Best of the Twin Cities 2011
Variety is the spice of life, right? Sure, but we think the wondrous mix of things to do, eat, drink, buy, and enjoy in the Twin Cities is better described as, well, pretty sweet. It’s a veritable Candyland out there, and on the following pages we highlight the things that make us feel good as gumdrops. The tastiest focaccia (the best Dara’s ever eaten). The hippest cover band (they know Weezer’s The Blue Album front to back). The most honest auto-body shop (they do exist). And, yes, the best candy store. Admit it, we’re spoiled rotten here. And that’s a good thing.
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Adele’s Frozen Custard
Adele doesn’t make the custard anymore, but her recipes remain the same. Check online to see when your favorite flavor is available at the Excelsior shop. • adelescustard.com
Old Dutch Potato chips
Twin Cities–based Old Dutch has been thwarting Mom’s efforts to get us to stop snacking since 1934. Things have changed, of course: all that icky trans fat is gone, and there are thick-cut and kettle chips now. But the essence remains: the windmill on the package. • Available in grocery stores.
Cecil’s makes five versions of that Jewish deli staple, the Reuben sandwich. Even better, they’re all available in a three-quarter-pound “chazer” size. • 651 Cleveland Ave. S., St. Paul, 651-698-6276
St. Paul Hotel
Guests both famous and infamous have passed under the chandeliers of the St. Paul Hotel during its century-plus existence. But two tenants have never checked out: those blessed twins, Grace and Elegance. • 350 Market St., St. Paul, 651-292-9292
Black Forest Inn
Few things will thicken your blood like schnitzel, beer, and spaetzle. Add a wedge of Black Forest torte and you’ll be transported to the Old World. • 1 E. 26th St., Mpls., 612-872-0812
The ideal gift for a Norwegian bachelor farmer is, of course, a bride. But Ingebretsen’s, part gift shop, part deli, has almost everything else Scandihoovian. • 1601 E. Lake St., Mpls., 612-729-9333
Okay, it’s true that Grain Belt is no longer brewed in northeast Minneapolis. But the lager, now produced at Schell’s in New Ulm, remains our drink of choice for cheap nights out. • Available throughout the Twin Cities in bottles and on tap.
Como Park Conservatory
Palm fronds sway overhead, the sounds of birds echo through the air, and mists envelop visitors. No spa can deliver this kind of refreshment at such a bargain price: admission is free (though a $2 donation is suggested), and the place is open 365 days a year. • 1225 Estabrook Dr., St. Paul, 651-487-8200, comozooconservatory.org
For three-quarters of a century, most Minneapolis residents commuted by rail. Those days ceased in 1954, when an expert from Los Angeles converted the system to buses, but you can still revel in the streetcars’ glory days: in summer, the Como-Harriet Line stops in Linden Hills, offering a trip back in time, for just $2. • Queen Ave. S. and W. 42nd St., Mpls., trolleyride.org
Opened in 1958, Lariat Lanes has had more than a few lucky strikes: Garth Brooks, Mick Jagger, and the Beastie Boys all visited here in the 1990s. But it’s not all about the limelight. Nowadays, there’s Atomic Bowling—glow-in-the-dark style. Is that Lady Gaga on lane six? • 6320 Penn Ave. S., Richfield, 612-866-5311
Best View of the City
Foshay Tower Observation Deck
The 607-foot Foshay Tower once reigned supreme over Minneapolis, its obelisk form and electric lights—honoring the titan who dreamt up the edifice before the crash of 1929—visible for miles around. Wilbur Foshay went bankrupt, of course, and the IDS Center and other skyscrapers now overshadow the limestone tower, but the views from the observation deck on the 30th floor are still inspiring. If the Foshay can survive bad times, perhaps we can too. • $8 for adults; kids 12 and under free. 821 Marquette Ave., Mpls., 612-215-3700