The [insert name of current corporate sponsor here] Holidazzle parade is a local tradition that everybody gets dragged to at one time or another. And unless you snag one of the coveted skyway spots, you're going to be standing out in the cold or sitting on a butt-chilling mailbox as you watch all the twinkling marchers and floats ever-so-slowly creep by. To wit, you're going to need a good meal to warm you up.
Here are the Hot Dish's favorite places to dine on Nicollet Mall:[jump]
Barrio There's a reason Barrio was voted the Best New Restaurant of 2009. Actually, several of them: The powerhouse team of developer Ryan Burnet (Chambers and the W), chef Tim McKee (La Belle Vie, Solera, etc.), and interior guru Shea Design. The former Dunn Brothers coffee shop is now a Latin-goth tequila bar with 100-plus-bottles of the famed Mexican spirit and a menu of gourmet riffs on Latin American street food: fish tacos, fried egg-and-chorizo enchiladas, barbecue pork sopes, and more.
The Local or Brit's The Irish and the Brits are all about pub culture, and Nicollet Mall has great options for both. Food has never been a strong suit of either culture, with many patrons preferring their meals of the liquid variety, but there are sleeper hits at each spot: the Green Ox Charcuterie Platter (The Local) and the Scotch eggs (Brit's).
The Dakota Remember what we always seem to forget: You don't have to see a jazz show to eat in the Dakota's restaurant! The club has some awesome happy-hour specials (walleye po-boy = yum!) and excellent burgers with cute matchstick potato fries.
Masa As much as we love Pineda Tacos and its Lake Street brethren, sometimes we like our Mexican food gussied up the way they serve it in the pretty dining room at Best Mexican Restaurant winner Masa. Try a top-shelf margarita with a warming bowl of tortilla soup or the seafood-stew Caldo de 7 Mares.
Vincent Leave it to a Frenchmen to provide the city's Best Gourmet Burger. The elegant eatery offers it for just $8 during happy hour (Monday-Friday 4.30-6.00 p.m. and Monday-Thursday 8.30- 9.30 p.m.), plus classics like cassoulet and Normandy-style cider-braised veal tripe, alongside extravagant prix fixe and tasting menus.