Best of the Twin Cities 2011
Variety is the spice of life, right? Sure, but we think the wondrous mix of things to do, eat, drink, buy, and enjoy in the Twin Cities is better described as, well, pretty sweet. It’s a veritable Candyland out there, and on the following pages we highlight the things that make us feel good as gumdrops. The tastiest focaccia (the best Dara’s ever eaten). The hippest cover band (they know Weezer’s The Blue Album front to back). The most honest auto-body shop (they do exist). And, yes, the best candy store. Admit it, we’re spoiled rotten here. And that’s a good thing.
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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
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?
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
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.
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
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.
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.
Best Vintage Shop
For Real Danish Teak
Danish Teak Classics
1500 Jackson St. NE, Suite 277, Mpls., 612-362-7870, danishteakclassics.com
25 E. 26th St., Mpls., 612-872-8552, blacklistvintage.com
1587 Selby Ave., St. Paul, 651-644-4110
Two metro locations: 2829 Johnson St. NE, Mpls., 612-788-9870; 4806 Chicago Ave. S., Mpls., 612-824-1350; rewindminneapolis.com
Classic Retro @ Pete’s
2145 W. University Ave., St. Paul, 651-224-5235
781 Raymond Ave., St. Paul, 651-603-8787