The Restaurant Guide: South Minneapolis

Updated 10/11/2013

New neighborhood gems are a perfect match for South Side charm.


American • $$ • 5003 Bryant Av. S., Mpls. • 612-767-7797 •

The Lynn on Bryant just might be an ideal neighborhood restaurant, but it’s also so much more. Chef/owner Peter Ireland has an intrinsic ability to subtly manipulate and balance outcomes up and down the continuum of flavor and texture: bitter-sweet, tangy-mellow, crispy-silky, all masterfully exploited across a wide range of seasonal ingredients. There are beautifully composed salads, brilliantly conceived omelets. Cod, cured for 10 days and then poached in milk, is blended with potatoes, formed into cakes and fried until the crisp outer shell collapses into sigh-inducing creaminess. Those who want to be schooled in the proper way to prepare a croque monsieur or croque madame need only get themselves to 50th and Bryant. The addictive burger is a sterling example of All-American excess and served on a terrific house-baked English muffin. A plate of pillowy gnocchi is bathed in a luxurious Gruyère sauce. For dessert, nothing tops the cake doughnuts. Picture this: a golden interior with a dense, moist crumb, enrobed by a gently crisp, never-greasy crust that twinkles with sugar, some of it caramelized into the acorn-brown surface. We should all thank Ireland for channeling his doughnut-obsessed teenage years into a level of craftsmanship that may be second to none in the Twin Cities.  Rick Nelson


Spanish • $$ • 3801 Grand Av. S., Mpls. • 612-824-4052 •

Owners (and spouses) Hector Ruiz and Erin Ungerman may have lost their Spanish stalwart El Mesón, but the couple have bestowed a doozy of a tapas bar upon the Kingfield neighborhood. By some miracle of engineering, 40 or so elbow-to-elbow seats have been wedged into a storefront no larger than the living room of your basic suburban McMansion. The stools at the tile-topped bar offer a peek at the kitchen staff, hard at work in an equally minuscule kitchen, busily cranking out 26 small-plate choices, with a little something for every taste: beef, pork, chicken, seafood and meat-free dishes. A great deal of thought is clearly invested in this cooking. Crostini topped with cool, silvery marinated anchovies boast sweet (sherry glaze) and acid (yellow tomato) flavor nudges, plus a lively fennel finish. Hints of citrus peek through gently sweet piquillo peppers stuffed with pungent tuna and salty capers. Pops of saffron perfume both poached cauliflower and creamy salt cod croquettes. Juicy roast chicken tops a colorful and comforting toss of tomatoes, asparagus and arugula. Fiery chorizo livens up potatoes sautéed with asparagus. Garlic seems to infuse every molecule of big, meaty prawns. Prices average $8.50, portions make it easy to share, and Ruiz places an emphasis on great-looking plates. Three cheers to the moderately priced wine list (sold in three pour sizes) and the late-night hours. R.N.


American • $ • 4021 E. Lake St. Mpls. • 612-886-1585 •

Take a farm-raised Midwestern boy, give him some formal cheffy training, shake and stir. What you might get is chef Erick Harcey, a guy who’s as jazzed and energized by modernist cooking as any youthful cook, but as influenced by the flavors of childhood as pro chefs tend to be. What you may also get is a playful take on Minnesota flavors, churned out in a way that would stand up to any big-city sensibility. Like what? Like “Japanese corn on the cob,” where Kewpie mayo takes the place of butter and chili-based Togarashi edges out the salt shaker. Indeed, lots of native ingredients, from pure maple syrup to icebox pickles, make cheeky cameos on the menu, but Parka is more than just a cute homage to Minnesota cooking. Its minimalist vibe — with Dogwood coffee and Rustica pastries waking up the early morning crowds, and adjacent Forage Modern Workshop providing a hip excuse to shop — makes Parka something altogether different. One part coffee shop, one part restaurant and one part gallery, it’s the kind of community center every ’hood deserves. Mecca Bos




From crispy huarache to tacos carne asada, Los O­campo brings humble, well-balanced flavor to the table. (809 E. Lake St., Mpls. 612-825-4978.)



5-8 CLUB: American. Along with Matt’s, the 5-8 Club is one of the original claimants of the Jucy Lucy originator’s crown. The stuffed burgers are big, unseasoned and made with lovely bakery buns. (5800 Cedar Av. S., Mpls., 612-823-5858 ) (James Norton)

C&G’S SMOKING BBQ: The proverbial hole-in-the-wall BBQ joint. The ribs are smoked for three hours and the sauce comes on the side. (4743 Nicollet Av. S., Mpls., 612-825-3400.) (J.N.)

FAT LORENZO’S: Italian. Neighborhood pizzeria par excellence boasts simple Italian-American food done with good ingredients. The pizza is solid Midwestern stuff. (5600 Cedar Av. S., Mpls., 612-822-2040.) (J.N.)

