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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Gh2’s Annual Sale
Grethen House’s outlet offshoot, gh2, is the site of the most may-jor—in the parlance of Rachel Zoe—sale in the Twin Cities. If you’re not in too big of a hurry to capture that Comme des Garçon skirt or Martin Margiela blouse, you might be able to score it at 90 percent off twice a year–winter and summer. NINETY PERCENT! That’s couture for practically peanuts (relatively speaking). And you never have to tell anyone what a steal your scores were. Unless you’re like us and too stunned at the bargain to have a filter.
☛ 318 Hennepin Ave. E., Mpls., 612-378-0509, shopgh2.com
RedStamp’s iPhone App
Call it the techie thank-you: the stylish (mostly paper) stationery company Red Stamp created an iPhone app to send well-designed virtual cards to your friends. Risky, right? Wrong. It’s etiquette on the go. Now you can thank a friend for paying for lunch, send a stopgap thank-you when the paper one got delayed (We all have busy lives, no?), or cheer someone up with a smartly designed note via email or smartphone. It’s not a replacement for handwritten gems, but rather an enhancement—a return to civility while still acknowledging our changing world.
Place to Buy Local
I Like You
Visiting this northeast Minneapolis shop, with its Astroturf carpet and gigantic front-window swing, is like taking a skip through a playground. That translates into a freewheeling shopping experience, fueled by delightful owners Sarah Sweet and Angela Lessman’s handpicked product lines, the lion’s share of them local. Sift through the expansive card selection (the funny Zeichen Press is a standout), sample top-shelf eco-friendly body-care lines (Simply Mahvelous), try on jewelry (Larissa Loden, Bionic Unicorn, Renee Larson), peruse home-décor pieces and art (redshoes26’s Twin Cities landmark illustrations), and go gaga for the excellent baby/kids’ section. Shopping here supports local retail economy and artist incomes—win-win!
☛ 501 First Ave. NE, Mpls., 612-208-0249, ilikeyouonline.com
Local Designer Showcase
MNFashion’s The Shows
“Voltage: Fashion Amplified” used to be the stand-out showcase of local fashion design, but in 2010, MNFashion created two showcases for designers ready to show collections on their own. “The Shows” featured the eco-friendly CounterCouture and feminine designs by George Moskal one night, and the more avant-garde Emma Berg and Kevin Kramp the next. Audiences were wowed by the prominent collections and the progression of our local design scene. The standout moment: Berg’s all-red, jumpsuit-style ensemble, hand-embellished with the rallying “It Gets Better” slogan. Here’s to hoping they bring “The Shows” back.
The first step in setting the tone—and getting record-speed RSVPs—for a fabulous fete is to send a paper invitation. To make a bold statement that’s tempting and mysterious, but also provides strong hints at what’s to come, stop into Paperista’s new space at 50th & France in Edina and conspire with owner Antoinette Ramos to create truly couture calling cards. Paperista’s love for fonts, colors, and high-quality paper and embellishments could single-handedly put the USPS back in the black.
☛ 5023 France Ave., Edina, 612-886-3470, paperista.com
It bills itself as a “store+studio+café,” and that’s true enough—except that it’s more. Right on Main Street in downtown Stillwater, the bright, happy superstore marries graphic design/social stationery firm Gartner Studios with a retail space that is a veritable toy store for office-supply geeks and paperie aficionados. Upstairs, the designers are hard at work cranking out custom invitations and mass-market stationery, while downstairs, shoppers browse cards, Russell + Hazel work gear, writing tools, and designer office décor and gifts, while nibbling a cupcake or drinking a latté. Mark it on your R+H agenda: this shop is on your to-do list.
☛ 201 S. Main St., Stillwater, 651-689-1730, mara-mi.com
Here’s a way to make a glamorous home the green way: buy architectural salvage. Architectural Antiques is chock full of design inspiration—a leaded-glass window here, a set of French doors there, maybe even a 1960s jukebox filled with Hank Williams and Johnny Cash. You never know what will come through the door, and because of that, Architectural Antiques is a shopping adventure akin to archeological digs. Design devotees come for the inspiration, but they stay for the lovely condition and unique array of items.
☛ 1330 Quincy St. NE, Mpls., 612-332-8344, archantiques.com
Best Shoe Store
On a Budget
3406 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls., 612-354-3970, juneresale.com
4940 France Ave. S., Edina, 952-224-1900, ladyslipperboutique.com
505 Nicollet Mall, Mpls., 612-339-2600, neimanmarcus.com
Pumpz & Co.
3335 Galleria, Edina, 952-926-2252, pumpzco.com
Shü Global Footwear
1041 Grand Ave., St. Paul, 651-224-3570, shuglobal.com
[ Readers’ Pick ]
Voted on by Minnesota Monthly readers at MNMO.com
Cooks of Crocus Hill