Live Beats and Good Eats in Minnesota

Loring Pasta Bar

327 14th Ave SE, Minneapolis

Dinkytown, the quirky college neighborhood full of independent shops and restaurants, has seen an influx of larger corporate chains, but at least one restaurant continues to carry the flag of the area’s eccentric roots in style—the Loring Pasta Bar. The restaurant has been serving up house-made pastas, pizzas, and ramekins of rich artichoke dip since 2001 in an ornate two-story dining room decorated with hand-laid tiles, brickwork, and archways.

The Loring Pasta Bar’s décor creates an old-world charm with the playfulness of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Live jazz, blues, or classical strings may fill the air as you dine depending on the night, further setting the mood for a romantic evening. The quirky elegance of the Loring makes it a destination for college students looking for an affordable evening out, as well as visitors to the campus area hoping to let their hair down for the night.

If the live music and dance nights weren’t enough to entice you, every Thursday starting February 6, Zac Coulter of Solid Gold and Cecil Otter from the Minneapolis-based Doomtree will join forces as Commanders Handsome and play at the Loring Pasta Bar. Better make your reservation now.

Tycoon’s Zenith Alehouse

132 E Superior St, Duluth

By the turn of the 20th century, Duluth had the most millionaires of any city in the world for its size, lands bulging with untold resources, and a population fast approaching Chicago, giving credence to Dr. Thomas Foster’s 1868 claim that Duluth was the “Zenith City of the Unsalted Seas.” The lumber and mining ventures started by common men transformed them into tycoons of industry.

The city constructed a new city hall and jail in 1889 on Superior Street, replacing the old offices located above a saloon. The Richardsonian Romanesque-style building was constructed from brown sandstone quarried from Fond du Lac and moved by barge down the St. Louis River. This very same building is now home to Tycoon’s Alehouse & Eatery,  the newest establishment owned by the Fitger’s Brewhouse proprietors.

Tycoon’s Alehouse not only preserves the building’s history, but brings it back to life—so much so that they received an “Adaptive Reuse” Award from the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota. The upstairs banquet rooms offer patrons a glimpse of the grandeur from Duluth’s gilded-era, and the rathskeller peels back the layers and exposes the building’s turn-of-the-century foundations.

The bar is stocked with fresh craft beer from Fitger’s Brewhouse and the menu features many workman dishes like pot roast, smoked fish, and steak from their own Scottish Highland beef cattle. Add to that live music six nights a week from Duluth’s up-and-coming artists, as well as hometown favorites Charlie Parr and 4onthefloor, and Tycoon’s Alehouse brings the building back to the full glory of the city’s zenith.

Icehouse Restaurant

2528 Nicollet Ave S, Minneapolis

Icehouse Restaurant has always been cool—literally and figuratively. The restaurant is located in an old brick build that originally housed the Cedar Lake Ice & Fuel Company, which harvested over 75,000 tons of ice each winter from Cedar Lake for shipment across the Midwest.

The building went on to become Ice House Studio, a former photo, video, and rehearsal studio before Icehouse, the restaurant, opened in 2012 adding a live music venue to Minneapolis’ Eat Street. The original brick and wood ceiling still remains and was incorporated into the design of Icehouse.

Modern takes on classic dishes anchor the dining menu and the bar is stocked with local tap beer and a worldly bottle selection to create the perfect food and beer pairing. Local artists from Chris Koza, Marijauna Deathsquads, and GRRRL PRTY featuring Lizzo frequent the Icehouse stage filling the old building with music once again.

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Avatar About Brian Kaufenberg

Brian Kaufenberg is the editor-in-chief of The Growler Magazine.

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