The Marquette Hotel has revamped its street-level Marq VII Lounge into a handsome new restaurant and bar, adding much-needed pulse to this busy downtown corner. Chef Chris Blackwell, a Denver transplant, is putting out pastas, pizzas, pork-veal-ricotta meatballs and other Italian dishes but also featuring crowd-pleasers along the lines of burgers, Caesar salads and Sebastian Joe’s ice cream. The name? It’s a nod to 17th-century Mississippi River explorer Jacques Marquette. Lunch and dinner daily, and the hotel’s third-floor Basil’s Restaurant remains open for breakfast and Sunday brunch.
710 Marquette Av. S., Mpls., 612-333-4545, marquettehotel.com
Randle’s Restaurant & Bar
Restaurateur Michael McDermott has reconfigured his short-lived, vaguely Asian Ling & Louie’s into a sports bar format, named for former Vikings defensive tackle John Randle (McDermott has a similar sports-legend tie-in at his Lou Nanne’s in Edina). The menu still includes Asian staples — sushi, stir fries — but also offers a long list of burgers, sandwiches and salads. Skip the sidewalk seats — for now, anyway, until Nicollet Mall construction subsides — and head upstairs to the restaurant’s well-appointed rooftop patio. Lunch weekdays, brunch weekends, dinner daily.
921 Nicollet Mall, Mpls., 612-351-1234, johnrandles.com
Black Sheep Pizza chef/owner Jordan Smith has channeled his passion for Texas barbecue into a 26-seat business, serving brisket, spare ribs, pulled pork shoulder, burnt ends (“When we have them,” said Smith), Amish-sourced chickens and house-made Czech-Tex sausages. On weekends, Smith adds giant beef ribs to the mix. Sides include two versions of coleslaw (creamy and Asian-inspired), collard greens and potato salad, and dessert is pie (pecan-maple, and a seasonal special, which currently is strawberry-rhubarb) by baker Rachel Swan. Dinner daily, lunch weekends.
16½ W. 26th St., Mpls., 612-353-5525, stormkingbarbecue.com