The Restaurant Guide: Northeast + North

Updated 10/11/2013

Asian street food is “popping up” on the city’s North Side.

UMAMI BY TRAVAIL

Asian • $40 for 10-course tasting • 904 W. Broadway, Mpls. • 612-246-9939 • tickets at www.umamibytravail.com

Taking its name from the Japanese word for “savory taste” that food nerds like to bandy around like a bottle of Sriracha sauce, Umami in north Minneapolis is the latest effort from the Travail gang. The crew likes to flip convention the bird by serving food on fishing poles, staging mid-service beer-chugging contests and donning chicken suits, all in the name of good fun, while not losing sight of the point: good food. With the second iteration of Travail under construction in nearby Robbinsdale, the masters of playing with your food have not been resting on their young laurels. Instead, they have staged 15 “pop-up” events, bending and stretching the idea of what a restaurant could be to suit their own creative minds. From food-truck takeovers to a champagne and truffle bacchanal, they’ve kept their knives and their chops well-honed. Umami, a slapdash makeover of an old fried-chicken joint on W. Broadway, is meant to bring Asian street-food influences from around the world. Thanks to its instant popularity, its “pop-up” status may be dropped, giving the North Side a permanent hipster hangout. Note that the restaurant doesn’t take reservations, but instead sells $40 tickets in advance for a 10-course tasting on Wednesday through Saturday evenings — yet another detail borrowed from forward-thinking restaurateurs in larger cities. Can’t wait for a ticket? A $5 takeout menu is also available.Mecca Bos

 

BUDGET

ANCHOR FISH & CHIPS

A generous slab of wild Alaskan cod, dipped in a delicate water-based batter and fried. Fabulous thick-cut, Minnesota-raised fried potatoes. A low-key late-nighter where folks can enjoy a cold beer, well-prepared bar fare and genuine hospitality, all at blue-collar prices. 2 13th Av. NE., Mpls. 612-676-1300.)

 

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THE BULLDOG N.E.: American. Grade-A ingredients, strong technique and creative thinking meet traditional neighborhood pub genre. The next-generation bar food exudes obvious smarts and attention to detail. Oh, yeah — it tastes good, too. (401 E. Hennepin Av., Mpls., 612-378-2855.)

BRASA: American/Caribbean. Local, sustainable and often gluten-free. Meat lovers have nothing to complain about, and vegetarians are kept happy with a long list of side dishes — cheese grits, jalapeño creamed spinach and fried plantains are always a sure bet. (600 E. Hennepin Av., Mpls. 612-379-3030.)

CHINDIAN CAFE: Asian. The name reflects the co-owners’ collective heritages: Nina Wong was born in Vietnam to Chinese parents, and spouse Thomas Gnanapragasam is third-generation Malaysian with Indian roots. A blending of their cooking heritages makes for deliciously appealing food. (1500 E. Hennepin Av., Mpls., 612-676-1818.)

CRESCENT MOON BAKERY: Afghani-American counter-service gem. Sandwiches are beautiful brown pies filled with cheeses, spinach, lamb and other savory ingredients. Pizzas are made with robust, chewy crusts, a well-seasoned red sauce and a variety of fresh toppings. (2339 Central Av. NE., Mpls., 612-782-0169.)

DUSTY’S BAR: American. A Northeast workingman’s bar that’s haunted by regulars, Dusty’s is known for its dagos — sandwiches that combine Italian sausage patties with cheese and a hamburger-like presentation on a bun. (1319 NE. Marshall St., Mpls., 612-378-9831.) (James Norton)

EMILY’S LEBANESE DELI: Middle Eastern. A tiny staple since the 1970s, with homestyle Lebanese fare: stuffed grape leaves, kibbi, kafta, lamb kabobs and other favorites. (641 University Av. NE., Mpls. 612-379-4069.)

GINGER HOP: Asian. This spot fashions a menu of familiar-sounding Asian dishes without making them sound dull, liberally mixing across borders and hemispheres. There are also dishes with beer undertones. (201 E. Hennepin Av., Mpls., 612-746-0304.)

HOLY LAND: Middle Eastern. Top-shelf falafel, hummus and gyros. (2513 Central Av. NE., Mpls., 612-781-2627.)

INDEED BREWING: Indeed’s jewel of a taproom looks more like a real bar than any of the other new Minneapolis taprooms. The brewery’s hop-heavy flagship beers are on tap, and food trucks like NateDogs and Anchor Fish & Chips are outside. Open Thu.-Sat. (711 15th Av. NE., Mpls. 612-843-5090.)

KARTA THAI: All the familiar Thai items, including homemade curries, soups (thom yum), salads and spring rolls. 2411 Central Av. NE., Mpls. 612-788-4000.

KRAMARCZUK’S: This institution brings accessible Eastern European deli food to the masses. Its in-house restaurant offers a simple but pleasing menu of Ukrainian favorites. (215 E. Hennepin Av. S., 612-379-3018.) (J.N.)

LOWRY CAFE: American. An all-American classic comes to restaurant-starved north Minneapolis. Comfort-minded staples of short-order cooking are nicely done here. (2207 Lowry Av. N., Mpls., 612-677-2233.)

