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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.

Best of the Twin Cities 2011
Photo by Darrell Eager

BEST OF FOOD >
BEST OF DRINK >
BEST OF FUN >
BEST OF THE CLASSICS >
BEST OF SHOPPING >
BEST OF HELP >
BEST OF HEALTH & SELF >

FOOD

Donuts

YoYo Donuts & Coffee Bar

Want to get upper level VP’s to come to your next brainstorming meeting? Then simply note in your invite that YoYo Donuts will be provided, and set your conference table with maple long johns garnished with full slices of bacon, s’mores donuts artfully topped with perfectly toasted marshmallows, and filled donuts plumped with filling fit for a restaurant’s best pie. YoYo Donuts proves what can happen when a bakery gives each and every donut some serious attention. And for the price of a trip to Minnetonka and $17 for a dozen, you can prove that when you host a meeting, it’s worth peoples’ time to come.
5757 Sanibel Dr., Minnetonka, 952-960-1800, yoyodonuts.com
 

Pasta

Broders’ Pasta Bar

Name a better place in the Twin Cities that makes its own pasta from scratch. You can’t—because there isn’t one. This 17-year-old, family-run Italian restaurant is a rock of consistency, thanks to executive chef Michael Rostance’s 25-year history with the company (he started at Broders’ Cucina Italiana, the deli across the street, before Molly Broder and her husband opened the restaurant). Rostance takes a traditional approach to the pasta press, pushing the dough through an extruder made with bronze dyes (as opposed to the Teflon dyes favored by American manufacturers). This makes his noodles porous and spongy— chewy conveyor belts for a heavenly tomato cream sauce.
5000 Penn Ave. S., Mpls., 612-925-9202, broders.com
 

Spice Shop

Golden Fig

There’s a certain art-meets-science wonder to the spice rack at Golden Fig. Each of the grocer’s 50 blends, from the blush-pink Bolivian Rose Salt to the rowdy, paprika-powered “Rebel Yell,” seems like a divine intervention from the flavor gods. But they’re actually engineered by owner Laurie Crowell in her off-site kitchen. With a chemist’s precision, Crowell creates concoctions that stretch the definition of “spice,” including reconfigured sugars—enhanced with, say, cherry cardamom or hints of maple—and “dip” kits, small pouches of seasoning that, when combined with mayonnaise and sour cream, create exotic spreads for bagels, sandwiches, and veggies.
790 Grand Ave., St. Paul, 651-602-0144, goldenfig.com
 

Cheese Shop

Surdyk's

Surdyk’s has a cheese shop you can use the way a bibliophile uses a great bookstore. The clerk greets you, and asks what you’re there for. “I’m in the mood for something I’ve never had,” you say. “Something terrifically aged. Surprise me.” In response, the clerk unwraps the rare, precious, dense Bleu Mont Dairy cheddar, slices off a bit of tangy, nutty golden magic for you, and hands it over solemnly. As you let this unusual flavor experience envelop you, you suddenly realize that you have found a shop that not only sells cheese, but also—like a museum—curates the stuff in all its splendid, stinky, and sumptuous varieties.
303 E. Hennepin Ave., Mpls, 612-379-9757, surdyks.com
 

Cheese Cart

W.A. Frost & Co.

Nothing points to the maturity and sophistication of a restaurant scene more than its cheese. Great cheese requires two things: first, dairy farmers with the upper-level artistry and economic ability to put their product into storage and not sell it for several years; and second, customers cultured enough to appreciate the flavors that evolve and wealthy enough to pay $20 a pound. No restaurant is more mature and sophisticated when it comes to cheese than W.A. Frost & Co., where they carefully select, care for, and present the best cheeses available. Pair it with something from Frost’s fantastic port and dessert-wine list, and just like that you’ve given yourself a profoundly delicious gift.
374 Selby Ave., St. Paul, 651-224-5715, wafrost.com
 

Thai Brasserie

Naviya’s

Too many local Thai restaurants use curry as an obscuring veil to hide sins: cheap chicken, bleak broccoli, cardboard carrots. Not at Naviya’s.
At this Linden Hills gem, vegetables are exactly what the world’s food-gurus have been telling us vegetables should be: indulgent, sensuous, and extravagant. These bright broccoli florets and crunchy carrots are more than things you’re told you have to eat. They’re jewels that will dazzle and delight as they appear before you.
2812 W. 43rd St., Mpls., 612-276-5061
 

Health Food

Mill Valley Kitchen

Nutritionists have been up in arms for years now: how can people lose weight if they never know what’s in their food? Enter Mill Valley Kitchen. It hides nothing: the calories, carbohydrates, and fat grams of every dish are listed so you can make healthy decisions for a happier you. Sure the wild-mushroom risotto sounds yummy, but at a quarter the calories, the sesame carrots sound even better. No wonder this bright, spa-chic spot has become the go-to restaurant for the health conscious. Finally, here’s a place where you can stick to your diet without fretting about your diet.
3906 Excelsior Blvd., Mpls., 952-358-2000, millvalleykitchen.com
 

Cupcake

Salty Tart

It was a year of consolidation and difficulty for Minnesota’s cupcake world. But our own James Beard award nominee for best pastry chef in the whole darn country, Michelle Gayer, was always diversified at her bakery Salty Tart, offering everything from onion-topped milk tarts to sandwiches to tubs of frosting. And, of course, cupcakes. Try the Surly Furious chocolate, malty and deep, or the white lemon curd, bright and clean tasting. And then try whatever else is on offer—just because you can.
920 E. Lake St., Mpls., 612-874-9206, saltytart.com
 


 

Best Cookie
 

Macarons

Sweets Bakeshop

2042 Marshall Ave., St. Paul; 4747 Nicollet Ave. S., Mpls.; sweetsbakeshop.com
 

Chocolate

Rustica

3220 W. Lake St., Mpls., 612-822-1119, rusticabakery.com
 

Chocolate-Chip

Franklin St. Bakery

1020 E. Franklin Ave., Mpls., 612-879-5730, franklinstreetbakery.com
 

Snickerdoodles

St. Paul Classic Cookie

2386 Territorial Rd., St.Paul, 651-227-4840, saintpaulclassiccookie.blogspot.com
 

Sheer Variety

Two Smart Cookies

181 Snelling Ave., St. Paul, 612-384-1069, smartcookieshop.com
 

Gingersnaps

France 44

4351 France Ave. S., Mpls., 612-925-3252, france44.com
 


 

[ Readers’ Pick ]

Voted on by Minnesota Monthly readers at MNMO.com
 

Best Pizza
 

WIN

Pizza Luce

pizzaluce.com
 

PLACE

Punch

punchpizza.com
 

SHOW

Red’s Savoy

savoyuptown.com; savoypizzaeagan.com
 

HONORABLE MENTION

Pizzeria Lola

pizzerialola.com

 

 

BEST OF FOOD >
BEST OF DRINK >
BEST OF FUN >
BEST OF THE CLASSICS >
BEST OF SHOPPING >
BEST OF HELP >
BEST OF HEALTH & SELF >

Vinegar

Leatherwood Vinegary

Minnesotans are used to paying top dollar for Italian balsamic vinegars. But are the secrets of great vinegar confined to Italy? They are not! Leatherwood fruit vinegars are made right here in Long Prairie, just northwest of St. Cloud, using a year-long process that starts with fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs, then ferments and barrel-ages them until a miraculously tasty, tangy, zesty vinegar is produced. Use them to perk up lentil soup, improve pilaf, render a salad extraordinary, or otherwise turn your Plain-Jane cooking into something so zippy it will bedazzle even the most jaded Italophile of a cook.
leatherwoodvinegary.com
 

Steakhouse

Manny's

There’s only one way to express the love one man feels for another man’s business in the Twin Cities: dinner at Manny’s. From the rolling cart of beef, with its astonishing $80 Bludgeon of Beef (and the even more astonishing $110 Double Porterhouse) to the bottles of rare wines (including the best list of Cabernet Sauvignons in the region), there’s nothing like Manny’s. Of course, don’t forget about the world’s best hash browns, the biggest brownie, and all the see-and-be-seen networking you can cram in between courses. And remember: if you were eating at Manny’s, you’d be somebody by now.
825 Marquette Ave., Mpls., 612-339-9900, mannyssteakhouse.com
 

Steakhouse on a Budget

The Strip Club

Any way you cut it, St. Paul’s Strip Club has been at the forefront of all things culinary: chef J.D. Fratzke has been the local leader in using grass-fed meat in his dishes; bartender Dan Oskey has been in the news for his Joia sodas (but it’s his inventive alcoholic libations that are making our world go ’round). Still, as spectacular as the food and drinks are, the single factor that has kept the Strip Club whirring through all the ups and downs (and downs) of this endless recession is its budget-friendly pricing. Soup for $4 and a $34 chef-driven, ethically raised, scrumptious strip steak? Now that’s the culinary vanguard.
378 Maria Ave., St. Paul, 651-793-6247, domeats.com
 

Bakery

Patisserie 46

The over-use of the word awesome makes it all but impossible to use language to describe things that actually inspire awe. This fact becomes baldly apparent the moment one tries to put word to the feeling that comes over a bread lover when confronting the reverence-inducing offerings at Patisserie 46. Consider the mîche, a bread so profoundly rich and whole it may as well be meat. Or the individual cakes, which start with something like pistachio praline, continue to pique your curiosity with a filling of pistachio mousse, then swell to encompass wild strawberry gelée, and—finally—soar through meringue heights to crescendo in a virtuoso of white chocolate. What to do with a bakery that exists where language fails? Appreciate it, of course.
4552 Grand Ave. S., Mpls., 612-354-3257, patisserie46.com
 

Brunch

Tilia

To some, Tilia was the most anticipated restaurant of 2011. To others, the most-anticipated restaurant of the decade. Why? The waffles. Oh good golly, the waffles. Cornbread-based, topped with delicate lobster, hugged by spinach bathed in garlic-butter, and crowned with a bacon-touched hollandaise—not a gimmicky bacon hollandaise, but a whimsical bacon hollandaise that unites the waffle and bacon like the melody connecting the verses in a song—this is a waffle that will leave you humming with joy.
2726 W. 43rd St., Mpls., 612-354-2806, tiliampls.com
 

