Blue Nile Ethiopian Restaurant & Lounge

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Blue Nile Ethiopian Restaurant & LoungeBlue Nile Ethiopian Restaurant & Lounge
55 Ratings
Blue Nile Ethiopian Restaurant & LoungeBlue Nile Ethiopian Restaurant & Lounge

Type: Bar, Eatery

2027 E Franklin Ave
Minneapolis, Minnesota, 55404-2245
United States

(612) 338-3000

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Ratings: 55 |  Reviews: 50
Reviews by MPLS:
Photo of MPLS
4.08/5  rDev -5.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

Overall this place has a great atmosphere with every changing nightlife. During the daytime happy hour it's relaxed and an environment well suited for great conversation. The bar is my primary spot, but there is seating in their "entertainment" room. I find the building decor to be a bit tacky and not entirely to my liking, but that doesn't change the bar.

The quality of beer is great, always served in an appropriate glass and always tastes right. They seem to take care of their taps at this place. That might be credited to their bar manager.

The selection is pretty variable at this place, overall it's pretty decent. They have a good relationship with Surly and occasionally get some of the rarer kegs in town. It's typically advertised and runs out quickly unfortunately. I had the pleasure of drinking Darkness from various vintages numerous times at this bar.

The service at the bar is exceptional, but falls a little short with the servers.

The food is primarily Ethiopian and is probably good for it's style, but it stills seems overpriced. There twice a day happy hour makes up for the food pricing though.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of Josholson666
4.5/5  rDev +3.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

Photo of pat61
3.91/5  rDev -9.7%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.75 | service: 4 | selection: 4.25 | food: 3.75

When it first open i went there for the food. Then I looked at the beer menu. Go there for the beer. it has a nice funky vide and generally a good mix of people.

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Photo of timlyon
5/5  rDev +15.5%

Photo of Powderhornphil
4/5  rDev -7.6%

Photo of mmulebarn
4.25/5  rDev -1.8%

Photo of benjamincarter
4/5  rDev -7.6%

Photo of KarlHungus
4.71/5  rDev +8.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.5

Great food, awesome ever-changing beer selection, cool atmosphere, 2-4-1 happy hour taps, eclectic world music and good jazz playing overhead, good service. What else needs to be said about The Blue Nile? The selection although not massive (a dozen taps) is full of unique rotating options. They get a lot of rare beers from both local breweries, and breweries as far away as Belgium and Sri Lanka. They also put on great special events, and release parties.

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Photo of DaveAnderson
4.1/5  rDev -5.3%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 2.75

I love Blue Nile, I really do. Virtually all of my "drinking out" dollars go there. That said, it has some drawbacks that visitors should keep in mind.

Atmosphere: (Note: I am not planning to review the restaurant or the non-beer beverage selection) This is a hermit-crab establishment through and through. A great beer bar nestled in the husk of an Ethiopian restaurant, itself occupying the shell of a Mexican restaurant. If you're confused, join the crowd. It's dark, and the bar stools are of dubious integrity. The roof leaks when it rains. Patrons are a mix of neighborhood residents and beer geeks. And more, depending on what's on stage.

Yeah, there's a stage and dance floor. If there's a Reggae or Death Metal band, there's a $10 cover charge and a crowd to match the music. You can avoid the cover by getting there before 9 PM or so, which dovetails nicely with the 8-10 happy hour (more on that later). If there is no stage act, the music is likely to be jazz, especially in the afternoon.

Quality/Selection: The bar manager is fellow BA feloniousmonk: ask for Al. Al maintains 12 tap lines, of which none are wasted. Typically, 6 are dedicated to pints (mostly local), and 6 to the more expensive beers. The latter typically include some hard-to-find Belgians and special releases from local breweries. As proud owner of Surly invoice #3 and Harriet invoice #1, Blue Nile has an unsurpassed relationship with those two breweries, and only takes their beers off-tap during special events.

The bottle list is not huge, but it has some gems, and you never get gouged on price. I drank more than my share of barrel-aged Gonzo at $6.25 a bottle last year.

Service: The staff love customers who love beer. They are as friendly as you are. Chat them up, and you'll get great service.

Food: There is a restaurant menu and a bar menu. I consider the Ethiopian fare acceptable, but below par for the city. The bar menu has two gems, however: the Shwarma sandwich and the wings. Big and meaty, these are not BW3 wings.

Value: Blue Nile has two happy hours every day: 4-6 PM and 8-10 PM. Buy any draft beer and get one of the pints for free. As in: Buy a Cuvée Des Jacobins Rouge for $7, get a free pint of Furious. That kind of thing.