MARINA GRILL & DELI: Middle Eastern. Mediterranean basics include gyros and falafel sandwiches, kofta, kebabs and grilled and rotisserie chicken. (2424 University Av. NE., 612-788-0461.)

MAYSLACK’S: American. Mayslack’s legendary 1-pound garlic-drenched roast beef sandwiches are as good as ever. Other options include hoagies, sandwiches, broasted chicken and pork chops. (1428 NE.4th St., Mpls., 612-789-9862.)

RUSTY TACO:The sequel to the popular St. Paul specialty spot serves up margaritas, beer and specialty tequila with its tacos. (522 E. Hennepin Av., Mpls. 612-278-5630.)

UNCLE FRANKY’S: American. Hot dog freaks know Franky’s for its quality toppings, which hit its many varieties of dogs in balanced proportions. (728 NE. Broadway, Mpls., 612-455-2181.) (J.N.)

 

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THE BUTCHER BLOCK: Italian. Casual, midpriced neighborhood trattoria with an emphasis on house-butchered meats. (308 E. Hennepin Av., Mpls., 612-455-1080.)

CHIMBORAZO: South American. Ecuadoran fare pops with flavor and authenticity — from the llapingachos (cheese-stuffed potato patties) to the camarones encocado (a brightly sauced shrimp dish). (2851 Central Av. NE., Mpls., 612-788-1328.) (J.N.)

ELI’S EAST: American. When your cravings are vague yet overarching, it’s Eli’s to the rescue. Eli’s cooking is bistro-meets-bar-meets-your-mom’s — not too elevated to lose its comfort factor, nor too lowbrow to be forgettable. (815 E. Hennepin Av., Mpls. 612-331-0031.)

ERTE: Contemporary American steakhouse and supper-club atmosphere. (1304 University Av. NE., Mpls., 612-623- 4211.)

GARDENS OF SALONICA: Greek. Soups, salads, fish and lamb, plus a big variety of boughatsas, filo pastries with sweet or savory fillings, all in a very stylish setting. (19 NE. 5th St., 612-378-0611.)

GORKHA PALACE: Indian. A short survey of Nepali, Tibetan and Indian fare including fantastic handmade dumplings and blistered, buttery naan. Fragrant biryanis and chicken and lamb items prepared in the tandoor oven. (23 NE. 4th St., Mpls., 612-886-3451.)

HAZEL’S NORTHEAST: American. Brothers Adam and Andrew Sieve serve the foods they grew up eating. Nothing fancy, but wholly satisfying and made from scratch. (2859 NE. Johnson St., Mpls. 612-788-4778.)

KEEGAN’S IRISH PUB: Corned beef, shepherd’s pie and poached salmon, as well as some less Gaelic specialties such as lobster-stuffed chicken. (16 University Av. NE., Mpls., 612-252-0880.)

MASU SUSHI & ROBATA: Japanese. Game-changing restaurant offers grilled robata selections from vegetables to seafood items to pork and beef, plus some of the most artful nigiri, sashimi and makizushi in the Twin Cities. (330 E. Hennepin Av. 612-332-6278.)

NORTHEAST SOCIAL: American. Go for the congenial surroundings, stay for the menu. Don’t-miss items include roast chicken, house-made lamb sausages and seared scallops. There’s a mean burger, too. (359 13th Av. NE., Mpls, 612-877-8111.)

RACHEL’S: American. So unironically retro it could be an episode of VH1’s “I Love the ’80s.” Anyone hankering for a well-prepared burger, a decent steak sandwich, a classic chicken wing preparation or a straightforward Caesar salad will feel right at home. (222 E. Hennepin Av., Mpls. (612-379-3345.)

RED STAG SUPPERCLUB: American. Owner Kim Bartmann reinvents the supper club. The stroganoff, for example, features medium-rare venison with egg noodles and mushrooms. Other highlights: fried smelt, grilled sardines and pepper-crusted mahi-mahi. (509 1st Av. NE., Mpls., 612-767-7766.)

THE SAMPLE ROOM: American. Unique neighborhood spot offering mix-and-match sampler plates and entrees featuring an array of beer-steamed sausages, meatloaf, shrimp, walleye, warm cheeses, breads and more. (2124 NE. Marshall St., 612-789-0333.)

SEN YAI SEN LEK: Thai. Joe Hatch-Surisook’s tightly focused and affordable menu is unlike anything else in the Twin Cities. It’s unthinkable to not order a noodle dish. But don’t skip the fabulous lettuce wraps, the marvelous spring rolls or the piping-hot fish cakes. (2422 Central Av. NE., Mpls., 612-781-3046.)

VICTORY 44: American. Victory 44 would stand out anywhere, but the fact that it’s located on the restaurant-starved North Side makes it all the more remarkable. (2203 44th Av. N., Mpls., 612-588-2228.)

WHITEY’S: American. A more ambitious menu than the usual saloon. The meatloaf dinner is a tasty rendition of the classic. (400 E. Hennepin Av.,Mpls., 612-623-9478.)

 

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NYE’S POLONAISE ROOM: American/European. A local icon known for its frozen-in-amber atmosphere and multigenerational scene, Nye’s is one part piano singalong, one part classic drinks and one part stick-to-your-ribs Eastern European cuisine. (112 E. Hennepin Av., Mpls., 612-379-2021.) (J.N.)