It’s hard to complain about eating out in cities as dynamic as ours. Truthfully, we have it pretty darned good. The end of the year is, however, a time when we all assess our individual journeys toward self-improvement. Why not give restaurants a few resolutions, too? Here’s my wish list for how to make dining out even better in 2020.
1. Fancier kids’ menus. How am I supposed to raise a little gastronome when most of the toddler-sized portions in town are mac and cheese or chicken fingers? My favorite spot to go on a dinner date with my kid is Ruscello, the restaurant at the Ridgedale Nordstrom, simply because I can get him a miniature order of salmon, green beans and roast potatoes. Elsewhere, I order for him off the adult menu — at adult prices. Can we get a little more creative for our kids’ meals?
2. Turn off the TV. I’m not even talking sports bars, where televisions make sense. Why do so many restaurants — upscale ones, even — have giant screens showing news, game shows, car commercials? They might be relegated to bar areas, but their bright lights don’t dim in nearby dining rooms. I like to eat out for the food and the conversation. TVs distract from both.
3. More love for north Minneapolis. We saw two late-2019 bar openings on Washington Avenue N. (Bar Brava, Meteor Bar). Royal Foundry Craft Spirits joined La Doña Cervecería to build a drinking district in a former warehouse in the Harrison neighborhood. FireBox Deli, Thirsty Whale Bakery and Tori 44 are holding down the farther reaches of the northern quadrant of the city, and we are eagerly awaiting the revamp of Breaking Bread Cafe, which took a pause this year. More business owners are joining the stalwarts who have always made this part of the city their home. In 2020, I hope to see more investment — both from restaurateurs and from diners — throughout north Minneapolis.
4. The year of the bialy. I’m from the East Coast and, only recently has my beloved New York-style bialy made an appearance in the Twin Cities. Two new spots have them: Kieran’s Kitchen Northeast (made by Baker’s Field Flour & Bread) and the just-opened Asa’s Bakery in south Minneapolis. Here’s hoping for more oniony, hole-less bagels in 2020.
5. The end of the curse. When the same restaurant location sees frequent turnover, some call it a curse. I call it optimism. It takes a lot of positive energy to try again in a place where others have failed. So let’s cut our restaurateurs some slack, and stop predicting the demise of a brand-new venture purely because of its address. Whatever moves next into the recently closed Piggy Bank will do just fine. (Knock on wood.)