Butcher Shop

Clancey's Meats and Fish

Clancey’s is the place for meat lovers both highbrow and low. Charcuterie-obsessed gourmands drool over the locally sourced, fresh-cut exotica (pork jowls, homemade duck fat) and love the shop’s willingness to accommodate special requests (You want a pig pancreas? They’ll get you a pig pancreas). Regular working stiffs, on the other hand, pop in on their lunch breaks for the state’s best, belly-filling deli sandwiches. Order the roast beef for an invigorating, sinus-clearing blast of locally grown horseradish paired with very locally grown beef—all the meats at Clancey’s  come from pasture-raised animals butchered on-site.
4307 Upton Ave. S., Mpls., 612-926-0222, clanceysmeats.com
 

Olive Bar

Holy Land at the Midtown Global Market

Being judicious and thrifty at an olive bar is tiresome. How can you know which salty little treats are best till you try them all? That’s why Holy Land’s new olive bar at Minneapolis’s Midtown Global Market is so wonderful. For just $7 a pound, you can indulge in all the salty treats you desire. Treats like green olives the size of hens’ eggs, chili pepper-coated olives, lush kalamata olives, briny little Moroccan olives, wine-marinated olives…the list goes on and on. Add a bag of fresh pita, a container of hummus, and a block of feta and—voila!—you’ve catered your Mad Men viewing party on the cheap, and not at all tiresomely.
920 E. Lake St, Mpls., 612-870-6104, holylandbrand.com
 

Pie

Birchwood Café’s Key Lime

We know what you’re thinking. Key Lime pie? Too tart. Too acidic. Too garishly tropical for our refined Minnesota palates. But not so at the Birchwood, where this citrus-y pie asserts itself with subtlety and elegance. Its lime flavor creeps, rather than explodes, through a wedge of custard on a graham-cracker bed. It’ll leave a tingle at the corners of your mouth—a zing that is eased with the organic whipped cream topping your slice. No cheap-margarita flavor here.
3311 E. 25th St., Mpls., 612-722-4474, birchwoodcafe.com
 

Baguette

Sun Street Breads

The perfect baguette needs two things: a tender, airy crumb (known to laypeople as “the inside”) and a thin, crisp crust. Sounds simple, right? Wrong. But from the first day young baker Solveig Tofte opened Sun Street, there it was: simultaneously the most delicate and sturdiest thing in the world. Of course, Tofte had already made her name in baguettes at Turtle Bread, but somehow the loaves at her new shop dwarf even those. They’re so good they might even make you forget that Sun Street also has the best biscuit sandwiches in town, as well as French fries worth a drive across town.
4600 Nicollet Ave., Mpls., 612-354-3414, sunstreetbreads.com
 

Mac 'n' Cheese

Haute Dish

It sounds innocuous enough on the menu: noodles, king crab, tallegio, truffle. But this mac ‘n’ cheese is far from ordinary. Delicate curls of canneloni noodles stand in for the macaroni, and the cheese is a creamy Italian talleggio, made even funkier by a bit of truffle. That mushroomy base is taken in a whole other direction by the tender, sweet king-crab meat, only to be overthrown by all the other flavors: crunchy fish roe, buttery toasted breadcrumbs, celery leaves, parsley leaves, and chives. Slide a forkful into your mouth and let the sensuous, surprising, knee-weakening elements combine. If Earth holds a better mac ‘n’ cheese, we’ve never tasted it.
119 Washington Ave. N., Mpls., 612-338-8484, haute-dish.com
 


 

Best Candy Store
 

For Connoisseurs

Sugar Sugar

3803 Grand Ave. S., Mpls., 612-823-0261, sugar-sugarcandy.com
 

For Classicists

Candy Jar

3805 Cedar Ave. S., Mpls., 612-721-3741
 

For Maximalists

Alix in Candyland

5400 France Ave. S., Mpls., 952-915-1100, alixincandyland.com
 

For Popcorn and Fudge Lovers

Candyland in St. Paul

435 Wabasha St. N., St. Paul, 651-292-1191, candylandstore.com
 

For Americana

Candy Alley

4813 Chicago Ave. S., Mpls., 612-354-3881, candyalley.comcastbiz.net
 


 

[ Readers’ Pick ]

Voted on by Minnesota Monthly readers at MNMO.com
 

Best French Fries
 

WIN

St. Paul Grill

stpaulgrill.com
 

PLACE

Café Lurcat

cafelurcat.com
 

SHOW

Barbette

barbette.com
 

HONORABLE MENTION

Burger Jones

burgerjones.com

 

 

BEST OF FOOD >
BEST OF DRINK >
BEST OF FUN >
BEST OF THE CLASSICS >
BEST OF SHOPPING >
BEST OF HELP >
BEST OF HEALTH & SELF >

Banh Mi

Jasmine Deli

Given that banh mi is now the food culture’s sandwich obsession du jour, it’s not surprising that expectations have grown irrationally high for these scrumptious little Vietnamese subs. Thankfully, the great Jasmine Deli comes correct (as always). The key is the bun, and owner Le Truong’s house-baked wheat baguettes hit the perfect balance of crust and crumb. Upon first bite, the crisp outer shell flakes apart, giving way to a golden chewiness. Inside, a medley of pickled veggies tangos nicely with marinated pork, chicken, or mock dock. And at only $4 a pop, Jasmine’s banh mi might be the Cities’ best lunch on a budget.
2532 Nicollet Ave., Mpls., 612-870-4700
 

Rotisserie Chicken

Lucia's To-Go

It’s a good thing Lucia’s offers its rotisserie chicken to go. Because it’s quite likely you’ll want to rip into it all wolf-like and ravenous with your bare hands—and that behavior simply won’t fly in this genteel café. So take the bird home. There, you can feast as shamelessly as you want on the white meat, all juice-plumped and tender, or finger-scoop the golden, herb-basted skin that sloughs off in slippery and delicious piles. Just make sure to grab extra napkins.
1432 W. 31st. St., Mpls., 612-825-9800, lucias.com
 

Pho

Ngon Bistro

Why do we love the pho at Ngon Bistro? It’s all about the broth. Since this traditional Vietnamese noodle soup is enormous in size and 70-percent liquid, the robustness of the broth is what really makes pho a meal. And the broth at Ngon is like a six-course feast. It’s satisfyingly salty, seasoned to a beguiling complexity, and utterly slurpable. Order “The Special,” and enjoy four different kinds of beef (meatballs, beef flank, beef brisket, lean beef) as well as a dense tangle of noodles. Get through one bowl—the size of a kiddie pool—and you’ll feel like a champ.
799 University Ave., St. Paul. 651-222-3301, ngonbistro.com
 

BLT

Butter Café and Bakery

Is there such a thing as exceptionally ordinary? The BLT at south Minneapolis’s Butter Café and Bakery has us thinking there is. There’s no baroque reinterpretation here, no blasphemous straying from the holy trinity of bacon, lettuce, and tomato. Instead, Butter delivers this sandwich in its delicious quintessence: whole-grain toast kissed by mayo, hearty slabs of organic bacon, plump and seedy tomato slices, and a frilly skirt of fresh lettuce. It’s proof that while you can’t reinvent the wheel, you can sometimes make it roll more smoothly.
3544 Grand Ave. S., Mpls., 612-521-7401, butterbakerycafe.com
 

Vegetarian

Evergreen Chinese

The great thing about the food at Evergreen Chinese is that you can fill a generous banquet table with it, and never repeat a dish’s flavor profile. Fried tofu with crispy soy flakes is a version of sea bass with soy flakes, all spice and lively texture. The pepper-fried mock pork brims with ginger and is thick and meaty. The slick and savory eggplant with garlic is as rich as the most intense Italian ragu. The Vietnamese curry mock duck is sweet and fragrant. And that’s only the smallest fraction of this extravagantly various, terrifically delicious wide-ranging array of vegetarian triumphs.
2424 Nicollet Ave., Mpls., 612-871-6801, evergreen-chinese.com
 

Sandwich

St. Paul Cheese Shop

Most sandwiches suffer from a lack of imagination. Not so at the St. Paul Cheese Shop. Take the Northern Lights bleu-cheese sandwich, for instance: its not-too-hot smear of garlic confit, sweet fig jam, and handful of greens proves that a cheese sandwich can explore heights of umami and depths of spice. Tuck the duck pancetta with basil pesto and chevre into your lunch sack and you’ll have a restaurant-worthy experience right at your desk. And when the shop presents a special of house-made chicken liver or house-smoked tongue sammies, you’ll realize that these sandwiches are made not only with creativity, but soul.
1573 Grand Ave., St. Paul, 651-698-3391, stpaulcheeseshop.com
 

Take-Out

Big Bowl Chinese Express, Lunds and Byerly's

If you’ve never gotten one of the take-out family meals from the Big Bowl Chinese Express locations at Lunds and Byerly’s, run, don’t walk, to get one—they’re life-changing. For just $20 on Friday nights, you get your choice of three entrees; brown, jasmine or fried rice; and a container of pot stickers or egg rolls. Try the lively Thai yellow-curry chicken, the  spicy kung-pao chicken, the savory beef with broccoli—heck, try them all. You will not believe how bright and fresh everything is, and how easy it is to get a healthy dinner on the table on a hectic Friday night.
At Lunds and Byerly’s, bigbowlchineseexpress.com
 

Focaccia

Cosseta's

A great loaf of Italian focaccia bread requires three things: good oil, high-quality ingredients, and special baking skill. Cossetta’s has all three, and if you haven’t been to the St. Paul stalwart since they amped up their baking program, you really need to visit. You’ll see the loaves lined up and covered with different high-quality ingredients, like lacy tangles of onions or sun-dried tomatoes. Be sure to take a whole or half loaf home: the good oil keeps the bread fresh and delicious for a few days. Just pop a chunk in the oven, let it warm up a bit, and enjoy. So rich, so simple, so good.
211 W. Seventh St., St. Paul, 651-222-3476, cossettaeventi.com
 

Barbeque

Q Fanatic

To a certain segment of the population, Highway 169 has been rechristened as barbecue highway—because that’s how you get to Charlie Johnson’s astounding Q Fanatic. The place doesn’t look like much, but don’t let appearances deceive you. Q Fanatic is a land of wonders, offering expertly smoked and charred ribs with meat as tender as brie; pulled chicken gorgeously perfumed with smoke; and specials like dewy pastrami, ruby-red prime rib, and profoundly intense slab bacon, destined to make a sandwich you’ll remember for decades. So get out your GPS and your wet naps, and start driving.
180 Miller Rd., Champlin, 763-323-6550, qfanatic.com
 

