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Food & Drink

All the December Food News That’s Fit to Print

In like, an online sense. "Fit to type" might be more accurate. Anyway, here's your latest Racket Restaurant Roudup!

a burger that looks just... devine, portrayed open face with grill marks on its side and a pop of lettuce and tomato and onion
Folks... the Vincent Burger is back.
Instagram: @chloe_mpls

Because I’m sure you organize your life around the intricacies of the Racket publishing calendar, this must come as quite a shock. A Racket Restaurant Roundup… in the middle of the month? When there’s a chance more restaurant news could happen in December?

It’s true: We’re not publishing in the last week of 2022, so you’re getting the RRR as a little early holiday present. It’s as up to date as possible through the end of the year, and if I do say so myself, there’s still lots of good stuff in here.

Thanks for reading! See you in 2023!

Now Open

Chelas

After shutting Prieto down in October, chef Alejandro Castillon’s spot’ll start hopping again this week with a new name (Chelas) and a new concept (Vietnamese and Latin tapas). The soft opening phase at Chelas (4751 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis) starts December 22; follow along on Instagram for more updates. 

Chloe by Vincent

Chef Vincent Francoual’s casual new French restaurant opened this month—and yes, he brought the Vincent Burger back. The vibes at 700 Third St. S. in Minneapolis are cozy, comfy, and warm, which is just what you want when you’re staring down a week of sub-zero temps. (Make reservations here.)

Pinoli

The former Amore in Uptown—now known as Pinoli—is sort of up and running under new owner Kim Bartmann. The space is being remodeled at the moment, but you can get the whole “Italian-inspired menu” for takeout right now, if that’s your thing (pick up is at Barbette). Expect a full opening in early 2023.

bb.q Chicken

Globally popular Korean chicken chain bb.q Chicken is now open in Uptown (1500 W. Lake St.). Franchisee Emily Krouse, a Korean adoptee, told us earlier this month, “It was the first meal I had with my birth mother.” It’s quite a story—and the chicken looks good as hell.

Ottimo

Now open at the North Loop Galley food hall: a little spot called Ottimo from former Minnesota Twins sous chef Duran Ross. His globetrotting menu features smash burgers, ricotta wontons, and rigatoni with meatballs—the latter featuring Ross’s signature “Minneapolis Marinara.” 

Elusive Botanical Bar

Opening December 28: Dashfire Distillery’s new Northeast cocktail lounge, Elusive Botanical Bar. Located in the same building as Tattersall (1620 Central Ave. NE, Dock #10/Suite 152), the spot will benefit from the expertise of Tyler Kleinow and Robb Jones (Meteor bar), who are are consulting on the menu, and Jeff Rogers (former beverage director of Jester Concepts), who will run the bar. 

Credit: Ties Lounge & Rooftop

Closed or Closing

Ties Lounge and Rooftop

Ties Lounge and Rooftop, an ambitious project from a trio of Gen Z-ers that opened on Nicollet Mall this summer, closed “indefinitely” this month, citing “unforeseen circumstances.” No word yet on what’ll happen with the former Randle’s Restaurant/Rojo Mexican Grill space, where nobody can quite seem to make anything stick. 

East Side Bar

After two and a half years, East Side Bar, which opened in 2020 on the same day that Governor Walz shut down restaurants due to the pandemic, closed its doors on December 23. “I don’t think I’m alone—I think this is where we all were mentally—it seemed like this was something that was going to happen, and it was going to shut everything down for a week or two, and then things would go back to normal,” owner Eric Foster told me in October of 2020, adding that things so far had been “In a word, terrible. Really fucking terrible.” They tried their best! That was some bad, bad timing. 

