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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 9 of 9)

The Up and Comers



• No one really needed more alcohol in northeast Minneapolis. But the boom in microbreweries there (four opened or planned so far) is practical and fitting. After all, there are empty warehouses to move into and empty stomachs to fill. (Like Williamsburg—the one without all the colonials—on the cheap.) Mostly there’s history, as the old Grain Belt brewery casts a castle-like shadow over the artsy entrepreneurialism in its midst. Yet it’s the mix of old and new that’s most intoxicating. The sleek taproom of Indeed Brewing occupies part of the 98-year-old Solar Arts Building on a cobblestone street. A 10-minute walk away, 612 Brew serves Indian street food in a brick-and-timber warehouse, with a micro-amphitheater fashioned of huge blocks from the old Metropolitan Building, the city’s first skyscraper. To drink here is to toast all that’s cool, past and present.


• All suburbs are not created equal. Take Burnsville, which has endeavored to create its own arts-centric downtown, albeit with some arguably unnecessary branding (Heart of the City). Anchored by the Burnsville Performing Arts Center (recent acts: Tracy Morgan, Clint Black), the big-city amenities come with an inevitably small-town feel. Hip moms and trendy teens dish about each other over Merlot and cappuccinos, respectively, at Jo Jo’s Rise & Wine. In the summer, Nicollet Commons Park hosts movies and music. Even the food feels more urban than suburban, thanks to Jamal Ansari’s sophisticated Mediterranean Cruise Cafe. The Minneapolis skyline is visible from the shallow stream coursing through this suburban oasis, beckoning at sunset. But once ensconced here, you’re unlikely to feel any need to head downtown.


• Robbinsdale is a practical place with slim rectangular ramblers and trim squares of lawn—and if no one’s selling postcards of its unassuming, authentic downtown, that’s no skin off its down-turned nose. Instead, Robbinsdalers put their money where their mouths are, with restaurants that put a premium on great food with little fuss. Travail, or rather its successors, is foremost: the pioneering gastropub is opening a pizza/charcuterie spinoff down the street this month while reinventing itself as the Rookery, a tapas bar. Then there’s La Cucina di Nonna Rosa, a homey wine bar and traditional ristorante. But what makes this a great neighborhood is the attention paid to such staples as the classic butcher shop Hackenmueller Meats and the fresh bread at Wuollet Bakery. Come back often enough and soon you’ll be checking out those ramblers.


 This old streetcar node has been reclaimed by and for creativity. On any given night you’ll find glass and metal being molded to the imagination in the Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center, and, soon, artisan treats being fashioned in the City Food Studio. With any luck, Wing Young Huie and some unsuspecting victim will be playing Ping-Pong at his photography studio, The Third Place Gallery. That’s to say nothing of the cool, eclectic home goods on offer at Covet Consign & Design, where, every second Thursday, the work of a different artist is featured. Or the Fox Egg Gallery, a charming co-op of artists and designers for hire. Or, for that matter, the murals that cover nearly every building here, a kind of outdoor gallery—and graffiti abatement—that marks this neighborhood as a true phoenix, rising on colorful brick wings. 

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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