We’ve long called Lake & Irving one of the best restaurants in Uptown, Minneapolis, so it’s probably time we gave it the rightful spotlight it deserves.
After our most recent visit, where Lily and I re-sampled all of our favorite staples at this legendary spot, I decided there’s no time like the present.
Read on for our full review of this Uptown legend!
Our Full Review
Lake & Irving is located at the intersection of, you guessed it, Lake Street and Irving Ave.
While it’s somewhat off the hustle and bustle of Hennepin Ave, and instead it’s nearest neighbors are a bank, a picture framing shop, and the Lunds & Byerlys parking lot, it’s still firmly planted in the heart of Uptown.
Just a few blocks east sits Lake Bde Maka Ska, and a few blocks west brings you to neighborhood stalwarts like Stella’s Fish Cafe and Amazing Thailand.
Step aside, dive bars, Lake & Irving is class’ing things up!
On your first visit you might be surprised to find that the vibe here is noticeably more upscale than the typical Twin Cities burger joint. Then again, we are in Uptown. What did you expect?
With dim lights, wood paneled walls, and plush red curtains, it feels like a traditional bar grew up into a classy neighborhood gastropub. The bar area reinforces this, too – like any good local watering hole, there’s a long line of beer taps, but directly above those taps sits an even bigger selection of craft spirits.
(In the summer, there’s also a nice patio space, but given the frozen temps we obviously opted to stay inside.)
You’ll also find top notch wait service here. On our recent visit, our waiter was a total expert on the menu, and he was more than happy to give a detailed breakdown of everything they’re offering. (While keeping those water glasses constantly full the whole meal!)
The menu prices reflect all this. Burgers and sandwiches run upwards of $18, which might cause sticker shock to some. But is it worth it?
Spoiler alert: Yes… yes it definitely is…
The drink menu fits right in with the vibe. Sitting front and center is a long line of house cocktails and classic cocktails, but the wine by glass section is actually the longest section.
For the beer fans, there’s a dozen taps that were obviously curated by a true fan. On the carefully selected list, you’ll find everything from local favorites like Surly & Utepils, to the Iowa-lengend Toppling Goliath, to award winners from Montana, Colorado, and even Hawaii.
True to style, Lily grabbed herself a White wine that she loved, and I capitalized on my favorite recent trend around town – zero proof cocktails. (I went with the Honey and Ginger – it was excellent and reminded me how talented those Lake & Irving mixologists are!)
Of course, the real star of the show at this spot is the legendary bar food.
And with that in mind, we knew we had to order three long time legends:
- KFC (that’d be Korean Fried Cauliflower!)
- Buttermilk Chicken Sandwich
(Fun testimonial: our waiter agreed this was always his go-to order, too!)
Korean Fried Cauliflower aka KFC
Oh man, welcome to heaven!
I’ve heard chefs describe cauliflower as sort of a blank canvas. If that’s true, Lake & Irving has painted a masterpiece!
These beauties come out perfectly crispy with a spicy, orange-chicken like sauce that’s been elevated with a sweet and sour mix of honey and lime. My mouth’s watering just thinking about it, and it’s absolutely one of the best small plates in town.
Buttermilk Chicken Sandwich
If the KFC is a teaser to what Lake & Irving can do with fried food, then the chicken sandwich is the main event!
This chicken comes out perfectly crispy, and then they double down on the crunch with the unique choice of a thin and crispy sourdough bun. The whole thing is then wrapped in perfectly cooked bacon, plenty of melted cheese, and a mayo-sauce that brings the tiniest hint of spice from a delicate amount of sriracha.
It’s one of the most unique sandwiches around. I loved it, and Lily loved it even more – one bite in and she re-confirmed it as one of her absolute favorites in the entire metro.
Gah, the Twin Cities burger scene never ceases to amaze me.
I feel like if this Cheeseburger existed in any other city in the country, there’d be a constant line out the door and endless Food network features. But in the Twin Cities, it’s yet another amazing burger.
But that’s not to take away from it in any way – this cheeseburger is very close to what I’d consider the perfect burger. An uber-soft brioche bun, perfectly melted cheese, and a pattie so juicy you’ll wonder what sort of magical cow it came from.
Speaking of which, what on earth was I thinking not including this in my list of best burgers in the Twin Cities? I must have had amnesia.
In any case, I’m off to get that corrected, because these beefy bites were so good, Lake & Irving’s burger is easily one of my top burgers in town, and it could make a very strong case for the best.
(I don’t throw that title around lightly, either!)
I’m not surprised, but Lake & Irving solidified itself as not just one of the best restaurants in Uptown, but one of the best in the entire Twin Cities.
Each of their three most popular menu items are legendary.
- One of the most unique and delicious appetizers in town? Check.
- A chicken sandwich that’s heaven between two slices of bread? Check.
- A burger that’s absolutely out of this world amazing? Check!
To answer the title of this article… I don’t know if that makes it the best bar menu in town, but it definitely puts it in the discussion!
With that being said, I also don’t know how else to end this review, except to say do yourself a favor and order these items ASAP.
1513 W Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55408
Traditional wait service
Average Plate Cost
$10-15 appetizers, $17+ burgers/sandwiches, $25-30 entrees
Yep! There’s a long, narrow patio space that fills up in the summer.
They bust out the brunch menu on weekends around lunch time
Do you need a reservation?
We managed to walk in on a weekend night.