Keefer Court

Man, this one is tough. After nearly 40 years, Keefer Court owners Sunny and Paulina Kwan have announced that their Chinese kitchen and bakery will close at the end of this year. The West Bank staple had been serving the community since 1983. “Most importantly, we want to thank all our family, staff, and friends who have helped us build the Keefer legacy over these past four decades. We can not thank you all enough for all your contributions in making Keefer Court what it is today,” their Facebook farewell reads

Erté & the Peacock Lounge

Another staple down: Erté and the Peacock Lounge, which have been in northeast Minneapolis for 21 years, announced that December 31 will also be their last night of service. “We have loved celebrating and championing everything small business with you, from the scratch made and locally sourced food, to the people dining in our chairs, to the art hanging on our walls and the music filling the space that we so love,” their goodbye reads. 

Lemon Grass Thai

After 18 years, chef Ann Ahmed has decided to close her first restaurant Lemon Grass Thai, telling Mpls. St. Paul Mag’s Steph March: “I feel like it’s just run its course.” But the news isn’t all bad! You have until the end of March to get another meal at Lemon Grass in, for one. For another…

Credit: Lauren Cutshall
Sluuuuurp!

Just Announced

Ann Ahmed Loring Park Project

…in the same story, the Khâluna/Lat 14 chef confirms that she’s taking over the spot that used to be 4 Bells. There aren’t a ton of details yet, other than to expect the new concept come 2023.

UHK Pop Up

NooOOOooo… nooOOOOOoooOOdles! That’s the sound of Union Hmong Kitchen bringing new pop-up concept to a famously cursed Lyn-Lake address. Slurp Pop Up Noodle Shop will serve traditional Hmong dishes like mushroom ramen, pan-fried noodles, and Khao Poon at 901 W. Lake St., the former home of Mucci’s/Meyvn/Tinto Cocina/Spill the Wine. Slurp opens January 4; we’ve got the whole scoop here.

Animales Brick and Mortar

Here’s a meaty story for ya: Animales BBQ is looking to open in a brick-and-mortar building. Year-round ribs, folks! Jon Wipfli (Animales) is teaming up with Billy Tserenbat (Billy Sushi) to bring the place to life in either the North Loop or northeast Minneapolis. Look for it this summer.

SK Coffee 

SK Coffee co-owner Sam Kjellberg told Southwest Voices this month that they’d always said they didn’t want to open a coffee shop—unless, that is, they could have “something like the Misfit shop.” Good luck for them, then, that Misfit closed earlier this year, opening up their turnkey coffee shop at 2401 Lyndale Ave. in Minneapolis (a space that’s been a coffee shop for more than three decades). SK hopes to open by February. 

Gambit Brewing Co.

Opening a new brewery in 2022 is indeed a gambit—but hey, Gambit Brewing founder Josh Secaur told us earlier this month, “a brewery is always kind of a risk.” His will head for the former 12welve Eyes Brewing space (141 E. Fourth St., Suite LL2, St. Paul), opening sometime in January. “The idea is really to let the community drive where we want to go,” Secaur said.

The Painted Turtle

No more Sandcastle at Lake Nokomis; next year is The Painted Turtle’s time to shine. The new concept comes from the folks behind Unleashed Hounds and Hops, the indoor/outdoor dog park/human restaurant. They’ll have a full ice cream shop thanks to a partnership with La La Ice Cream, and Kramarczuk’s Sausage Company is also name dropped as an early partner. Here’s the whole scoop.

Progress at the Fhima North Loop Concept

Though chef David Fhima says it’s still “a winter away from opening,” his new multi-level project in the North Loop has a name: Maison Margaux. The chef shared some updates on Instagram this week, including the challenges of “creat[ing] a three-level masterpiece with the coolest underground bar in the world, a modern take on a Parisian brasserie, a Ralph Lauren inspired event center, and neighborhood terrasse” while keeping the vibe Minneapolis-y. We chatted with Fhima about the project back in January.

In The Works

Bar Cart

Mpls. St. Paul Mag has a sneak peek of Bar Cart, opening in the old Khyber Pass space… very soon! (They were hoping for a pre-Christmas debut, but we’re getting down to the wire.)

Milly’s Wine Bar & Bistro

“My personal stake in everything is: I want gigantic cheese boards,” Milly’s Brandon Witzel told us earlier this year. “I want for you to come in and pick however many cheeses you want, however many meats, and just go to town for two or three hours, have a couple bottles of wine.” Milly’s is slated to open in early 2023, with a big ol’ lending library and lots of plant life (and yes, gigantic cheese boards).

