First Ave's Depot Tavern now open, awesome

First Ave's Depot Tavern now open, awesome
Photo by Michelle Leon

First Avenue's latest addition, the Depot Tavern, celebrated its grand opening last week. Haven't been yet? Judging from the sparse attendance we saw during the lunch hour earlier this week, we're guessing most downtown Minneapolis residents and office workers don't even know about the restaurant yet -- which is a shame, because everything we here at Gimme Noise have sampled off the menu so far has been great.

The spread is fairly typical bar fare (burgers and sandwiches), but the menu has a few notable twists. Most omnivores I've spoken too have raved over the Inside-Out Burger, a take on the Jucy Lucy with bacon in the middle of the burger in addition to the traditional cheese, and the Diamond Dog, which is wrapped in bacon, deep fried, and served on a pretzel roll. To my delight, there were several great vegetarian choices, including mac and cheese, portabella sliders with caramelized onions (recommended), a chopped coconut curry salad, a veggie burger, and, of course, cheese curds.

First Ave's Depot Tavern now open, awesome
First Ave's Depot Tavern now open, awesome
Photos by Michelle Leon

But enough about the food -- the main draw for this new spot is its location and vibe. It's too new to have that worn-in, tread-by-a-thousand punk bands feel of the Mainroom and Entry, but the set-up is welcoming, open and airy, with a giant garage door rolled back even on rainy days. The walls are lined with concert photography by Dan Corrigan, giving the space a historic feel despite the fact that you can still smell the fresh paint, and a set of television monitors provide 24-hour video feeds of the stages in the Mainroom and Entry (no sound, but you can at least tell whether the band has taken the stage).

I'm guessing the majority of their business, for the time being anyway, will come before and after shows in the venue, but the location makes it a good choice for a quick lunchtime bite to eat for anyone who works downtown as well.

For more photos of the new space, see Michelle Leon's full Depot Tavern slideshow.

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