Amid scenic views of the Mississippi River, the two-tiered patio and all-glass-enclosed dining room treat diners to breathtaking vistas of North America's largest river system and its mermaid inhabitants basking on the shore. Not just about the scenery, at Mississippi Pub, the cooks maintain a strong passion for the food they dish out. Plating traditional pub grub and fresh seafood entrees like fish tacos and shrimp po' boys, they take a fresh approach with their menu. A full bar, boasting bottled and draft beers, shots, and cocktails, complements hearty American fare, including burgers, sandwiches, salads, and weekend breakfast options.
Along with the end of Prohibition, 1933 brought sweeping changes across the country. It definitely changed the building at 1928 University Avenue NE in Minneapolis, which had been functioning as a hardware and furniture store for nearly a quarter-century. Proprietor Stanley Kozlak immediately went out and obtained a liquor license, transforming his retail shop into a bar and restaurant.
It would prove to be a smart decision?more than 80 years and two generations of Kozlaks later, Jax Cafe stands as a Minneapolis institution whose reputation has spread throughout the Midwest. This is thanks in part to singular touches such as reserved tables set with personalized matchbooks for expected guests and a stream on the lush covered patio from which diners can net their own rainbow trout for dinner. It?s no wonder Travel Channel foodie Andrew Zimmern has gushed that this restaurant is ?dripping with character.?
Part of that character comes from a certain adherence to traditions. Jax is furnished with patterned carpet, white linens, a grand piano, and a phone booth?yes, a phone booth?and the menu has the classic supper-club meals to match. Fresh Maine lobsters are kept in a saltwater tank said to be the first of its kind in the state, and the selection of award-winning Angus beef includes an 8-ounce filet the restaurant calls ?the steak that made Jax famous.? That?s not to say Jax is stuffy or old-fashioned?the menu also includes beer-can chicken, kids' meals, and craft beers served fresh from the tap, bottle, or keg-sized water balloon.
Jensen's Supper Club is a type of place that would not seem out of place in the 1950s with its Midwest prime rib roasted for 18 hours, its surf ’n’ turf combos, and its extensive martini list. It’s a place where large groups go to celebrate special occasions—it can accommodate groups of up to 100—and where relish trays, popovers, and house salads accompany each entree.
The eatery is partly an homage to owner Doron Jensen’s grandfather Al, who founded Jensen’s Cafe in Nebraska in 1947. Doron worked in that café until his grandpa passed in 1979. He wanted to take over the family business but was too young at the time, so he moved on to work in the restaurant industry, even founding a steak-house chain. But Doron eventually grew tired of chains and, in 1996, decided to open a local supper club that would pay tribute to his grandfather and a simpler era with its uncomplicated—but delicious—food and lack of robot waiters.
The shelves of Burnsville Ale House's kitchen are lined with secrets. Hand-formed Angus beef patties mixed with Guinness and a special blend of seasonings sizzle alongside meatloaf and pizza made from carefully guarded recipes, each allowing chefs to surprise and delight diners with every meal. Housemade cheese sauce canoodles with pasta in adult mac 'n' cheese, and subtly spiced mayo plays off the asian cucumbers in the chicken bahn mi sandwich. Less secret are the Ale House's other perks: karaoke, poker, and live-music nights entice guests for reasons other than the gourmet burgers, and an outdoor deck encourages the time-honored tradition of eating an entire pound of wings al fresco.
At Sam’s Grill, formerly known as Oak City, the menu's bounty of sizzling and hearty dishes reflects the best of American cuisine by incorporating a variety of our country's ever-present international influences. Though stir-fries and pastas abound, the Mediterranean is clearly the restaurant's greatest inspiration—dishes such as filet mignon kebobs and pizzas topped with gyro meat create a fusion of local and overseas flavors, and more traditional American dishes, such as the Cajun burger or baby back ribs keep palates firmly at home. Meanwhile, wine-savvy waiters educate clients on the wines available by the glass. Sam's Grill also adds a splash of nightlife to the mix by bringing in DJs with Thursday nights dedicated to Latin music and Friday and Saturday nights focusing on Top 40.
At Faces Mears Park, Chef David Fhima's use of local, sustainable ingredients puts a contemporary spin on traditional bistro cuisine. His chefs seek out grass-fed beef for their steaks, hand-make pastas with organic whole wheat, and stock the wine cellar with as many organic and biodynamically produced bottles as possible. This approach results in fresh renditions of classic American and Mediterranean comfort foods, such as an Asian-style tuna melt on house-made sourdough and lamb tagine with a cinnamon and onion marmalade. Even the pizzas manage to incorporate some more inventive toppings, including options with everything from Sicilian andouille sausage and a fried egg to salmon, kale, and chevre.
The bistro's dining room shares a similarly casual, yet modern aesthetic. Large plate-glass windows line the front walls of the atrium section and allow plenty of natural light to flood the space during the day. The mixture of hardwood and gray-tiled floors complements the rich earth tones of the tan walls and sturdy columns. At the same time, the restaurant gets a contemporary, industrial vibe from its gleaming metal tables and Charlie-Chaplin-manned pizza assembly line.