Boludo Expands

More like Bo-new-do! The popular Argentinian pizza and empanada spot, which just moved out of its tiny original space into a bigger spot at 38th and Nicollet, is about to add two new Minneapolis locations. (This is great news for me, a person who often walks by the south Minneapolis location and goes, “Hm, too busy!”) The first proposal is for a 30-seat restaurant at 1519 Como Ave. SE, which was previously home to Oaks TW Hardware; the second is at 2935 Girard Ave. S. in Uptown, the old SotaRol Asian Kitchen space. The Biz Journal has the whole scoop.

Soul Lao 

The popular food truck and popup spot Soul Lao has its sights set on a brick-and-mortar space at Sibley Plaza on West Seventh in St. Paul. “We want to build a supportive environment where young chefs can shape a career and neighbors can share a plate of Lao sausage, sticky rice, and spicy papaya salad,” Soul Lao’s GoFundMe Page reads. “There’s no other place we would want to place our roots.” The projected opening date is April 2023; you can donate to their GoFundMe here.

Francis

Vegan burger joint Francis, which made a name for itself at Sociable Cider Werks before moving into the old Sen Yai Sen Lek/Dipped and Debris space, is juuust about ready to open. They’re still finishing up construction; it’s looking like an early 2023 opening. 

D’s Banh Mi

The sign is up at D’s Banh Mi, which is taking over the ol’ snack shack at 38th and Cedar. Brothers Dylan, Dyon, and Dustin Tran were shooting for a November opening; we’ve reached out to the brothers D for an update. Read our chat from April about their plans for the space here.

Eat Street Crossing

Construction is still humming along over at Eat Street Crossing, the food hall heading for the long-vacant Old Arizona Studios space at 2821 Nicollet Ave. S. Last month, we got a little more info on the tenants, including Ramen Shoten. From chef John Ng and wife/ business partner Lina Goh, who make up two-fifths of the team behind the food hall, Ramen Shoten will bring a stand-up ramen shop in the small space adjacent to ESC. 

Bellecour Bakery at 50th and France

The third Cooks of Crocus Hill/Bellecour Bakery is headed for 3945 Market St. in Edina, joining locations on Grand Ave. in St. Paul and Minneapolis’s North Loop. “Lots of exciting details to share with you when the time is right… stay tuned and looking forward to seeing you in our new space,” chef Gavin Kaysen wrote in an Insta post.

Diane Moua Moves On

Speaking of Bellecour Bakery: Diane Moua announced last month that she’s leaving her role as Bellecour’s executive pastry chef to open her own bakery and cafe, which will combine Hmong home cooking and southeast Asian flavors with her French pastry perfection. “You’ll see a chocolate croissant here and there, but I want to use coconut and yuzu,” she told Eater Twin Cities, which has the rundown. “It’s so French at Bellecour, but with this, I can use taro.”

Wildflyer Coffee East

Wildflyer Coffee is collaborating with the nonprofit RS Eden to open a second shop in the old Fresh Grounds Cafe space in St. Paul. “It upwardly lifts everything we do,” Kammerer told Racket of the upcoming location, which is slated to open by March. They’re 98% of the way toward their $25,000 GoFundMe goal at this writing.

Fawkes Alley Coffee

In similar youth-focused nonprofit coffee shop news: Futsal Society, an organization that acts as a lower barrier option for kids who want to play soccer, is opening a coffee shop in Loring Park. Southwest Voices has the scoop; look for an early 2023 opening.

Pimento Jamaican Kitchen

Great news on Bde Maka Ska: Eat Street’s wonderful Pimento Jamaican Kitchen is coming to the redesigned pavilion when it reopens next summer. Get ready for jerk chicken on the beach in 2023!

Spot some Big Food News we missed? Email em@racketmn.com with tips.

Previously in the Racket Restaurant Roundup…