You may think of bar food as an also-ran to the main event. You'd be wrong. Bar food is an attraction in its own right, as craveable as any gotta-have-it restaurant experience.
These are the top five bar food experiences, right now.
5. Fried Brussels Sprouts at Prairie Dogs
What's 100 percent better than Brussels sprouts? Brussels sprouts drowning in cheesy goo. Though they're best known for their tube meats, Prairie Dogs has some serious cooking going on. Check out the likes of foietine, (a twist on poutine made with hand-cut fries, cheese curds, lamb neck, and foie gras gravy) or the overnight short rib chili. But right now we've got a major crush on the Brussels sprouts. They're fried until caramelized, which is the only worthwhile way to treat this delicious vegetable, and then engulfed in a blanket of melty and sharp Hook's (a righteous Wisconsin brand) cheddar spread. Eating your veggies has never been easier.
610 W. Lake St., Minneapolis
4. Grilled House-made Sausage at Eat Street Social
The simple pleasure of smearing mustard on bread and stacking it with grilled meat in between sips of booze can hardly be had anywhere better than at Eat Street Social. Their incredibly fresh, herb-flecked handmade sausages are delightfully greasy yet elegant, and paired with butter-soaked grilled bread it's a setup that looks simple, but is way more than the sum of its parts.
Eat Street Social
18 W. 26th St., Minneapolis
3. Handmade Pita at Sparks
It may be a pizza place, but Sparks is also a stealthy little place to indulge in Tunisian food, thanks to partner Amor Hanous, who hails from that Mediterranean country. One of the few restaurants in Minneapolis' Bryn Mawr neighborhood, Sparks serves up scratch pita bread fresh from the wood oven, same as the pizzas. It makes an excellent base for house-made lamb merguez sausage and handmade hummus. The scratch tzatziki will ensure you never buy the stuff in a tub again — here it's silky fresh yogurt, garlic, lemon, and cucumber that you want to slather on everything. Round out the experience with a dollop of Bulgarian feta cheese bathed in good olive oil and pepper.
230 Cedar Lake Rd. S., Minneapolis
2. Loempias at Amsterdam Bar and Hall
If you like egg rolls, you'll love loempias. These are Indonesian spring rolls that were introduced to the Netherlands via colonialism. At Amsterdam they're filled with chicken or veg and served with hot mustard and honey sambal. We like them because they offer more crunch than an egg roll. Cigar-slender and nuclear hot, they're an ideal drinking bite for pairing with Amsterdam's comprehensive gin selection.
Amsterdam Bar and Hall
6 W. Sixth St., St. Paul
1. Spiced Vinegar Wings at the Country Bar
The new Country Bar set out to retool the beloved Shorty & Wags wings, a noble endeavor indeed. But we're far more impressed with the superior spiced vinegar wing, a formula masterful in its tangy, spicy, sticky outer gloss. Think of it as a unique fix to the vexing conundrum of the buffalo wing mess. It's a more worthy triumph than a remake, any day.
The Country Bar
3006 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis