When hunger strikes and you can get away from your event, there are several eating options to race to. Outside the Minneapolis Convention Center, you've got plenty of choices and most of them are within a 10 minute walk or less.
Open 24 hours and always serving the full menu, Nicollet Diner has breakfast, burgers, sandwiches, shakes (spiked and unspiked) and other family-friendly food. Warning: the portions are large. Pings serves (and delivers!) Szechuan, Cantonese, Mandarin, and Hunan dishes. They have a full-service bar and a buffet for lunch.
Key’s Café is a Twin Cities institution, housed in a funky art-deco space just off Nicollet. They serve the usual American fare, but breakfast is where they really stand out, with their giant omelets and in-house bakery. They also have a great happy hour. The Hen House Eatery also boasts an amazing breakfast and bakery. They do lunch and a limited small plate/happy hour menu till 8pm. Weekend breakfasts and game days are packed here, but if you don’t mind sitting at the great, winding bar, just skip the line at the host podium, waltz over and plop yourself down.
Downtown’s most (in)famous spot for food and drink is Hell’s Kitchen, an eclectically decorated, basement joint, serving “damn good food” all day. On weekends, they have a renowned brunch menu, a spectacular Bloody Mary bar and live music. If you don't have much time but want to try out some creations from this favorite spot, stop into their fast casual Hell's Cafeteria, located just above the restaurant. The menu puts a twist on an ever-changing assortment of comfort foods. Get the whole retro cafeteria experience when you place your on order the electronic menu kiosks and then slide your tray along the cafeteria line to grab your food.
Fondue chain, The Melting Pot, offers the interactive experience of dipping food into a variety of cheeses and broth, such as beef, lobster, duck, shrimp, chicken, and mushrooms. There are, of course, chocolate dipping options for dessert. The menu caters to all budgets. Latin American tapas, tacos and quesadillas are on hand at Barrio, best known for their large happy hour menu. If you’re in the mood for steak and chops, Ruth’s Chris Steak House never disappoints. Even promising that at Ruth's Chris, your last bite is just as good as your first!
Brit’s Pub has evolved into a kind of English Pub attraction as much as a place to get a bite and a pint. Soccer and rugby games bring in a specialized audience of passionate sports fans and the massive rooftop English Garden Park has a 10,000 square foot lawn bowling green and can be a pretty good spot to catch some sun. Just a few steps down Nicollet is the Irish answer to Brit’s, The Local. The long, mahogany bar that greets you is the first sign you’ve hit Irish pub. The menu is a treat of traditional Irish food and make sure you try the bar’s signature drink, The Big Ginger (Jameson and ginger ale).
Sushi lovers will get a kick out the experience at Sushi Train. There's no waiting to order here, just choose which dish you want as the come by your table on a conveyor belt. Selections include sushi rolls, sashimi, appetizers or "beyond sushi", and desserts. Plates range from $2.45 to $6.25 and you get charged by how many plates are grabbed off the belt.
Monello serves wondrously refined Italian dishes, exceptional seafood and craft cocktails. Weekend brunch includes unlimited mimosas. Finally, there is Manny’s Steakhouse, located on the ground floor of the iconic Foshay Tower, home to the W Hotel. It's a little pricey, but absolutely worth the money. Eye-watering cuts of beef are joined on the menu by lobster, king crab, salmon and, yes, even chicken if you want to ruin your server’s day.
For a quick bite
If you only have a few minutes to spare, or just want to get off your feet, Craft Bar and Lounge, conveniently located inside the Convention Center, has a wide variety of small plates and delicious snacks like fresh deli wrapped sandwiches, a variety of flatbread pizzas, and fresh salads. Minnesota-made beers rotate through the lounge, including Surly, Lift Bridge, Big Wood and numerous seasonal options. Caffeine spikes and snacks can be picked up at the Convention Center’s Dunn Brothers outpost.
For fast and fast-casual food, there are a couple options—mostly down the main street of Nicollet, these include Chipotle, Coconut and Whisk Cafe, Come Pho Soup and QDOBA. As well as a Jimmy John’s just around the corner along 9th street. Popular Minneapolis staple, Lotus sells budget-friendly, counter service Vietnamese, like fried rice, noodles, egg rolls and pho that you can eat in or eat on the run.