All-in-all, it's a great place to drink and talk beer. Plus, it's quite close to a light rail station, in case you have one too many.

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Photo of Hopsiam14
4.31/5  rDev -0.5%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.75 | food: 4.75

The Blue Nile doesn't have a ton of beer options. Other places in town such as Stubs or the Happy Gnome have a lot more choice. With that said, the Nile has some great quality in their tap list and they are always moving through to new and more interesting options. The food is also fantastic if you are up for Ethiopian. Definitely a fun place to visit if you are from out of town.

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Photo of drpimento
4.33/5  rDev 0%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

Had an excellent couple of brews here couple with the same quality service, food, and music. Lights were a bit bright, but other wise great setting. Waitress had a great attitude, fast, and helpful with food. Didn’t speak much of beer. Food was exemplarary though a touch pricey. Beers were good and of good value; although, the draft selection was weighted towards Belgians and IPAs. Bottle selections are similar; however, there are some pale lagers, wheat brews, and some dark, rich choices. I’ll return someday. Was a perfect celebration for the renewal of my passport!

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Photo of sacrelicio
4/5  rDev -7.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Solid, fun place to get a few beers or have some good food.

The atmosphere is that of an Ethiopian restaurant, so it is fairly standard for what I imagine an Ethiopian restaurant to be. That said, it is pretty damn cool overall.

The quality and selection is great, always interesting things on tap. Not a huge selection but always the specialty Surly beers and a nice rotation of Belgians. One thing I really like is that they do alot of theme nights with their taps (like a stout and porter fest which was awesome, among others like Belgian fest and a IPA/hops fest). Unusual stuff pops up all the time their too.

Service is average usually I have had a few nights where it has taken a long time to get a beer. That said, I do tend to go when it is busy. Service on release nights tends to be gruff and poor, though.

Food is good from what I remember. I only had it once but it was solid.

I like that they host parties for local brewery releases and they have all sorts of music and entertainment most nights of the week.

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Photo of FightingEntropy
4.75/5  rDev +9.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

After years of going to the Blue Nile, I'm finally doing a review after attending last night's Battle of the Belg. I didn't try them all, but filled in my list with a few new beers. Last night's sampling included De Ranke XX Bitter and Harriet Brewing Dark Abbey. Both fine ales, but in different categories for the head to head format of the tasting. Tried both Epic Brainless on Cherries and Kasteel Rouge in the fruit category to finish the night--for me, Kasteel wins hands down, but I walked away with more respect for the Epic ale than I had when I tasted the bottle last fall.

Over the years, I've added 50 new drafts to my list with excellent beers ranging from St. Amand French Country Ale to Boulder's Killer Penguin, and many of those--like Monk's Flemish Ale--are difficult to find other places. Since I live over 20 miles from the Nile, I'm an irregular regular at best. But it's always a treat when I do. Bar manager Al McCarty--aka feloniousmonk--always does a fine job of not only bringing in great beer, but you know that the beer is always going to be well served in its proper glass. The beer you're drinking is the beer the brewery wanted you to drink. For me, there's no greater compliment.

Food is excellent as well. My favorite meal is from the bar menu, and is the falafel sandwich, made with simple, fresh ingredients makes it my usual. I've tried the range of vegetarian options of authentic Ethiopian food and have enjoyed them all. While the menu may be new to many, the descriptions of the food and the help from the servers makes ordering and indulging accessible for everyone.

In short, if you haven't tried the Blue Nile and stopped in to say hi to Al, you are missing out of one the most unique beer spots anywhere. When I belly up to the bar for a special event or walk in for a Saturday afternoon pint, I simply ask Al--what am I drinking today? And, I'm never disappointed.

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Photo of arniepnminne
4.6/5  rDev +6.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5

My first visit to The Blue Nile was Surly Four release in Feb. 2010...I think it was Feb. Al and his crew had their hands full with the amount of people that night. Since then, The Blue Nile has been my favorite beer bar. Happy hour(2 for 1's) from 4-6pm and 8-10 pm every day of the year. You cannot beat that! Al always has great offerings on tap. Usually puts together a Belgian Beer week or Hops week. Top notch! Servers are all kind and knowledgeable. Al is a hell of a guy as well!

If I could recommend a few changes to The Blue Nile they would be...install a NEW roof. Too much rain water during big storms. After the roof is fixed, add 4 larger TV's that display the MN Twins games. Otherwise, everything is great.

