I love seafood and I love a good happy hour. Mixed those together and it’s magic. Smack Shack is a satisfying and affordable find in the North Loop. Not only is it a great dining experience, but it is also a great place for a social hour after a day’s work. Starting out as a food truck in 2010, Smack Shack turned into a more concrete establishment in early summer of 2012. They also take over the kitchen at the 1029 Bar in Northeast Minneapolis. Now, for my experience.
I’m all about the ambience and structure of a restaurant or bar. It tells a story of what to expect. Walking in, I was immediately taken back. From the outside, Smack Shack presents itself as rather small, hole-in-the-wall dive bar in the heart of the North Loop. But once inside, the exposed brick and sea-like color scheme of blues, reds and greens were refreshing. The divide between the dining area and the bar area gives Smack Shack two separate experiences depending on what you are looking for.
My first experience was in the dining area. The hostess was very welcoming and let us choose our seats. If it were a little warmer we would have taken the advantage of the outdoor seating. For the die-hard fans, there are heaters to warm the outside area.
Once seated, the waiter greeted us promptly. He was very knowledgeable about the food and beverage menu. It drives people crazy, but I like to know what the waiter or waitress recommends off the menu. Instead of suggesting the most expensive item on the menu, he pointed out several items depending on what taste we were looking for. Brownie points from me! After choosing two beers, (we had a generous selection to choose from) my boyfriend and I decided on sharing the lobster boil. The lobster is priced by pound and isn’t the cheapest item on the menu, but it was for a special occasion so it wasn’t something we were worried about.
We were very happy with our choice. Our particular choice came with two pounds of lobster, two sausages, two pieces of corn and plenty of red potatoes. Throughout the meal, our waiter wasn’t overly persistent, but also didn’t forget about us — either end of the spectrum can definitely ruin a dining experience. After deciding the buttons on our pants were going to burst, we declined the tasty items off the dessert menu. We both left happy, and excited for our next time there.
My second experience at the Smack Shack happened on a weekday happy hour. A friend and I headed left towards the bar area. The ambience was alive with other patrons who had left work and were ready for social hour. The lights were dim creating a less formal feel to the space. The most impressive detail was the happy hour menu. There is a great beer and cocktail selection and the happy hour food choices were wonderful as well. We selected the clam chowder, buffalo wings and mahi-mahi tacos. Unfortunately, in my opinion, only two of the three food choices were great. I may have been in the wrong establishment for a tasty wing basket. Despite that, I am excited to try their other items off the happy hour menu in the future.
Overall, the service, food, drinks, and ambience were more than enough for me to go back a third, fourth and fifth time. It is for the seafood lovers, but this spot also caters to those who aren’t so fond of eating critters from the deep blue sea. Smack Shack is a great choice for any type of occasion, for two people or ten people. It was a smart idea to expand the Smack Shack into its own realm so it can show the downtown/North Loop goers what they were missing in Northeast Minneapolis. Even though the chicken wings weren’t the best, the seafood selection is what will always keep me going back for more.
Photos via: Kendra Ackerman