New Restaurant Review: Snack Bar

Isaac Becker strikes again—this time with a casual spot for easy-yet-impressive eats in the North Loop
Across the hall from sister restaurant Bar La Grassa, Snack Bar is a sexy North Loop neighborhood spot

Eleven Design Co/360 Spaces

All Isaac Becker does is open hits: 112 Eatery, Bar La Grassa, and Burch Steak. His latest? A North Loop restaurant designed around my favorite part of almost every menu: the small plates.

Unlike former tenant Be’Wiched Deli, Snack Bar’s space is dark, intimate, and designed for grazing. Try the Parmesan cheese waffle topped with prosciutto di Parma shavings. What a crazy dish—imagine the deep flavor of a Cheez-It, or cheese bread, in the body of a soft and fluffy waffle. Contrast that with the salty, rich prosciutto. It’s cool.

Fried Eggplant with Rosemary Honey at Snack Bar
Fried Eggplant with Rosemary Honey

Photo by Jason DeRusha

Then get yourself a plate of the fried eggplant, paired with just enough rosemary-infused honey. Really a sophisticated flavor combination—but fun, breezy, easy to enjoy.

The pickled cauliflower salad didn’t quite live up to its name. The bowl featured roasted cauliflower as well, and I had anticipated a little more of a pickled pop. Muted, fresh, lively—there are worse problems to have. That said, you know that the man behind Bar La Grassa, arguably the city’s most successful homemade pasta restaurant, is going to nail the noodle.

At Snack Bar, guests are encouraged to assemble a collection of small plates. Clockwise from top: Sweet Potato Gnocchi & Stracchino Cheese; Pickled Cauliflower Salad; and the Parmesan Waffle with Prosciutto di Parma
At Snack Bar, guests are encouraged to assemble a collection of small plates. Clockwise from top: Sweet Potato Gnocchi & Stracchino Cheese; Pickled Cauliflower Salad; and the Parmesan Waffle with Prosciutto di Parma

Photo by Jason DeRusha

Sweet-potato gnocchi pillows—light and fluffy enough to put Mike Lindell to shame—melted in my mouth. Absolute perfection for $12. The menu is organized in a slightly confusing way, although the servers helped guide us, advising how much we should order for our group. Prices give you a clue as to which things are a little more entrée-like (although nothing is really a large portion).

Sea Scallops with Chermoula and Pine Nuts at Snack Bar
Sea Scallops with Chermoula and Pine Nuts

Photo by Jason DeRusha

The price points, overall, are quite reasonable. Two absolutely perfectly prepared, plump scallops for $15 feels about right. But because youre playing the small-plates game, its easy for your bill to skyrocket over the $100 line for two people. You don’t have to eat that way, of course. You can come in, get a snack, a slice of pizza, and a salad, and be out for $25.

One slice, cut into thirds (by yours truly) so my group could all try it
One slice, cut into thirds (by yours truly) so my group could all try it

Photo by Jason DeRusha

And about that pizza: It’s really good. The original concept for Snack Bar was pizza by the slice. Now, because of all the other quality items on the menu, I wonder if the pie gets overshadowed. Becker’s team preps three different pizzas with dough, sauce, and cheese. This way, they can quickly top individual slices and throw them in an oven. Four dollars will get you a slice with sauce and mozzarella cheese. Then, choose from 25 toppings. Clams, Calabrian chilis, Bar La Grassa sausage, asiago, octopus!

So, overall, this is a nice place to snack and drink. You’ll find great, easy-drinking, quickly-served batched cocktails (try the margarita riff, Matcha Menudo) and an interesting wine-by-the-glass list, too. I really loved everything I tried. Yet I was left a little wanting. Snack Bar is an awesome restaurant for the neighborhood. And I mean that in the best way. The neighborhood is going to love it. If I lived nearby, I’d be there a couple times a month, probably. But is it worth driving to as a destination—passing up Bar La Grassa, Borough, Smack Shack, Spoon and Stable? Not really.

It’s not a criticism, as I don’t think Snack Bar is really designed to be a destination. The name is brilliant in that regard: “Snack Bar” sounds like a casual spot you’d spin by for a bite, and yet it exceeds your expectations at every turn.

Snack Bar
800 N. Washington Ave., Minneapolis
612-383-2848
snackbarmpls.com

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