Of all the beer joints in Minneapolis this is one of my favorite locations to enjoy great beer and conversations with my MN friends!


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Photo of corcoranjc
4.28/5  rDev -1.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5

AHHH....The Blue Nile...Great Beer, Excellent Ethiopian Food, Beer, Ethiopian Food, Beer, Ethiopian Food.

What an excellent, unique, and cool place. Every time I've been to the Blue Nile has been a treat and a bit of surprise. You can go to the restaurant and have a wonderful, upscale Ethiopian meal, or you can go to the bar for a completely different but no less excellent experience. the place is huge, and the owners have a done a great job keeping the restaurant and bar separate but still accessible to one another. There is even a stage area for live performances (I haven't caught one yet, but I've heard great things).

Since this is BeerAdvocate, I should probably write a bit about the beverages at the Blue Nile. The selection shifts pretty frequently, but it's always good, and the management does a nice job of having excellent local and regional offerings as well as great imports. this is really a must see spot.

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Photo of kbutler1
3.35/5  rDev -22.6%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

Ok, first experience was the Surly Four release. Was really surprised to find how big the place was. And they were BUSY! I don't think they anticipated how many people would come out for the Four release. The bartenders were honestly rude and seemed bothered that people were there. I got 2 Surly Fours and they filled the pint glasses up about 75%. That is piss poor in my opinion and not representative of what Omar and the folks at Surly would want to see. The release of Darkness at Hell's Kitchen was much better than this. Too bad the staff at Blue Nile didn't have the same respect and enthusiasm for Surly that Hell's Kitchen had.
I still want to go back and check them out as I think they may have just had an "off" night the first time I visited. Only time will tell if Blue Nile is place I choose to spend my money.

As I hadn't written off The Blue Nile completely after the first visit, I have been back several times to enjoy some beers and food. The tap list is pretty nice with a good selection of Surly and other fine beers. The service was fine. My girlfriend ordered an appetizer and it arrived in decent time and was pretty tasty.

The twin cities has lots of options for beer bars and as such Blue Nile has some stiff competition (Happy Gnome, Muddy Pig, Town Hall, Town Hall Tap, The Bulldog, Acadia, Sub & Herbs, Pracna, etc) in that respect, but if you want some Ethiopian food AND good beer, then hell, you really only have 1 choice.

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Photo of mdwalsh
4.28/5  rDev -1.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 4

Al is a great guy and Blue Nile is a place I intend to go again. It was our last stop on our tour de beer in the twin cities. Tons of Surly on tap, served in Darkness tulips, very classy. Tap list is updated on the website and was accurate, another plus. Its a bit of a downer that it doesn't open until 4 pm, but there was no one in there when we arrived, so I can see why they don't bother to. The owner/manager(?) is a BA and should be contacted before you go to see when he'll be there. Not the easiest place to find, but close to the freeway and worth the trip.

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Photo of jera1350
4.66/5  rDev +7.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

If judging by the parking lot and building itself, this is one of the last places you would suspect to have a great beer bar. Once at the bar though you will quickly discover the goodies to be had. I was there for the start of the 20th Anniversary Celebration. On this weekend, all of the taps were local brews including several different Surly's including Wet, some Schell's, Flat Earth and Summit. They also had a cask of Summit Oatmeal Stout dry hopped with Fuggles. Al knows his beer and provides great service. Also, they offer happy hour two for one's from 4-6 and then again later in the evening. I will have to try the food next time I'm in. All in all a great place to get some quality beer.

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Photo of Erdinger2003
4.63/5  rDev +6.9%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

I walked in to a nice lounge bar with a bar in the middle of the room and chairs on all sides (like cheers :). Then was escorted into the resaurant seating area where I ordered some of my first Ethiopian food and Furious on tap. Great service as the beer and the food came timely-I'm glad I came on a Saturday night that was fairly slow I guess? The beer was great, the food was amazing. Not unlike some Indian foods, but different spices. Had a good time here and hope to visit and have more great experiences.

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Photo of kbaker91
4.41/5  rDev +1.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5

Visited the Blue Nile Saturday for the 'Hop Heads Only' event put on by the staff. It was my first time visiting the establishment, and the Nile lived up to the glowing reviews I had seen in the past here on Beerfly.

It is located on a somewhat sketchy area of Franklin Ave, near Cedar, which is one reason this place hadn't been on my radar before. The bar area of the restaurant is roomy, with a couple of dance/band areas off to the side. The dining area looks spacious as well. The Blue Nile also features a lovely patio in the back.

