“I’m obsessed with Chinese food and culture,” said Andrew Zimmern. “It’s the food that I adore above all others.” Which explains why the locally based Travel Channel star is partnering with restaurateur Michael McDermott (Rojo Mexican Grill, Randle’s) to create a contemporary 120-seat Chinese restaurant featuring housemade dumplings and noodles, with a nostalgic, 80-seat tiki bar. Takeout and delivery, too. “We’re going to bring fun, authentic Chinese food into a modernized restaurant format,” said Zimmern. “People love Chinese food, so this project is going to be a blast.” Opening in late November.
1607 West End Blvd., St. Louis Park, luckycricket.net
A former service station is being transformed into another platform for Martina chef Daniel del Prado, where he’ll focus on smoked meats and take a deep dive into flavors and traditions across Mexico. Marco Zappia, who makes Martina a cocktail destination, is overseeing the restaurant’s bar program. Opening in mid-October.
5400 Penn Av. S., Mpls.
Three cheers to chef David Fhima for reopening the former Forum Cafeteria. The Art Deco wonderland, more often dark than occupied over the past decade, has Fhima and former Sanctuary chef (and fellow Frenchman) Patrick Atanalian in the kitchen. “I walk in here every day and I’m in awe; I’m humbled,” said Fhima. “When you say ‘Minneapolis,’ this space is what should come to mind.” Opened Sept. 28.
40 S. 7th St., Mpls., 612-353-4792, fhimasmpls.com
510 Groveland project
On the subject of dazzling historic interiors, the 1927 beauty that most diners associate with the former La Belle Vie is coming back to life. Jester Concepts (Borough, Parlour, Monello) is reimagining the space as a “modern steakhouse.” “I would say this is a ‘steakhouse’ in air quotes,” said Jester culinary directory Mike DeCamp, a La Belle Vie vet. He’s promising a seasonal approach to the beef palace format, along with an emphasis on game meats. The name will be announced soon. As for the opening date, there’s “nothing exact yet, but the end of the year is the best guess,” DeCamp said.
510 Groveland Av., Mpls.
Minnesota BBQ Co.
The culinary team at Travail Kitchen & Amusements is reaching outside its Robbinsdale habitat to embrace a longtime interest: barbecue. Longtime Travailian Kale Thome will run the endeavor, and a tiny (700-foot) footprint will impose an emphasis on takeout and delivery. Opening in late October.
816 Lowry Av. NE., Mpls., travailkitchen.com
Mumbai-born cookbook author (“660 Curries”) and culinary teacher Raghavan Iyer has a tantalizing idea: baking pizzas in showy tandoor ovens. Expect to encounter naan crusts topped with a United Nations-like array of toppings. “This is about the global nature of pizza,” he said. Opening this fall.
8451 Joiner Way, Eden Prairie, 763-218-2127, pizzakarma.com
In early November, Danielle and Chris Bjorling of the Copper Hen Cakery & Kitchen (2515 Nicollet Av. S., Mpls., 612-872-2221, copperhenkitchen.com) will debut their Copper Cow (5445 Eden Prairie Road, Minnetonka). Along with burgers and fries, there will be kid-friendly and adult-only shakes.
At the Midtown Global Market, Moroccan Flavors (920 E. Lake St., Mpls., 651-410-0361, moroccanflavorsmpls.com) owners Hassan Ziadi and Samlali Raja are transforming the former Rabbit Hole into Ziadi’s Mediterranean Cuisine, with a late October opening.
Bibuta (eatbibuta.com) owner Billy Tserenbat is channeling his popular food truck into a skyway level space in Gaviidae Common (651 Nicollet Mall) in downtown Minneapolis. Opening date? “Sometime in November,” he said.
What’s not happening is the remake of Heyday. When chef Jim Christiansen closed his four-year-old four-star gem in June, the plan was to relaunch in a more casual manner, perhaps as two concepts. No longer. Word has it a new restaurant tenant is close to signing a lease on the Lyn-Lake address.