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Food & Drink

The 10 Best Liquor Stores in Minneapolis

If you’re getting buzzed in the Mill City, stop here first.

12:28 PM CDT on March 21, 2023

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Can you ID the winner based on this pic?

There are nearly 100 liquor stores in Minneapolis. So many of them are fine: You can get your six pack, your single-digit wine, your mid-shelf booze. Some of them are outright dumps. But a divine few are worth going back—time after time, week after week—to get what you need.

In my tenure as resident City Pages/Racket beer writer, I’ve visited dozens of bottle shops, grocers, cut-rate liquor dives, and yuppy cheese-and-wine boutiques to write my monthly Doin’ Beers column. I have enough receipts from local booze stores in my filing cabinet to wallpaper U.S. Bank Stadium.

As such, I have some recommendations. These are the best places to buy booze in Minneapolis.

10. Ken & Norm's Liquor

4801 Chicago Ave., Northrop

By far the smallest liquor store on this list, Ken & Norm’s crams a ton of selection and expertise into its tiny footprint across the street from the Parkway Theater. Opened by a pair of mailmen in 1969, Ken & Norm’s has always felt friendly and familiar, a sensation that's persisted long after the original owners passed and the business fell under the care of current owner Arpad Nagy. Come here specifically for wine selection, though their walk-in houses one of the best regional/national beer programs on the South Side. Just don't expect any bargains.

9. Broadway Liquor Outlet

2220 W. Broadway Ave., Near North

The North Side has plenty of liquor stores, but preciously few high-quality joints. Most have a bare minimum selection of both booze and lighting. But Broadway Liquor Outlet, first opened in 1948 before being totally rebuilt in 2016, is the antithesis of its cut-rate neighbors. Most stores in the area keep their bottles under lock and key. Broadway, however, has a 12-foot wall stocked with bottles for your perusal. Big, bright, and stocked to the gills with options, it’s a mixologist’s oasis. 

8. Central Avenue Liquors

2538 NE Central Ave., Holland

Central Avenue Liquors anchors a truly remarkable four-block stretch of Central Avenue. Surrounded by Fair State Brewing Cooperative, Khao Hom Thai, Chimborazo, and the Eastside Food Co-op, this thoroughfare is the nucleus of an epicurean neighborhood, providing a well-appointed stop for a take-home libation after dinner or grocery shopping. It’s one of the largest liquor stores in Northeast, and every inch is packed with affordably priced drinks, with an emphasis on Minnesota beer. It also provides one of the most reliable neighborhood delivery services, so you don’t have to give your money to Uber to get a shipment.

7. Surdyk's Liquor & Cheese Shop

303 E. Hennepin Ave., Suite #2, St. Anthony West

Ask any Minneapolitan for a liquor store recommendation, and they’re likely to shout out Surdyk’s. The Northeast-adjacent liquor store even has an outpost at the airport, and its iconic storefront is an unmistakable landmark. Not only does it have a dizzying array of options in stock, but there’s a top-notch cheese shop and even a café. You could spend an afternoon just browsin’ and snackin’. I have a hard time ranking it too high because of the owner’s truly obnoxious behavior around the advent of Sunday Sales, but that’s a personal issue.

6. Ombibulous

949 E Hennepin Ave., Beltrami

The conceit of Ombibulous is simple and elegant: all Minnesota-made alcohol under one roof. Opened in Northeast in 2018, Ombibulous has become a staple for Minnesota beer hunters. Its constantly shifting beer collection is sold by the can, so you can sample all the wares this wonderful beer state has to offer. Over the years, the store has expanded its other offerings to include more cider, liquor, NA beer, and THC drinks. Ombibulous’ raison d'être is also its biggest limiting factor. If you don’t like beer, your options are limited here, and Minnesota wine absolutely sucks, so your commitment to buying local needs to override all other decision factors. The Boomin' Barbecue food truck, once perhaps the best BBQ in town, was stationed right outside for years, but it very recently hightailed it to Hudson, Wisconsin.

5. Sentyrz Market

1612 NE 2nd St., Sheridan

There is a world in which every liquor store is like Sentyrz. Big displays of Castle Danger Cream Ale are just down the aisle from hand-packed brats and gallons of macaroni salad. The Hendricks Gin is within striking distance of the Lay’s Potato Chips. Sadly, that world is not Minneapolis, where the liquor barons have decreed that food and liquor cannot share a roof. But the 100-year-old Sentyrz is a special world where their rules don’t apply. Grandfathered into its license, this family-owned Northeast one-stop-shop is one of the most unique place to grab a bottle or six-pack in the Twin Cities.

4. South Lyndale Liquors

5300 Lyndale Ave. S., Lynnhurst

I do most of my everyday booze shopping at South Lyndale because they almost always have what I’m looking for. A veritable emporium, the sprawling Lynnhurst stalwart has absolutely everything you could ever want to imbibe. The whiskey selection is particularly good, but it’s the wine that most folks stop in for. An expert staff will help you make heads and tails of the hundreds of bottles, but it’s entertainment enough to get lost in the racks and find something you didn’t even know you wanted to drink. Construction began last year for South Lyndale's new, larger home located even further south at 55th & Lyndale.

3. France 44 Wines & Spirits

4351 France Ave. S., Linden Hills

Get a salami sandwich before you enter France 44’s liquor section. You’re gonna need the fuel. A fixture since 1959, France 44 is unquestionably the most eclectically stocked liquor store in Minneapolis, with tons of imported bottles stashed away in every corner. The beer cooler is an igloo-temperature labyrinth. The amaro section is a gateway to previously unexplored flavors. Not only does it have a gourmet grocery store and deli, but there is no better place to get a recommendation for a chianti. France 44's massive expansion plans—rooftop patio, classroom, event space—are well under way.

2. Elevated Beer Wine & Spirits

4135 Hiawatha Ave., Hiawatha

The only thing that keeps Elevated from the top spot is an obvious bias toward beer. If you’re the type to chase delivery vans looking for the latest fruited IPA, you’ll have this Hiawatha outpost circled on your calendar. And the eight-year-old shop has a deep archive of spirits to go along with the suds, as well as a decent selection of wines that cycle through. But local craft beer is where Elevated, erm, rises above its peers, and there are few places as consistent and dependable if you’re looking for something new.

1. Zipps Liquors

2618 E. Franklin Ave., Seward

Zipps is a sentinel. Standing on the edge of Seward just before the crossing into Cedar-Riverside, Zipps has sat under its signature zig-zag sign since it opened in 1961, welcoming all comers. Every kind of drinker can find their fix here, from the erudite wine snobs looking for a natural New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc to the gameday volume drinkers looking for a deal on domestic beer. The staff might not be all sommeliers, but they can recommend single-malts and bourbons for your poker night or a dry-hopped pilsner for your Friday at home without any pretension at all. There's even an attached coffee shop, Code Blu Coffee, to keep you buzzing from sunup to sundown.

Honorable mention: Hum's Liquor, Chicago-Lake Liquor, Lowry Hill Liquors, Lake Wine & Spirits, Cork Dork Wine Co., Stinson Wine, Beer, & Spirits, and Viking Liquor, Wine, & Tobacco

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