Blue Nile

Twin Cities, Minnesota


rating star

I have had many great meals here and knowledgeable staff about the menu and how to make dishes vegan. The beer list is outstanding and happy hour deals are incredible. You can get buy-one-get-ones on some wines, rail drinks, and beer under $6, but they're so flexible you can mix and match or even pay for one over $6 and just make sure your free one is under that.

Image for conde.kedar

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UPDATE: I've upgraded Blue Nile's rating as it's one of only a few places in Minneapolis that: a) is open late; b) has tons of space; and c) has a variety of good vegan foods and draft beers.

The restaurant area is nice enough with Ethiopian dishes (watch out for buttermilk in their berbere sauce) but the bar area is what really grabs me: low-key, large, unpretentious, casual, and generally quiet (except for when the late night DJs come, and it gets super-loud).

The draft beer selection is diverse and spans at least three continents with excellent, highly representative selections. I was especially impressed that they have Lion lager on draft, a Sri Lankan beer. There are two happy hours each day when it's two for one.

Food-wise, there are a number of great options at the bar (which offers Middle Eastern food). I thought their baba ganouje (~$6) was one of the best I've had in the Twin Cities: fresh; citrus; smoky; and served with soft, warm pita pieces. Every one of us loved it.

Their hummus (~$6) was not as good and too salty for my likes. The lentil sambusas (~$6) were good, and definitely a winner in terms of bar food, but not as good as a larger, more substantial samosa or momo at an Indian or Nepalese restaurant. The french fries ($4) are crisp and tasty.

Lastly, the falafel sandwich ($5.75) is just slightly above average and generally hits the spot, though is a bit messily-constructed and could use some tahini (the sauce they normally use is made with yogurt, so make sure they leave it off).

My only gripe is that the wait time for your food to arrive is generally long (15-20 minutes) even if it's not busy. In the end, though, Blue Nile is a winner and a great all-purpose late night spot for beer lovers and vegans alike.

December 2008 review: I found myself craving Ethiopian food and so I ended up at the ominous, mysterious Blue Nile restaurant. I'm not sure why all the Ethiopian places in Minneapolis are also live music-lounge joints, but Blue Nile does a good job of demarcating the dining area and the bar/lounge area.

I was one of only a couple of customers and was seated promptly. The ambience is passable (maybe a bit too bright to be romantic) though the dining area shows signs of decay.

My server was knowledgeable about ingredients and told me which dishes were vegan; of the ten or so on the menu, six or seven of them are vegan. Their dishes with berbere sauce are NOT VEGAN, as the sauce is made with buttermilk.

My food took 15 or 20 minutes to arrive which was long considering there were only a few customers. Even though I had specified no yogurt and no berbere sauce, my dish was served with a dollop of both. Fortunately, they were on the side and I could just eat around them.

My dark lentils with garlic/jalepeno main course was decent but didn't blow me away. Each of the veg. dishes comes with another side dish of your choosing, so I picked a fava bean dish that also was decent, but nothing special. It tasted and looked like refried beans. I did, however, like their injera bread which was soft and fluffy, but not too thick.

If you're looking to make your dish spicier, ask for the vegan "hot sauce" which will end up being a plate of freshly minced jalapeno. It certainly adds a kick and mixes well with any dish.

It took a while to finally pay the bill. The service was friendly but could have been faster. Prices were decent in the $9-12 range.

Image for John Eckman

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The Gosa Gosa A and Falafel platter were both quite good - not so sure about the ambience, though we were there at a non-busy time, the place seemed nearly deserted.

As other reviewers have noted, you do need to specify vegan (and maybe even what that means, depending on your server) but there are many good options.

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I used to love Blue Nile but lately won't eat there because they seemed to have raised their prices as well as shrunk the portions. It's really too bad!

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I went here last week with 3 of my friends (I actually got it confused with a different ethiopian place). The food was very expensive - our total bill was $84 and half of us left still hungry. Our waitress was extremely slow. She checked and said all of the vegetarian menu items were vegan (sans yogurt). I asked about the baklava which she also said was vegan. My friend had that and she said there was definitely honey all over it. The food was okay, but not worth the money.
The place was pretty much empty when we went, but it was super nice inside, although at our booth I could feel the wooden struts holding up the "fancy" rug/back thing.