Fish 'n' Chips

Anchor Fish & Chips

How to describe the crispness of the signature, sustainably harvested, battered and fried Alaskan cod from Anchor Fish & Chips? Well, it’s a crispness that’s beyond crisp; a crispness that crackles when you pierce its golden shell; a crispness that not only protects the fish from the bubbling oil, but allows it to steam and emerge as tender as custard. Each forkful of the bubbly crust and the dewy fish combine to create the ideal yin-yang of soft and hard, salty and sweet, comforting and precise. The chips are just right, too, soft, caramelized, and just porous enough to soak up plenty of curry sauce, vinegar, and praise.
302 13th Ave. NE, Mpls., 612-676-1300, theanchorfishandchips.com
 

New Junk Food/Bar Food

Uptown Cafeteria and Support Group

First, Tim McKee revamped the very underrated Il Gatto, changing it from a snooze to a contender for the area’s best Italian restaurant. Then we lost track of him. But look and see: he redid Cafeteria, and there’s now some seriously good bar food to be had. Handmade jalapeño poppers, fried chicken, and a destination-worthy, all-you-can-eat buffet during Sunday afternoon football games have made Cafeteria the land of bar food that even food snobs love.
3001 Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-877-7263, uptowncafeteria.com
 


 

Best Gelato
 

New

Pandolfi Gelato

3904 50th St. W., Edina, 952-928-3000, pandolfico.com
 

For Kids

Fat Lorenzo’s

5600 Cedar Ave. S., Mpls., 612-822-2040, fatlorenzos.com
 

Chocolate

Jackson’s

820 W. Lake St., Mpls., 612-824-4161, jacksonscoffeeandgelato.com
 

Shakes

Ring Mountain

11965 Cliff Lake Rd., Eagan, 651-454-7464, ringmountain.com
 


 

[ Readers’ Pick ]

Voted on by Minnesota Monthly readers at MNMO.com
 

Best Burger
 

WIN

Matt’s

mattsbar.com
 

PLACE

Blue Door

thebluedoorpubmn.com
 

SHOW

Bulldog Northeast

thebulldognortheast.com
 

HONORABLE MENTION

The 5-8 Club

5-8club.com

 

 

BEST OF FOOD >
BEST OF DRINK >
BEST OF FUN >
BEST OF THE CLASSICS >
BEST OF SHOPPING >
BEST OF HELP >
BEST OF HEALTH & SELF >

DRINK

Specialty Beer Store

The Four Firkins

The Four Firkins may be Minnesota’s only emporium devoted exclusively to craft beer. No whiskey, no wine—just beer. And lots of it: between 800 and 1000 brews, depending on the season, stacked wall-to-wall in a shop that keeps its light bulbs cloaked in UV filters and its thermostat locked at 60 degrees. The selection is up-to-the-minute (see: Steel Toe Brewing, the state’s newest beer maker), but some of the most popular items are centuries old, including rare Trappist beers. There’s even a mini beer museum, with vintage barrels and cases displayed under glass.
5630 36th St. W., St. Louis Park, 952-938-2847, thefourfirkins.com
 

New Soda

Joia

Launched this August, local soda label Joia boasts flavors so adventurous and exquisitely gourmet—Pineapple Coconut Nutmeg, Blackberry Pomegranate Ginger—you’d think a seasoned bar chef dreamed them up. In fact, a seasoned bar chef did: Joia founder Bob Sanford tapped Dan Oskey, the famously ingredient-obsessed mixologist from St. Paul’s Strip Club, to be Joia’s taste engineer. Even better, the fruity sodas are made from all-natural ingredients and are caffeine free–much more juice than jolt.
joialife.com
 

Old Soda

Spring Grove

Consider it childhood in a bottle: true throwback pop, made from pure sugar cane and sold in classic American flavors like cream, root beer, grape, orange, and strawberry. The company’s been operating out of Spring Grove, in southern Minnesota, since 1895, so rest assured that its nostalgia—the old-timey delivery truck printed on its six-packs, its promotional use of photos of small-town kids fishing—is both earned and legit.
springgrovesoda.com
 

Ice-Cream Drink (for Adults)

Burger Jones's Dirty Den Mother

If you’re a bar, especially one with flat screens blaring NFL games, the best way to ensure that your customers will not feel ridiculous ordering a milkshake is to lace it with liquor. And maybe to give it a slightly ribald name. Order Burger Jones’s Dirty Den Mother—ice cream blended with crême de menthe and crême de cacao, striped with chocolate sauce, and topped with whipped cream, mint leaves, and a cherry—and you’ll get some odd stares. But screw ’em. This drink is as decadent and joy-filling as any good milkshake—perhaps even more so with its nice twinge of alcohol.
3200 W. Lake St., Mpls., 612-746-0800, burgerjones.com
 

Cocktail Bar

Bradstreet Craftshouse

A cocktail bar should feel cloistered—especially if it’s located in downtown Minneapolis. And Bradstreet Crafthouse, windowless and sumptuously dark, is so cut off from the bustle of First Avenue that you feel like you’re drinking inside a muffled dream. Or in another era. See that heavy velvet curtain? Pull it back and reveal the Parlour Room, a secret, swanky bar-within-a-bar, the closest thing the Twin Cities has to a speakeasy. The drinks are old-school, too, scratch-made with house-pressed juices, house-made bitters, specialty syrups, and tennis-ball sized spheres of ice that are 40-percent colder than your typical cubes.
601 First Ave. N., Mpls., 612-312-1821, bradstreetcraftshouse.com
 

Ice-Cream Drink (for Kids)

The Drive In

Kids love gimmicks, and what’s a drive-in if not a bonanza of gimmicks? Minnesota’s archetype of the genre, the 55-year-old Drive In, goes all out: a giant, rotating mug of root beer for a road sign; a wait staff of teenage “car hops” in poodle skirts; a sound system pumping 1950s-era rock ’n’ roll. There’s even a mini-golf course. Your kids will flip. You might, too, if you order the root-beer float, the Drive In’s pièce de résistance, poured with house-made root beer.
572 Bench St., Taylors Falls, 651-465-7831, taylorsfalls.com
 

Local Vodka

45th Parallel

Perhaps the world’s most perfect cocktail vodka, 45th Parallel is so smooth it’s almost atmospheric, like gulping 80-proof oxygen. And it’s local. So local, in fact, that founder Paul Werni need drive only seven miles from his New Richmond, Wisconsin, distillery to visit the single-family farm that grows his vodka’s corn—a farm located on the 45th parallel, exactly halfway between the North Pole and the Equator. It’s so local that all mashing and fermentation happen on-site, an unheard of rarity in the vodka world. In other words, Parallel 45 nails the small-batch, DIY thing. You’ve heard of farm-to-table. This is farm-to-bar.
45thparallelspirits.com
 

Bloody Mary

Tavern on France

Tavern on France’s Build-A-Bloody Mary is not for the decision-phobic. It’s for the voting enthusiast, the democratic-minded drinker that wants choices and demands that her voice be heard. Instead of a menu, you get a mini ballot. Check your top two preferences in the Meat/Cheeses category (we’ll take pepperoni sticks and cheddar-cheese cubes), your top four in Vegetables (hot dilled baby corn, pickled asparagus, jalapeño-stuffed olive, and pickle spear), a heat flavor (horseradish), and, of course, a vodka (Absolut Peppar, please). After that, the bartender does all the work, and you get exactly what you want.
6740 France Ave. S., Edina, 952-358-6100, tavernonfrance.com
 

Tea Shop

Teasource

This is not your grandmother’s tea shop—unless your grandmother happens to be an internationally recognized tea and tisane authority who regularly visits blenders in Germany, brokerages in Kolkata, and growers in China. That’s what TeaSource founder Bill Waddington does (when he’s not serving on the Board of Directors of the American Premium Tea Institute, of course). And, lucky for us, he brings his wealth of knowledge to a pair of retail stores where you can sample and purchase over 250 different brews. Oolong, chai, puerh, caffeinated, herbal: it’s all there.
752 Cleveland Ave. S., St. Paul, 651-690-9822; 2908 Pentagon Dr. NE, Mpls., 612-788-4842; teasource.com
 

Liquor-Infused Tea

The Aster Café's Jalopy

The Jalopy. It’s the automotive world’s quintessential lemon. And yet the drink at the newly revamped Aster Café is hardly a clunker at all. Each day, the staff drops two huge bags of loose-leaf, lemon solstice tea into a jug full of Jameson Irish whiskey. Two hours later, they’ve got a boozy, dark brown nectar, a few shots of which go into an ice-filled pint glass and then are drowned in Fentimans ginger beer. The result? A whiskey-lemon, fizzy ginger jam session that swaps earthy bitterness for cloying tang.
125 Main St. SE, Mpls., 612-379-3138, aster-cafe.com
 

Lemonade

Masu's Watermelon-Pickle Pop

Most Asian menus warn about spice levels. Masu’s non-alcoholic drink menu worries about your tolerance for sweet. Libations range from the demure Plum Lemon Tea to the glucose-jolting Disrespectful To Thirst (a Jolly Rancher-esque berry lemonade). You want the one in the middle: the Watermelon Pickle Pop. This sunset-colored lemonade, made with pickled watermelon, hits a symphonic balance of fruit and ferment. You get all the slushy sweetness of the melon, plus the sour acidity of the pickled rind. Top it with a lemon slice, and you’ll never crave an Arnold Palmer again.
330 E. Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-332-6278, masusushiandrobata.com
 


 

Best Wine Bar
 

For Breadth

Domacin 

102 Second Ave. S., Stillwater, 651-439-1352, domacinwinebar.com
 

For Food

Sontes

4 Third St. SW, Rochester, 507-292-1628, sontes.com
 

For Value

France 44 Cheese Shop

1573 Grand Ave., St. Paul, 651-698-3391, france44.com
 

For Bubbly

Barbette

1600 W. Lake St., Mpls., 612-827-5710, barbette.com
 

For Flights

The Riverview

3745 42nd Ave. S., Mpls., 612-729-4200, theriverview.net
 

For Novices

Pairings

6001 Shady Oak Rd. S., Minnetonka, 952-426-0522, pairingsfoodandwine.com
 

For Adventurers

Toast

415 N. First St., Mpls., 612-333-4305, toastwinebarandcafe.com
 


 

[ Readers’ Pick ]

Voted on by Minnesota Monthly readers at MNMO.com
 

Best Local Brew
 

WIN

Surly
 

PLACE

Summit
 

SHOW

Grain Belt
 

HONORABLE MENTION

Finnegans

 

 

