moto-i gives diners an authentic Japanese culinary experience without requiring that they leave uptown Minneapolis. Unpasteurized draft sake is brewed inside the izakaya-influenced bar and restaurant; onsite production keeps this staple libation fresh and free of jet lag. Executive chef Omar forges Asian-fusion dishes that meld flavors such as whole fish served with handmade pickles and abura ramen peppered with smoked pork shoulder. Instead of airing football games and soccer matches, the restaurant’s TVs run live and pre-recorded sumo wrestling bouts simulcast from Japan, proving to diners that sports aren’t required by international law to include a ball.
The brewers at Herkimer Pub & Brewery truly embrace the brewing craft as they make their signature Kolsch and Alt microbrews. To complement these staples, the brew masters experiment with small-batch beers that change with the seasons, much like a goose's mailing address. In the kitchen, chef Omar Gillego concocts a slew of pub favorites, including Angus sliders, spicy buffalo wings, and shrimp po’ boys with celery-root rémoulade.
Posters of sultry pinups decorate the walls, and an expansive glass wall gives guests a glimpse of the onsite brewery.
Named for Stillwater's iconic bridge, the Lift Bridge Brewing Company cooks up an array of solid brews for all occasions. Its brewers—all passionate beer geeks and homebrewers from Stillwater—strive to be creative while blending balanced beers such as the Chestnut Hill nut brown ale that boasts a healthy malt backbone. Their golden Farm Girl saison acquires intriguing spice from Belgian yeasts, while their Hop Prop IPA overflows with the floral and citrusy flavor of seven varieties of American hops. Lift Bridge also dallies with seasonal and specialty brews that have included a barleywine, an oyster stout, and an Oktoberfest. Visitors can go on brewery tours every Saturday afternoon to spend some quality time with huge fermenting tanks and bags of barley.
Inside the Cannon River Winery, visitors can perch at tables made from wine barrels and sip varietals while listening to the croons of local bands echoing off the sparkling silver tanks. Throughout the winery, guests immerse themselves in the entire experience of drinking and appreciating wine, from learning about each varietal during wine tastings to high-fiving each grape.
A rustic red barn nestled in the fields of New Prague stands as the centerpiece of Next Chapter Vineyard. Around it stands six acres of vineyards blooming with marquette, frontenac, gris, and le crescent grapes. On these grounds, the Tulloch family mashes, presses, and ferments their varietals into a range of red and white wines. They often demonstrate their process to curious visitors and incorporate old winemaking techniques, such as grape stomping and wine bottling. Nearby, guests can pick apples at the Montgomery Apple Orchard.
The sommeliers at WineStyles stock cupboards with up to 150 vintages, each less than $25 a bottle, arranged according to boldness, richness, and difficulty of removing the cork. Patrons savor the crisp fragrances of a Randall-Monroe sauvignon blanc ($12.99) or draw in the golden apple and citrus hints of a Graton Cellars chardonnay ($12.99). A staff of experts is on hand to guide the palate to the Foxtail cabernet sauvignon ($12.99), which beckons the olfactory senses with aromas of berry and plum, and Los Primos malbec ($12.99), which drapes tongues in silken sheets of plum and vanilla. Wednesday evenings from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., customers can make their way to WineStyles for a complimentary sampling of four to six featured wines.