Top 10 best places to grab a drink before a show at First Avenue

Categories: Lists
Photo by Tony Nelson

It's a given that Minnesota-based music lovers will eventually see a live show at one of the best venues in the country, First Avenue. The hundreds of silver stars on the gritty black walls of the club provide but a small sampling of the legendary bands passing through, and Prince assuredly put the club on the music world's radar when he filmed Purple Rain there in the early '80s. Over the years, it has earned a rep as a great place to see a concert in the bustling heart of Minneapolis

Whether you are a local music scene veteran or you're heading down to the venerable club for the very first time, there's often a window of time to fill before the night's big event. If you are looking to meet up with some friends ahead of time, here are the 10 best places to have a drink before catching a show at First Avenue.

See Also:
Top 10 Twin Cities hipster bars featuring local live music
First Avenue's 20 best concerts: Readers' picks
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Photo by Erik Hess

10. Gluek's Restaurant & Bar
16 N. Sixth St., Minneapolis

There is a definite old-school vibe to this charming bar and restaurant, the oldest in downtown Minneapolis. The Gluek's brewery itself hasn't been around for a while, but the bar still pours some choice Gluek's pints -- one of the few places in the state that still does -- as well as a long selection of other beers from around the state and the world. And they have a terrific bar and dinner menu which is heavy on traditional German fare and seafood but has a bit of something to suit every taste. The warm, intimate feel of the bar has a definite European beer-hall ambiance, providing the perfect atmosphere for downing a few pints with your friends before walking to a show at First Ave, which is just two blocks away.

Photo by Erik Hess

9. Eli's Food and Cocktails
1225 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis

This intimate, welcoming bar and restaurant has a nice vintage vibe to it that is perfectly suited for grabbing a few stiff drinks before heading to First Ave for a show. The beer choices are smaller than at larger bars, but the brews are well chosen for their discerning clientele, and the knowledgeable bartenders know how to mix the perfect drink. The menu is top-notch as well, with even hot dogs given a bit of a gourmet (but still highly affordable) twist. Eli's is five blocks from First Ave, so even if you do happen to load up on martinis and mac & cheese, the brisk walk will allow you to work off the calories as well as clear your head a bit before the gig.

Photo by Erik Hess

8. 112 Eatery
112 N. Third St., Minneapolis

While the fantastic food at the refined 112 Eatery deservedly gets most of the attention, the quaint bar area here is the perfect place to have some philosophical discussions with old friends before a big show at the Ave. The wine list is impeccable, the mixed drinks are consistently perfect, and the list of beers is impressive for such a small place. If you do have the time to sample their delectable menu that will surely only add to your overall experience and appreciation of the place. But the drinks themselves, and the cozy atmosphere of the space, will definitely be enough to put you in the perfect frame of mind to head on over to First Avenue, located just five blocks away.

Photo by Erik Hess

7. The Chambers Hotel
901 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis

While the steep price of the rooms at the Chambers Hotel might intimidate some First Avenue patrons, the unique bars and the original works of art located throughout the establishment are well worth checking out. Whether you're drinking indoors surrounded by edgy modern art pieces from Ralph Burnet's private collection, or at the ground level outdoor bar which can adapt to any type of weather -- with a fire pit and a cool ice bar to help fend off the elements in the heart of winter, and intimate private bungalows in the warmer months -- the place simply exudes class. If you can get past the pretentiousness of some of its clientele, there are plenty of eye-catching aspects of the Chambers to get lost in before taking the two-block walk to First Avenue.

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