Cafe and Hotel Alma opens this weekend: A sneak peek

Three grain polenta with spicy pork, kale, and a sunny-side up egg, available at Cafe Alma.

Three grain polenta with spicy pork, kale, and a sunny-side up egg, available at Cafe Alma. Courtesy of Restaurant Alma's Facebook

The long-awaited Cafe and Hotel Alma opens this weekend.

Chef/owner Alex Roberts has been working diligently for the past two-plus years to turn a former Dunn Brothers Coffee Shop into a sleek new multi-use space. There will be craft cocktails by Bittercube, a serious coffee shop and bakery, a menu more casual than sister restaurant Alma's, and seven upstairs sleeping rooms.

Since 1999, Alma has been one of the overall best restaurants in Minneapolis. There was little need to advertise or change to keep up with trends or fashions. They went years without a Facebook page. But as they edge toward 20 years in business, they deserve an update, and what an update it is.

The cafe's space is all neutral tones and clean lines, the sort of modern-yet-classic place that will easily sail itself into another 20 years without ever going out of style.

I was surprised by the bar-forward nature of it, having expected more of a casual bakery. The row of bar stools is front and center, and Nick Kosevich of Bittercube is in his natty vest, handling the cocktail program with his usual flair, meaning that enjoying a great cocktail here is a central focus. 

Alma’s longstanding adherence to seasonal produce and sustainably sourced dairy, meat, and fish will anchor the “simple and sophisticated” menu. Expect simple vegetable dishes, grains and pasta, and fish and meat entrees with prices falling mostly in the teens. We spotted crispy bean pancakes, a smoked whitefish tartine (open faced sandwich), and cheese, meat, and bread boards perfect for sipping and nibbling. 

A small dining room and a private dining area round out the cafe’s space.

But perhaps the most exciting and unique aspect of the new project are the sleeping rooms, efficient spaces with soaring ceilings and clean lines that belie their relatively tight quarters.

Custom-designed beds, furniture, all natural-cotton bedding and linens, and curated art give the place a spare but elegant vibe, with every square inch thoughtfully accounted for and utilized.

Organic bath amenities are designed by Roberts' wife Margo's company, Bespoke Body and Wellness.

The rooms go for a very reasonable $205, or $275 for a suite. Reservations can be made online now (New Year's Eve is booked, sorry) and are available to stay in starting November 18.

The main restaurant is currently closed for remodeling, and will re-open to the public on November 25. It will continue serving its simple, steady, always in fashion cooking. 

Cafe Alma opens Friday, November 11 at 7 a.m.

528 University Ave. SE, Minneapolis