12 Great Neighborhoods
An insider's guide to the Twin Cities nodes you need to know
(page 4 of 9)
4. LINDEN HILLS
THE URBAN VILLAGE
• Character: Tucked between Lake Harriet and Lake Calhoun, the eminently walkable Linden Hills is tightly knit, smart, eco-friendly (density advocates may quibble), and committed to maintaining its independent shops and eclectic charm—to the point that last year it secured a temporary moratorium on large-scale development.
• Food: Steven Brown’s Tilia continues to pack in crowds, while The Harriet Brasserie offers a quieter respite with crawfish and grits. Locals on the move grab the roast-beef sandwiches at Clancey’s Meat & Fish. Families ramble around the patio of Sebastian Joe’s—the caramel-banana-chocolate chip Pavarotti goes down easy—like it’s their own backyard.
• Shopping: Wild Rumpus , the independent children’s bookstore, has yet to be tamed; the animal denizens, including Carl Sagan the rooster and Daniel Handler the cat, still roam free. Adults are charmed, kids lose their minds, and everyone finds at least one must-have book. The tot tour continues at Creative Kidstuff while adults hit Twiggs Home & Garden, which accounts for much of the tasteful décor around here, from linens to lanterns. France 44 Wines & Spirits is as much a gathering place as a liquor store/deli, with locals stopping in for the frequent tastings before walking out with a few fine bottles and a wedge of artisanal cheese.
• Culture: Harriet Bandshell —that’s all you need to know. Come early if you want a prime spot for summer shows. The scene stretches beyond the music, with lake-painting artists, clots of teens, and the occasional wedding providing prime people-watching.
• Green space: If Lake Calhoun is the six-pack-sporting college kid, Lake Harriet is the latte-sipping, stroller-pushing mom. Get out on the water any way you can—lucky are those who’ve scored a kayak/canoe storage spot here—or hitch a ride with the kids on the Como-Harriet Streetcar Line to watch the grown-ups without moving a muscle.
WHY I LOVE THIS PLACE
Tom Braun, owner of wild rumpus
I’ve been in Linden Hills since the 1970s, and I think the character here has stayed pretty constant. Part of it has to do with the geography: if you’re coming from downtown, for example, there’s no direct thoroughfare to get here. So even though we’re part of the city, this place feels a little separate from it, like a small town. We have a really strong sense of community—if you want to see that, just get your morning beverage at Dunn Bros. There are tables pushed together with 10 people sitting around them. Everyone’s talking with each other. What about? Well, politics, mostly. I’d say it tends to be slanted more toward the Democrats, but we don’t abuse Republicans. Not too much. Another thing that defines us is Lake Harriet. There are some great old homes on the lake that have really interesting histories. People love it, and it’s so close. You’ll see people out there walking and running every single morning, no matter what the weather. They’re crazy, of course.