>> If you're heading to Hayward to open the cabin, or just dreaming of Northwoods escapism, add Old Southern BBQ Smokehouse to your list of stops. The new counter-service spot opened by Famous Dave Anderson seems to be a verified hit with the locals as they keep selling out of the pit-smoked meats! Belly up and order slow-roasted meats for your sandwich/bowl/taco/mouth.
>> It seems we have arrived. Las Vegas' star-studded The Meatball Spot has launched at MOA. Besides ogling pictures of vampire dad Peter Facinelli eating meatballs, YOU can eat meatballs in your choice of sauce, create your own salads, or snack on flatbread.
>> Minneapolis Farmers' Market will open this Saturday, while St. Paul is officially waiting for May 2. Plus, don't forget, the Nicollet Mall Thursday Market will move a block west this season to become the Hennepin Avenue Thursday Market, with stalls open from 5th to 10th streets. Walk the block, it's good for you.
>> If you love the nightlife, and love to boogie, get psyched for a couple of places to open in the former Rogue spot in the Lumber Exchange. Walk down the stairs to the underground location, and to your left you'll find The Exchange club and to your right, Alibi Lounge. These are NOT owned by Jester Concepts, but do have some common investors. Alibi Lounge will be the cocktail room open seven days a week. You can expect an old-style classic martini bar with a raw bar for oysters and some other snacks like a burger (NOT the Parlour burger, move on). All the rooms have been stripped down to the limestone and brick walls for a very cool cavernous feel, decor promises to be sophisticated and swanky. They even found thick marble floors underneath the linoleum from the days when it served as a Turkish bath.
>> The Ox Cart Ale House will bring some rooftop action to Lowertown in time for summer. The new spot will perch above the parking garage on 6th and Wall, within spitting distance of the new ballpark (if you're really good). Behind the project are the kids from Eagle Street Grill and newly opened Salt Cellar. There will be a main dining room besides the rooftop, and a casual menu from chef Andy Lilja formerly of Heartland and stuff.
>> Just south of town, the former collection of Sofitel dining spots will be replaced by Lela this summer. The restaurant will be adjacent to the hotel (much like your vermouth should be adjacent to your gin martini) and promises prime steak, house-made pasta, and crudo (the hottest trend of summer) all served in a setting that throws an urban vibe. It's a Wischerman project, and he's yet to name a chef, but that doesn't mean there's not one already cooking.
>> Green & The Grain is the latest truck-to-brick story. The slick-looking salad truck will open a spot in LaSalle Plaza skyway featuring expanded offerings of the salads, wraps, and frozen yogurt from the truck, but also some breakfast items and other treats (pie, please).
>> Miracles never cease, there is now a locally made grappa. If you don't know about the liquere made from skins of grapes in the Italian tradition, then you've never had your scalp lit on fire from the inside, in the best way. Out in Waconia, Sovereign Estate Vineyard has partnered with neighboring J. Carver Distillery to produce the grappa, so of course they're throwing a Bella Notte Grappa Premiere bash on May 1. Your $100 ticket gets you cocktails and nosh at the distillery before moving to the winery for a three course Italian dinner with wine and grappa.
>> It's time for spring cleaning, and that includes the pile of growlers mounting a defense in your laundry room. Here's a bit of lucky tomfoolery: Bring your old growlers, any kind from any brewery, to Town Hall Brewery from Apr. 27 - May 9 and they'll take them in exchange for a $4 gift card or a $4 discount on a freshly filled Town Hall growler. Hey, if you go on May 2, you could also be there for the Blessing of the Maibock. That's clean, and clean.
>> Starting right now, your post-event hunger needs could be met by a late-night dog. Prairie Dog Sausages in LynLake will be open every night until midnight, with happy hour deals after 10pm on Sunday-Thursdays. You know that bacon-wrapped Micho's Sonoran dog with a side of chili-cheese fries is calling your name.
>> Lord knows the ladies love sippin' mash and talkin' trash. Head out to 6Smith on Thursday April 30 for a little evening of Women & Whiskey which will feature five kinds of the beautiful brown liquid sipped amongst stories of how women played a vital role in whiskey from before prohibition to the present. See you there.