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5 things to know about Graze, the North Loop’s (now open) food hall

The North Loop's new food hall is poised to conquer the neighborhood

The North Loop's new food hall is poised to conquer the neighborhood Sarah Brumble

Graze Provisions + Libations—the North Loop’s expansive food hall adjacent to Modist Brewing—opens to the public today. With so many stacked amenities, a deep roster of food vendors, playfully upscale drinks, and an indoor/outdoor setting unmatched in downtown Minneapolis, we figured a cheat sheet for how to best approach this colossus was in order. 

Here are five important things you need to know about Graze before visiting.

 

1. Graze is perfectly North Loop in its aesthetic

For being new construction (which accounts for its delayed opening), Graze fits into its surroundings like a svelte suede glove. As Graze’s Greg Cuda noted during a preview of the 14,000-square-foot grounds, the whole point of opening a food hall involves drawing from, serving, and co-mingling with the community immediately outside its doors. In this, Graze succeeds wildly; without this connection to its intended audience, Graze might feel like an expensive food court.

With its lush grass, fresh picnic tables, and polished metalwork, Graze feels right at home in Minneapolis’ reincarnated “Warehouse District.” Inside, its surfaces hinge on fan-tailed tile mosaics and rebar, softened by expansive leather sofas in neutral colors, and tables that feel like mid-century modern revamped. Theirs is both a game of bringing that feeling of their clientele's home into the food hall's space, as well as introducing new flavors and experiences into their patrons' repertoires.

 

2. It’ll make a great early-day work space 

Graze is divided into two floors, with three areas catering to different spheres of enjoyment. A coffee shop/work area positioned nearest to Honey & Rye Bakehouse capitalizes on floor-to-ceiling windows near Graze’s entrance. Each morning the St. Louis Park-based bakery wizards begin the food hall's service through their walk-up window, beneath a cursive neon reading espresso & pastries. Though owner Anne Andrus says Honey & Rye’s flagship always served undeniably good coffee, they’ve stepped up their game in this (their first) expansion by offering a full espresso menu. 

The berth of the food hall opens at 7:30,intentionally catering to neighborhood early birds, freelancers, and passersby looking for caffeine with a side of snack-and-chill. 

 

3. You might just eat until you pop—even at lunch

The bulk of Graze’s vendors open at 11 daily, bringing to life the complex's other two spheres. Behind the stairs customers are greeted by a series of high, bar-like tables perfect for hovering or perching while munching at one of the four purveyors of solids on the ground floor, or sipping from a cocktail at the centrally located bar, which opens onto a field-like lawn.

Food-wise, there's something for every palate. MidNord expanded its offerings of Charlie-winning empanadas to include house-made churros (that also, purely by experimentation, ended up vegan). CARBON, the new project from the folks behind Gastrotruck, hinges on coal-fired pit beef (Maryland’s culinary answer to barbecue), which is served roasted to a perfect medium rare and sliced razor-thin before being piled atop a variety of sandwiches. 

Joining these food-truck vets are Flagsmash (which visitors may recognize from La Doña Cervecería), featuring a menu of tacos, burritos, and their notorious Megadilla; the items themselves will stay fixed, even as their main ingredients change weekly, adding a pleasant element of surprise to the dining experience. Rounding out the ground floor is a stand from twin siblings FishBowl Poke/Ramen Kazama, who plan to shift from serving their bright poké bowls to warm fare when demand for cold food begins to drop along with the thermometer.

Upstairs you'll find Lu’s Restaurant and Soul Bowl ready and waiting. The former is a new concept from south Minneapolis' legendary Vietnamese sandwich joint, but the closest you’ll come to a bahn mi here is their cheffy burger topped with provolone, pickled daikon and carrot, cilantro, mayo, and shallots. Plated dishes infusing Vietnamese flavor into choice cuts like salmon steaks and pork chops dominate the new Lu’s. As for Soul Bowl, it’s no secret chef Gerard Klass has been making waves thanks to his outfit’s neo-soul offerings that meld Caribbean and traditional soul flavors in a single dish (think: vegan collards, slow braised oxtails, or the Rude Boi Jerk Chicken and Waffles.) With plans of a build-your-own-brunch on the horizon, Soul Bowl is poised to shine among Graze's deep bench of food vendors.

 

4. The second floor's bar is destined to become, er… FancyBoi PartyLand 

Where downstairs feels like half a coffee shop, upstairs is the entertainment zone. With its bubble hockey, shuffleboard, handful of flat-screen TVs hooked up to vintage Nintendo consoles (shout-out to that four-player N64 MarioKart!), and a bar the length of a school bus, Graze wants you to come play… hard.

To keep things feeling like they’re of and for the community, taps were chosen to host beer brewed in the immediate neighborhood. Meanwhile a cocktail program designed by Jesse Held specifically caters to The Youth, and/or wants to make you forget your age. Imagine disturbingly good (we mean that positively) variations of drinks you’ve hopefully left in the past, like Sex on the Beach and Long Island Iced Teas, re-branded with cheeky names, and built using fine liqueurs layered in original combinations of tropical fruit juices.

 

5. You’ll probably end up kicking it outdoors 

Intentional as the atmosphere they’ve curated inside may be, Graze has made use of its full plot of land in a way that feels unique to the North Loop—and just maybe all of downtown. The first floor’s bar opens via garage door to a counter with 10 stools, and a sprawling lawn scattered with a dozen giant picnic tables ready to cradle you and your buds in the sunshine. For those drawn to That Rooftop Life, the second-floor patio juts out above the bucolic below scene, and offers the perfect view for Target Field’s fireworks displays come nightfall. 

All photos by Sarah Brumble

 

Graze Provisions + Libations
520 Fourth St. N., Minneapolis