DRINKING WHILE EATING
Crack Ho Mojito anyone? If you’re not up for that, try a hard cider, a local brew, or “Miller Low Life” at one of these Twin Cities bars.
- Casper’s & Runyon’s Nook
- 492 Hamline Avenue S., St. Paul
- Open Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. (bar open until 2 a.m.)
THE PLACE: Though known primarily as a bar, this local institution routinely tests the patience of those who line up out the door to sample its signature Juicy Nookie burger.
THE PLATES AND POURS: The Nookie is the Nook’s version of a South Minneapolis classic, the Jucy Lucy, a moist, flavorful patty of beef stuffed with molten cheese ($7.50 for a single, or $7.95 for the double version). Your Nookie will eject hot, melted cheese onto your plate of fries, which works out just fine, assuming you enjoy cheese fries. The fries themselves are worth the trip—they’re thick, perfectly salted, and taste distinctly of real, unpeeled potatoes. As for drinks, the Nook is all about the American domestic brew: PBR tall boys and what’s affectionately termed “Miller Low Life” are the house tipples of choice.
- Buster’s on 28th
- 4204 28th Avenue S., Minneapolis
- Open Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 1 a.m., Friday 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., Saturday 10:30 a.m. to 2 a.m., Sunday 10:30 a.m. to 1 a.m.
THE PLACE: This unassuming South Minneapolis neighborhood restaurant is so far ahead of the curve on beer that it’s essentially off the charts. Nearly 30 draft beers, hard ciders, and even root beers, many of them local, make Buster’s an unparalleled place to down a cold one. It feels a little like a TGI Friday’s with a soul: big booths, tall tables, good lighting, and clean floors. Much of the clientele is from nearby, and you can feel the emotional warmth as soon as you step through the door.
THE PLATES AND POURS: Try a Surly draft ($5). This local microbrewer has made its name with hard-to-classify beers such as the Bender, a crisp, slightly hoppy and oaty ale with flavors of coffee and caramel. If you want to go for something imported, the Kwak from Belgium ($8 on draft) packs a hearty punch, both in alcoholic content (8 percent ABV, or alcohol by volume) and sweet malty flavor. The food is reliably good, too—try the pesto chicken pizza ($9).
- Chino Latino
- 2916 Hennepin Avenue S., Minneapolis
- Open Sunday through Thursday 4:30 p.m. to 1 a.m., Friday and Saturday 4:30 p.m. to 2 a.m.
THE PLACE: Located in the heart of Uptown, this trendy spot recalls the hedonistic pan-cultural ambition of New York City’s Buddakan. Drinks served with dry ice bubble over their brims; a whole roasted piglet, knife stuck in its back, is toted through the crowded multilevel dining room. A wall of votive candles flickers above a room of high-energy chaos and Twin Citizens making the scene.
THE PLATES AND POURS: In addition to offering an insanely lengthy menu of tropical-themed food from the hot zones of Asia and Central America (plus sushi), Chino Latino has what is probably the best happy hour in Minneapolis, running daily from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Three bucks gets you a savory chorizo or ham torta served with guacamole and chips, and beer and sushi are on special as well. For dinner, try the salt and pepper shrimp ($14)—wok-tossed, shell-on, and served with plum sauce for dipping. The late-night happy hour features French Toast of the Dead: batter-dipped Mexican pan de muerto with sliced banana and rum-caramel syrup ($3). And don’t miss the Crack Ho Mojito ($13), featuring three glass vials filled with passion fruit, blackberry, and raspberry purées that you add to your drink.
- Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery
- 1430 Washington Avenue S., Minneapolis
- Open Monday through Wednesday 11 a.m. to 1 a.m., Thursday and Friday 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., Saturday noon to 2 a.m., Sunday 4 p.m. to midnight
THE PLACE: It would be a shame to come all the way to the Midwest and not sample the fresh, local version of its most beloved beverage: rich, heady, life-giving beer. The Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery is an award-winning brewpub known for its creative spins on beer (everything from blueberry wheat to milk stout to Midwestern malted wheat ale). The food’s not bad, either.
THE PLATES AND POURS: Try the Seven Corners Burger ($7.95) if you’re ready to go all out—it’s a half-pound burger topped with melted provolone, smoked bacon, and Black H2O Oatmeal Stout barbecue sauce. Speaking of the oatmeal stout, it’s a regular offering, and worth the effort if you’re a dedicated beer fan: dark black, rich with roasted malt flavor, and carbonated with nitrogen gas, which gives it a preternaturally smooth pour and a creamy head. Its inverse and natural counterpart, Bright Spot Golden Ale, is light enough for even the most casual of beer drinkers to enjoy.