Bar Brava Brings Natural Wine to North Minneapolis

If you're not a convert already, you will be soon

Aside from bleak industrial buildings, an elevated dive bar (Meteor), and one of our favorite plant shops (Mother Co.), there’s not a whole heckuva lot to see or do immediately near Bar Brava in North Minneapolis. That works to its advantage though, making its long zinc countertop and wide-open kitchen feel like a secret club for pét-nat fiends.

Fortunately, you don’t need to know buzzwords like ‘spontaneous fermentation’ and ‘biodynamic’ to have a good time here; the tight-knit bar team works hard to keep things casual. “Natural wine was the starting point for this project,” explains Brava chef Nick Anderson, “so our philosophy on the space, vibe, and food stem from the culture around it.” Or, as one of the playful Gianluca Cannizzo posters on the walls puts it, this is one restaurant where “wine rocks.”

Photo by Kevin Kramer for Minnesota Monthly

Former investment banker Dan Rice fell in love with natural wine—minimal intervention, no additives—during his days in New York City. When the Apple Valley native moved back to Minneapolis in late 2017, he was surprised to see its dining scene lacked a spot devoted to progressive share plates and unconventional wine. Anderson, who first mastered market-driven bar food in San Francisco (ABV, Overproof), was eager to embrace a similar ethos once he, too, settled in the Twin Cities. The pair crossed paths and bonded over their burgeoning natural wine obsession. Ergo: Bar Brava.

The current menu nods to Anderson’s own R&D trips, with nods to California, Spain, and Brooklyn. Expect a few elevated classics (sardines splayed across a baguette with ricotta and shiso; a big ol’ dry-aged burger draped in melty sharp cheddar) alongside dynamic seasonal dishes, like a light ramen gussied up with Swiss chard, wild rice, fermented jalapeños, lump crab, and grilled squash. As for its drink program, beverage director Jill Mott (who you may recognize from wine boutique Henry & Son) is a walking encyclopedia of bold natural bottles, leading trained and tentative palates alike toward whatever is “most delicious to you.”

For more on Bar Brava, check out this Minnesota Monthly feature by Minnevangelist co-founder Andrew Parks.

Bar Brava
1914 N. Washington Ave., Minneapolis, MN; 612-208-1270.