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.
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.
At Faces Mears Park, Chef David Fhima's use of local, sustainable ingredients puts a contemporary spin on traditional bistro cuisine. His chefs seek out grass-fed beef for their steaks, hand-make pastas with organic whole wheat, and stock the wine cellar with as many organic and biodynamically produced bottles as possible. This approach results in fresh renditions of classic American and Mediterranean comfort foods, such as an Asian-style tuna melt on house-made sourdough and lamb tagine with a cinnamon and onion marmalade. Even the pizzas manage to incorporate some more inventive toppings, including options with everything from Sicilian andouille sausage and a fried egg to salmon, kale, and chevre.
The restaurant's dining room, designed by Billy Besson, shares a similarly casual, yet modern aesthetic. Large plate-glass windows line the front walls of the atrium section and allow plenty of natural light to flood the space during the day. The mixture of hardwood and gray-tiled floors complements the rich earth tones of the tan walls and sturdy columns. At the same time, the restaurant gets a contemporary, industrial vibe from its gleaming metal tables and Charlie-Chaplin-manned pizza assembly line.
After spending seven seasons with the North Stars, Tom McCarthy finished his NHL career in Boston, but still he couldn't shake his Minnesota roots. In 1991, he transformed an old St. Paul gas station into a full-fledged fish shack. Since taking over the operation, Dan and Tom Flanagan have grown Mac's—the namesake remains—into a restaurant named one of the five best locales for fish and chips by CBS Minnesota, serving hand-battered cuts of fried cod, walleye, and halibut with baskets of hand-cut fries. As plastic lights shaped like walleye hang over the outdoor patio, cooks accompany the meals with sides such as coleslaw, cheese curds, and homemade bites of salt-water taffy, Poseidon's favorite adhesive.
At Twisted Fork Grille, locally sourced and fresh ingredients combine for American-inspired contemporary breakfasts, sandwiches, and entrees. The chefs rely on local suppliers for as many ingredients as possible, from grass-fed beef to goat cheese. Twisted Fork?s commitment to integrity and local economies extends even to its beer list, overflowing with craft microbrews that complement a roster of more than 40 wines. As they dine, patrons can lounge amid the restaurant?s cozy confines, raising a toast to their once-rumbling stomachs now sounding quieter than a spy in a library.