Ask the Critic: A 40th birthday and the Eddie Vedder ukulele tour


We're headed to Minneapolis for the 4th of July weekend to celebrate a 40th birthday and to see the Eddie Vedder Ukulele tour (kinda random, but we are!). Any good restaurant recommendations? Would be great if there was something really special for the birthday, but also just any great, local, different places that you would recommend.

We are staying at the Hotel Minneapolis and the concert is at the Orpheum Theatre.


I've been too busy chasing food trucks to know that Eddie Vedder was on ukulele tour--intriguing!

For an elegant, upscale, special event dinner, the go-to spot I'd recommend to out-of-towners is La Belle Vie. It's housed in a lovely, historic building just outside downtown and it offers French/Mediterranean fare, fancy tasting menus, stellar wine service, etc. The dining room is fairly formal (not snooty, tho), but the bar is more relaxed and has excellent cocktails, as well.

For a more boisterous evening, Bar La Grassa is the restaurant in town that most feels like it belongs in a bigger city. It has a very chic, urban atmosphere and first-rate Italian fare. The pastas come in half portions so you can try several types (gnocchi with cauliflower and orange is a fave).

For a cozier vibe, the La Grassa owner (and recently lauded James Beard Best Chef Midwest) also runs the 112 Eatery gastropub, which is located a little closer to the Orpheum and is a great spot for late night dining as it serves its full menu on weekends 'till 1 a.m.. 112 is across the street from another highly recommended restaurant, Saffron, which does upscale Middle Eastern fare and could also be a good option for a more formal b-day dinner.

If you want something near the Orpheum, there's a Spanish place called Solera right across the street. I haven't yet visited since it recently changed ownership so can't vouch for the food at this point. That said, it does have a very cool roofdeck! (Everyone kind of goes crazy for roofdecks here in the summer b/c the season's so fleeting. Here are a few more of 'em downtown that you might be interested in checking out.)

Also, if you're feeling like you don't want to trek far for food, I recently had breakfast at Hotel Minneapolis's own Restaurant Max and found the food to be tasty and very reasonably priced.