The Restaurant Guide: University

Updated 10/11/2013

New and old eats at the ever-changing U.

BEACON PUBLIC HOUSE

American • $$ • 615 Washington Av. SE., Mpls. • 612-379-8888 • www.beaconpublichouse.com

A welcome sense of energy is evident at Beacon Public House, the promising new restaurant at the Commons Hotel. The Beacon is clearly the place for a U-related power breakfast, with its inventive forays into egg, pancake, waffle and hash territory, each embellished with fresh, creative touches, including a small but winning selection of house-baked pastries. Lunch has its moments, too: Along with a half-dozen generously stuffed sandwiches — including two whopper-level burgers — and well-composed salads, there’s a ricotta-fortified gnocchi, a pleasant bowl of bucatini done carbonara-style and delicate cornmeal-crusted walleye. Desserts are a highlight. As is so often the case, appetizers trump entrees. Pork was the delicious cornerstone of a pile of nachos. I love the dainty and tender Cheddar- and bacon-filled biscuits. There’s a satay of lean, ruby red grilled venison, its gentle gaminess countered by a sassy peanut sauce. The Beacon’s version of bangers and mash shines, using a zesty bison sausage and horseradish-laced potatoes. It’s a great-looking space; if a reality TV series were tasked with designing a hip college-age clubhouse, the Beacon would be the result.  Rick Nelson

 

CLASSIC

AL'S BREAKFAST

American • $ • 413 14th Av. SE., Mpls. • 612-331-9991

Plans for a major Dinkytown development have some people shouting “Save Al’s Breakfast!” But here’s the thing: The legendary 14-stool a.m. treasure isn’t going anywhere. The main course? Pancakes. You can’t find better ones anywhere. Honest. Personal preference here, but I tend to favor the slightly tangy buttermilks over the more earnest whole-wheats. They fry up hazelnut brown, thin but not delicate. Al’s also crafts the best waffle in the state: big rectangular things cooked on the stovetop until they’re piping hot, golden and marvelously tender yet capable of holding their own when topped with all the right accoutrements. Al’s excels in the non-carb arena, too. Thick, sizzling bacon is cooked until it’s teasingly poised on the precipice of crispness. When the menu boasts “perfectly poached” eggs, it’s no exaggeration. R.N.

 

BUDGET

BUN MI

Fast food shop in Stadium Village featuring the signature Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches (604 Washington Av. SE., Mpls. 612-886-3286.)

 

$

ANNIE’S PARLOUR: American. Second-story Dinkytown hangout does three things well: burgers, fries and malts. (313 14th Av. SE., Mpls., 612-379-0744.)

ASTER CAFE: American. Beyond its sprawling New Orleans-style courtyard, this civilized venue offers live music most nights, light bites designed to share, and plenty of libations for pairing. This is romance, and the rest is up to you. (125 SE. Main St., Mpls. 612-379-3138.) (Mecca Bos)

CUPCAKE: Bakery. The focus is on simple and lavish versions of its namesake. Also features other sweets, soups and sandwiches, in a fun, eclectic environment. (3338 University Av. SE., Mpls., 612-378-4818.)

DILLA ETHIOPIAN RESTAURANT: African. Authentic chicken, lamb, beef and vegetarian dishes. (1831 Riverside Av., Mpls. 612-332-2898.)

HARD TIMES CAFE: Vegetarian. Vegan items and coffee in gritty surroundings. (1821 Riverside Av., Mpls., 612-341-9261.)

KOREA RESTAURANT: Dinner entrees come with four different side dishes of marinated radishes and kimchee. (211 SE. Beacon St., Mpls., 612-746-0559.)

MESA PIZZA: Dinkytown pizzeria’s twist on toppings is exhaustively novel: There’s mac and cheese, penne marinara, “guacamole burrito,” “kalamata mozzarella,” etc., all for $3.50 a slice. (1323 SE. 4th St., Mpls., 612-436-3006.)

OBENTO-YA JAPANESE BISTRO: Robata, the little charcoal-grilled skewers of meat and/or veggies, are healthy and absolutely scrumptious. A healthy selection of Japanese tavern food and sushi. (1510 Como Av. SE., Mpls., 612-331- 1432.) (James Norton)

SHUANG CHENG: Chinese. Popular with Chinese students; specialties include live lobster and inexpensive rice plates. (1320 SE. 4th St., Mpls., 612-378-0208.)

STUB & HERB’S RESTAURANT & BAR: American. Classic campus sports bar with burgers, grilled sandwiches and plenty of all-American beer. (227 SE. Oak St., Mpls., 612-379-1880.)

VILLAGE WOK: Chinese. Not a lot of ambience, but the inexpensive Chinese food is some of the most authentic in the Twin Cities. Many vegetarian items. (610 Washington Av. SE., Mpls., 612-331-9041.)

THE WIENERY: American. Some of the best hot dogs (including a killer Chicago dog) and other diner food in the area. A funky lowbrow dive with a secret gourmet heart. (414 Cedar Av. S., Mpls., 612-333-5798.)

 

$$

JEWEL OF INDIA: Full Indian menu plus lunch buffet. Vegetarian dishes. (1427 Washington Av. S., Mpls., 612-339-0002.)

KAFE 421: European/Greek/Middle Eastern. A modest storefront setting and a potpourri of imaginative, multi-ethnic cuisine: Greek spanakopita, Russian borscht and Latin/Caribbean influenced dishes. (421 14th Av. SE., Mpls., 612-623-4900.)

LORING PASTA BAR: Italian. Pasta dishes in ornate surroundings in Dinkytown. (327 14th Av. SE., Mpls., 612-378-4849.)

MINNEAPOLIS TOWN HALL BREWERY: American/ brewpub. Beer geeks and students looking for a standout brewpub have one right under their noses. (1430 Washington Av. S., Mpls., 612-339-8696.)

PRACNA ON MAIN: American. Built in 1890, the oldest restaurant on the oldest street in town. Featuring a sidewalk cafe overlooking the Mississippi River with an American menu of steaks, pasta, fish, specialty sandwiches and 20 beers on draft. (117 SE. Main St., Mpls., 612-379-3200.)

REPUBLIC: American. Craft beers on tap and a kitchen that tosses off first-rate burgers (grass-fed beef, or locally raised turkey), a killer fish taco, five-spice-rubbed pork ribs and other smartly prepared bar fare. (221 Cedar Av. S., Mpls. 612-338-6146.)

SIGNATURE CAFE: American. Intimate little neighborhood bistro. (130 SE. Warwick St.,Mpls., 612- 378-0237.)

VIC’S DINING & COCKTAILS: American/seafood. Fresh seafood, steak, chops, salads and pasta dishes, overlooking the Minneapolis riverfront and city skyline. (201 SE. Main St., Mpls., 612-312-2000.)

 

$$$$

RESTAURANT ALMA: American. Alex Roberts’ confident, attention-to-detail cooking focuses on bringing out the best in organic, local ingredients. The menu changes frequently and is structured for create-your-own three-course fixed-price dinners. (528 University Av. SE., Mpls., 612-379-4909.)