Best Bar Runner-Up
The Monte Carlo
Downtown – Minneapolis
The Monte Carlo is an absolute gem of a bar. If you haven’t been here I highly recommend you drop all your plans for the weekend and take some time to find out what a real cocktail tastes like. I’m not kidding, in fact this was a close second for best overall bar in Minneapolis, if I had to pick one bar on this entire list to go to for the rest of my life, it is very likely I’d pick The Monte Carlo. If you think I’m embellishing the level of greatness of this place let me indulge you in a brief history lesson.
The Monte Carlo was established in 1906 in the warehouse district of downtown Minneapolis. This is back when the warehouse district was actually a warehouse district, housing the gears of industry rather than the pretentious condos and luxury apartments that now surround this Minneapolis staple. If you’re like me, a hardcore Minnesota native, you may have the pleasure of visiting this place and enjoying a great cocktail of choice in the same establishment as your parents, your grandparents, and even your great grand parents (yeah dude… no joke, it’s that old). Upon walking in you’ll feel as if you’ve just stepped out of a time machine into the 1960’s. The copper-topped long bar will be hosted by bartenders looking as if they just served a drink to Don Draper himself, the waitresses and waiters are in similar garb although more French-maid-ey yet fitting for the rest of the decor.
The bar is a sight for sore eyes, especially those who are cocktail connoisseurs. Their spirits selection is better than any other establishment in the twin cities, housed atop a shelved display with back-lighting that makes your inner self giddy at the sight. The bartenders are typically soft spoken, witty, always welcome a casual conversation, and provide top-notch service that make you feel like a hot-shot that you’re really not. Don’t take their kind nature lightly, these guys are artists, masters of their craft. Some of my favorite cocktails, regardless of season, I’ve had at this bar. They never disappoint.
The food menu is outstanding. It is simplistic, yet creative somehow. It’s as if they really perfected their craft over the 100+ years they’ve been in business. The menu provides something to fit everyone’s taste and some unique options as well if you’re feeling adventurous. Some of my favorites are their calamari (which it is very challenging to find good calamari in the Midwest), the lemon herb chicken, and if you’re a meat man you must try the beef liver (best in the cities). If you are just going for drinks and a light bite, you need to get their cinnamon dry rub wings with their house made ranch dressing, it is to die for. Honestly, this is one of those spots that is so great and such a undiscovered gem I rarely tell people about it because I don’t want it to get overly popular. So you’re welcome in advance, you can thank me later.
Looking for other great bars in the Twin Cities? Check out my other “best of the Twin Cities” bars: