Event Tickets My Account Advertise About Us Contact Us Archive RSS Newsletters

2013 Best of the Twin Cities

2013 Best of the Twin Cities

When it comes to local Best Of lists, there are names that show up again and again: institutions whose walls are weighed down with enough awards plaques to compromise their structural integrity.

This year, we went off-the-beaten-path & under-the-radar to also seek out the up-and-comers and hidden gems that have been hiding in plain sight—the best things you’ve been missing.

 

What are your favorite hidden gems? Show us and win four tickets to the 20th Annual Minnesota Monthly Food and Wine Experience! 

Follow us on Instagram @mnmomag and take photos of your favorite finds. Include @mnmomag and #mnmohiddengems in the caption. Every time you submit a photo, you'll receive an additional entry to win. For more details, visit mnmo.com/hiddengems

   
FUN HIDDEN GEMS » FOOD HIDDEN GEMS »
FUN TIMELESS CLASSICS » 8 RESTAURANTS YOU FORGOT ABOUT »
STYLE HIDDEN GEMS » FOOD TIMELESS CLASSICS »
STYLE TIMELESS CLASSICS »  
   

FUN

BEST MUSIC VALUE

Dakota Jazz Club
photo by Brave New Media

Dakota Late Nights

There’s the show that’s advertised, and then there’s the show you get. The late-night shows at the Dakota are all about the off-the-menu offerings. It’s a steal wrapped inside a deal: for starters, the late shows typically cost less than the artists’ earlier gigs, but the sets generally go longer—much longer if the musician is digging the crowd, as was the case with Prince’s Friday-night set in January. Plus, artists are known to hang around after the show, chatting up the audience, signing autographs, and sipping nightcaps. • 1010 Nicollet Mall, Mpls., 612-332-1010, dakotacooks.com
 

BEST BOOK BROWSING

Central Library

Still no. 1,792 on the reserve list for that Dan Brown book? Maybe it’s time to see what else the library has to offer. Perhaps the most remarkable book housed at downtown Minneapolis’s Central Library is Audubon’s Birds of America, owned by Minneapolis Athenaeum, a nonprofit that shares space with Hennepin County Library’s James K. Hosmer Special Collections department. The awe-inspiring tome—it’s the size of a small coffee table—is just one of 120 in existence and features the famed ornithologist’s gorgeous, hand-colored drawings. But don’t expect to check it out anytime soon: it’s worth a cool $8 million and locked deep inside the library’s climate-controlled vaults. More accessible holdings with serious literary cred include a first edition of Walden, with a handwritten and signed letter from Thoreau himself. The library also has a signed first edition of Uncle Tom’s Cabin and signed cards with messages from abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass. Interested in something grand of more recent vintage? Save yourself $625 and spend an afternoon in the library with Modernist Cuisine, the incredible six-volume cookbook that got tongues wagging when it was published—and was subsequently honored by the James Beard Foundation as Cookbook of the Year—in 2011. • 300 Nicollet Mall, Mpls., 612-543-8000, hclib.org
 

BEST JAPANESE GARDEN

Carleton Garden
Photo By Jaye Lawrence

Carleton’s Garden of Quiet Listening

Tucked behind an otherwise unremarkable residence hall at Carleton College in Northfield, the Garden of Quiet Listening is a gem not just by local standards but international ones: it was named one of the top 10 Japanese gardens outside Japan by the Journal of Japanese Gardening. The dry landscape garden has a “stream” of dark stones that empties into a larger “lake” of white gravel, and the design of the garden is meant to evoke hills and mountains on a human scale. A simple stone path and thoughtfully chosen greenery creates a space for quiet contemplation. Sit on a curved redwood bench or enter the small shelter and spend a moment—or, better yet, an hour—embracing the serenity. • The garden is located behind Watson Hall (corner of First Street and Maple Street) on the Carleton campus in Northfield, carleton.edu
 

BEST RECORD STORE

Hymie’s Vintage Records

There’s a reason that Rolling Stone named Hymie’s among the 25 Best Record Stores in America: its vinyl-only collection is as well-organized as it is diverse. And after the family-run shop relocated a few years ago, its bigger digs now allow for even better browsing. Other bonuses include in-store performances by iconic musicians such as Charlie Parr, and in-store antics by beloved shop-dog Irene. • hymiesrecords.com
 

