First look: La Fresca

Categories: Now Open
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Joy Summers
Panuchos: tender, tart, crispy, savory -- all in one little bite
For Hector Ruiz, life in South Minneapolis is Grand. The chef is owner of three restaurants -- Cafe Ena, Rincon 38, and now, La Fresca -- all located on Grand Avenue, all within blocks of each other. His latest venture opened last weekend, promising nuevo Mexican cuisine, and we stopped by for a first bite.

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Makers Cafe, a new concept from Dunn Bros, is now open

Categories: Now Open
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Photo courtesy Makers Cafe
Now open in Edina
The new Makers Cafe, a fast casual concept from Dunn Bros. Coffee and Cafe Inc., invites you to "eat at your desk with dignity." Our crumb-filled keyboards suggest that we might not have been doing so with much dignity up until now. 

Makers Cafe will serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner at its new Edina location and will focus on using mostly local ingredients. They'll also be highlighting other area artisans, or as they call them, "makers."

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First look: Travail and the Rookery

Categories: Now Open
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Joy Summers
Bob Gerken ready to welcome Travail fans
Beck is thumping through the speakers as chefs move swiftly about the giant open space. Sodas are being bottled and carbonated by hand. A grown man in a teddy bear hat furiously digs in a low cabinet, practically climbing inside to retrieve more linens. A wild-goateed fellow sharpens knives, furiously gliding blade against steel with mesmerizing speed. Two Nerf guns sit at the ready. 

It's moments before the final "soft" service inside Travail Kitchen and Amusements and the Rookery. The two concepts will welcome a brigade of Kickstarter supporters -- who helped raise over $250,000 for the restaurant redesign and expansion -- for one last exclusive service before the doors are thrown open to the public. The air is electric. 

People are both dancing and deadly serious. Meagan Leafblad will be controlling the door. "Five minutes!" She yells. "We ready to go at five?" She looks around and checks her watch, while everyone jumps like flames behind the the three open prep areas. "Okay, here we go." With that, the line that's been building and wrapping around the building starts to stream in, and business begins inside the most hotly anticipated restaurant opening in recent memory.

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Vellee Deli pop-up is open for business

Categories: Now Open
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Tyler Mielke
Anxious fans await the opening of Vellee Deli
On their first night of business the winter wind blew fiercely. Snow and wind assaulted commuters and the roads were slick. However, that didn't stop the ardent fans seeking banh mi satisfaction. Vellee Deli, the slick black food truck with the fusion cuisine had moved its operation inside Crema Cafe for a pop-up, and hungry diners were at the ready. We spoke with owners Joyce Truong and Will Xiong about their cozy winter home.

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First look: Coup d'Etat, the new Uptown restaurant from the team behind Borough

Categories: Now Open
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Joy Summers
Coup D'etat sets the bar
The rest of the building is still under construction as condos continue to materialize above this corner of Lagoon and Girard, but the long-awaited Coup D'état feels insulated from all the hubbub, boasting a mix of easy comfort and sophistication one can expect from the same team that brought us Borough and Parlour

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Froz Broz ice cream to hold its first pint sale

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Joy Summers
Froz Broz ice cream finally for sale

Minneapolis craft ice cream Froz Broz has garnered a solid fan base in the last few years -- even though previously the only way to get your mitts on some was to win one of the two precious pints they give away each week.

But starting next week there are easier ways to attain these frozen, gourmet delights. If you've got a letch for flavors like charred vanilla, rosemary lemon, or fennel pollen, you can head down to the commercial kitchen space at City Food Studio on Saturday, January 18 for the first Froz Broz pint sale.

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First look: Relevé, Graves 601 Hotel's new champagne bar

Categories: Now Open
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Joy Summers
Don your baubles and head for bubbles inside Cosmos
How does a restaurant that's been open for over 10 years remain relevant? How does a hotel bar continue to dazzle the locals and remain a destination for travelers? If you're Cosmos inside the Graves 601 Hotel, you add an elegant champagne bar complete with a new menu and plenty of bubbly selections. Meet Relevé.

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First Look: Hammer & Sickle in Uptown

Categories: Now Open
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Joy Summers
Step inside here for vodka and vareniki
The sleek space has no sign, but the red door with the hammer and sickle handle makes it easy to spot this new Russian-influenced hot spot sandwiched between Bar Abilene and the Lagoon Cinema in Uptown. Dim lights flicker as shots are tipped back, plates of food float past, and music pumps overhead. This is the new Hammer & Sickle.

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First look: Sonora Grill's second location

Categories: Now Open
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Joy Summers
The lights are on and the doors are open
Bocadillo fans take note: The second location of Sonora Grill is now open for business. What began as a stand inside the Midtown Global Market has now moved into a second location, farther down Lake Street -- complete with roomier digs and a full bar. 

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St. Paul's 128 Cafe is now chef-owned and the food shows it

Categories: Now Open
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Joy Summers
Shrimp and green papaya salad with spicy pickled tomatoes
First of all, die hard fans of 128 Cafe's classic ribs can relax -- that particular menu item is still available, as is the roasted garlic and the classic Caesar salad. That said, new owner and chef Max Thompson has enlivened the rest of the menu with dishes that will change frequently. He's flexing a little culinary muscle inside this St. Paul neighborhood gem.

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