Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Pioneering The Neighborhood Bar Crawl...How Many "Ultra-Neighborhood" Bars Can YOU Name?

Photo By John Hoff and contributed photo, xoxo

Yesterday I hit a NoMi bar and grill I'd never visited before, and arrived just in time for half price appetizers. (Why are they called "appetizers," I wonder? After I eat four of them, I'm full) The bar is called "The Loop" and it's in the heart of the North Loop Neighborhood at 606 Washington Ave. N.

This got me thinking: how many Minneapolis restaurants and bars are named after the neighborhood in which they reside? And if the number is relatively small--say, a dozen or so--could you hit them all in one night?

I can think of one other "ultra-neighborhood bar," which is the...

...Victory 44 bar in the Victory Neighborhood. Off the top of my head, that's the only one I can name BESIDES The Loop.

Obviously, by "ultra-neighborhood" bar I mean a place that is actually NAMED for the neighborhood in which it resides. Stuff like the "Fourth Street Grill" doesn't count, of course. Besides, when I say "bar crawl" I don't mean crawling to medical assistance after getting hit by gunfire. Why the Fourth Street Bar is still open after so many disturbing incidents is a deep and abiding mystery.

So, anyway, I should say a few more words about The Loop. First of all, the food is delicious and affordable and the atmosphere is friendly and laid back. (Johnny Northside ultra-frankness font: this place hasn't been taken over by the thug crowd, thank god)

The Loop had fried calamari as an appetizer, something I've been missing on the Victory 44 menu for quite a while. The fried calamari was the ENTIRE calamari, including tentacles, not just "squid rings." I thought it was BETTER than the stuff they used to have at Victory 44.

The coconut chicken and the crab cakes were also quite good. The crab cakes were made to look like--incredibly--rambutan fruit.

I was amazed to see the bar's extensive floor is real wood--maple, I think--and the bar is notable as the largest 360 degree bar in Minneapolis. In the photo above, "Briana" poses at the bar. She said her name is spelled like "Brian" with an extra "a" on the end. The bottom photo is a portrait of me, shot through a half-full wine glass.

Did I mention today is my birthday? HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME! I have everything I could ever want in my son, Alex.


Ed Kohler said...

Here are a couple ideas: The Northeast Palace, Longfellow Grill, and the Uptown Bar & Grill (currently closed).

Happy Birthday!

The Hawthorne Hawkman said...

Most of the time, I agree with what you put on this blog John. But I'm going to have to call factually incorrect blogosphere journalism when I see it.

The calamari at Victory 44 was better than what's served at the Loop.

Ranty said...

What are you talking about? Squid have tentacles and they're always (in my experience) included in fried calamari.

They are the best part, as they are more tender than the ring-like slices of the upper part.

Happy birthday!

Johnny Northside said...

To Jeff: a matter of opinion, not a matter of fact.

To Ranty: most times when I order fried calamari, it's the rings, not the tentacles. Are you including your calamari experiences outside of the U.S.?

Ranty said...

I'm including ALL my calamari experiences. They've always had the tentacles, including at V44.

Mmm... now I want calamari!

Anonymous said...

My family is Italian and when we make calamari we use both tentacles and rings. The tubes are more like filler, tougher and less desirable. Most, if not all, restaurants I've been to serve calamari this way too.

Michael Spivak said...

Happy birthday!!!

Anonymous said...

Now, granted, I'm a NoEMi (northeast Mpls) but here's a list:
331 Club
Moose on Monroe
Northeast Yacht Club
Spring Street Bar and Grill

Then there's the slew of numbered bars and restaurants by the downtown and by the U, and the First Avenue Downtown.

So, actually, more than you would think.

Johnny Northside said...

Original post modified to avoid "calamari confusion." Thanks, all you squid fanatics, for your culinary insights.

MikeT said...

Some people from Vincent hang out at St Petersburg in Robbinsdale.

Great specials and appetizers.

Anonymous said...

The St Petersburg is a great hang out, me and the wife go there from time to time.

Don't forget Rachels on 46th (?) and Lyndale. For a bar on the Northside, I've never had a call there (but again, only three years on dogwatch). But it's still got to be a good sign.
-just a cop