Photographs by Ashley Sullivan; Herbivorous Butcher photo by Caitlin Abrams
The Herbivorous Butcher
The Herbivorous Butcher
What do you call that neighborhood just across the Hennepin Avenue Bridge on the other side of the river from downtown Minneapolis? As a young bar-hopper in the ’90s, I just thought of it as the tip of Nordeast, with Nye’s, Kramarczuk’s, the old Jim’s Coffee Shop, and the very thrilling Mississippi Live. Later, people identified it to me as East Hennepin because they felt it really had nothing to do with Nordeast. It was an extension of downtown, they said. Seeing the shiny Cobalt Condos go up over a new Lunds store and the formerly industrial warehouses become lofts with doggy daycare, I thought, “OK, sure.”
In truth, the area I view as one neighborhood is the intersection of many: St. Anthony East and West, plus slivers of Nicollet Island/East Bank and Marcy-Holmes. Marcy-Holmes comprises the biggest area and is the strangest to me, as it’s named for two Massachusetts men, U.S. Secretary of State William L. Marcy and writer Oliver Wendell Holmes.
Perhaps what makes this area so hard to pin down is that it’s the birthplace of Minneapolis, where Pillsbury built its first mill, spurring on all manner of development and change. The neighborhood evolves still. This last year in particular has been quite telling. Nye’s is now closed, but nearby a rash of restaurant openings and remodels give the area a whole new flavor. Funny enough, Pracna on Main, the self-proclaimed oldest drinking establishment in the city, has quietly reopened, though who knows for how long. In the meantime, enjoy its connection to the past while exploring newer options in our favorite whatchamacallit ’hood.
1. Glam Doll Donuts - The popular post-bar donut shop from South Minny heads north with fuller service and an expanded menu. Look for it sometime this winter. glamdolldonuts.com
2. The Bad Waitress - Also moving up from Eat Street, the diner will open a second location on the ground floor of a renovated building on 7th and Central. Find pancakes as big as your head and a kitschy vibe. thebadwaitress.com
3. New Alma - James Beard Award winner Alex Roberts has closed his 16-year-old Restaurant Alma to allow it to evolve. In the same building, he’ll soon be opening Café Alma with a lighter daily brunch and dinner menu, alongside a newly refreshed Alma. All should open this winter and will operate beneath a new boutique hotel also run by the team. restaurantalma.com
This tiny, 30-seat fast Japanese spot cranks out a short and fresh list of toothy dumplings, crispy shrimp, well-cut sushi, and other specialties in a sleek setting destined to spawn siblings. You can’t miss the yellow front door.
A chill alternative in the ’hood, Stem offers thoughtful small plates to bolster your bar time and fuel your conversation. The wine list is brief but well planned, and there are cocktails and craft beer, too.
One of the stalwarts on the block, Butcher Block has kept a loyal following over the years despite a windowless room. Now, with a sophisticated expanded bar area and plenty of windows, it’s luring a whole new crowd for its lithe pastas, solid Italian dishes, and good cocktails.
Expanding from Eat Street, this family-owned shop is all about streamlining your banh mi needs. Pick and choose your special ham or Vietnamese pork,opt in or out for mayo and pate, then let them load that roll with spicy pepper and fresh veggies that Subway could only dream about.
The latest locale from a national chain of quirky joints focused on spit-roasted meats and fresh Mediterranean street food. Choose your meat or falafel for a pita or lavash wrap, and get a pour of sangria and some loaded Street Cart fries.