News flash: summer’s here. The days are longer and brighter, giving us all more drive to get out and live a little. I’ve been biking, running, and happy hour-ing a lot in the last few weeks. Luckily, I write a blog so all on my happy hour “research” isn’t in vain and can be shared with all of you! My first new find of the summer search: Mason’s Restaurant Barre.
Mason’s Restaurant Barre caught my eye this May. It holds a great location downtown, close to the stadium and Target Center, with a quaint sidewalk patio and a restaurant that opens up to The Cowles Center. I’m a fan of locally owned and managed establishments, something that is more rare downtown, so I knew I wanted to give it a try.
My first visit to Mason’s was after a Twins game in late May. I was looking for group-friendly spot close to the field, not too expensive, and with an anti “bro” environment. I, being the self-idenfied Minneapolite of the group, was put in charge of picking the location. Mason’s was my first choice. When we arrived, the host (who I later found out was the owner) provided a warm welcome and prepared patio seating for our group of nine. We ordered a mixture of dinner, snacks and drinks. I would suggest the Ballerina cocktail($9), in honor of The Cowles Center, of course. A deliciously fancy drink of St. Germain and Prosecco, though the price may keep you from ordering another. Mason’s also has a great selection of Boozy Beers. The Dark Apple ($8) was a favorite of ours, but I think you’ll want to try them all! Overall, the late night experience was great. Good food served until close every night (2 am on weekends!) with an emphasis on locally sourced, affordable Americana dishes.
My great late-night experience was destined to lead to an after-work happy hour. When I heard about Mason’s Grand Opening Happy Hour last friday, it was the perfect opportunity. One hour of free drinks and food to celebrate their first month of business — now that is hospitality!
We arrived around 4 on a Friday and both cars found street parking pretty easily, just a few dollars for the meters. We snagged a table outside, but only after I got a chance to show the ladies the tasteful interior space. As you walk inside, you immediate notice a split in the otherwise open room. To your right is a cafe serving breakfast to downtowners and evening espressos to theater goers. To your left is a row of tall, slim windows covering the south wall across from the weathered bar, once on display at the 400 Bar. Gorgeous tiled floors wrap around the bar leading to a quieter dining area around the corner. Overall, the vibe is chic, but not pretentious – “metropolitan” in all the right ways.
We grabbed a round of the free appetizer samplers from inside and took our place in the sun. We started with Housemade Potato Chips (usually $9). They were delicious on their own, but after a taste of the hot hammy cheese dip, they were incomplete without. We also got an assortment of wings (price varies by amount) – really you can’t go wrong here, especially with that hot blue cheese dip. Lastly, some fresh fried corn tortilla chips with guac and salsa (usually $9). Good, but they wouldn’t stand out in a crowd.
We enjoyed a great selection of beers on the house thanks to the Grand Opening festivities. Normally, happy hour includes $1.50 off tap beer, wine, rail cocktails, select specialty cocktails and varying food specials.
Though our particular server seemed to be having a rough day, the bartenders and owner, Lucas Miller, were all very friendly, providing the hospitality and warmth that is so often lacking in this part of town. We left feeling satisfied with our drinks, food, and the overall vibe of Mason’s.
After just over a month of business, I have high hopes for the new restaurant and barre in town.
Happy Hour: 7 Days a week, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., $1.50 off rail cocktails, house wines, taps, and a handful of specialty cocktails. Select appetizer specials.
Twin Game Day Special: $2.50 Budweiser, Shocktop & Mich Golden, $4.00 Odell, Lift Bridge & Alaskan
SUNday FUNday: 6 p.m.-2 a.m.: $3 taps, rails and house wines, plus $4 call shots.
But don’t take my word for it…