Finding a bar you click with shouldn’t be undervalued.
Knowing you have a spot where you order your usual, and you and the waitstaff are on nodding terms? This is Minnesota; that’s a big deal! A good bar is that magical third place—neither work nor home—to gather and unwind.
Here are nine of our most dearly-loved downtown Minneapolis bars that could just be that place for you.
Stepping into Cuzzy’s is like entering the funnest fun house that just so happens to be a dive bar. Disco ball on the ceiling? Check. Defaced dollar bills plastered to basically every surface? Yup. A ghost named Betsy? Uh… don’t worry about her. Knock back a few beers, catch a game on one of their TVs, and chow down on some tater tots. Order The Big Cuz—four patties with bacon and all the fixings—if you don’t have anything else to do but nap after. If you go for breakfast—served every morning, Monday through Saturday—check out the omelet menu and get the pancake as big as your head. 507 Washington Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612-339-6211, cuzzys.com
Want a little art deco ambiance? Head to BANK, which is situated in—you guessed it—a former bank. No more tellers here: The soaring ceiling now overlooks a circular central bar, cozy banquettes, and comfortable couches made for lounging as you knock back martinis. Food is New American done right, with as many ingredients as possible sourced locally. Their happy hour is generous, running 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday with select $4 beers, $6 glasses of wine, and $6 single-pour cocktails. 88 S. Sixth St., Minneapolis, 612-333-4006; bankrestaurantmpls.com
Jamie Malone, a James Beard award semifinalist multiple times over, took over Eastside late last year and reinvigorated the menu and vibe. Yes, you can order a drink that serves two to six and arrives in a golden swan. Yes, they serve cocktail wieners. Yes, there is hand-sliced, three year-aged Mangalitsa ham on the menu. It’s a restaurant for fun and indulgence and sharing. A lot of the menu is, in fact, for family-style ordering (roasted duck, anyone?). Cocktails, too, have a star turn here: One uses duck fat-infused bourbon, while another mixes gin and Thai tea. They also have Hamm’s, if that’s what you’re in the mood for. 305 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis, 612-208-1638; eastsidempls.com
Town Hall Brewery
Town Hall Brewery has been supplying downtown Minneapolis with quality suds for 20 years. Their bar is a terrific spot for trying a couple of pints and for meeting up and unwinding with friends. With around 27 beers on tap and 13 other guest beers and ciders, you’ll have some decisions to make. Delicious decisions. Try the Choco Citrus Bruin, a Belgian flavored with dark chocolate and kumquats, or, for something lighter, go for the Double 8 IIPA or the Dortmunder Local Export Lager. Food is a variety of classic pub dishes—so, yeah, go ahead and order that chicken tender flight to go with your sweet corn nachos. 1430 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis, 612-339-8696; townhallbrewery.com
If you like bars that feel like the well-organized cellar of a rich, mysterious globetrotter, have we got a place for you. Chilling out right below Monello, Constantine is decked out in prints of oil portraits, taxidermied animal heads, wainscoting, jewel-like lighting fixtures, and tufted leather banquettes. It’s fun, it’s plush, there are terrific cocktails. Order from the house classics or the staff creations (you know what to do with the “For the ‘Gram”). For oenophiles and beer-lovers, Constantine also has wines by the glass and a curated menu of beers. Head there for happy hour, 5 to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, for some terrific deals. 1115 Second Ave. S., Minneapolis, 612-353-6207; constantinempls.com
Nomad World Pub
Go to Nomad for bocce; stay for the music. Or, stay for the $20 daily prix fixe: Heggies Pizza, two PBRs, two shots of Jameson. It’s a bar that invites you to stay and hang out with your friends, leaning against the long wooden bar or cozied around a hi-top. If Heggies isn’t your thing, they often have a food truck outside with grub that’ll go with Nomad’s extensive beer selection. 501 Cedar Ave., Minneapolis, 612-338-6424; nomadpub.com
Not far from US Bank Stadium, Bar Zia has you covered for bar food, beer and cocktails, and a comfortable place to settle in and watch the game. Order the taco salad—yes, it is served in a crispy, edible bowl!—or the Angry Viking Jam burger, which has two patties, bacon, pepperjack cheese, and jalapeño jam. And, because they’re a classic Minnesota bar, they have Heggies. 420 Fourth St. S., Minneapolis, 612-345-7347; barzia.net
Modist Brewing Company
This is a brewery that turns their taproom into a roller-skating rink on Valentine’s Day. If you need more reason to go (though I don’t know why you would), keep reading. Modist brewers don’t confine themselves to established styles—sorry, lawnmower beer lovers. Instead, they imagine a flavor or experience and work from there to create brews that are unique and fun and flavorful. Their Japanese lager is made with over 40 percent rice and Japanese hops for a refreshing twist on the expected. Too bad the roller skating only comes once a year. 503 N. Third St., Minneapolis, 612-454-0258; modistbrewing.com
Unmarked and tucked away behind the Bachelor Farmer, Marvel Bar serves up incredible craft cocktails in a modern speakeasy atmosphere. Low lighting and music just loud enough to create a buzz will make you feel instantly glamorous. Do plan to eat before you arrive as Marvel Bar doesn’t serve food—though they do offer bags of Cheetos. 50 N. Second Ave., Minneapolis, 612-206-3929; marvelbar.com