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FUN

Ticket Deals

Goldstar.com

Start seeing your friends now. Because once they realize that Goldstar.com, the country’s largest discount-ticket seller, recently moved into the Twin Cities market, the only time you’ll see them is after a show. The service doesn’t cover the hottest, most expensive tickets in town (sorry, you’ll still be parting with a limb or two to see Broadway shows). But with half-price tickets on everything from plays at the Children’s Theatre Company to concerts at the Loring Theater to cruises on the Mississippi, the site still offers plenty of reasons for people to hit the town, with or without you.
goldstar.com
 

New Zoo Exhibit

Penguins of the African Coast

They can’t fly, can scarcely walk, look like they’re about to hand you a gin and tonic, and seem to have some co-dependency issues (ever seen a lone penguin?). That said, while the Minnesota Zoo has been quietly piling new animals into its Apple Valley ark over the past few years, it’s hard to beat the latest arrivals—18 African penguins—for sheer pleasure. Try watching these creatures for 10 minutes: if you aren’t continuously grinning, you may as well throw yourself in the grizzly pit—you’re obviously dead.
13000 Zoo Blvd., Apple Valley, 952-431-9200, mnzoo.org
 

Jazz Venue

Capri Theater

Prince played here—the first shows he ever did. Which should be reason enough to check out this renovated Art Deco theater. But here’s another: it’s a regular home to the best vocal-jazz performers in the Twin Cities—Regina Marie Williams, Greta Oglesby, Dennis Spears, Sanford Moore—all of whom you can hear in this intimate, clubby setting for a fraction of what you’d pay to see them in musicals at the Guthrie or Ordway. No staging. No plots. Just great music.
2027 W. Broadway Ave., Mpls., 612-643-2050, thecapritheater.org
 

CLUB TO HEAR SINGER-SONGWRITERS

Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant

Surely we’re confused. Singer-songwriters at a jazz club? What have we been smoking? The better question: where have you been? The Dakota, recognizing a nice crossover between fans of jazz and fans of old-school singer-songwriters, recently began booking legends like Judy Collins, Maria Muldaur, and Bettye LaVette. In fact, about a quarter of its lineup is now comprised of folk, pop, blues, and R&B acts. And we can’t think of a better place—so relaxed, so cozy, so full of good food—to hear them.
1010 Nicollet Ave., Mpls., 612-332-1010, dakotacooks.com
 

Museum Without a Museum

Minnesota Museum of American Art

A museum is a place to see art, right? Not in the case of the Minnesota Museum of American Art, which lost its home in St. Paul a few years back. It still has thousands of the loveliest publicly owned artworks in the Twin Cities—sculptures by Paul Manship, landscapes by Grant Wood, regionalist paintings by Thomas Hart Benton—they’re just not on permanent display. But this year, its small staff has been trundling a portion of the collection to other museums and galleries around the state (in August, it appeared at the Minnesota State Fair; this month, it’s on view at Gustavus Adolphus College). Someday, the MMAA may once again be a place to see art. Until then, it’s nowhere—and everywhere.
651-797-4057, mmaa.org
 

Book Club

Talk of the Stacks

You’d have to fly to New York, slap on your most sardonic smile, and hit an Upper East Side soirée to get as much literary edification as you can just sitting in a folding chair at the Hennepin County Library’s signature reading series. This fall alone, at the Central Library in downtown Minneapolis, you can see Leslie Marmon Silko, Will Hermes, and Nuruddin Farah, among other high-profile authors. You’ll feel smarter just walking in the door.
supporthclib.org/events-talk.html
 

New Museum Space

Weisman Art Museum

Frank Gehry never met a line he didn’t want to bend, a façade he didn’t want to fracture, Picasso-like. So why, standing outside the Weisman Art Museum, is it so hard to spot the recent renovation designed by this most flamboyant of architects? Because all the action is on the inside, where Gehry doubled the gallery space by bumping out the back end. It’s now filled with a half-dozen new exhibits and works rarely if ever shown before from the Weisman’s collection. It took 18 years, but Gehry’s first big museum commission may now be known as much for its interior as exterior.
333 E. River Pkwy., Mpls., 612-625-9494, weisman.umn.edu
 


 

Best Theater
 

For Comedy

HUGE Theater

3037 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls., 612-412-4843, hugetheater.com
 

For Movies

Parkway Theater

4814 Chicago Ave., Mpls., 612-822-3030, theparkwaytheater.com
 

For Music

Pantages Theater

710 Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-339-7007, hennepintheatretrust.org
 

For a Big Night

Guthrie Theater  

818 S. Second St., Mpls., 612-377-2224, guthrietheater.org
 

For a Night with Friends

Loring Theater

1407 Nicollet Ave. S., Mpls., 612-353-6781, loringtheater.com
 

For a Group

New Century Theatre

615 Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-455-9501, hennepintheatretrust.org
 


 

[ Readers’ Pick ]

Voted on by Minnesota Monthly readers at MNMO.com
 

Best Festival
 

WIN

St. Paul Winter Carnival
 

PLACE

Uptown Art Fair
 

SHOW

Irish Fair
 

HONORABLE MENTION

Minnesota Fringe Festival

 

 

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New Green Space

Upper Landing Park

The newest strip of riverfront renovation in St. Paul, just below the Science Museum, could’ve been brought over by barge from Paris, its stone stairways leading down to the water, its grass a fine place for a picnic, boat-watching, or whatever the kids are into these days. It was bewitchingly christened this summer when it hosted the huge, twinkling “Scattered Light” sculpture for a month, and City House, a refurbished grain elevator at the park’s south end, opened as an event space. But even when it’s quiet, it speaks to our ongoing, ever-changing relationship with the river.
Chestnut Street and Shepard Road, St. Paul, stpaul.gov
 

Downhill Ski Weekend

Buena Vista Ski Area

Over in Bemidji, a ski bunny is a rabbit bounding down the slope, and getting plowed means someone helpfully cleared your driveway: it’s not the most party-hearty ski area (hello, Lutsen!). But it may be the nicest—especially on the wallet, with specials like $5 lessons, $18 lift passes, and $3 sleigh rides for when you want to give your legs a rest.
19600 Irvine Ave. NW, Bemidji, 218-243-2231, bvskiarea.com
 

Skate-Ski Lessons

Theodore Wirth Park

You know the skiers: the ones zipping by you on the trail like lynx in hot-pink spandex. They’re skate-skiing, a kind of Rollerblading on snow. And if you’ve ever wondered if it’s for you, you can check it out, fairly inexpensively, at the Theodore Wirth ski area, where rentals and lessons are offered by the Sisu Ski School. If it doesn’t feel right, you can always go back to your tortoise ways.
1339 Theodore Wirth Pkwy., Mpls., 763-522-4584, sisuskiers.org
 

Ocean Escape

Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium

If it once seemed strange that octopi were twirling their tentacles just below Banana Republic at the Mall of America, it may seem even stranger now that the new owners of MOA’s aquarium have taken things up a notch. The exhibit now features twice as many sea creatures as before, including more rays and sharks—and a curvaceous new green turtle called Swim Kardashian. And if you can’t afford a tropical holiday this winter, good news: you can snorkel with these fishes.
120 E. Broadway, Bloomington, 952-883-0202, visitsealife.com/minnesota
 

Urban Adventure

Lebanon Hills Regional Par

This Eden, in Eagan, is so dense and immense—bigger than many state parks—and so criss-crossed with skiing and mountain-bike trails, that several bikers got disoriented last year and had to be rescued by plane, wilderness style. Even two of the searchers got lost for a time. This fall, the visitor center—already a model of sustainability—is getting an upgrade. New picnic shelters will also be added and new mountain-bike trails for beginners will be cut through the woods. Just bring your GPS.
860 Cliff Rd., Eagan, 651-554-6530, co.dakota.mn.us
 

Cooking Class

Kitchen in the Market

It’s the cooking-class equivalent of a shore lunch: once a month, the high-energy chefs of Kitchen in the Market will take you on a hunt for seasonal ingredients among the various produce shops housed within the Midtown Global Market. Then, right there in the complex, they’ll show you how to cook them up. Sound simple? That’s the point, a direct lesson in how to convert groceries into goodness.
920 E. Lake St., Mpls., 612-568-5486, kitcheninthemarket.com
 

Speaking Class

Voice and Speech at the Guthrie

Having a commanding voice is helpful on stage—and just about anywhere else you’d like to assert your authority (office, ship, courtroom). Which is why the Guthrie’s lessons in projection and effective, motivational speech have become a favorite of executives, lawyers, and others looking to…hey, I’m talking to you!
818 S. Second St., Mpls., 612-225-6172, guthrietheater.org
 

Woodworking Class

Wild Earth School

You need a place to sit. Now, you could drop 10 bucks on an IKEA chair that will probably collapse within a week. Or you could spend that week making your very own Adirondack chair. You could also build your own guitar to strum in that chair, and, should you choose to get up, some new cabinets for your kitchen—all during night and weekend classes just across the St. Croix in Hudson. Your butt, and your spouse, will thank you.
924 County Rd. N., Hudson, Wis., 715-749-9011, aboutwildearth.com
 

Retro Supper

Vino & Vinyl at Corner Table

You with the Bee Gees beard and distinct lack of digital devices! It’s time to stop listening to your old records in the basement—you could be sharing them with everyone at Corner Table. Every Thursday night, this quintessential neighborhood restaurant becomes a gourmet rec-room: bring an old LP and the chefs will spin it during dinner. Also, the usual $12 corkage fee is ratcheted down to $1—another flashback to the good old days.
4257 Nicollet Ave., Mpls., 612-823-0011, cornertablerestaurant.com
 


 

Best Outdoor Adventure
 

For Snowshoeing

Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge

3815 American Blvd. E., Bloomington, 952-854-5900, midwest.fws.gov/minnesotavalley
 

For Snow-Tubing

Buck Hill

15400 Buck Hill Rd., Burnsville, 952-435-7174, buckhill.com
 

For Sledding

Columbia Golf Course, Minneapolis

3300 Central Ave. NE, Mpls., 612-789-2627
 

For Downhill Skiers

Afton Alps

6600 Peller Ave. S., Hastings, 651-436-5245, aftonalps.com
 

For Cross-Country Skiers

Elm Creek Park Reserve

12400 James Deane Pkwy., Maple Grove, threeriversparks.org
 

For Skijoring

Baker Park Reserve

2309 Baker Park Rd., Maple Plain, threeriversparks.org
 

For Skaters

Centennial Lakes

7499 France Ave. S., Edina, 952-833-9580, centenniallakespark.com
 


 

[ Readers’ Pick ]

