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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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.
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
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
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.
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
3037 Lyndale Ave. S., Mpls., 612-412-4843, hugetheater.com
4814 Chicago Ave., Mpls., 612-822-3030, theparkwaytheater.com
710 Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-339-7007, hennepintheatretrust.org
For a Big Night
818 S. Second St., Mpls., 612-377-2224, guthrietheater.org
For a Night with Friends
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
St. Paul Winter Carnival
Uptown Art Fair
Minnesota Fringe Festival