Whether it’s a delay, a layover or just time to kill before an international flight that is keeping you in MSP airport, we’re lucky enough to have one of the best in the country. At MSP, you can have a unique drinking experience that will let you forget that you’re in the airport and not just out for a night on the town. To calm your nerves, meet a new friend or just pass the time, these airport bars and restaurants will ensure you’re feeling great as you fly off into the sunset. If your favorites aren’t on this list, don’t fret. Check out last year’s list here: Best Bars at Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport
Taste of Mill City Tavern
Terminal 1, Concourse G
You don’t have to sacrifice quality just because you’re stuck at the airport. Mill City Tavern, at Concourse G near Gate 17, uses locally sourced, farm fresh ingredients for its food and cocktails. The beer list is also strong, featuring the best of the Midwest on tap, most of which are from Minnesota. It’s strange to think of ambiance when stuck at the airport, but this Tavern nails that as well, with soft lighting, trendy signage and menus and immaculate food presentation. This tavern is the antithesis to the stereotypical airport restaurant.
Rock Bottom Brewery
Terminal 1, at the junction of Concourses C and D
For a nice cold beer, look no further than the handcrafted tap list at Rock Bottom Brewery. The bar and restaurant is located where Concourses C and D meet, and it’s a great feeling to drop your bag and settle in for a pre-flight drink and some decent eats. You’ll leave feeling refreshed and restored; ready for that eight-hour flight to Amsterdam or wherever you’re headed. There is plenty of seating, so if you’re traveling with a big group, you won’t have to worry about getting everyone a seat. Download the mobile food app at B4 You Board and Rock Bottom will deliver your food right to your gate, though unfortunately it won’t bring you a beer.
Terminal 2, Gate area
Find a slice of the Minnesota Northwoods in Terminal 2. You might expect to see a lake outside the window of this fishing-themed bar, and plenty of Minnesota charm is served up with cold beers and strong drinks. It’s like drinking at a cabin, but with excellent people watching… and it’s in the airport. After a few drinks, however, you’ll forget all about the metallic voice telling you which flights are boarding. Granddaddy’s is a fun place; a last taste of Minnesota before you board your flight and take off to other worlds.
Terminal 1, Concourse F
Saint Paul is an Irish city and that has spread outside the borders and all the way to the airport. O’Gara’s, a local chain anchored in the capitol city, has created a touch of the Emerald Isle at concourse F, near gate 12. Belly up to the bar and order a nice, big Guinness and some pub food (try the surprisingly good corned beef or walleye). You’ll find all the goodwill and cheer that you would at the original location, creating a mini-vacation before you even leave the airport.
Terminal 1, Concourse C
Ideal for pre-takeoff party with friends, this Hawaiian-themed bar is as colorful and fun as the drinks it serves. Located inside Maui Tacos, which is everything it sounds like (it even has a Maui Burrito) at Concourse C, near Gate 6, Surf Bar is great for last-minute shots or a big tiki-inspired rum drink before settling in for a long flight. Kick back and relax if you have time. If you listen closely, you might just hear the sounds of the ocean.
Adrian Schramm is a resident Saint Paul writer with a passion for all things local. Through his work with Saint Paul Almanac and Minneapolis Examiner at Examiner.com, as well as in the kitchens of bars and restaurants around town, he has discovered what truly makes the Twin Cities tick.