Voted on by Minnesota Monthly readers at MNMO.com
 

Best Lake

WIN

Lake Harriet
 

PLACE

Lake Minnetonka
 

SHOW

Lake Nokomis
 

HONORABLE MENTION

Como Lake

 

 

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Cover Band

The Teddy Holidays

Invention is overrated—sometimes the most original thing you can do is admit that someone else beat you to the punch. That’s the appeal of the Teddy Holidays, who, while not strictly a retread outfit, have drawn a devoted following for a couple of inspired ideas: playing all of Weezer’s The Blue Album at the Bryant-Lake Bowl last winter and playing the Beatles’ entire Rubber Soul album this fall. They don’t just cover music, they cover good music.
theteddyholidays.com
 

Charity Concept

Beers for Books

Wanna be a do-gooder? Here’s what you do: head to the bar (Barrio, Local, etc.) where a Beers for Books event is being held. Order a beer. Drink it. Congratulations, you’re a philanthropist: for every beer sold that night, as part a national concept headed up locally by a Target executive, the bar will donate a buck to buy books for kids in developing countries. It’s as simple as gulp.
beersforbooks.org
 

Holiday Show

Theater Latté Da’s All is Calm

There’s no Tiny Tim, no talking snowman, no Red Ryder BB gun. In fact, it’s the absence of any shooting that forms the story. Yet, several years after its first performance, this musical dramatization of the Christmas truce of World War I, a co-production with the vocal ensemble Cantus and Hennepin Theatre Trust, has toured the country and entrenched itself, no pun intended, as the latest holiday tradition in the Twin Cities. Sure, the shooting starts up again at the end, but in between it’s all about peace, understanding, and a well-sung carol.
latteda.org
 

Geek-Chic Event

Bell Museum Social

You’ve kept your old Ranger Rick magazines. And your butterfly collection. And that tiny skull you’re pretty sure is evidence of an unidentified species (it’s probably from a mouse). Well, here’s the social event for you: a quarterly open house recently started by the state’s only natural-history museum to unite contemporary art and old-school science. Each evening features a local artist, musical performances, food, and drink. Plus, it’s a great excuse to check out the museum’s two stories of classic dioramas—as if you needed one.
10 Church St., Mpls., 612-626-9660, bellmuseum.org
 

Bird Bash

The Trumpeter Swans of Monticello

Your whole life you’ve dreamt of a river dotted with big white swans that leads to a princely castle where you live happily ever after. Little did you know this experience can be had just west of Minneapolis—the first part, anyway. Because of the warm discharge from the town’s not-so-magical nuclear plant, flocks of trumpeter swans—the largest water birds in North America—treat this stretch of the Mississippi River like their own personal spa in the winter. It’s the largest congregation of the birds east of the Rockies. See the swans, warm up with a coffee in the quaint downtown, and plot your castle-building.
discovermonticello.com
 

Culinary Crawls

Twin Cities Food Tours/Taste Twin Cities Food Tours

We won’t tell anyone, but if you’re dining at just one restaurant in an afternoon, you might be an eating underachiever. You could be noshing at half a dozen historic and specialty restaurants on one of the Twin Cities Food Tours, a 1.5-mile trek through the Warehouse District into northeast Minneapolis. Or you could take one of the similarly named Taste Twin Cities Food Tours, which launched this past summer with a slightly different itinerary, heading from the Mill District into Northeast. Our recommendation? Do both.
twincitiesfoodtours.com; tastetwincities.com
 

Gourmand Getaway

Pizza and Pie in Stockholm

You aren’t a foodie worth your sea salt if you don’t already know about the legendary pizza farm just across the border near Stockholm, Wisconsin. You’d be forgiven, though, for not realizing that they still serve fresh pizza through November, every Tuesday per usual from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. Bring the goods back home or eat in your car, the windows steaming up from piping-hot deliciousness. Along the way, make a pit stop in town at the Stockholm Pie Company for a different slice of heaven.
Pizza Farm, N2956 Anker Ln., Stockholm, Wis., 715-448-4802; Stockholm Pie Company, N2030 Spring St., Stockholm, Wis., 715-442-5505, atozproduceandbakery.com
 

New Brewery

Harriet Brewing

If your stein hath runneth over with the flood of new Minnesota microbreweries over the past couple of years, don’t worry. Only one has focused on supplying you with a local and affordable version of exotic, Belgian-style ales—the champagne of beers, no matter what Miller says. Take home a growler, take a tour, or just take it from the tap at some 31 local watering holes.
3036 Minnehaha Ave., Mpls., 612-225-2184, harrietbrewing.com
 

Urban Retreat

Hotel Ivy

It’s January. Your guy hasn’t moved from the couch in so long that you can’t tell where the crumbs end and the Zubaz begin. Pack a bag: you’re going to the Ivy—both of you. Sometimes overshadowed by its more boisterous boutique cousins in town, the Ivy makes for a perfect couple’s escape. Women will enjoy the good food, posh bed, and spa. Guys will enjoy the big TV, the Esquire on the bedside table, and the oversize Jacuzzi from which they can watch the Super Bowl—when they aren’t staring into your eyes, of course.
201 S. 11th St., Mpls., 612-746-4600, starwoodhotels.com
 

Weekend Cabin

Cascade Vacation Rentals

You could buy a cabin—if you hit the lottery and want to spend your summers alternately slapping paint and mosquitoes. Or you could rent one whenever you’re craving that North Woods mystique. And the best place to start searching is the website of Cascade Vacation Rentals, which offers the largest selection of accommodations on the North Shore, from $300 a night for luxury lakehomes to $119 a night for artist studios, some within a stone’s skip of Lake Superior.  
cascadevacationrentals.com
 

Fall Drive

Forestville to La Crescent

Type in these two towns on Google Maps and you’ll be told to take I-90 straight across southeastern Minnesota. Don’t be so easy on yourself. Drag the purple line down to Highway 16 on the west side and to Highway 250 in the east: you want to go through Lanesboro, Rushford, Houston, and a bunch of places not even noted on the map. You want to be in the dark green area: bluff country. And once you get to La Crescent, right on the Mississippi, you want to turn back up into the hills on little Apple Blossom Drive, past a handful of small apple orchards. Bring back a bushel for pies. Then, if you must, you can take the interstate home.
bluffcountry.com
 

Ticket Out of Here

Sun Country to Costa Rica

What would our dispositions be like, not to mention our Vitamin D levels, without Sun Country Airlines, our last truly local airline—determined, despite bankruptcy and Tom Petters, to drag our pale butts to the beach. This winter, they’re taking us farther than ever in search of great surf: the first direct flights to Liberia (the Costa Rican resort town, not the country). Leave Friday morning and you’ll be having drinks in the sand by early afternoon.
suncountry.com
 


 

Best Date Night

For Movie Buffs

Heights Theatre 

3951 Central Ave. NE, Mpls., 763-788-9079, heightstheater.com
 

For Music Fans

Cedar Cultural Center

416 Cedar Ave. S., Mpls., 612-338-2674, thecedar.org
 

For English Majors

University of Minnesota Author Readings

Locations vary, see website: bookstores.umn.edu/genref/authors.html
 

For Culture Vultures

Salon Saloon (every fourth Tuesday at Bryant-Lake Bowl)

810 W. Lake St., Mpls., 612-825-3737, bryantlakebowl.com
 

For Art Lovers

Minneapolis Institute of Arts’ Third Thursdays

2400 Third Ave. S., Mpls., 612-870-3000, artsmia.org
 

For Cocktail Connoisseurs

Marvel Bar

50 Second Ave. N., Mpls., 612-206-3920, thebachelorfarmer.com
 

For Foodies

Travail

4154 W. Broadway, Robbinsdale, 763-535-1131, travailkitchen.com
 


 

[ Readers’ Pick ]

Voted on by Minnesota Monthly readers at MNMO.com
 

Best Day Trip

WIN

Stillwater
 

PLACE

Taylors Falls
 

SHOW

Red Wing
 

HONORABLE MENTION

Northfield

 

 

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THE CLASSICS

Indulgence

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
 

Snack

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.
 

Deli

Cecil’s Delicatessen

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
 

Hotel

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
 

German Restaurant

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
 

Holiday Shopping

Ingebretsen’s

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
 

Beer

Grain Belt

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.
 

Oasis

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
 

Cheap Fun

Como-Harriet Streetcar

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
 

Bowling

Lariat Lanes

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
 

 

 

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SHOPPING

Sale

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
 

Modern Correspondence

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.
redstamp.com
 

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.
mnfashion.org
 

Fancy Invitations

Paperista

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
 

Office Gear

Mara-Mi

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
 

Architectural Salvage

Architectural Antiques

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

June Resale

3406 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls., 612-354-3970, juneresale.com
 

Of-the-Moment Designers

Ladyslipper

4940 France Ave. S., Edina, 952-224-1900, ladyslipperboutique.com
 

Classic High-End

Neiman Marcus

505 Nicollet Mall, Mpls., 612-339-2600, neimanmarcus.com
 

Understated Cool

Pumpz & Co.

 3335 Galleria, Edina, 952-926-2252, pumpzco.com
 

Classic Comfort

Shü Global Footwear

1041 Grand Ave., St. Paul, 651-224-3570, shuglobal.com
 


 

[ Readers’ Pick ]

Voted on by Minnesota Monthly readers at MNMO.com
 

Best Pizza
 

WIN

Cooks of Crocus Hill

cooksofcrocushill.com
 

PLACE

Kitchen Window

kitchenwindow.com
 

SHOW

Chef’s Gallery

thechefsgallery.com
 

HONORABLE MENTION

Hockenbergs

hockenbergs.com

 

 

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Accessories

StyledLife

Kevin Quinn’s Galleria outpost is a cross between chic nightclub and boutique, full to the brim with accoutrements for your couture, no matter your style. Perhaps it’s the MZ Wallace handbags or Missoni tights that put the finishing touch on your person, or maybe it’s a ginormo cocktail ring or hat that puts a spring in your step. And, frankly, if you just have no clue where to start, the store’s staff members are also personal styling experts who will elevate your wardrobe from geek to chic. Don’t miss the mint-condition vintage pieces in the back of the store.
Galleria, Edina, 952-928-8888, styledlife.com
 

Shopping Trend

Pop-Ups

The economy might be preventing would-be retailers from opening brick-and-mortar shops or sinking resources into traditional marketing, but the silver lining is that the downturn has also spawned a fun shopping trend: pop-up shops. Some of the “shops” currently harnessing shopping’s most thrilling attributes—limited-time offers, exclusive access, the thrill of the hunt—include Mighty Swell, FindFurnish, and the NorthernGRADE men’s market. In all the excitement, we might just forget the nation’s debt and what we’re going to do about it. A little escape can’t be all bad, right?
 

