What would happen if somebody smart decided to reinvent the neighborhood tavern? If they were really smart, they might come up with something like Buster’s on 28th Ave, at 4204 28th Ave. S., in south Minneapolis. Outside of northeast Minneapolis and Saint Paul’s West Side, the old neighborhood bars have largely disappeared, replaced by coffee houses and wine bars. And those few that remain tend to look like the forlorn relics of a bygone era, serving up frozen pizza and watery beer to a clientele that has, like the taverns themselves, seen happier days.
What’s so smart about Buster’s is that it remains true to tavern tradition– it still looks and feels like a tavern, complete with multiple tv sets and $3 pints of Miller Lite on tap, Budweiser and Michelob on tap. You can get a basic half-pound burger or a pulled pork sandwich for $8, including a generous side of fries, or a walleye sandwich for a buck more. All the breads come from A Baker’s Wife, right around the corner on 42nd Street. But the menu, and the beer list both offer a lot more, without getting fussy or yuppified. Okay, maybe a little yuppified, but not too bad: a bison burger ($11), a roasted garlic and pear pizza ($8), shrimp fettucine Alfredo ($11).
I was a little disappointed by the pan-fried half-chicken ($13), but only because I expected the traditional southern version, breaded and fried in lots of fat. Buster’s version is lighter – boneless slices of chicken sautéed and served over a mound of sweet potato fries with a lively ginger-apple chutney. There’s also a smart selection of beers – nearly sixty bottled brands, plus 20 brews on tap, ranging from locally brewed Surly, Summit and Flat Earth beers to Delirium Tremens from Belgium. Most are described in considerable detail, but the description of Miller Lite is short and to the point: “It tastes like Miller Lite.”
Buster’s on 28th Avenue, 4204 28th Ave., Minneapolis, 612-729-0911.