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.
While creating their refined dining experience, the chefs at Kincaid's prove that the U.S. is wide and its dishes are deeply complex. Starting in the plain states, the menu tempts forks with grilled sirloin steaks smoked over Applewood and served alongside beefsteak tomatoes. The kitchen then heads east for New England–style clam chowder, then turns south until it hits on a Cajun-style étouffée with prawns, mussels, clams, scallops, andouille sausage, and cheese grits. And the chefs aren't afraid to tweak recipes, either—in order to elevate their down-home-style meatloaf they wrap it in bacon and serve it with a tangy brandy-mustard sauce. International and fusion flavors also crop up on the menu, with dishes such as the smoked beef carpaccio and an Asian-inspired slaw.
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.
For the founders of Sakana Sushi & Hibachi - Plymouth, the road to opening a Minnesota restaurant spanned continents. The group practiced their culinary skills and sharpened their business acumen while living in the Fujain Province in mainland China. After immigrating to America and starting families in New York City, they decided to find a place to raise their children in Minnesota. This led to the collective opening an Asian restaurant in their new home using their combined cooking experience and contacts with fish markets from the East Coast. Their penchant for transforming fresh fish into salmon and spicy tuna rolls and searing savory cuts of steak with szechuan kung pao spices soon birthed two additional restaurants and at least three spin-off sitcoms.
At Osaka Sushi and Hibachi Steakhouse, teppanyaki chefs preside over sweltering tableside hibachi grills, entertaining diners as they slice and dice succulent cuts of filet mignon, chicken, and swordfish. A customer can wrap a partner's lips around the hibachi lover's dinner for two, which lets scallops, shrimp, lobster, and filet mignon rendezvous on a romantically arranged platter that is perpetually serenaded by a thumb-size accordion player. Alternatively, a slate of dishes that comes to life away from the hibachi grill includes proteins slathered in teriyaki sauce, hidden in tempura batter, or mixed with stir-fried noodles. Special sushi rolls—such as the Dancing roll with tuna, salmon, and yellowtail—also cha-cha from table to mouth.