Daily reopening guide: Three places for a night out when a college bar isn’t the move

The Daily’s guide to chill, smaller-scale music venues reopening in Minneapolis.

by Megan Phillips

To the delight of anyone who’s yearning for a night on the town this summer, various businesses are welcoming back patrons to enjoy the luxuries missed during isolation, including dine-in services, live music and lifted COVID-19 restrictions. With the city’s lifted mask mandate, citizens are greeting each other again with smiles as they reenter urban nightlife.

For those who aren’t terribly interested in a stinky college bar, there are other options available in the Cities to ensure FOMO doesn’t mess with hot girl summer.

Coffee-lovers, foodies and anyone in need of a night out — or a strong drink — should check out these venues when planning their next get-together.

Icehouse: Located in south Minneapolis on Nicollet Avenue South near the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Icehouse offers both indoor and outdoor shows this summer. Featuring an industrial aesthetic and situated on Eat Street, this venue is perfect for a first date or a girl’s night. Begin your night getting drinks at one of the many restaurants along Nicollet, such as Black Sheep Pizza or the Bad Waitress, and then head over to see a show at Icehouse to wind down the night with an order of their short ribs with a chocolate espresso rub or pan-seared shrimp and grits. Satisfy your sweet tooth before you leave with a campfire apple crisp or raspberry lemon tart.

Aster Cafe: Conveniently housed near Marcy-Holmes, Aster Cafe is a great place to end your day after exploring Father Hennepin Bluff Park and taking Instagram shots on the Stone Arch Bridge. Watch the sunset through the trees outside the cafe as you sip a Summer Buzzer cocktail and munch on focaccia and artichoke dip. With laid back vibes and a killer menu, Aster is guaranteed to make your night worthwhile. Those interested in attending a show at the cafe must make a reservation beforehand either by phone or on their website.

The Hook and Ladder Theater and Lounge: Along Minnehaha Avenue and housed in an old firehouse, Hook and Ladder offers a variety of shows, including comedy shows, concerts, literary events, craft shows and theater. Dedicated to low-waste events and partially solar-powered, the venue has two indoor stages, a lounge with beer and wine available and a full production theater. Anyone interested in the arts can find a show at Hook and Ladder to welcome themselves back to live entertainment. Grab a burger and milkshake before a show at Hi-Lo Diner nearby or seafood tacos at Sonora Grill.