The vacant restaurant space at Nicollet Mall and Fifth Street in downtown Minneapolis is quiet no more.
Now the 14th location in their portfolio, HopCat’s true focus is on beer. Their main menu includes 30 local brews that will constantly stay on tap. Dozens of other beers, both regional and national, will rotate. I was able to try a cream ale produced by Castle Danger based out of Two Harbors, Minnesota.
HopCat opened on Saturday, July 29 without much publicity. But maybe it doesn’t need the buzz — on Sunday, July 30 when I stopped by, there was a 15-20 minute wait for a table for two at 6:30 p.m. It probably helped Guns N’ Roses was playing about a mile down the road.
The food menu is vast. There are burgers, pizza, fish and chips, mac and cheese, salads and more. Big menus typically scare me because it’s hard for a kitchen staff to master so many menu items. I’ll have to eat more to offer a conclusion there.
HopCat’s claim to fame: Crack Fries. They are beer-battered French fries with cracked black pepper. I’m a sucker for French fries and usually eat them before I touch anything else on my plate. My verdict: maybe a B+. They are crunchy on the outside, but the ones served with my Doritos crusted fish sandwich weren’t hot enough. I didn’t even finish them all.
More importantly, HopCat has a fair amount of outdoor patio seating. Seeing people outside is a welcomed sight on an often deserted Nicollet Mall, especially when you’re north of the light rail. There’s a fun lounge area with couches outside the door for those waiting for a table.
HopCat has brunch on Saturday and Sunday running until 3:00 p.m. That menu features a BLT sandwich with a poached egg and hollandaise, a mac and cheese sandwich with bacon and jalapeno and an egg scramble, among other items.
Happy hour runs Monday-Thursday from 3:00-6:00 p.m. and gets you $5 off pizza and burgers (decent deal) and $1.50 off well drinks, wine and that local beer list I mentioned above. They also run a late night happy hour starting at 10:00 p.m. Sunday-Wednesday. Stop by anytime after 3:00 p.m. Monday for half-off their list of appetizers (including the Crack Fries) along with $1.50 off drinks.
With a position at a light rail stop and between Target Field and U.S. Bank Stadium, HopCat should do well with a steady flow of visitors attending events. And I hope so. The last thing Minneapolis needs is another vacant street-level building on Nicollet Mall.
435 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis
Open daily from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 a.m.
21+ after 9:00 p.m., all underage guests must leave by 10:00 p.m.