The beer selection was top-notch, which one would expect given the fact that they were hosting such a great event. Many American IPA & DIPA taps such as Hopsickle, Maharaja, and 16 Grit were included, along with a few hoppy Belgians. Three cask brews (Summit Red, Bitter Brewer, & Bubblejack) were also tapped on the patio. From viewing the website, the regular beer lineup appears to be outstanding as well.

The staff were top-notch, all enthusiastic and knowledgable about the beers they were serving. They also were very personable, joking around with the customers and answering questions about both the beers and the tasting setup.

I was there too early to eat, they hadn't started serving yet so I cannot comment on the food.

Prices were fair & reasonable.

Overall, this is a place that hadn't been on my radar before this weekend, mainly because of the location and the fact that I do not care much for the style of cuisine. I will not make this mistake any more, as I had a blast at the Blue Nile. Looking forward to their next beer event, or just the next weekend to belly up and have some incredible beers.

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Photo of BearsSox
4.1/5  rDev -5.3%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4

I love the Blue Nile. Al manages to make this place a rock-solid beer bar despite not having a ton of tap lines. There is always something (usually several somethings) interesting on tap, they do a lot of events (release parties, big beer nights, and the like), and the bottle list is stellar, as well. Good prices, the right glassware, usually some good music playing, and a pretty festive (but not loud) atmosphere.

If you need a drink, you can
Call Al
He'll get you some beer that will
Taste good
Served with a smile and some cheeer!

(set to the tune of "Call Me," originally by Burt Bacharach)

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Photo of AdmiralDiaz
4.47/5  rDev +3.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

Like everyone else I was at Blue Nile for the Surly release party. It goes without saying that the bar was crowded. I found that the high amount of people actually enhanced the atmosphere, mostly because almost everyone there was there for the Surly. The restaurant itself was very nice quality.
The bartenders are very friendly and work their hardest to serve you as fast as possible. From what I noticed the selection was very good, however I was very focused on the Surly.
Very good food, I only got a burger but my party got some middle eastern food that was fantastic!
Overall amazing, one of the best in the cities!

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Photo of natasharai
4.3/5  rDev -0.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

I went to the Blue Nile for the Surly Three release party. It was pretty crowded as I expected it would be. They have a great selection of beer, and the food was really good! I had the Gosa Gosa which was delicious! The atmosphere was great! There is a really big center bar and tables around the rest of the bar area. The only complaint I would have is that they needed more seating, but it was pretty busy so that is expected. They had an area for a band, I would love to go back when they have live music! The service was surprisingly good for how busy it was, I didn't have to wait very long to get a drink, and the food came out pretty quickly. I would definitely recommend this bar to anyone looking for a good beer bar, or a place to get some good Ethiopian food.

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Photo of br3wmeister
4.38/5  rDev +1.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

Some of my friends and I went to the Blue Nile last night for the Surly Three release. It is conveniently located close to the light rail so it was really easy to get there and I did not have to worry about driving. The blue Nile is really nicely decorated and is a cool place to hang out. It was a little busy and difficult to find a place to sit at the bar, but we eventually found a table. There were several Surly beers on tap along with some other great offerings, also a great bottle selection. The service was a little slow mainly because it was so busy. We ended up getting several beers and an appetizer which was fantastic, this is a great place to come to try some Mideastern food. Over all this was a pretty fun place to get some drinks an eat some good food. I will definitely be going back soon.

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Photo of josephhaugen
4.4/5  rDev +1.6%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

Finally made it down here, after many failed attempts. The first thing that hits me is the smell, that combined with the decor for some reason took me back to Turkey, or maybe east Africa, but that is not the point. The layout is nice, and Al has some kickin beers on tap. Hopslam, Bells TC Old Ale 06, N'Ice Chouffe, Surly Furious, Surly Mild, Surly Bender, and more that I can't recal. Good pricing on the beers as well. I only paid $4.50 for the Mild, which compared to some other high end establishments is pretty good, and the high end Belgians were capped at like $8-9. The food was superb as well, and took me back to areas I have not traveled to in a little while. Try the Gosa Gosa (appetizer sampler?) platter if you are aprehensive (my wife is the pickiest eater ever, and she liked it.) All in all a great experience, although the music wasn't quite my bag.

Edit: After a visit for Al's B-day the score has to go up, as he had Oak Aged Cynic!

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Blue Nile Ethiopian Restaurant & Lounge in Minneapolis, MN
Place rating: 4.33 out of 5 with 55 ratings