FIKA: Scandinavian. In the American Swedish Institute’s cafe, you’ll find a rotating roster of open-faced sandwiches on sturdy house-made rye, scratch soups and seasonal salads, each made with that Scandinavian minimalist attention to detail. (2600 Park Av. S., Mpls. 612-871-4907.) (Mecca Bos)

GANDHI MAHAL: Indian. Serving up richly sauced and spiced northern Indian cuisine. A destination for those who like it rich and sophisticated. (3009 27th Av. S., Mpls., 612-729-5222.) (J.N.)

HAMDI: African. Traditional Somali cuisine with tasty food and welcoming service. Best bets include the grilled steak, roast goat or chicken leg dinner, all served in generous portions. (818 E. Lake St., Mpls., 612-823-9660.)

HARRIET BREWING: Taproom. The brewery’s signature Belgian styles are on tap, and food trucks are parked outside most weekends. (3036 Minnehaha Av. S., Mpls. 612-225-2184.)

THE LEFT HANDED COOK: Asian. Seasonally driven, Asian-influenced casual comfort food in the Midtown Global Market. (920 E. Lake St., Mpls., Suite 124. 612-208-0428.) (Kat Kluegel)

LONGFELLOW GRILL: American. Updated version of the neighborhood diner. There is a lot on the menu that you won’t find at traditional diners, and breakfast is a strong suit. (2990 West River Pkwy., Mpls., 612-721-2711.)

MANNY’S TORTAS: Mexican. Quick-service Mexican fare in the Midtown Global Market, at bargain-basement prices. Try their humongous, affordable and addicting sandwiches. (920 E. Lake St., Mpls., 612-870-3930.)

MATT’S BAR: American. Home to the Jucy Lucy, the lovable Matt’s is the quintessential south Minneapolis tavern eatery. Everybody likes the humble, charred, cheese-stuffed hamburgers that have put this place on the map. (3500 Cedar Av. S., Mpls., 612-722-7072.)

NORTHBOUND SMOKEHOUSE AND BREWPUB: American. Brewpub boasts a smoked-meat-heavy food menu, with reasonably priced sandwiches and burgers. (2716 E. 38th St., Mpls. 612-328-1450.)

SALTY TART: Bakery. Michelle Gayer’s Midtown Global Market bakery is the place for first-rate baked goods and sandwiches. (920 E. Lake St., Mpls., 612-874-9206.)

SEWARD COMMUNITY CAFE: Breakfast/vegetarian. Some of the best breakfasts in town are found at this worker-managed community cafe. Be sure to try the huevos rancheros. 2129 E. Franklin Av., Mpls., 612-332-1011.)

SUN STREET BREADS: Bakery. Along with breads, fantastic sourdough pancakes, made-to-order lunch sandwiches and a handful of sweets, the stars of the show are the tender, golden biscuits. (4600 Nicollet Av. S., Mpls. 612-354-3414.)

TAQUERIA LA HACIENDA: Mexican. One of the best sources of tacos al pastor — spice-rubbed pork tacos that come served with cilantro, onions and a wedge of lime. (334 E. Lake St., Mpls.; 1515 E. Lake St., Mpls., 612-822-2715; 612-728-5424.) (J.N.)

TED COOK’S 19TH HOLE: Barbecue. This grungy, old-school BBQ takeout joint smokes its meat all day. Pork ribs and jojos are among the house specials. (2814 E. 38th St., Mpls., 612-721-2023.) (J.N.)



BIRCHWOOD CAFE: Vegetarian. Inexpensive, mostly vegetarian fare, often made from local ingredients. Breakfast includes crispy waffles, quiche, addictive cinnamon-raisin rolls and oatmeal. Lunch and dinner range from salads and sandwiches to more elaborate entrees. (3311 E. 25th St., Mpls., 612-722-4474.)

BLACKBIRD: American. Preferably you’ll have a big bowl of fiery udon noodles in front of you, or roasted chicken with fried chicken livers, or a carefully assembled banh mi. Weekend breakfast is particularly pleasant. (3800 Nicollet Av. S., Mpls. 612-823-4790.)

BLUE NILE: African. Try a combination plate to sample the assorted Ethiopian stews, served over flatbread. (2027 E. Franklin Av., Mpls., 612-338-3000.)

BRODERS PASTA BAR: Italian. It’s all about pasta at this value-oriented south Minneapolis gem with an ever-changing menu. (5000 Penn Av. S., Mpls., 612-925-9202.)

BUSTERS ON 28TH: American. Currently closed for renovations. Known for its burgers and one of the best beer selections in the state. (4204 28th Av. S., Mpls., 612-729-0911.)

CAFE LEVAIN: American/ French. Affordable neighborhood bistro. The seasonally sensitive menu changes daily. (4762 Chicago Av. S., Mpls., 612-823-7111.)

