Order Up! New Minneapolis bistro serving up ‘North Dakotan cuisine’

The spicy chicken sandwich from Mary Ellen’s Bistro, which occupies the space of Maeve’s. // Photo via Mary Ellen’s Bistro Instagram

Updated March 5, 2020

Order Up! is the Growler’s ongoing biweekly account of noteworthy Minnesota restaurant openings, closings, and future openings. Please send any tips to [email protected]

All dates are approximate based on best information available; opening dates, in particular, tend to shift around a lot. 

THIS WEEK’S GIST: The opening of Mary Ellen’s Bistro in Northeast Minneapolis, a restaurant that aims to capitalize on a hard-to-quantify nostalgia for (or curiosity about) North Dakotan cuisine, raises an interesting point: is there a demand for hyper-regional Midwestern restaurants? Could an Iowan spot focused on loose-meat sandwiches and taco pizza clean up in South Minneapolis? What about an Indiana-themed place offering burgoo and persimmon pudding in Kingfield? Or a Door County-themed spot on West 7th that leans into “tastes-like-lobster” boiled Lake Michigan whitefish with drawn butter and properly sweet-tart slices of cherry pie? In a market where novelty often sells and nearly every corner of the world has been strip-mined for its culinary icons, the idea of going regionally local opens up some precious new niches…

RECENTLY OPENED (Up to 2 Months)

Unleashed Hound and Hops is now open // Photo via Unleashed Hound and Hops

Mary Ellen’s Bistro, 300 13th Ave. NE, Minneapolis ■ The former Maeve’s has reopened as an eatery with a North Dakota flair (right down to the knoephla soup.) Opened February 28.

Coffee Cup on Randolph, 1333 Randolph Ave., St. Paul ■ The venerable Copper Dome has been replaced by a similar classic diner concept with new ownership. Opened February 26.

Tori Ramen, 603 W. Seventh St., St. Paul ■ One of the state’s foremost ramen shops shut its St. Paul location in 2019, only to reopen in the former Chicago Taste Authority on West Seventh Street. Relocated and reopened February 22.

Unleashed: Hounds and Hops, 200 E. Lyndale Ave., Minneapolis ■ A dog-focused tap house, dog park, and eatery located near the Minneapolis Farmers Market. Opened January 29, 2020.

Angelea’s Soul Food Kitchen, 7800 Zane Ave N., Brooklyn ParkMeat and sides dominate the menu at this new soul food spot helmed by four siblings who seek to honor their mother’s legacy. Opened January 24.

Phi Chay Thai Cuisine, 967 W 7th St, St Paul ■ The former Supatra’s Thai location on West 7th has reopened under new ownership but has kept the Thai theme. Opened January 20.

RECENTLY CLOSED (Up to 2 Months)

Dulceria Bakery // Photo via Dulceria Bakery Facebook

Model Citizen ■ One of the most noteworthy farm-to-table restaurants in Minnesota will be closing—temporarily, as they relocate—when its lease with Goat Ridge Brewing expires at the end of March. Read our profile of Model Citizen’s chef-owners, “Country Flavor.” Closing March 29.

New French Bakery ■ One of the only notable bargain bread outlets will be no more when the New French Bakery shop on 26th Avenue closes later this winter. The company’s wholesale frozen bread business will continue. Closing “no later than March 6,” as per the Star Tribune

Flagsmash ■ This small operation known for big quesadillas and tasty tacos is calling it quits. Closing February 29 at Graze Food Hall, already closed at La Doña Cervecería.

Dulceria Bakery ■ This unique Mexican bakery in South Minneapolis (which often offers vegan spins on traditional baked goods) will be shutting its doors later this month. Closed February 22.

Heritage Tea House ■ This bastion of soul food on University Avenue is closed, but its U.S. Bank Stadium kiosk will continue. Closed January 30. Read our Bite of the Week, “Chicken and Waffle at Heritage Tea House and Cafe.”

McKinney Roe ■ This large-scale, luxuriously appointed restaurant made a three-year go of it in the shadow of U.S. Bank Stadium under the ownership of Dermot Cowley. Closed Jan 19. 

The Bird ■ Kim Bartmann’s Loring Park restaurant The Bird has shut its doors but will continue doing catering and breakfast and lunch delivery. Closed January 15.

Blackbird ■ Blackbird’s 13-year-odyssey—which involved a catastrophic fire, a successful change of venue, and innovative fusion cuisine and wine offerings—ended early this year. Closed January 7.

