagles Club

Best bars for people watching

1. Mortimer’s

2. Muddy Waters

3. The Knight Cap

4. C.C. Club

5. Shaw’s

6. 22nd Avenue Station

7. Rudolph’s

8. Sneaky Pete’s

9. Spring Street Tavern

10. The Cabooze

Best coffee hangouts

1. Dunn Bros.

2. Fireroast Cafe

3. Spyhouse

4. Nina’s Coffee Cafe

5. Caffetto

6. Bull Run

7. Black Sheep Coffee Cafe

8. Kopplin’s

9. The Boiler Room

10. Mapps

The List of Lists 2013