Men’s Store

MartinPatrick3

Fops, dandies, and style editors rejoiced when MartinPatrick3 moved from its matchbox niche on First Street North to its airy new spot on Third Avenue. The premier men’s shop in the Twin Cities, MP3 is an impeccably designed Cary-Grant-meets-George-Clooney hideaway. Owner Greg Walsh rightly kept all the old favorites—Pierrepont Hicks, J. W. Hulme, Fred Perry, vintage barware and cufflinks—but added space for handsome additions like an expanded apothecary department, Shipley & Halmos clothing, Jack Spade bags, and Parke & Ronen swimwear. You know how you’re always complaining about not having a place to buy a gift for the men in your life? This is the place. 
212 Third Ave. N., Mpls., 612-746-5329, martinpatrick3.com
 

Jewelry Design

Stephanie Lake

Stephanie Lake may very well be the most stylish person in Minnesota. She’s one of five people in the world to hold a PhD in decorative arts, design history, and material culture. Oh, and she worked for Sotheby’s and as the caretaker of the Bonnie Cashin foundation (she was friends with the late, great, iconic designer). This, of course, perfectly primes her for having her own design collections. Otherworldly in their beauty and detail, they are wholly unlike anything else, combining design elements of Hollywood Regency, mid-century, 70s-era Fleetwood Mac, and glam rock. Lake is a stylemaker in a class of her own, right here in our very backyards.
stephanielakedesign.com
 

Specialty Boutique

Bombshell

Denise Alden’s boutique looks like all the others: a small, thoughtfully curated grouping of beautiful clothes. It’s this “average-ness” that makes it the best, because Alden specializes in clothing sizes 14 to 24. No out-of-proportion patterns or ill-cut armholes. No frumpy floor-length sparkle tents or godawful muumuus. No, this is actual fashion. Alden specifically seeks out both work and party clothing from designers that make plus-size clothing with plus-size-specific cuts. All that attention to detail and fit means you walk out looking your absolute best, and confidence looks great on everyone.
794 Grand Ave., St. Paul, 651-330-2605, bomb-shell-boutique.com
 

Eco Beauty

Nature of Beauty

Terri Bly up and moved her eco-friendly beauty store to Mendota Heights recently, and boy, are we the better for it. For starters, she’s got more space to showcase the largest collection of the safest, greenest beauty brands in all of North America. Not only is her shop the first to offer the coveted Naturopathica and Dr. Alkaitis products, but she also stocks a wide range of color cosmetics. And then there’s the spa—the first and only in Minnesota to be connected to the Green Spa Network—offering biodynamic-ingredient facials and all-natural peels. Most important, Bly teaches us that we don’t have to sacrifice safety for glamour, because beauty and intelligence aren’t mutually exclusive. Really, they go hand in hand.
750 Main St., Suite 109, Mendota Heights, 651-222-3127, natureofbeauty.com
 

Vintage and Collectible Toys

Main Street Toys

Maybe you’ve got a bad case of nostalgia. Maybe you’re a collector of interesting-looking stuff. Or maybe you’re young at heart. In any case, Joe Morabito of Main Street Toys understands the preoccupation. Looking for 1950s ray guns? He’s got ’em. Or how about a vintage Japanese space robot? Covered. A 1965 Marx Hi-Bouncer Super Ball still in the packaging? No sweat. How about a 1984 Indiana Jones pencil set? Yep. This is what fun used to feel like, and you can still get a piece of it here.
mainstreettoys.com
 

Athletic Gear

Lululemon

Lululemon Athletica went from being a select store in the Twin Cities to a growing legion of happy, peppy, brightly colored workout outposts, the latest of which is slated to open right about…now, on Grand Avenue in St. Paul. A host of quickly rotating merchandise that uses top-notch wicking technology and actually useful technical features, like secret compartments for keys and hand-warming sleeves, keeps true fitness aficionados happy, but the flattering cuts have even the weakest-willed among us coming back for their Define Jackets and Groove pants, which make us all look like hardbodies.
lululemon.com
 


 

Best Vintage Shop
 

For Real Danish Teak

Danish Teak Classics

1500 Jackson St. NE, Suite 277, Mpls., 612-362-7870, danishteakclassics.com
 

For Clothing

Blacklist Vintage

25 E. 26th St., Mpls., 612-872-8552, blacklistvintage.com
 

For Dresses

Lula

1587 Selby Ave., St. Paul, 651-644-4110
 

For Accessories

Rewind

Two metro locations: 2829 Johnson St. NE, Mpls., 612-788-9870; 4806 Chicago Ave. S., Mpls., 612-824-1350; rewindminneapolis.com
 

For Housewares

Classic Retro @ Pete’s

2145 W. University Ave., St. Paul, 651-224-5235
 

For Lifestyle

Succotash

781 Raymond Ave., St. Paul, 651-603-8787

 

 

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Gift Shop

Patina

Whatever your occasion to give a gift, Patina has it. Even for the toughest to please, like, say, an 18-year-old punk niece or the veteran dinner-party thrower or the father who doesn’t golf. And it always looks thoughtful and planned, even if it is purchased 15 minutes beforehand, thanks to eagle-eyed Patina buyers. Not only do they have their finger on the pulse of the latest trends, but they also have the know-how to dial it back for, say, a conservative grandma’s 85th birthday. With soon-to-be five metro locations, you’ll never have to go far to find that perfect gift.
patinastores.com
 

Women’s Shop

Picky Girl

Elizabeth Varghese is undeniably picky. And that’s why she consistently garners rave reviews: she carefully edits her shop, which just seems to get better with age. The mix of affordable, stylish labels and local designers’ handiwork (Hackwith Design House, Anne M. Cramer) strikes a tuneful chord with women looking to add a little trend without looking trendy. Plus, Varghese carries wonderful local and national jewelry and accessories lines, and can show you how to work them into your wardrobe to perk it up. (We also love her selection of small gifts near the holidays.) If you aren’t shopping at Picky Girl yet, you should be.
949 Grand Ave., St. Paul, 651-698-4107, pickygirlmn.com
 

Coffee Table Books

Walker Art Center Gift Shop

Can’t afford a Murakami? Neither can we. Fortunately, there’s a magical place that lets you take home a bit of the Walker Art Center without dropping millions: the gift shop. Filled to the gills with amazing gifts and toys for brainiacs, perhaps the most impressive section is the wall of heavily bound, could-crack-a-granite-countertop art tomes. The store also boasts a host of photography and modern art, from the very elusive and obscure to the Yves Kleins and, yes, Takashi Murakamis. Your wallet will only be a little lighter upon leaving, but your art knowledge—and your coffee table—will be heavy, man.
Walker Art Shop, 1750 Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-375-7633, walkerart.org
 

Gardening Gear

Gerten’s

Gerten’s has been locally owned for three generations, and over that time has become a sprawling, 44,000-square-foot wonderland. Most of the plants—including annuals, perennials, and nursery stock—are still grown by the Gerten family, and all the tools you need to plant them in the ground are available at the store. The gift shop is also a goldmine, offering a little something for gardeners and the people who love them.
5500 Blaine Ave., Inver Grove Heights, 651-450-1501, gertens.com
 

Lingerie

Flirt Boutique

There’s a fine line between sexy and trashy, and unfortunately most lingerie boutiques cross it. But not Jessica Gerard’s shop. The “marry-me” pink paint on the walls and the chandeliers hanging from the ceiling evoke a pin-up girl’s glamorous boudoir without getting too sickly-sweet, and the shop is full of romantic underpinnings that appear to be spun from gossamer by bluebirds. And then there are the accessories: thigh-highs and tights, lotions and soaps, and a little bit of jewelry, which make for perfect, sophisticated bachelorette or Valentine’s Day gifts. Who cares what Victoria’s Secret is when you can Flirt?
177 Snelling Ave. N., St. Paul, 651-698-3692, flirt-boutique.com
 

Thrift Shop

Valu Thrift

It’s giant, and it’s a madhouse on discount Mondays, but it’s worth the chaos. Inside Valu Thrift, you might find a nearly-new Diane Von Furstenberg dress with the dry-cleaning tags still attached, a gently worn Coach bag, or a mint-condition North Face jacket. They also carry all manner of furniture, small electronics, toys, and books. Sure, there will be a lot of eagles painted on wooden slabs and ceramic ducks, but in there somewhere are some great Dansk pewter figurines. Happy hunting.
2145 Hudson Rd., St. Paul, 612-702-5920
 

Gifts for Baby (and Mom and Dad)

Pacifier

This is the place to get a baby gift when you’ve had it up to here with Pooh. For instance, you can pick up a Ramones onesie, or one of the brilliant Rockabye Baby! CDs, which remake awesome bands like Radiohead or the Pixies into instrumentals for rocking-chair time. The shop stocks everything from fun gifts and small toys to must-have gear like bottles, car seats, and strollers, all designed with a modern edge. We should be teaching our children well—about good design. 
Two locations, including 310 Hennepin Ave. E., Mpls., 612-623-8123, pacifieronline.com
 

Designer ‘It Girl’

Anne M. Cramer

This spring, you may have noticed a proliferation of darling, striped, bell-shaped skirts adorning 30- and 40-somethings all over town. Those in the know call it the Flynn, and it was designed by Anne Cramer, a gracious woman with impeccable taste. Her preppy, wearable line—which goes beyond the coveted Flynn—is every bit as stylish and fun to wear as Kate Spade or J. Crew by Jenna Lyons. It even contains the same cachet: if you own some, might it make you as  elegant and irreverant as the maker?
annemcramer.com
 

Neckwear

Pierrepont Hicks

Husband-and-wife team Mac and Kat McMillan are as cool as their names sound. After careers in real estate and fashion/publishing, the duo ditched the day jobs to launch their neckwear line. Designed in Minnesota and produced in New York by master craftsmen, the dandy wool and silk Pierrepont Hicks ties carry the weight of a heritage brand, even if they aren’t yet a generation old. You can thank them for introducing “natty” back into the local vocabulary.
pierreponthicks.com
 


 

Best Designer Clothing
 

For the Cutting Edge

Grethen House

4930 France Ave. S., Edina, 952-926-8725, grethenhouse.com
 

For the Runway Watcher

Bumbershute

5014 France Ave. S., Edina, 952-475-2684, facebook.com/bumbershute
 

For Designer Wear

Arafina

3365 Galleria (69th and France Ave. S.), Edina, 952-925-1565, arafina.com
 

For Bridalwear

L’Atelier Couture

219 N. Second St., Suite 404, Mpls., 651-602-94922, lateliercouturebridal.com
 

For Couture

Joynoelle

312 W. 42nd St., Mpls., 612-209-7822, joynoelle.com
 

For the Pocketbook

Fashion Avenue

4936 France Ave. S., Edina, 952-929-7919, fashionavenueresale.com
 


 

[ Readers’ Pick ]

Voted on by Minnesota Monthly readers at MNMO.com
 

Best Neighborhood for Shopping
 

WIN

50th & France, Edina
 

PLACE

Grand & Victoria, St. Paul
 

SHOW

Hennepin & Lake in Uptown, Mpls.
 