CORNER TABLE: American. Creative use of moderately priced ingredients, value-conscious prices, sane portions and smart, unpretentious cooking yield clean, sincere and often intensely satisfying flavors. Menu changes monthly. (4257 Nicollet Av. S., Mpls., 612-823-0011.)

EL PARAISO: Mexican. Impressive list of seafood dishes and other traditional south-of-the-border fare. (3501 Nicollet Av. S., Mpls., 612-823-4707.)

FIRST COURSE: American. Modest little cafe tries to offer something for nearly everyone — from budget-priced pasta entrees to ambitious nightly specials. (5607 Chicago Av. S., Mpls., 612-825-6900.)

GEORGE & THE DRAGON: British. Locally sourced, scratch-cooked, British pub-inspired lunch and dinner service, plus Sunday brunch. (813 W. 50th St., Mpls. 612-208-1047.)

JAKEENO’S PIZZA AND PASTA: Jakeeno’s pizzas are true to Midwestern tradition: The crust is crusty, the cheese is gooey and the toppings are applied in ample proportion. (3555 Chicago Av. S., Mpls., 612-825-6827.)

PAT’S TAP: American. Upscale American comfort grub from Kim Bartmann’s restaurant empire, with a shocking selection of beer in cans and on tap. Plus: retro skee ball machines! (3510 Nicollet Av. S., Mpls. 612-822-8216) (K.K.)

PIG & FIDDLE: The Muddy Pig’s spinoff pub at 50th & France has a Belgian-beer emphasis, and chef Stephanie Kochlin culls her Old World food menu from all over Europe. Think: pierogies, pasties, stews. (3812 W. 50th St., Mpls. 952-955-8385.)

PIZZERIA LOLA: Top selections include the Sweet Italian, which features a house-made pork shoulder sausage, and the Xerxes, in which a light touch of mozzarella and feta stands up to nicely bitter sautéed broccoli rabe, salty olives and crushed almonds. Also: a first-rate Margherita. (5557 Xerxes Av. S., Mpls. 612-424-8338.)

PRIMA: Italian. Pastas are mostly classic preparations such as spaghetti with clams or penne alla puttanesca. (5325 Lyndale Av. S.,Mpls., 612-827-7376.)

SCOTT JA-MAMA’S BARBECUE: Featuring Scott Woolsey’s mama Dorie’s famous sauce, plus barbecue steak and shredded pork sandwiches. (3 W. Diamond Lake Rd., Mpls., 612-823-4450.)

TILIA: American. At star chef Steven Brown’s hot Linden Hills restaurant, familiar favorites are energized anew, brilliantly, at accessible prices. You’ll probably be waiting for a table. (2726 W. 43rd St., Mpls. 612-354-2806.)

VICTOR’S 1959 CAFE: Cuban. Breakfast and lunch menus feature a mix of Cuban and American fare; dinner is all-Cuban. (3756 Grand Av. S., Mpls., 612-827-8948.)

WISE ACRE EATERY: American. The farm-to-table movement is vividly encapsulated here, with the Engelmann family farm in Plato, Minn., supplying chickens, hogs, beef cattle and all manner of vegetables and fruits. Simple goodness follows. (5401 Nicollet Av. S., Mpls. 612-354-2577.)



AL VENTO: Italian cafe/neighborhood bistro with simple but authentic Southern Italian fare, moderate prices and minimal decor. (5001 34th Av. S., Mpls. 612-724-3009.)

CAVE VIN: French. Cozy little corner offers beautifully executed bistro classics (including tasty frog legs, tartare and steak frites) and a professional-grade wine list. (5555 Xerxes Av. S., Mpls., 612-922-0100.) (J.N.)

THE CRAFTSMAN: American. Former chef Mike Phillips put this spot on the map with his attention to seasonal ingredients and his nationally known charcuterie plate. (4300 E. Lake St., Mpls., 612-722-0175.) (J.N.)

HARRIET BRASSERIE: Fusion. This establishment is the brainchild of three men — one French, one Brazilian, one American — leading to a confluence of cuisines that comes off classic, yet daring and altogether new. (2724 W. 43rd St., Mpls. 612-354-2197.) (M.B.)

PICCOLO: American. Dining as high art, dinner served two bites at a time, as artfully arranged as it is prepared. Each item is a masterpiece of form and flavor. And yes, minuscule. (4300 Bryant Av. S., Mpls., 612-827-8111.)

TERZO VINO BAR: Italian. The Broder family challeges the wine bar status quo with a formidable vino roster and cooking that emphasizes finesse, playfulness, seasonality and a respect for the classics. Shareable dishes and impressive small plates are the order of the day. (2221 W. 50th St., Mpls. 612-925-0330.)

TRATTORIA TOSCA: Italian. An oft-changing menu of starters, pastas, entrees, side dishes and desserts. (3415 W. 44th St., Mpls., 612-924-1900.)