Photo by Caitlin Abrams
What? You say you ignored the months of warnings, the march of the calendar, the glittery candy hearts in the drugstore aisles and are now facing down the barrel of Valentine’s Day without a reservation? Don’t panic. We got this.
First, keep in mind that you never need a reservation at our fabulous tap rooms, which are superb places to canoodle over a beer and flag down some food from a truck. (Sociable Ciderwerks is doing a sit-down ticketed event with the wonderful Curious Goat truck, if you want to get fancy.)
Now that you’ve got beer in mind, put cocktails in mind: The cocktail rooms of our local distillers are most excellent and require no reservations either.
And if you're not looking for a full meal, you can always wow your date with a selection of tapas from Wedge & Wheel. Grab a local wine and enjoy all the cheese pairings your little heart can bear.
Hopefully with your mind so filled with thoughts of taprooms, tapas, and cocktail rooms, you are feeling less panicky. In which case, if you're not afraid of a wait, consider this a top-ten list of the best no-reservation spots in town, perfect for your disorganized-but-totally-passionate-and-excellence-minded self.
No reservations, no call-ahead seating, just pillowy pizza perfection, from a perfectionist pizza pioneer.
5557 Xerxes Ave. S., Mpls., 612-424-8338, pizzerialola.com
The toughest table to score in Minneapolis is Steven Brown’s Linden Hills all-American spot that looks like something that’s been hidden on a side street in Prague for a hundred years, but also serves killer fish tacos. Pro tip: Get the soup.
2726 W. 43rd St. Mpls., 612-354-2806, tiliampls.com
Nothing says ‘I love you’ like going to the pasta bar early and camping out so your date can just swan in like royalty. If you don’t know Broder’s, you’re not from around here—some of the best pasta in the state for 30+ years, and this Valentine’s they’re offering a (no reservations! Of course!) $65 multi-course dinner for two.
5000 Penn Ave. S., Mpls., 612-925-9202, broders.com
If your beloved doesn’t appreciate the crispy charred Juicy Nookie of the Nook, one of the best burgers in the state, you probably should just ghost them now.
492 Hamline Ave. S., St. Paul, 651-698-4347, crnook.com
Chef Sameh Wadi’s counter-service spot is everything you want in a partner: bold, surprising, easy to love, and without reservations! If you can snag a table, do remember to add dessert from brand-new, super-on-fire-with-media-types ice cream shop Milkjam. The chef’s creation sundaes are off the charts amazing.
2743 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls., 612-424-8855, eatwsk.com
Best cocktails influenced by South America, and chef Christina Nguyen’s arepas just get more interesting and more adventurous by the year. Friday and Saturday are still no-rezzies fun, but Sunday they've booked a few rezzies for a special sexy meal deal, though they are leaving some room for walk-ins.
3501 Nicollet Ave., Mpls., 612-345-5583, holaarepa.com
Some of the best beer in the country, including some of their rarest rarities, served alongside some good barbecue. And it's a huge hall with communal tables so you're bound to find some fun here.
520 Malcolm Ave. SE, Mpls., 763-999-4040, surlybrewing.com
Road trip! Killer jerk chicken and the best-ever Dark ‘n’ Stormies. Is that not love? Of course it is!
423 S. Main St., Stillwater, 651-439-5375, smalleyscaribbeanbbq.com
No reservations, just great food—a good chunk of it sourced from right next door at world-class salumi producer Red Table, and urban creamery Lone Grazer. Get the meat and cheese plate. Love the one you’re with! And of course, by that we mean the city and booming new artisanal food-production system!
117 14th Ave. NE., Mpls., 612-208-1476, thedrafthorsempls.com
Who makes the best brisket in the state? Chef Shack Ranch is a contender, and if you haven’t been in a while please know: They now have table service, so when you want a second glass of wine, you can stay cozy in your booth and someone will run it to you.
3025 Franklin Ave. E., Mpls., 612-354-2575, chefshackranch.com