Young Joni opens today, plus 5 more new and coming soon restaurants

High design for all your senses at Young Joni, opening today.

High design for all your senses at Young Joni, opening today. Photo courtesy of Young Joni Facebook Page

Lucky friends and family have already been raving about all of the treats at Young Joni, Ann Kim’s (of Pizzeria Lola) new northeast Minneapolis wood-fired kitchen.

In addition to pizzas, they’ve been churning out bibim grain salads, craft cocktails, and a roasted Japanese sweet potato situation that looks incredible. Also watch for sweet and spicy ribs, Korean-style pickles, and other takes on woodfired cooking with a Korean edge.

The craft cocktail bar has been softly open all weekend, but today is your chance to go and get some of those sweet potatoes and some of that pizza and dig on their highly designed digs. Be sure to check out the reel-to-reel sound system, the crowning jewel of a place that's ultra delicious for the mouth, the eyes, and the ears. 

165 13th Ave. NE, Minneapolis

Esker Grove, Doug Flicker's new restaurant in the Walker 
There hasn’t been a long leadup time for Esker Grove, the new restaurant by Doug Flicker (of Piccolo and Sandcastle) in the new-look Walker Art Center, but fans of his cooking are still breathless for it to open.

The restaurant is a bit of a homecoming for Flicker, who famously owned and operated the long lost and lamented Auriga (now Bradstreet) in the same Lowry Hill neighborhood. He’s been running Piccolo, easily one of the top five restaurants in Minneapolis, for six years, and we’re eager to see what he’ll do at the new spot.

We’ve been told that Esker Grove will serve modern, “unfussy,” vegetable and grain-focused cooking using classic techniques, including an "express service" for lunch.

Anticipated opening date is mid-December.
723 Vineland Pl., Minneapolis

Normandy Kitchen remodel 
Did you know? At the far end of South Eighth Street in downtown Minneapolis there’s a hotel-restaurant hybrid, the Normandy, that’s been around since 1925. It exists in a part of downtown that was always the odd man out because amenities were few and far between. Until now, of course.

Now it exists in the looming shadow of U.S. Bank Stadium, and like any real estate in that exalted space it's a hot-ticket spot indeed. So the Normandy owners gave it a refresh. New space, new menu (serving American classic dishes with some French influence), the works. It re-opened to the public on November 18. Watch for our first look, coming soon.

405 S. Eighth St., Minneapolis

Red Rabbit, pizza and pasta for the people 
If you like Red Cow, the chain of gourmet burger restaurants with wine on tap, and if you liked the stunning but short-lived Italian Parella in the old Figlio space, then listen up.

Red Rabbit, by the owners of both restaurants, Luke Shimp and Todd Macdonald, is opening soon.

Just as Red Cow democratizes the fancy burger trend by making them abundant, approachable, and affordable, Red Rabbit aims to do similar things for great pasta and great pizza.

Of course, we had an oversaturation of high-end Italian places last year (Parella being one of them), and most of them shuttered as quickly as they opened. But it looks like Red Rabbit will be a more egalitarian way to enjoy Macdonald’s cooking (which is phenomenal) minus the crudo.

Instead of raw fish, they’ll be serving oysters, plus the ever-enticing promise of noodles and pies. Now that's an idea we can get behind.

Opens December 20 
201 N. Washington Ave., Minneapolis

Maharaja Cuisine, Indian and Pakistani in Spring Lake Park 
“Maharaja means the king of kings,” says the family operating the newly opened Maharaja restaurant in Spring Lake Park. They say the concept for the restaurant is a very simple one: authenticity.

“Lots of Indian restaurants are serving Americanized Indian foods that have been augmented with butters and creams because it’s tasty [to the American palate]. But it’s not healthy. So here, you’re going to taste garlics, onions, tomatoes, and spices,” says Anshu Suri, doing some PR for his brother Bobby who’s managing the place.

He’s careful with this caveat: It doesn’t mean the cooking is going to be necessarily spicy. “It’s very mild to start with, and they can get it hot if they want.”

House specialties include lamb and goat curries, biryani, and dahnsak, a long-cooking Indo-Persian recipe typically served with brown rice and lentils. 

“Nobody is doing that around here because it takes like six or seven hours to make,” he says. But Maharaja is doing it, and now you can have it.

Now open for lunch and dinner 
8492 Central Ave. NE, Spring Lake Park

Scratch Burgers and Beer in the North Loop
The name pretty much says it all. When you're scratching your head wondering, "Hmmm, now where in hell can I get a burger or a beer in the North Loop?!" Scratch Burgers and Beer comes to the rescue.

(Though if you're having trouble finding beer and a burger in the North Loop, you might need your head checked, not scratched.)

This revamped joint (formerly Scratch Bar and Grill) is offering a dozen burgers (including something called "The Big Swede" topped with fries and gravy), bar food like wings and fondue fries, a few salads, and a whole lotta beer.

Now open. 
408 Third Ave. N., Minneapolis