Java Jack's: Dropping 'Java,' but not coffee

Big changes at Java Jack's (818 W. 46th St., Mpls., www.jacksmpls.com). Owners Jerry and Pam Nelson are taking advantage of the kitchen vacated by Rustica to re-purpose their longtime coffeehouse into a neighborhood cafe they're calling Jack's. Coffee and pastries will remain the a.m. mainstay, but chef Stephanie Hedrick (formerly of the Independent and the former Pi) will be preparing an affordable, all-American sandwiches-soups-salads-burgers-pizza menu, with dinner entrees and house-made pastas sold at individual and family-style portions. Beer and wine too. Opening? Early November.

Stopping traffic on Kellogg Blvd.

No one will have a problem finding semi-hidden Señor Wong (111 E. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul, www.senorwong.com) ever again, thanks to a 26-foot metal dragon now adorning its Kellogg Boulevard entrance. It was designed by Twin Cities artist Atom Pechman, also known as the mastermind behind that distinctive bull inside nearby Barrio.

"If we're going to deal with all this [light-rail] construction, we decided that we had to build something huge to grab people's attention," said owner Son Truong. "If you're going to build a sign, why not go all out? Now when people call and ask us where we are, all we have to say is, 'Look for the big metal dragon.'"

Around town

Lots of tumbleweeds rolling around I-394 in St. Louis Park, where adjacent outlets of Fuddrucker's, Bennigan's and a Timber Lodge Steakhouse are sitting vacant. But across the highway, Ciento Tequila Bar Mexican Kitchen (6440 Wayzata Blvd., Golden Valley, www.ciento100.com) is pouring 100-plus tequilas and serving a wide variety of moderately priced Mexican-American standards. The restaurant is the work of Premier Restaurant Management, which also operates Majors Sports Cafe and Stella's Fish Cafe.

Wilde Roast Cafe (518 E. Hennepin Av., Mpls., www.wilderoastcafe.com) is offering a delicious voter incentive: Show up at the cafe on Tuesday with an "I Voted" sticker and receive one of the kitchen's terrific cookies, free.

Mark the Day of the Dead at Cafe Ena (4601 Grand Av. S., Mpls., www.cafeena.net) with a special three-course dinner ($30), served Oct. 28 through Nov. 1.

Harry's Food & Cocktails in downtown Minneapolis has closed.

National rankings

In the some-things-never-change department, no Twin Cities names made it into the recent "best new restaurants" issues of GQ and Esquire magazines. But the Zagat guide's 2011 rendition of "America's Top Restaurants" ranks (in the following order) the following as the Twin Cities' 10 top-rated restaurants: La Belle Vie, 112 Eatery, Vincent, Restaurant Alma, Bar La Grassa, Meritage, Lucia's Restaurant, Manny's Steakhouse, Heartland Restaurant & Direct Market and Oceanaire Seafood Room. Under "Other Noteworthy Places," Zagat lists Cafe Levain, Cosmos, D'Amico Kitchen, Kincaid's, FireLake Grill House Cocktail Bar, Modern Cafe, Punch Neapolitan Pizza, Saffron Restaurant & Lounge, Sea Change and 20.21. Your opinion? Share it at www.startribune.com/tabletalk.

RICK NELSON