Edit ModuleShow Tags

Minnesota’s Oldest Bar and/or Restaurant?


If you were a Minnesota Monthly subscriber you’d have had my review of the Inn in your hands for weeks already—and you’d know I’ve got an amusing anecdote about a bear. But in thinking about The Inn, I also got to thinking about Minnesota’s oldest, continually operating restaurants.

My thoughts: There are a bunch of places that opened the nanosecond Prohibition ended—like, St. Paul’s DeGidio's (founded by bootlegger “Kid Bullets” DeGidio!) and Northeast’s Jax. There are others that opened close on the heels of Prohibition’s end, like the Lexington. But what about places that are even older?

The oldest Twin Cities restaurant I can think of is The Monte Carlo, in the Warehouse district. I talked to owner John Rimarczeck recently, and he told me that the Monte Carlo was once a Gluek’s beer bar—opened in 1902, when breweries owned most of the bars. My understanding is that, in Minneapolis, most of the bars were either Gluek’s bars or Minneapolis Brewing Company Bars, the company whose leading brand was eventually Grain Belt. I think it would have been like the way we can have a Caribou and a Starbucks on every corner. But, back to the Monte Carlo. Rimarczeck figures that with doors being moved, electricity and plumbing updates, bar changes, and whatnot, the only part of the Monte Carlo that dates to the original experience of the 1902 patrons would have been the beautiful old tin ceiling. So the next time you’re in the Monte Carlo, look up! You’re seeing something also seen by people who got to the Monte Carlo on horseback. Rimarczek also mentioned that old bars of that era only had men’s bathrooms—ladies didn’t drink!—and that the manager of any given bar typically lived upstairs, not unlike the arrangement a vicar has with the vicarage. Interesting stuff. However, I feel like my crowning of the Monte Carlo as the area’s oldest operating bar is premature. Does anyone know anything older? I’m all ears.

For the record, the oldest bar I’ve ever been to in the area is either New Prague’s Schumacher’s or Fountain City’s tiny Monarch Tavern. While the original steamship-era bar is tiny, it’s been greatly expanded to a darts-and-snowmobiles average rural Wisconsin bar.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

About This Blog

Minnesota Monthly's Taste Blog answers your restaurant and dining questions, dishes on latest discoveries, reflects on breaking news, and generally brings the plate to the page with a skilled crew of experts: Learn more about the Taste bloggers.

Have a food-related question? Email rhutton@mnmo.com

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Taste Blog

Toast the Royal Wedding with British-Gin Cocktails

As Britain’s Prince Harry and U.S.-actress Megan Markle tie the knot, raise a glass to the happy couple—and those close to you—with wedding-themed tipples

Bottoms-Up Cinnamon Caramel Pinwheels Recipe

With this fast version of a sticky bun, baking at home can be no muss, no fuss—and delicious

Leslie Bock's Newest Bar Wants to Save the Future

"We're attempting to show humans as messy and complicated."

Rosé All Day: The Best Tastings (Some Free)

More than 100 different rosé wines available to try—many for free

Wine Clubs: The Perfect Mother's Day Gift

Sip Better figures out your taste for wine and goes deep

Gavin Kaysen Takes Midwest Gold

A quick note on our 2018 James Beard Best Chef: Midwest

Sue Z.'s Charitable Check-In: May

This month, Sue Z. recommends supporting local student chefs with a dinner at Saint Dinette

Greek Yogurt Marinated Chicken Kebabs Recipe

Get fired up for grilling season with tender, flavorful chicken kebabs by meat guru Bruce Aidells and a marinade that also works well with other proteins

My Name Is Jason and I Used to Hate Brunch

Brunch has undergone a renaissance in the Twin Cities. Food critic Jason DeRusha picks his top spots for brunch this year.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags