BEST RESTAURANT FOR LATE-NIGHT DINING - 2004
Azia - CLOSED
Years ago it used to be that post-midnight dining around here involved either trying to squeeze in at overcrowded, overdressed Figlio or undertaking the adventure that is standing in line at White Castle. While those options are still available, smart diners looking for a meal after the show now head to 26th and Nicollet. In between the shiny silver pressed-tin ceiling and marble floors that make the place seem solid and permanent (despite all of the location's short-lived previous incarnations) you'll find a stylish restaurant and bar where you can order such tasty drinks as a mango martini. The outrageous restroom tucked behind a lovely fountain and the weekend DJs add to the ambience, while the crowd varies from the hip club-goer dressed in black to the rumpled professor with elbow patches to the average neighborhood bar patron in jeans. And Azia's food is impressive. All the appetizers, including great pot stickers and an excellent variation on cream-cheese wontons that boasts cranberries and green onions, are available until 2:00 a.m. every night, as is a quite varied dinner menu containing many capable Asian-fusion dishes and intriguing options such as a vegan sweet potato stew. It almost feels like you're in a real cosmopolitan city, till you step outside to the near-dead street at closing time.