Eli's East is a classy but casual affair

Burgers, pasta, and cocktails are delightful

The entrée-driven menu carries itself well enough, but where Eli's East's really flounders is in its vegetarian options, largely made that way by leaving the animal protein out and not offering anything substantial in its place. Non-meat-eaters will be transported back to the standard vegetarian selections from summer weddings: veggie lasagna, a portabella mushroom sandwich, and tagliatelle fresca. Eli's only needs to add a butternut squash risotto to round out the full cast of flat characters. Cumin-roasted cauliflower with a chickpea fritter and romesco sounded more promising, but when I showed my vegetarian dining companion the picture of her giving the rock 'n' roll horns symbol alongside the dish, she lamented, "If only that plate actually matched my excitement."

The dessert choices are straightforward without being entirely narrow. Though its crust was too pale and thick, the banana cream pie was tall, luscious, and almost boozy with bananas—a good choice if you have had lighter fare for your main meal. Pistachio cheesecake with a pool of dark raspberry coulis had all the qualities of a good gelato in cheesecake form, but it somehow didn't entirely satisfy. The best bet is the hazily titled "Something Chocolate," a spare and divided plate of refreshing and tart strawberry sorbet nestled between a split square of puff pastry and a piece of fudgy flourless chocolate torte. It's difficult to get everything to marry up, but eating each piece separately makes for a nice play of texture and a light, sophisticated end to a hearty dinner.

Eli's "Something Chocolate" is strawberry sorbet, puff pastry, and chocolate flourless torte
E. Katie Holm
Eli's "Something Chocolate" is strawberry sorbet, puff pastry, and chocolate flourless torte

Location Info


Eli's East Food and Cocktails

815 Hennepin Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55402

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Minneapolis (Downtown)


Appetizers $3-$10; entrées $12-$28

Service is sunny, affable, and unintrusive, so you will unquestionably have a good time at Eli's East, especially as a late-night dining option (full menu until 1 a.m.). In some ways you have to set your sights to a different (not worse or better) standard than Eli's downtown. The atmosphere is supper-club-casual, and the food, while catering to many palates, pushes toward global-but-familiar, with varying degrees of success. Like a worldly teen caught between winning his parents' approval and forging his own path, Eli's East simply needs a little room for experimentation. In the meantime, go for the classic cocktails, house-made limoncello, and that pork belly slider.

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