One of the nice benefits of being a fifth generation French Canadian living in NE Minneapolis is the high level of social life that has always been part of the community. While this “joy of life” has been a staple for decades, the new influx of restaurants continues this entertainment tradition.
This weekend, I will walk to the East Hennepin area for some quality time with friends and family. Walk with me as I try to navigate this great hospitality district.
My first decision comes on the corner of 4th Street and East Hennepin…will it be Whiteys for a quick roast beef sandwich and a chat with Whitey himself? Whitey saw the potential in this 150 year old business district and bought his saloon 20 years ago, restoring an 1880’s building into a popular watering hole for the 30-something crowd.
Or, I could head across the street to the Bull Dog, ask Amy what specialty beer is featured and peruse the menu. Bull Dog is famous for its homemade hamburgers; my teenage son recommends a good old fashioned cheese burger. On the other corner of 4th and East Hennepin is Masu Sushi & Robata. Housed in a former Bank building (look for the beautiful white columns on the outside), Masu is the newest restaurant on East Hennepin. Featuring both a Sushi bar and Robata style (grilled) Japanese cuisine, I have enjoyed some great meals and stories there.
Once dinner is accomplished, it’s time for some music. On the corner of 2nd Street on East Hennepin is Ginger Hop and Honey’s. Ginger Hop is located in the old Surdyk’s liquor store (Jim had some great Halloween parties in the basement after his Dad opened the new store on University and East Hennepin) and features a unique menu of American and Asian food. As the chef says so well, “It’s where East meets NE.” Honey’s is the music venue downstairs and features some great jazz. Reminds me of some of the clubs in Chicago; it’s been a great addition to the neighborhood.
A night out in NE is not complete without a stop at Nye’s. Voted the best bar in America by Esquire magazine, the Rainvilles have been customers since Al Nye opened the doors in 1952. When Al allowed me to open a house tab, I knew I had arrived in the world! For 37 years Lou Snyder held court playing at the Piano Bar; can you image the fun times she had? The new “Piano Man” has big shoes to fill, but he is doing great…..I suggest requesting Billy Joel’s New York State of Mind. If you hear music wafting in from the side bar, it’s just the ‘World’s Most Dangerous Polka band…grab a partner and do a little dancing.
Life is good on the River.