Hailed by StarTribune writer Tom Horgen as “two guys who know their beer,” Mark van Wie and Paul Schatz have worked for the last decade to put their pub The Muddy Pig on the maps of local and international beer connoisseurs. At their second venture, The Pig & Fiddle, they have raised the bar even higher with 36 beers on draft—including a slew of Belgian-style brews—to go with chef Stephanie Kochlin’s menu of European-inspired pub fare.
Each day from 4:00 p.m. until 1:00 a.m., Chef Kochlin prepares hearty dinner entrees using recipes gathered from rustic European locales and cooking oils derived from melted Renaissance paintings. Along with artisanal cheeses, house-prepared meats, and boiled pierogi, the kitchen specializes in European pasties—pouch-shaped pies filled with roasted lamb and house-made pickles. Aside from the nightly dinner menu, The Pig & Fiddle frequently curates events such as special dinners with course-by-course beer pairings.
A classic sports bar in the heart of downtown, and just an abnormally long bunt away from Twins action, The Ugly Mug offers beer, specialty drinks, and an extensive menu to match. Lead off with an order of the seasoned tater tots ($6), served with house-made ranch dressing, and then slide tonguefirst into a grilled flatbread, such as the alligator and shrimp ($13), topped with poblano chili sofrito and manchego and jack cheese, or the classic tomato and basil margherita ($9). For alcohol-encompassed eats, guests can nosh on the Summit EPA-battered chicken strips ($7), tossed with a choice of six sauces, or they can forgo the eating part altogether and sip on a specialty cocktail, such as the Stoli and citrus Blue Lemonito ($7.50), swirled with mint and agave nectar. In additional to cocktailery, 20 beers are available on tap and 40 by the bottle—one for each week in the year. As stomachs acquaint themselves with new friends, eyeballs can turn to any of the bar's nine flat-screen TVs to catch Twins, Vikings, or PBS highlights.
A sibling pub to Minneapolis staple Town Hall Brewery—ranked 42nd on RateBeer's 2012 list of best brewers in the world—The Town Hall Tap pairs delectable brunch fare with mimosas and award-winning brews. Commence daytime feasts with hunks of challah bread brimming with cream cheese and bananas sautéed in Buffalo Trace bourbon, or by scarfing down biscuits and gravy with hash browns. Diners can carbon-date three benedicts to search for evidence of whether the chicken preceded the egg, and a breakfast burrito loads black beans, barley, and hash browns into two fried corn tortillas. Town Hall Brewery taps or tasty mimosas accompany diners as they cozy up to the bar or nestle into booths flanked by retro barroom décor such as a neon Schmidt's banner and prehistoric bottle openers whittled from mammoth teeth.
McCoy's extensive menu pairs updated comfort fare for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch with more than 55 barley pops, including Fat Tire, Boulevard Wheat, and Belgian-style Ommegang Hennepin Saison on tap. Complement a flagon of Rogue Dead Guy Ale with a starter of three soft, Bavarian beer pretzels ($6.49) sprinkled with rock salt and served with a “blue ribbon” cheese dip, or snorkel through a plate of crispy lobster spring rolls ($10.59) with Thai peanut sauce and plum chili. Herbivores and herbivoyeurs, meanwhile, will take heart in McCoy’s large selection of supper-sized salads ($4.99+), while inventive brick-oven pizzas such as the roasted vegetable ratatouille pie ($10.99) reimagine the classic disced dinner in a more rustic light. Entrees at the eatery are as decadent and diverse as the UN General Assembly's annual rave, and include the excelsior grand ($12.99), a smoked chicken-, bacon-, and green pea-loaded mac 'n' cheese. Hearty handhelds such as the 12-hour Reuben ($10.29)—corned beef brisket-, Swiss cheese-, and sauerkraut-filled beauty toasted between slices of marble rye bread—vie for your attention with the bleu cheese-encrusted beef tenderloin filet ($19.99).