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.
Presiding over table-side hibachi grills, the chefs at Kobe Japanese Restaurant flip eggs into the air and catch them on the edge of their spatulas. Dramatic culinary displays are performed throughout the restaurant: at the sushi bar, diners watch as cuts of fresh seafood are rolled and arranged into sushi and sashimi. Out of sight, the kitchen staff artistically plates each dish atop bowls and platters nearly as beautiful as the fish and steak they support.
Bartenders shake and stir cocktails that draw their power from fresh juices, or pour Japanese beer, wines, and sake. Even in its quietest moments, Kobe dazzles diners with its booths upholstered with genuine Godzilla leather and whimsical glass lamps, delicate upside-down umbrellas, and giant paper koi that all dangle from the ceiling.
The Monster Club Crawl unites costumed carousers for seven hours of food and drink specials, costume contests, and spirits sampling, providing VIP access to revelry at 10 of the spookiest bars and nightclubs in Minneapolis. With the Monster Crawl pass, patrons can begin the eerie evening with specialty starting-point events including the Monster Poker Tournament at Whisky Park (starting at 6 p.m.), or Roller Crawlers at Gay 90's. Elixir Lounge primes partygoers with $3 Michelob Golden Lite bottles in anticipation for the open crawl (starting at 10 p.m.) to bars including Ugly Mug, known for spine tingles of the sporting variety, and Aqua, which hosts a dance floor bathed in incandescent lighting and surrounded by pillars that never seem to blink. Nightclubs Bar Fly and Seven corral paranormal partiers during the closing crawl (12 a.m.), inviting patrons to unwind at a candlelit table or strut their stuff until 2 a.m., when all dance floors turn back into shuffleboard courts.
Harry's Food and Cocktails recently coronated Ryan Stechschulte as its new chef after he proved the only applicant capable of pulling the chef's knife from its enchanted cutlery block (in accordance with the prophecy). Ryan's updated menu features an eclectic selection of steaks, chops, seafood, burgers, and more. Start with an order of poutine (house-cut french fries topped with cheese curds, pickles, and onion gravy, $9.95) or opt for a more continental beginning with an order of mussels sautéed in white wine ($10.95) or grilled asparagus ($8.95) drizzled with truffle oil, crowned with parmesan, and served with a soft-boiled egg. Lunchtimers can savor the gooey barbecue pork, pepper-jack cheese, and jalapeño-relish-covered cowboy burger ($14.95) made from Angus chuck or impress the Bavarian polka virtuoso of their dreams by ordering a liverwurst sandwich ($9.95). The beef stroganoff with roasted mushrooms and crème fraîche ($15.95) and the seared duck breast ($22.95) with potato dumplings and wilted greens will quell carnivorous cravings, and aquaphiles will find much to love in the red snapper with grits and sweet-pepper sausage ($17.95). Finally, impress your date with a dignified dessert by alternately slamming your face into a toasted fluffer-nutter sandwich, with house-made marshmallow and redskin peanut butter topped with malted vanilla ice cream ($6.95), and a caramelized banana split, with vanilla ice cream, salted caramel, and Chantilly cream ($7.95).
With nods from USA Today, CBS News, and The Washington Post, Rodizio Grill has made a name for itself as an authentic Brazilian charrascuria––a South American-style rotisserie. Founded by São Paolo–born Ivan Utrera, the cuisine comprises of more than 12 select cuts of meat, which are slow-roasted on a spit and then skewered. Gauchos—also known as Brazilian cowboys—bustle about the restaurant, bringing unlimited slices of tender meat to diners. The restaurant also features ways to ditch the meat fest altogether with seafood selections, grilled pineapple, and unlimited trips to an award-winning salad bar with over 40 items including feijoada stew and pasta alfredo.
With three generations of restaurant-owning experience, the Kozlak family puts forward high-quality American fare with an emphasis on excellent service in a comfortable neighborhood setting. Only certified-Angus-beef steaks and prime rib, as well as fresh seafood, are found on the extensive menu. House cuts include the Bone-In Steer Tenderloin ($41.95), which is considered the finest steak available, fusing the flavor of the bone with the tenderness of the filet. The Filet Oscar ($42.95) is topped with crab meat and crisp asparagus and finished with smooth béarnaise sauce. For all non–beef eaters, the pinnacle of comfort food is found in the creamy abyss of the chicken pot pie ($12.95). There are many other chicken, lamb, pasta, pork, and seafood choices, including a dish that consists of watching neighboring diners feast.