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Food & Drink

Annie’s Parlour Is Finally Back: Does It Live Up to Your Nostalgia?

The Dinkytown institution is back to serving burgers and malts after going dark for almost four years.

Em Cassel

Because of its sheer longevity, combined with its prominent collegiate placement, Annie's Parlour is an important Twin Cities restaurant. You can't gin up that sort of authenticity, a multi-generational appeal steeped in nostalgia. Accessing those memories has always been easy: Walk up that winding staircase, admire those familiar antique brick walls, and get yourself a reliably tasty burger and malt.

Well, it hasn't always been easy.

Annie's, which was originally opened in 1974 by restaurateur John Rimarcik (Monte Carlo, Runyon’s, Convention Grill), closed during the COVID-19 lockdowns of early 2020. As the rest of the dining world came back to life, rumors swirled that Annie's had permanently closed, and when Rimarcik died late last year at 84, speculation ramped up over the fate of his “heritage” restaurants. Then, just shy of the four-year closure anniversary, Annie's reopened in late February under the stewardship of Rimarcik's sons, Tony and Tom. “We’re very excited about it all,” Tom told the Minnesota Daily. "Having grown up in this place amongst a couple of others, it’s kind of an honor to be able to do this.” Earlier this month, Edina's Convention Grill followed suit.

The best document we have of Annie's from the before times comes via Rick Nelson, the very missed ex-dining critic at the Star Tribune. For his Burger Friday column in 2019, Nelson more or less detailed the burgers we experienced last week: thick, hefty, slightly charred patties cooked well past pink and resting atop a nice pillowy bun. "The seasoning could never be described as aggressive," our kindly critic noted.

Em Cassel

Sure enough, that's the Annie's 2.0 formula, though our cheeseburgers ($10.95) didn't quite retain the juiciness of Nelson's and, perhaps less kindly, I couldn't find any hints of seasoning in my ground beef. That said, the American cheese was cooked to gooey perfection over a generous mound of (optional) caramelized onions, and the overall experience approached the platonic ideal of a no-fuss, old-school cheeseburger. On the fresh mushroom cheeseburger ($11.95), buttery sautéed mushrooms popped under melted Swiss. Our vegetarian colleague, on the other hand, had to doctor up her sad Morning Star Farms-adjacent freezer patty with onion rings and cheese.

Annie's massive malts ($9.95) have always been simple pleasures, Nelson wrote in '19: mid-tier ice cream (original recipe orders!) blended smooth with milk, canned chocolate syrup, and malt powder. I spied crates of Breyers inside the renovated kitchen, confirming that the ol' recipe's ice cream quality criteria remains in place. Poured tableside by an eager young waiter, our perfectly delightful chocolate malt filled four already-stuffed patrons, one of whom spilled the frosted tin mixing cup of bumper-crop malt all over himself. (Without revealing his identity, let's just say it came close to coating the very keyboard currently typing these words!) With 16 flavors available, you just really can't go wrong here.

That waiter warned that, even for four diners, the half-order of fries ($6.95) would probably suffice. Ditto for the onion rings ($5.95). He wasn't lying: The oily, thick-cut, skin-on fries arrived in a colossal mound, while the onion rings—cooked to perfection so that the veggie didn't slip from its crispy casing—weren't skimpy, either.

Our waiter reported that a high percentage of patrons these days are hopeless nostalgics like myself, though my non-Gopher dining companions confirmed with clear objective eyes that, yes, Annie's circa 2024 is a whole lotta fun. Now, if the the much-loved Kitty Cat Klub finally reopens below? Dinkytown will really be cookin'. The brothers Rimarcik haven't decided whether the club will return, the Minnesota Daily reports, but if it does it'll "look very different than before."

Thankfully that's not the case upstairs at Annie's.

Annie's Parlour
Location: 313 14th Ave. SE, Minneapolis
Hours: Daily, noon-8 p.m.

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