Blackbird Still Soars Above the Rest

The pioneer of south Eat Street still flies high

Each month, in our Restaurants Revisited conversation, MnMo food critics Jason DeRusha and Joy Summers return to an “old favorite” restaurant and assess how it’s faring.

Joy: Blackbird Cafe began its life at a different address, but after a devastating fire in a neighboring building, the restaurant moved to the corner of 38th and Nicollet Avenue. It’s been a perfect perch from which to watch the formerly sleepy area around it develop a vibrant food culture.

Jason: After the move, owners Gail Mollner and Chris Stevens didn’t change their style of approachable-but-exciting food served in a welcoming environment. For brunch, lunch, or dinner, this is a neighborhood cafe that’s also a worthy destination.

Joy: This has long been the go-to spot in town for a divine modern take on a Vietnamese banh mi sandwich.

Dining room

photos by tj turner

Jason: Or a delicious braised beef sandwich called the Longhorn. The menu here changes seasonally, spans the globe, and is hard to characterize. Spaghetti alla chitarra is next to walleye and barbeque chicken sausage? Why not! 

Joy: We arrived on a Wednesday and had a blast with the mystery wine night: $20 buys an unknown bottle in a paper bag. We landed a Barbera/Nebbiolo blend that was an ideal match for our dinner.

Jason: Funny, we dined on a Wednesday too, and also got a real kick out of the mystery wine night. All you know is red or white: We got an earthy Croatian I never would have picked off a list, but it was great.

Beef short ribs

Joy: Did you get the ubiquitous Brussels sprouts, too? Our server suggested the vegetable that’s on every menu right now and it did not disappoint. 

Jason: We liked the Brussels hash—the sprouts were shaved thin and cooked to crispy deliciousness. The red curry was also good: a rich coconut milk and lemongrass broth with mushrooms, eggplant, and grilled tofu that’s served with purple sticky rice wrapped in a banana leaf. It was fresh, light, and flavorful.

Joy: Our only clunker was an under-seasoned, bland burger, but I still love Blackbird. See you next Wednesday?

Blackbird Quick Tips:

Wednesday Night Wine: Spend $20 to get a mystery wine that could retail from $30 to $75.

Reservations: Can be made online—not accepted for weekend brunch.

Antlers: Blackbird was decorating with them before it became chic: whitetail, roe deer, mule deer, caribou, and moose!

3800 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis, 612-823-4790,