HONORABLE MENTION

Hennepin & University in Northeast, Mpls.

 

 

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HELP

Jewelry Repair and Custom Design

Consumer Direct Jewelers

No jewelry woe is too great for Allen Lenz and his team at Consumer Direct Jewelers. Since 1981, they’ve designed, repaired, cleaned, restored, and created one-of-a-kind pieces, all in-house. From helping you design the engagement ring of your dreams to fixing broken clasps, their jewelry prowess knows no end. No wonder customers continue to return—and bring their friends with them.
2575 Fairview Ave. N., Suite 210, Roseville, 651-628-9944
 

Furniture Upholstery and Repair

Grahn’s Upholstery

Walter Mondale trusted them with his desk from Washington, D.C. Interior-design firms trust them with all their furnishing needs. And you should trust them, too. Al and Nancy Grahn started Grahn’s Upholstery in 1973, and their five-person team has been refinishing, reupholstering, and redesigning furniture ever since. They even do custom work: just bring an idea or photo, choose from their abundance of fabrics, and they’ll do the rest. Grandma’s rocking chair never looked so good.
14 27th Ave. SE, Mpls., 612-333-1446, grahnsupholstery.com
 

Auto Body Shop

Halvey’s Body Shop

We have the lock on an honest auto-body guy. No, really. (We’ll wait a minute until your laughter dies down.) When you get into a fender-bender—or worse—David Halvorson is the guy to see. He’s a top-notch technician, he’ll commiserate about the other guy’s bad driving skills, he’ll go out of his way to make sure you’re happy with the results—he even works with your insurance company so you don’t have to. In addition to being the best in the biz, he’s also an extraordinarily nice human being. Now isn’t that someone you want to give your business to?
3527 Chicago Ave. S., Mpls., 612-824-9114
 

Pet Portraits

Sarah Beth Photography

Anyone who says pets don’t have expressions hasn’t seen Sarah Beth Ernhart’s photography. Joyous, pensive, adoring—all those are there and more, conveying the individual personality of a four-legged friend. Even more poignant, though, are her “Joy Sessions”: photos taken before a beloved pet must say goodbye. These photos capture the true love between a pet and its person. Additionally, Sarah Beth donates 10 percent of her proceeds to a rotating list of shelters, rescues, and animal advocates.
612-804-2518, sarahbethphotography.com
 

Eco-Friendly Dry Cleaning

Mulberrys

Call it magic. Call it science. Either way, Mulberrys’ non-toxic cleaning methods get garments squeaky clean while keeping the earth nice and green. The only dry cleaners in the Twin Cities to zap stains with pressurized carbon dioxide, Mulberrys also has excellent customer service, an iPhone app (MyDryCleaner, to track and pay for orders), and an eco-friendly home laundry-care line, The Laundry Collection. What can your drycleaner do for you?
Four metro locations, see mulberryscleaners.com
 

Eco-Friendly Cleaning Service

Aaron’s Green Cleaning

Lots of cleaning services claim to be green, but only Aaron’s Green Cleaning channels the power of essential oils and elbow grease to get your house squeaky clean. In 2006, musician Aaron Barnell decided to upgrade house cleaning from side job to full-time gig. With the help of Melissa Farris, essential-oil guru to such stars as Robert De Niro and Madonna, Barnell concocted his omnipotent all-natural product line, then gathered his artist friends and flexed his customer-service chops to build his client base. Today, he and his staff service hundreds of homes and commercial buildings every month.
612-386-2793, aaronsgreencleaning.com  
 

Bike Repair

Full Cycle

You need a bike fixed and at-risk youth need a break from street life. Where’s the overlap in this Venn Diagram? Full Cycle, a nonprofit bike shop run by the Pillsbury House, that teaches homeless youth bike-repair skills under the guidance of pro mechanics. The program offers paid internships and access to outreach workers, and you get reasonably priced bikes and repairs, plus a place to recycle tubes and tires, gratis. Remember the thrill of your first two-wheeler? Full Cycle gives away some 150 bikes a year to kids in need, providing an instant passport to those who need it most.
3515 Chicago Ave. S., Mpls., 612-824-7581, fullcyclebikeshop.org
 

Dog Training

Maureen, The Canine Coach

Maureen Haggerty might not have a TLC reality show, but she is a true dog whisperer, dispatching solutions to all manner of pet (and owner) behavior problems, from housebreaking to barking to aggression to separation anxiety. Take Spot to group classes or boot camp, or have Maureen or one of her genius staffers come to you to tackle the nitty-gritty problems. They’ll even come back for follow up. They use gentle reinforcement methods, leading not only to better behavior on the part of your dog, but also a better relationship between you and your dog. Call it puppy love.
612-202-4732, thek9coach.com
 


 

Best Home Decor
 

Modern Accessories

I.D. Inside Design

212 Third Ave. N., Mpls., 612-317-0045, id-insidedesign.com
 

Scandanavian Clean Lines

FinnStyle

160 Glenwood Ave., Mpls., 612-333-2127, finnstyle.com
 

Eco-Posh

Natural Built Home

4020 Minnehaha Ave., Mpls., 612-605-7999, naturalbuilthome.com/about
 

Handmade

Grand Hand

619 Grand Ave., St. Paul, 651-312-1122, thegrandhand.com
 

Remade

Style Minneapolis

4501 Nicollet Ave. S., Mpls., 612-377-3331
 

Blu Dot Hot Spot (and More)

Roam

2914 Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-377-6465, roaminteriors.com
 

Traditional

Traditions

Two metro locations: 4245 Excelsior Blvd., St. Louis Park, 952-285-2777; 1039 Grand Ave., St. Paul, 651-222-5253; traditions.com

 

 

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Floral Design Classes

Amy Backman, Spruce Flowers & Home

Martha Stewart says you should always incorporate flowers into your home décor, but who really knows how? Amy Backman, owner of Spruce Flowers & Home, that’s who. Pull up a stool to her darling, diminutive flower bar and take a class or two, or just pick up an offhand lesson while you’re shopping. Either way, you’ll learn the art of arranging. Martha would approve.
4751 Chicago Ave. S., Mpls., 612-767-1101, sprucemn.com
 

Cloth-Diaper Service

All Things Diapers

Martin and Patti Cross want to save you money, reduce waste, and have your little bundle of joy potty trained by the age of two—using cloth diapers. Since starting All Things Diapers in 2009, the couple has expanded the business to include multiple delivery and laundry packages plus a store offering the widest selection of cloth diapers in the state. Not only is it convenient (they deliver and pick diapers up at your home), All Things Diapers is also eco-friendly: the Crosses make deliveries in a Prius, use energy-efficient washers, compost—even plant trees. Basically, they’re the diaper genies you’ve always wanted but never knew existed.
12064 Central Ave. NE, Blaine, 763-439-1973, allthingsdiapers.com
 

Dog Grooming

Bubbles & ECouture

Good groomers are hard to find. That’s why you must take your dogs to Bubbles & Ecouture. There, husband-and-wife team Frank Foo and Gladys Tay use all-organic products to indulge your pooch. Pamper your pup with a bath, groom, massage, and “pawdicure,” or go for the straightforward wash-and-cut. Foo and Tay know that dogs can be anxious, but they tackle tooth-brushing, aromatherapy massage, and, ahem, anal expressions with aplomb. To further reduce anxiety, dogs aren’t kenneled, but instead allowed to run and play or laze on couches in a gated area. The awesome retail selection includes collars, boots, food, and treats—all organic and stylish, of course.
883 Smith Ave., West St. Paul, 651-457-1815, bubblesnecouture.com
 

Home Stager

Janet Lawrence at Set To Show

When preparing to sell a house, one should: make sure it’s clean, highlight the property’s strong suits, and get rid of clutter (yes, that includes the magnet your three-year-old made). But to really guarantee a fast sale, call Janet Lawrence and her Set To Show crew—your house will be off the market faster than a Louis Vuitton purse on clearance. They decorate, buy furniture, and even provide live-in home managers to keep your digs ship-shape and ready for showings. What’s more, research shows 93 percent of staged homes sell in one month. Let the rearranging begin!
Set To Show, 952-224-2131, settoshow.com
 

Moving Service

Local Motion

Moving is a pain. At least it is without Local Motion. The fastest-growing moving company in the Twin Cities, Local Motion has blossomed from its humble beginnings in 1994 to being the Twin Cities’ leader in technical innovation and storage. With dozens of trucks and such services as free storage, free boxes, and packing assistance, there’s a chance your next move will not only go smoothly, but be enjoyable to boot.
2700 Minnehaha Ave., Mpls., 952-474-6683, localmotion.com
 

Financial Classes

Ruth Hayden

Ruth Hayden was Suze Orman when Suze Orman was still waitressing and in debt. And she’s here in St. Paul, offering financial literacy classes, many aimed specifically at women, but also offering a couples-and-money class that frequently has a waiting list. Can’t wait? She has four award-winning books to dive into. So if you’ve ever been tempted to call Suze late at night and ask her if you can afford that new fishing boat, know that you have a local, reliable, whip-smart, non-sensationalized option, right here in town.
ruthhayden.com
 

Cobbler and Leather Repair

Fast Eddie’s

They’re your favorite pair of shoes, broken in and as comfortable as comfortable gets. But they’re old and need new, well, everything. You can’t just throw them out, so what can you do? Take them to Fast Eddie’s. A staple of Dinkytown since 1971, and owned by Jim Picard since ’79, Eddie’s is a one-man shop specializing in repairing everything from backpack zippers to cowboy boots. Picard prides himself in carefully listening to and addressing whatever problem is ailing your beloved item—and returning it to you within the week.
1316 Fourth St. SE, Mpls., 612-623-4464, fasteddiesshoerepair.com
 


 

