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12 Great Neighborhoods

An insider's guide to the Twin Cities nodes you need to know

12 Great Neighborhoods
Photo by Jonathan Chapman

(page 2 of 9)

2. NORTH LOOP

HERITAGE COOL

The Scoop:

Character: The Warehouse District is a misnomer now, of course—the neighborhood trades in cool these days—and the preferred name for the streets behind the clubs of First Avenue is the North Loop. Recent retail and restaurant additions have cemented the neighborhood’s trendy rep without damaging its historic roots, a respect for heritage that’s reflected in the store windows.

Food: The Bachelor Farmer and its subterranean Marvel Bar are lively at night, but locals know to come for the restaurant’s terrific smørrebrød brunch. There’s unparalleled Italian at the nationally known Bar La Grassa . And two newcomers are solidifying the North Loop as the city’s hottest dining hood: the gourmet pub Borough and the casual seafood joint Smack Shack, which has the area’s best patio.

Photo by Todd Buchanan

Shopping: Men looking for distinguished, well-curated clothes—directional fashion, if you will—have discovered Arrow , run by former Intoto colleagues; Askov Finlayson, the Dayton brothers’ laid-back sartorial shop attached to the Bachelor Farmer; and the vintage clothing at MidNorth Mercantile, where proprietor Mustache Mike offers beard trimming and straight-razor shaves in the back. The sweet old condos around here are stocked with bed, bath, and kitchen products from The Foundry Home Goods.

Culture: Baseball at Target Field is a cultural experience of a sort, and so is Acme Comedy Club. But the Lab Theater  is a community landmark, offering everything from dance to popular musicals to experimental theater. Perhaps the most galvanizing theatrical experience in town is the Interact Center for Visual and Performing Arts, showcasing the skills of artists with disabilities.

Green space: Unless you count the grass at Target Field, the only green space around here is the Mississippi River , which is increasingly accessible in places, particularly for cyclists, runner, and walkers.
 

WHY I LOVE THIS PLACE

Jim Hillegass, ceo of jriver and owner of the foundry building

When I came here, in 1976, the North Loop was still mostly warehouses—the Soo Line warehouses, the Creamette Building, some railroad land. There were lots of trucks, and there was a working foundry pouring aluminum. Some people didn’t feel it was safe, and it certainly wasn’t the kind of destination that it is now. But slowly, condominiums came in, and more recently, Target Field. And of course, The Bachelor Farmer was really what helped put the stamp of approval on this neighborhood. There’s quite a bit of foot traffic now. It’s finally enough that it can support small retail businesses, and they’re popping up everywhere. Come down to walk around and look in all the windows. Then walk along Washington Avenue and Second Avenue and look up: the first floors have been remodeled over the years, but the second floors and above have beautiful stonework and brickwork.
 


Comments may be edited for length, clarity, or appropriateness.

Feb 16, 2014 12:26 pm
 Posted by  tommyrey

And don't forget the St Paul Art Crawl which happens twice a year in Lowertown. The spring Art Crawl will be held April 25-27, 2014. A great way to see art from over 300 local artists and tour galleries and artist lofts in 17 unique buildings. The fall Art Crawl is held in October.

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