UPCOMING (Most Imminent to Furthest Out)

Food from Erik The Red // Photo via Erik the Red

Foodsmith, 973 Smith Avenue S, West St. Paul, MN ■ A new “gastro-pub concept and private event space” from the owners of the organic Mendoberri Cafe and Wine Bar in Mendota Heights. Opening March 9, 2020.

Heather’s, 5201 Chicago Ave. S., Minneapolis ■ The long-vacant Mario’s space in South Minneapolis will be reborn with a flexible, seasonal menu under the leadership of Heather Asbury, formerly of Lucia’s. Opening Winter 2020.

Cajun Twist, 3761 Bloomington Ave, Minneapolis ■ This Cajun-inspired restaurant will be moving from its current location at the trailhead at Theodore Wirth Park to the former Marla’s location in South Minneapolis. Opening Winter 2020. 

Pie & Mighty, 3553 Chicago Ave, Minneapolis ■ Gourmet pies (and pie subscriptions) will be the thing at this bricks-and-mortar incarnation of the popular local baking company. Opening March 14 (Pi Day)! 

Pearl and the Thief, 811 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis ■ This former Stillwater-based restaurant is in the process of relocating to downtown Minneapolis, colocating with the Moxy Downtown Minneapolis hotel and Ironclad Residential development. Opening timing unclear.

Pajarito (Edina location), 3910 W 50th St, Edina ■ A second location of the popular West 7th modern Mexican restaurant is opening up in the former Tejas space in Edina. Opening Winter 2020.

Sooki and Mimi, 1432 W. 31st St., Minneapolis ■ A new spot from Ann Kim’s restaurant group focused on tacos wrapped in handmade, traditional tortillas plus a basement bar. Early 2020.

Pho Mai, 319 14th Ave SE, Minneapolis ■ A new pho-focused eatery in a former Dinkytown Tim Horton’s, from the owner of the popular MT Noodles in Brooklyn Park. March 2020.

Malcolm Yards Market, 501 30th Ave. SE, Minneapolis ■  A food hall that will capitalize on its proximity to Surly’s massive brewery/restaurant complex. Spring 2020.

Bebe Zito Ice Cream, 704 W. 22nd St, Minneapolis ■ An upscale ice cream shop by Ben Spangler, who created the opening slate of flavors for Milkjam. March 2020.

Breaking Bread (re-opening), 1210 W Broadway Ave, Minneapolis ■ The beloved modern soul food spot in North Minneapolis will be reopening later this year after a hiatus. Opening April 2020.

Surdyk’s Sidebar, 303 E. Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis ■ A new 60-seat bar and brasserie co-located with Surdyk’s cheese and liquor shops on Hennepin Avenue. Opening Summer 2020.

Vinai Hmong Kitchen, Location TBA ■ The Kickstarter-backed bricks-and-mortar Hmong cuisine-focused restaurant by Chef Yia Vang is due to pop this year, after more than a year of planning. 2020.

Birchwood-Minnesota Farmers Union Project TBA, 750 S 2nd St, Minneapolis ■ A new farm-to-table focused project led by Birchwood chef Marshall Paulsen will replace the former Spoonriver near the Guthrie Theater. Spring 2020.

Billy Sushi, 116 N 1st Ave., Minneapolis ■  Former Sushi Fix owner Billy Tserenbat is jump-starting a new venture in the former Sweet Chow space in the North Loop, with the former adjacent ice cream shop turning into a whiskey and sake bar. May 2020.

Erik the Red (relocating), 4621 Snelling Ave, Minneapolis at the Lowa46 development, Minneapolis ■ The U.S. Bank Stadium-adjacent “viking bar” is packing up and bringing its smoked meats, cocktails, and craft beer taps to South Minneapolis. Opening Summer 2020.

Dayton’s Food Hall & Market, 700 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis ■ Major new 40,000-square-foot food hall curated by Andrew Zimmern. 2020.

The Sioux Chef Restaurant at Water Works, On the Mississippi River, behind the Mill City Museum ■ A restaurant focused on American Indian cuisine as imagined by Sean Sherman, The Sioux Chef. Currently delayed; as per Dana Thompson (co-owner / COO of Sioux Chef), “We are at the mercy of the Park Board project and we keep getting notified that Waterworks has encountered a series of delays. As you know, this project is an archeological dig, so add that on to what it takes to open a restaurant, and there are a few challenges.” 2021.