Despite a torn-up Nicollet Avenue, Blackbird owners Chris Stevens and Gail Mollner have a great thing going at their engaging, fun-loving neighborhood hangout, serving delicious, eclectic and affordable breakfast and lunch daily and dinner Monday through Saturday. Check out the restaurant's $20 chilled red wine tasting (with grilled pizzas) from 5 to 7 p.m. on July 29.

3800 Nicollet Av. S., Mpls. 612-823-4790,

The heart of Dinkytown is a bit of a mess, but that shouldn't deter diners from enjoying the funky charms of the Loring Pasta Bar and its reasonably priced house-made pastas and cracker crust pizzas. Don't forget about the popular Sunday brunch.

327 14th Av. SE., Mpls., 612-378-4849

Rebuilding the Portland and Park avenue bridges over Interstates 94 and 35W in Minneapolis means access is restricted on those main thoroughfares, including the once-quick jaunt from downtown to Fika. But a detour — Chicago or 3rd avenues, for example — is so worth the hassle for this brilliant Nordic hot spot.

2600 Park Av. S., Mpls., 612-871-4907, RICK NELSON