Since the end of the 20th century, patrons have regularly flocked to Conga Latin Bistro to dine on Nuevo Latino cuisine and dance the night away. The multilevel venue houses three main areas decorated with various themed design elements, including murals of colorful congas, conga-shaped floor patterns, and massive congas that stand well over 6 feet tall.
While munching on unique combinations of Latin flavors in the bar-equipped dining area, patrons may gaze deeply into the eyes of a stranger or upon one of many 60-inch plasma TVs. Home to a dance floor and booming sound system, Conga Latin Bistro's downstairs lounge hosts nightly dance sessions fueled by salsa, merengue, bachata, reggaet?n, and cumbia music. The venue also invites flamenco dancers to stomp and twirl about during shows on the last Thursday of every month.
For nearly two decades, Chef Filippo Caffari mastered the skills of butchery in Rome. Since relocating to Minneapolis, the executive chef of The Butcher Block Restaurant draws upon that training to prepare a range of organic, grass-fed, and sustainable meats. On his authentic Italian menu, mashed potatoes and mushrooms accompany marsala made with veal liver, and house-ground pork sausage flavors a rigatoni in a truffle cream sauce.
Even without meat, Chef Filippo brings out Italy's flavors with items like ravioli stuffed with ricotta and spinach. He concludes meals with desserts such as tiramisu infused with housemade limoncello and zucchini cake. To complement these delicacies, guests can peruse a wine list that features bottles from around the world.
Split between "smaller bites" and "bigger bites," Executive Chef Kris Koch's concise menu at The SIX15 Room encompasses his travels around the globe. To bring his culinary vision to life, however, the born-and-raised Minnesotan sticks to locally sourced, sustainable ingredients, including seafood that complies with Monterey Bay Seafood Watch guidelines. Those fixings lend rich flavor to dishes such as local cheese platters, calamari fries with lemon mayo, and Mexican-inspired pizza topped with chorizo and caramelized onion sauce. To complement Kris's edibles, bartenders pour everything from craft beers to signature cocktails like the SIX15, a blend of house-made bloody-mary mix, house-infused Thai chili vodka, and house-infused bacon vodka.
After ascending two floors of ivory and ebony decor that adorns the Marquette Hotel, the subtle colors of Basil's Restaurant stand out. Tables and booths situated next to the third-story windows bathe in natural light during the breakfast and lunch rush. Dishes include the smoked salmon gravlax with capers and eggs or banana flambe french toast for breakfast and escalate to lunch eats such as lamb burgers with gruyere cheese or cider-brined pork chops. That's because Basil's Restaurant's chefs keep time with the sun, making sure to rotate their menus throughout the day.
At night, the ambiance imbues elegance, donning a backdrop of twinkling lights and views of the IDS Center's Crystal Court from the dining terrace. The chefs, too, work with finer ingredients and utensils that wear top hats in order to craft steak au poivre with a blueberry demi glaze or seared diver scallops with carrot and parsnip puree.
A large neon arrow points the way into Thom Pham’s Wondrous Azian Kitchen, where, as chef and owner Thom Pham puts it, “classic French techniques bring together Azian spice and Minnesota nice.” Inspired by French settlers’ impact on Southeast Asian cuisine, the eatery’s menu of traditional Japanese and Chinese recipes hobnobs with European preparations such as tartar and carpaccio. Dishes sizzled atop woks and Korean barbecue touch down amid colorful dragon murals and gilded floral artwork in the many dining rooms, and a fully stocked bar supplies signature cocktails and wine. Sippers can also slip into cherry-red booths in the adjoining Caterpillar Lounge, lit by flower-like hanging lights. On weekends, an all-you-can-enjoy dim sum brunch loads tables with a multiplicity of small plates, ideal fodder for a shared meal or family juggling act.