730 Washington Av. N., Mpls., 612-354-3135, www.boroughmpls.com
Go for: Good vibes, great drinks.
The cocktail lounge below Borough takes an anti-stuffy approach to potable enlightenment. Feeling like a Jack and Coke or High Life pony? That’s cool. But you’ll miss the boat on the thoughtfully dillish Pickle in the Middle or the highly addictive Spicy N’ Stormy. Come for the fun atmosphere and cocktail craftsmanship, stay for the beef-gasmic burger (a benefit of partial access to Borough’s kitchen).
Fulton taproom (est. 2012)
414 6th Av. N., Mpls., 612-333-3208, www.fultonbeer.com
Go for: Growlers or pints.
These days, no Minneapolis cranny is complete without its own beer hub. While still repping its namesake southwest Minneapolis neighborhood of origin, Fulton has made the North Loop its adopted home. Since opening last year, its taproom has become the area’s beer-geek Grand Central and also draws hordes of Twins fans during baseball season.
Haute Dish (est. 2010)
119 Washington Av. N., Mpls., 612-338-8484, www.haute-dish.com
Go for: Head-spinning comfort food.
Gussying up Midwestern favorites an ounce of truffle oil and bone marrow at a time, Landon Schoenefeld’s ahead-of-the-curve eatery was the first foodie attraction to open after Bar La Grassa. Aside from sensational sweetbreads and its signature tater-tot “hautedish,” the weekend brunch and dinner spot boasts an above-average cocktail list.
Smack Shack (est. 2013)
603 Washington Av. N., Mpls., 612-259-7288, www.smack-shack.com
Go for: Your seafood fix — and to play the tri-wheel.
After almost a year’s worth of anticipation, Josh Thoma’s food-truck favorite pulled into its North Loop bricks-and-mortar space this February. The “casual coastal” joint has made a splash in its expansive, immobile digs and its 72-seat patio is perhaps the neighborhood’s busiest. Despite big-box sheen, the bar area’s tri-wheel facilitates classic dive-bar gambling.
Acme Comedy Co. The stand-up club nabs national talent and hosts open-mics for comics still cutting their teeth. (708 N. 1st St., Mpls., 612-338-6393, acmecomedycompany.com)