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First Taste: Erik The Red

Fun menu, great service, Erik The Red could be a new neighborhood gem from Erik Forsberg, owner of Devil's Advocate and Dan Kelly's Pub


If "Minnesota barbeque," as Erik The Red purports to offer, means a bacon slab the size of my brother's giant head, then sign me up. We visited Erik the Red on a Wednesday night when U.S. Bank Stadium was empty to taste some of the new menu, and consider me mostly impressed. The service we got from Nic was particularly excellent: he gave great recommendations and was a lot of fun.

Photos by Jason DeRusha

Erik The Red is a creation of Erik Forsberg, the owner of Devil's Advocate and Dan Kelly's Pub. It's in the shadow of U.S. Bank Stadium in the old Hubert's. The place has been scrubbed and opened up, and looks fantastic. It is extremely loud, and this was not a game day. I didn't see any acoustical dampening material in the place, and with high ceilings and open spaces, it was difficult to have a conversation even though this was not a jam-packed game-day crowd.

Erik is a great guy, with an eye for excellent beer. The list at Erik The Red isn't as wide-ranging as the incredible list at Devil's Advocate, but it includes five beers exclusive to Erik's empire: an IPA called Devil's Advocate, a Nordic Pils, and a Scotch Stout (which is blonde in color and light in body!). During happy hour (which runs until 7) those house beers are $4.41 each ($5 with tax).

The food was really fun. We started with "Roots & Cheddar," a fun play on cheese fries featuring some root vegetable fries along with potato and sweet potato. During happy hour, appetizers are $2 off, so this was $5.

The Smoke Board had smoked ham with a hint of rosemary, a lovely bratwurst, and some smoked cheeses. Nice shareable plate for $16. But the barbeque is the star of the show, and the stuff I tried was really good. Smoked brisket was $16, which seemed a little expensive considering we probably got 1/3 of a pound of meat. The flavor was good, the serving was a little small for the price.

The smoked bacon slab was enormous and perfectly smoked. Thick, more meaty than fatty, this was really awesome for that same $16. The barbeque comes without sides, so you'll want to add them in. When you order a meat plate, you get your first side for $4, second for $2, and third for $1. So with a group of four adults, I'd do two meat plates and three sides, and you'll probably be good. We really liked the burnt Brussels sprouts and the mac & cheese.

There may be a little sticker shock when you look at $16 for barbeque and no sides, but considering a plate really serves two I don't think it's unreasonable. They have sandwiches also, my 11-year-old inhaled the pulled pork sandwich ($14, comes with one side). Also: white barbeque sauce! You don't see that often around here, but make sure you ask for it. It's made with mayo, pepper, seasonings—and it's excellent. Erik the Red is way more than just a spot for game day, it's going to be a popular neighborhood spot for the growing East Town area. 

Erik The Red
601 Chicago Ave., Minneapolis

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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.

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