Living in a foodie city is a double-edged sword of sorts: It means there’s always a new eatery opening — and that there’s always a new eatery opening. The upside of waiting until the dust settles and patronizing restaurants when they’re newish (as opposed to brand spanking new) is that you’re not elbowing your way into an establishment that, all too often, hasn’t yet figured out its flow. Let’s be real: The glamour of landing a reservation right after the grand opening can easily fade if the wait staff doesn’t yet know what to recommend, the service is slow or the cuisine isn’t quite perfected. With that in mind, here are our top 5 newish restaurants in town.
Last August, restaurateur Remy Pettus (Eastside) opened Bardo in the former Rachel’s space in commercial Northeast, a spot that had sat empty for nearly a year. To create the cozy bistro, he brought in design firm Shea, who played up the building’s art deco aesthetic. Making up Bardo’s curated menu are can’t-miss New American dishes like boquerone and soft egg tartine, agnolotti with beet, bacon and chèvre, and game hen torchon with chanterelle, carrot and just the right amount of crispy chicken skin. Cocktails are inventive but not comically so, and the wine list is impressive. Word to the wise: Make a reservation. 222 E. Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis
The headline on Fig + Farro is that it’s all-vegetarian, but that alone sells the eatery short. Situated in the old Figlio spot in Calhoun Square, the restaurant serves up an impressive array of globally inspired fare that’s meant to be shared — and it’s damn good. As in you-don’t-miss-meat-for-a-second good. Our recommendation: Gather up some friends and try some dishes you might not otherwise, like the jackfruit tacos and the daal maash. Behind it all is an ambitious (and important) two-fold mission to 1) help consumers reduce their carbon footprint by encouraging them to eat a plant-based meal every once in a while and to 2) fairly compensate employees with livable wages and benefits to boot. Doing good has never tasted so good. 3001 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis
For a few years, the Twin Cities foodie community impatiently awaited the opening of chefs Erik Anderson and Jamie Malone’s restaurant, knowing that whatever it ended up being, it’d be incredible. And so there was an appropriate amount of fanfare when the duo took over Grand Cafe last year. But then in a surprising move, Anderson left to helm the kitchen at San Francisco’s acclaimed Coi, which left that same foodie community wondering what would become of Grand Cafe. The unthinkable happened: It got even grander. And that hasn’t gone unrecognized; earlier this spring, the James Beard Foundation named the eatery a Best New Restaurant semifinalist and Malone a Best Chef: Midwest semifinalist. Our best bets: the spinach salad with hazelnuts, sunchokes and brown butter, the pork pâté en croute, the fallen onion soufflé, and the hen egg dumplings. And don’t miss Cornbread Harris, who tickles the ivories every Sunday night. 3804 Grand Ave. S., Minneapolis
When news broke that Hola Arepa owners Birk Grudem and Christina Nguyen were going to open a Southeast Asian street food restaurant in the former Deuce Deuce strip club, people were appropriately ambivalent: happy that the vacant eye sore would be transformed and dubious that it could be done. But, as it turns out, it could be done. And it was done so well that the James Beard Foundation took notice, including Nguyen in its Best Chef: Midwest semifinalist lineup, and so did Eater, which named Hai Hai one of the Most Beautiful Restaurants of 2017. The decor is as tantalizing as the fare and cocktails, making for an all-encompassing experience. We can’t get enough of the spring rolls, the banana blossom salad, the Hanoi sticky rice, and the pork belly and shrimp crepe. Our advice? Come hungry. 2121 University Ave. NE, Minneapolis
Chef Daniel del Prado is no stranger to the Minneapolis food scene, having worked in some of the top kitchens in town (La Belle Vie, Bar La Grassa, Burch). This is his first solo venture, and it’s a worthwhile one. Taking up residence in the revamped Upton 43 space, Martina pays homage to del Prado’s Argentinian and Italian heritage with inspired dishes like spicy tuna tiradito, grilled beef tongue bruschetta, and grilled octopus with bone marrow (oh, and don’t overlook the empanadas). Overseeing the bar program is the talented Marco Zappia, who has created a thoughtful menu of both cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks. 4312 S. Upton Ave., Minneapolis