There are way better places to eat in this neighborhood.

Image for Apryl Electra

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the gosa-gosa A is my favorite because you get a little bit of everything. just don't forget to tell the server to leave off the yogurt and that you can't eat butter.

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I went on a Saturday night with my parents and the place was almost empty. The service was great; the waiter was very friendly and gave good recommendations. I was told that all of the vegetarian entrees are actually vegan; one says on the menu that it includes spiced butter, but they have since switched to using vegetable oil. However, I too should have read the previous reviews of the place, as the "all-vegan" tray arrived with a big dollop of yogurt in the middle. The server was very apologetic and changed it right away, but his quick return with a yogurt-free tray leads me to believe two things: 1) The previous tray of food probably went to waste; I should have just asked him to cut out the part of injera that had the yogurt on it, and 2) The entrees must be pre-made and just kept warm in the kitchen, as there was no way that they re-made all of those dishes that quickly.

Overall, however, it was a great meal. My favorites were definitely the cabbage dish, the kale and carrots dish, and the yellow split peas. Yum!

Image for Ramona

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I like Ethiopian food but the food here is not as good as that at the Red Sea or Kilimanjaro Cafe. However, Blue Nile is much more beautifully decorated than the other Ethiopian places I've been to (and more expensive I think) and it might be a better place to go with non-veg friends or family. It depends on what you're going for... I prefer going to the other two places; they're more casual, the food is better, they're cheaper and they're closer to the University.

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My husband and I went here on a Wednesday night - we had the place to ourselves. The server said that Wednesday's are usually pretty dead, so if you're looking for somewhere quiet to eat with your sweetie, this place might be the place for you. The decor is very 70's, good if you have a sense of humor. The server was very friendly and knew exactly what was vegan and what wasn't. The soup wasn't that great - but we ordered the vegetarian entree that has kale and carrots in it - it was really good. There is certainly enough food for a couple to split an entree if you order an extra piece of bread, and you might not even need that.

Image for Steve Carlson

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I ended up here around on Saturday night, only because Addis Ababa was closed (despite their "Yes we're Open" sign in the door). So it was off to the Blue Nile, and my first appearance at this place since it was a Mexican restaurant back in the 80's. (Ah, the memories...)

And the decor hasn't changed much since then, still the same goofy 70's interior and garish bathroom. But the food is better, as this is a veg-friendly Ethiopian place.

After waiting around for an eternity (even on what appeared to be a slow night), I ordered the Gosa A, or the cheap vegetarian combo ($10.95). And it arrived piping hot at my table shortly thereafter, replete with steaming towel (so as not to lick my fingers - apparently a no-no in the world of Ethipian cuisine).

Unfortunately, I didn't read the other reviews here beforehand, and I had a nice big dollop of sour cream on my otherwise good-looking platter of lentils, yellow split peas, spicy mashed fava beans, spicy red lentils, and a cabbage watt.

The veg food was okay. Though some of the items were quite a bit spicier than most other Ehtiopian food I've had; so much so that I had to make a visit to the bathroom just to blow my nose and give my inflamed mouth and lips a breather.

The cabbage and the yellow split peas were the best of the lot, very good. The others, were nothing special, but good enough that I didn't feel I was being gyped by coming here.

And, I actually left stuffed (unusual for me unless I order a lot), largely because the injera bread is thicker than I've had before, and there was plenty of it (lining the bottom of the platter and a full piece of it on the side).

Overall, I'd rate this place Thumbs Up, but not way up.

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Blue Nile is my least favorite Ethiopian place in the Twin Cities. Their food tastes pre-packaged somehow, their injera is not as good as other places, their atmosphere is overly posh - and noisy, if you go at the wrong time. The yogurt thing is really a problem, too. I've had to have them cut out the yogurt-laden center of a veggie platter at least three times. I would highly recommend spending your Ethiopian-food dollars somewhere else: Addis Ababa, Red Sea, or Fasika. (I should note that my interactions with Blue Nile all happened some time ago; I haven't been back since 2001 or so.)

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Blue Nile is ok, but the waitstaff often seems to ignore requests (such as leaving off the sour cream) and can sometimes even be huffy. There are better eithiopian restaurants to visit that have vegan options in the area.

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