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Review: Zhora Darling is a new hip, upscale eatery and bar in NE Minneapolis

The new late-night spot hosts live music along with their spendy food and drinks.
Image by Ethan Lambert
The lamb shepard’s pie in the dimly-lit dining area of Zhora Darling.

Opened in September by Michael Petersen and Eric Odness, co-owners of a bar in Brooklyn, New York, Zhora Darling is set to cater to just about all needs of late-night customers. Whether you want to indulge in happy hour at the bar, appetizers or a full-on dinner or are looking for some live music, Zhora Darling is set to have options that suit all of the above (that is if you do not mind paying for a $15 cocktail).

The bar has a 1980s flare, with two pool tables drenched in pink and blue neon lighting toward the entrance, blue underlighting at the bar and 1980s post-punk playing from the speakers.

There is a distinct vibe shift from the bar and entrance to the dining area, where it is dimly lit in yellow light, more of what you would expect from a nice restaurant in Northeast. This is probably part of Zhora Darling’s mission to cater to all kinds of people with two distinct places at their location for people to go to depending on what they are in the mood for.

If you are going to go to Zhora Darling for just one thing, it should be one of their cocktails. At $15 a piece, the menu has a sextet of unique curated cocktails. “El Rey,” containing tequila, grapefruit, lime and agave, was essentially the Zhora Darling take on a margarita. Served in a glass with a large single cube of ice, it tastes like a quality margarita but with a lasting fruity aftertaste due to the inclusion of grapefruit. It is not reinventing the wheel by any means, but it was a nice-tasting cocktail.

The “Dead Ringer,” a drink with tequila, velvet falernum liqueur, lime and verdita, was even better than the already satisfactory “El Rey.” The cocktail’s mixture of ingredients masked the taste of alcohol quite well, resulting in a sweet and smooth beverage that is a highlight of the menu.

Along with the cocktails, Zhora Darling has local craft beer on tap (from breweries like Arbeiter, Falling Knife and Modist) as well as a selection of wine, alcohol seltzers and THC seltzers.

Zhora Darling’s dinner menu was “inspired by casual Australian fare,” according to their press release. While the options for main courses are not extensive, they do have an eclectic set of meat-based options, far away from typical bar food.

The lamb shepard’s pie was a stand-out on the dinner menu, featuring honey-roasted vegetables. It served as a hearty sweet and salty combination that revealed more flavor with every subsequent bite.

Their aptly titled “burger” (the cheapest entrée on the menu at $16, just a dollar more than a cocktail) is notably topped off with harissa mayo, which gives the dish a nice flavor of chili spice you will not find on your standard bar burger. On its own, the burger patty is nothing special, but once you taste the harissa mayo, it transcends the taste of a typical burger.

With just a few options for dessert, Zhora Darling’s crème brûlée was a rich, tasty conclusion to the dining experience. Made with Valrhona chocolate, a French premium chocolate manufacturer, its thick texture was closer to ice cream than your standard crème brûlée. The Valrhona chocolate worked well in the dish, as it was plentiful in flavor but not overwhelming as some chocolate-based desserts tend to be.

The only downside of all of the good food and drinks at Zhora Darling is the price. If you are a college student on a budget, this might not be the place to frequent, but it certainly is a solid option for a fancy night out near campus.

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  • Jodi
    Feb 9, 2024 at 4:49 pm

    The prices compare to others in the area. We love it there! Let’s not forget the amazing brunch menu-I think it’s served until 4pm!?!

  • Amber
    Nov 22, 2023 at 9:45 am

    They also serve food until 1am everyday! The prices are quite comparable to local spots like Sidecar and Sonder Shaker.