BEST NEIGHBORHOOD BAR--MINNEAPOLIS - 2000
There's a sign hanging behind the bar at Eli's that pretty much sums it up: "Where the regular people feel special and the special people feel regular." Damn straight. Even though Eli's sits at the southwestern edge of downtown, not far from Loring Park, there's a decidedly comfortable, neighborhood feel to the place. There's a just-rightness to the size of the bar: intimate, but not cramped. Stop in more than a few times, and pretty soon they'll know your name. Eli's walks a fine line between the funky and the refined, and strikes a perfect balance. The food from the kitchen--hearty soups, salads, and elegant pastas--can hold its own with many of the area's finer restaurants. You could do far worse than to throw a dart at the chalkboards at either end of the bar that tout the weekly specials. But if all you want is a beer and some conversation, pull up a stool and stay awhile.