Best Florist
 

Hip & Modern

Bastian + Skoog

310 N. Second St., Mpls., 612-333-6450, bastianskoog.com
 

Cool & Unusual

Thistle

Minnetonka, 952-237-7487, thistlefloral.com
 

Dreamy Designs

Roger Beck

1100 E. Franklin Ave., Mpls., 612-871-7080, rogerbeckflorist.com
 

Gorgeous & Gifty

Spruce

4751 Chicago Ave. S., Mpls., 612-767-1101, sprucemn.com
 

Lush & Luxe

Indulge + Bloom

651 Nicollet Mall, Mpls.; 3054 Excelsior Blvd., Mpls., 612-343-0000; indulgeandbloom.com

 

 

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HEALTH AND SELF

Personal Trainer

Stacie and Chris Clark, Tiger Athletics

Chris and Stacie Clark will kick your butt, but only because they care. In 2007, the personal-training gods opened Tiger Athletics, letting us mere mortals in on their secret for six-pack abs and a bikini-worthy derrière. Since then, they’ve assembled a team of the state’s fittest fitness buffs and expanded their business to include weekly classes, sports-team training, one-on-one sessions—they even teach three-year-olds how to maneuver a soccer ball. As for the secret to looking as good as this dynamic husband-and-wife duo? Lots of hard work—and equal amounts of fun.
tigerathletics.com
 

New Yoga Studio

Moksha Yoga

Sweat, stretch, and save the earth, all in one workout. At Moksha Yoga, being environmentally conscious is just as important as striking the perfect Warrior pose. The eco-friendly studio also cares about the community: proceeds from weekly karma classes go toward a different charity each month. If that’s not enough, radiant heat panels keep the workout room to a toasty 105 degrees, ridding your body of toxins, clearing your mind of stress, and leaving you feeling like the superhero you are.
3252 W. Lake St., Mpls., 612-920-3004, mokshayogampls.com
 

Nutritionist

Perfectly Produce

Licensed nutritionist Teri Rose doesn’t buy into cleanses or gimmicky diets. Instead, she believes in the value of a good veggie or two. After some consultations and meal-planning (which take into consideration both nutrient density and portion size), your skin will start to glow and you’ll suddenly begin thinking about running that marathon after all. By following these lifestyle changes, you’re less likely to contract certain types of cancers, diabetes, or have a heart attack. Talk about preventive medicine. Don’t believe us? Just pick up one of her Wellies, a delicious (no, seriously!) granola-bar-like snack that will keep you full for half a day.
2822 W. 43rd St., Suite 200, 612-920-2822, Mpls., perfectlyproduce.com
 

New Workout

Barre at Align Pilates

Just because your career as a ballerina ended in kindergarten doesn’t mean you can’t still have a rock-hard dancer’s body. During Align’s hour-long barre class—a combination of the stretching and toning movements of Pilates and yoga, the strengthening and sculpting principles of ballet, and a high-energy cardio workout—small isometric movements target and tone every muscle in your body. You’ll squat, curl, squeeze, sweat, and shake, but those areas you thought would never be taut again? They’ll be looking mighty fine.
3021 Holmes Ave. S., Mpls., 612-343-7500, alignpilates.com
 

Spa Service

Total Body Elixir Vichy Treatment at Juut Wayzata

This is the spa treatment you want when you need to be spoiled from the crown of your head to the tips of your toes. Beginning with a hot-oil hair treatment and scalp massage, the service also covers a facial cleanse, full-body exfoliation, and foot massage before moving into an oil-and-vichy-shower massage, ending with a hydrating moisturizer. The therapeutic warm water and steam chill you out, but also cocoon you against the deep freeze outside.
1125 Wayzata Blvd. E., Wayzata, 952-404-9955, juut.com
 

Colorist Team

Justine Hornick and Mark DeBolt

Here’s a team that covers both sides of the river: Justine Hornick wields her color brush at Root Salon in St. Paul, and Mark DeBolt works his painterly magic at Haus. The connection is that they are both Wella (a brand of professional hair dye) educators, meaning they are on top of trends and teach stylists how to create gorgeous hues on any client. Their sherbet hair collection, launched early this summer and just now showing up on runway models, somehow takes tones like tangerine, lilac, and rose and makes them wearable, even for the corporate cube-dwellers among us. Talk about talent.
Root, 499 Selby Ave., St. Paul, 651-222-0200, rootsalons.com; Haus, 4240 Nicollet Ave. S., Mpls., 612-827-4287, haussalon.com
 


 

Best Massage
 

Technical Master

Erin at Phresh

937 Grand Ave., St. Paul, 651-288-4040, phreshspasalon.com
 

Lomi Lomi

Nell Rueckl at Spot Spa

401 Hennepin Ave. E., Mpls.; 1600 W. Lake St., Mpls.; spotspas.com
 

Deep Tissue

The Beauty Room

4300 Chicago Ave. S., Mpls., 612-724-4111, thebeautyroommpls.com
 

Relaxation

Ultimate Indulgence

1121 Town Centre Dr., Eagan, 651-686-6686, solimarspa.com
 

On the Cheap

CenterPoint School

53500 W. 35th St., Mpls., 952-562-5200, centerpointmn.com
 


 

[ Readers’ Pick ]

Voted on by Minnesota Monthly readers at MNMO.com
 

Best Workout Spot
 

WIN

The YMCA or YWCA

ymca.com, ywca.org
 

PLACE

Life Time Fitness

lifetimefitness.com
 

SHOW

The Firm

thefirmmpls.com
 

HONORABLE MENTION

Steele Fitness

steelefitness.com
 

 

 

BEST OF FOOD >
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BEST OF HEALTH & SELF >

Bridal Beauty Service

Beauty Lounge

Julie Swenson’s outpost in northeast Minneapolis is a haven for beauty addicts. The buzz about Swenson’s fairy-godmother-like touch resulted in enough business to build a team and bricks-and-mortar in the first place. Put simply, Swenson instills quality control and a style aesthetic that women love. Psst: when Juut master stylist and celeb expat Pearson Knight is in town, he often makes time for a few cuts and styles at Beauty Lounge.
20 University Ave. NE, Mpls., 612-741-0288, mplsbeautylounge.com
 

Guided Relaxation

Beth Freschi

Beth Freschi has a dulcet-toned voice and an air that radiates pure Zen. Which isn’t surprising considering she worked more than 15 years in in-patient psychiatric care. Today, she’s a life coach and the queen of calm, teaching others how to relax. She holds group classes at the Lauderdale Wellness Center as well as other locations. (Moms and daughters, don’t miss the James J. Hill program on Mother’s Day!) If it stresses you out just thinking of making time for a class, pick up one of her CDs—she makes it possible to fall asleep without a running to-do list circling your brain. Ahhhh…
atimeforexpression.com
 

Hair Removal and Facials

Blink for Beauty

Christina Snead and Brook DuBois are beautiful on the inside and out, so it’s no surprise that they gravitated toward the beauty industry and opened up shop together. Christina handles the threading—she’s learned from the masters from India and New York—and Brook has the lightest, kindest touch, resulting in the best facials in town. Threading is nearly painless—seriously—and even if it did sting, Christina is so charming you’d forget about it in a second. Brook focuses on eco-friendly, all-natural skincare, and her Pure Luxe facial will nearly levitate you from her table.
700 Washington Ave. N., Mpls., 612-338-5211, blinkforbeauty.com
 

Trend

Boudoir Photography

Let’s get one thing straight: this kind of photography in no way resembles the leaked iPhone photos of Kim Kardashian & Kompany. Instead, photography industry pros Katie Thering Berger and Jeannette Nargelenas of Blush Twin Cities shoot women in the most gorgeous lighting and sumptuous settings, wearing only their pretty underpinnings…or less. Women commemorate their post-baby body, a recently finished marathon, a 50th birthday, or give a “little black book” of their photos as a gift to their newly-minted husband. They’re sexy and beautiful, sure, but what women really get out of it is the total empowerment and the satisfaction of knowing just how beautiful they really are.
blushtwincities.com
 

Airbrush Tan

Glow

“If you can’t tone it, tan it,” exclaims makeup artist and fairy UV godmother Melanie Richards. A wave of her airbrush wand and everything appears more swimsuit-ready, without even a hint of the dreaded oompa-loompa tint. Best of all, Richards comes to you, so it’s your secret—unless, of course, you host a “tan-tini” party (drinks and a discount!). The whole thing takes just minutes, and the solution includes a bronzer for immediate gratification (the actual tanner darkens over the next 24 hours). It’s a glow straight off the beaches of Saint Tropez, sans expensive airfare.
goglow.co
 

New Salon

Haus

Former Juut creative director and hair wünderkind Charlie Brackney created major buzz this year when he and business partner, Jessica Reipke, opened Haus Salon. Smartly, he corralled some of the best in the business to create branding (Mike Cina), a website (Stuart Lyle), and interiors (Jonathan Gomez Whitney) for this elevated style experience that somehow manages to stay unpretentious. Especially worth noting are the smartypants details, such as taking client before-and-after shots, which are stored on stylists’ iPads so the next time you come in and say, “Remember that rose-gold color with the layered haircut?” they can pull up the photo and replicate it. Brilliant.
4240 Nicollet Ave. S., Mpls., 612-827-4287, haussalon.com
 


 

Best Local Product
 

For Saving Time

Shh Bar

3waybeauty.com
 

For Hair

Aveda

aveda.com
 

For Nails

Nontoxique

nontoxique.com
 

For Skincare

By Elizabeth Dehn

byelizabethdehn.com
 

For Eco-Glam

Intelligent Nutrients

intelligentnutrients.com
 

For Lips

The Elixery

theelixery.com
 


 

[ Readers’ Pick ]

Voted on by Minnesota Monthly readers at MNMO.com
 

Best Blowout
 

WIN

The Beauty Room

thebeautyroommpls.com
 

PLACE

Juut

juut.com
 

SHOW

Rocco Altobelli

roccoaltobelli.com
 

HONORABLE MENTION

Jon Charles

joncharlessalon.net

 


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

Jul 13, 2012 02:10 pm
 Posted by  johnfpalumbo

Check out Palumbo's Pizzeria at 454 Snelling Avenue South, Saint Paul. This family owned and operated pizzeria has been open for one year (07/06/2011). They serve traditional Caputo 00 flour in their thin, crisp crust, personal size (10 in.) pies. Check out the signature Salmone e Crema di Formaggio pizza (Salmon and cream cheese, Parmesan, garlic cream sauce, spinach, and basil). Authentic, locally sourced gelato, will finish your meal with gusto. Local and national craft beers and an international wine list round out this taste of Italy.

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