The boom in new breweries throughout the Twin Cities has offered brewers the opportunity to eschew generalized businesses in favor of focusing their efforts on more specialized concepts. A 5-minute drive west of downtown Minneapolis, you will find the colorful La Doña Cervecería, the first Latin-influenced craft brewery in Minnesota. Founded by former Marine Sergio Manancero, La Doña opened its location in 2018. The brewery and taproom offers live music, salsa dancing evenings, an art gallery, and even a 3v3 soccer league on its own short pitch. Bright murals light the cinder block space at La Doña, which also offers tacos and other food from its in-house kitchen. As the Craft Brewers Conference falls on Cinco de Mayo, the brewery will be hosting specialty events as well.
Manancero’s family is from Uruguay and other parts of South America and he wanted to create a space that is welcoming and inclusive to people from all over while focusing on his Latino heritage. Before opening La Doña, Manancero noticed that the craft beer industry underserved his community. “I wanted to create a space where the Latino community could enjoy craft beer, learn about it, consume it, and then from there go on to consume it everywhere in Minnesota,” he says. When he looks at the Minnesota beer scene today, Manacero sees more diversity and notes “there’s a lot of different places doing different things, which is kind of cool. There’s ones that do different things stylistically and have their niches and I think there’s a lot of balance.” Here are his recommendations for your visit to Minneapolis.
Downtown Minneapolis Beers
“If people are downtown, they should definitely check out Finnegans, which has a really interesting space,” Manancero says. “It’s multi-level and has food from the hotel that’s next to them and it’s very interesting.” (817 S 5th Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55404). An Irish inspired brewery, Finnegans occupies a hulking modern structure surrounded by new development while still maintaining a warm, welcoming pub feel.
He also recommends a visit to Northeast Minneapolis, where he once curated a 12 stop bachelor party over 5 miles of walking. “Northeast is some of the tried and true staples of Minneapolis, like Dangerous Man,” he says. (1300 NE 2nd St, Minneapolis, MN 55413). Just over the river in Northeast, Dangerous Man Brewing is housed in an historic former bank building, with tall pillars lining the cozy taproom. One of the older breweries in Minneapolis, having opened in 2013, Dangerous Man’s bright space includes a lot of art, plants, and character. “To me, they represent the space in brewing that is actually focused on the neighborhood and on just making enough beer to satisfy the people within a 10 block radius,” Manancero says. “It’s a destination spot where they’re not growing to the level where they’re opening up multiple tap rooms and multiple breweries.”
Manancero also recommends stopping by 612Brew (945 Broadway St NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413) in Northeast. Another bright, eclectic space, 612Brew is located in the historic Broadway Building and offers a sizable outdoor patio for warmer days. The open air brewing system is right in the taproom. He also recommends stopping by the tasting rooms of some local distilleries in the neighborhood, where you can get a cocktail with house made spirits.
Eating In Minneapolis
If you want a classic Minnesota experience, Manancero recommends stopping by Matt’s Bar for the Jucy Lucy. A few miles south of downtown, this no frills, cash only beer and burger spot is known for slapping two hamburger patties together stuffed with a slice of cheese in the middle.
In Uptown, Manancero recommends Nico’s Taco and Tequila Bar (2516 Hennepin Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55405), a small cantina serving Mexican street food, a sizable tequila list, and plenty of outdoor seating. A little further to the east, he also suggests Fire & Nice Alehouse (2700 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55408), another charming, light bricked bar with wood-fired pizzas and a solid tap list.
He also recommends that people support businesses in the Longfellow neighborhood, which was impacted during the riots following the murder of George Floyd. “Right outside of the Third Precinct, that street has a lot of great restaurants on it,” he says. Manancero recommends the Sonora Grill (3300 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55406), a bright and charming restaurant serving Mexican specialties. He also recommends you grab a beer at nearby Arbeiter Brewing Company (3038 Minnehaha Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55406), which specializes in German beers but also offers a wide range of experimental styles, barrel aged beers, and even some non-alcoholic beers.