BEST CALHOUN ESCAPE

Hidden Trail
photo by A. Steinberg/sidecar

The Hidden Trail

On warm weekend afternoons, the Lake Calhoun walking path can get busier than rush-hour traffic, with its snarls of dog leashes and bumper-to-bumper jogging strollers. And who wants road rage when you’re trying to relax? If you’re looking for a brief respite, cross East Calhoun Parkway at the stoplight at 36th Street, then hightail it up a short, steep hill to the hidden dirt path on a strip of Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board property that runs alongside the lake for two peaceful blocks. You’ll be surrounded by greenery on either side, and you’ll have a bird’s-eye view of the lake and its paths. From a distance, the crowds don’t look so bad. And by the time you pop out by the lake close to 34th Street, you’ll have regained your patience to navigate the chaos.
 

BEST COLLECTION

The Science Museum of Minnesota’s Questionable Medical Devices

An electric shocker that increases virility? A foot-powered vacuum to pump up the breasts? Soap that washes away excess pounds? This assembly of now-banned “miracles”—a private collection inherited by the Science Museum of Minnesota—reminds us that snake-oil salesmen were around long before Nigerian email scammers. • museumofquackery.com
 

BEST NON-TRADITIONAL GYM

Minnesota Climbing Co op
 Photo By TJ Turner/Sidecar

Minnesota Climbing Co-op

Real rock climbers will tell you outdoor climbing trumps indoor every time. But we live in Minnesota, which means eight months a year the cliffs are out of commission—unless you have ice-climbing gear, but that’s a whole different beast. So where do climbers go when winter has taken their sport captive? The Minnesota Climbing Cooperative, which dubs itself “a rock climbing co-op built for climbers, by climbers.” Located in the same building as Diamonds Coffee Shoppe in northeast Minneapolis, the co-op keeps a lower profile than its much-larger cousin, Vertical Endeavors (clocking in at just 2,000 square feet versus 18,200 at the St. Paul VE). But there are perks. Members have 24/7 key-fob access, plus, the co-op prioritizes community engagement, coordinating, say, a group of volunteers to clean and maintain the area’s best outdoor-climbing spots. Philanthropy paired with midnight climbing? Belay on! • 1620 Central Ave., Ste. 178, Mpls., mnclimbingcoop.com
 

BEST THEATER EXPERIENCE

Ten Thousand Things

Ever seen a show at a homeless shelter? How about in a 100-year-old barn? Or, perhaps even rarer: a performance put on by the most talented actors in the state for free? Ten Thousand Things Artistic Director Michelle Hensley founded the company 20 years ago with a mission to bring high-quality, intelligent theater to people who regularly wouldn’t have access to it. Shakespeare, musicals, new commissions—TTT does it all, and with a twist: the company doesn’t have a “home” stage, opting instead to perform in prisons, shelters, low-income centers, and other non-traditional venues. Free public performances are offered for every show at such venues as the Dorothy Day House, Peace House, and Everwood Farmstead, plus a few weekends at Open Book in downtown Minneapolis. The thought of seeing a show in such unorthodox places makes you squirm? That’s the point. By taking the pretense out of the performance, TTT equalizes the playing field, challenging the actors and audience alike to embrace what truly matters: the story. • tenthousandthings.org
 

 
   
FUN HIDDEN GEMS » FOOD HIDDEN GEMS »
FUN TIMELESS CLASSICS » 8 RESTAURANTS YOU FORGOT ABOUT »
STYLE HIDDEN GEMS » FOOD TIMELESS CLASSICS »
STYLE TIMELESS CLASSICS »  
   

BEST TV MUSIC SERIES

Lowertown Line
Photo Courtesy of TPT

The Lowertown Line

Minnesota breeds musicians, from folk (Dylan) to pop (Prince) to soul (the Steele siblings). And now those stars will be shining even brighter thanks to Twin Cities Public Television’s newest program, The Lowertown Line. Modeled after PBS’s groundbreaking music-performance show Austin City Limits, it features hip-hop queen Dessa as host, a live studio audience, and, of course, the best local musicians around (think: Trampled By Turtles, Chastity Brown, and, coming your way in winter 2014, Har Mar Superstar). Tickets for May’s Brother Ali taping sold out in less than 40 minutes, proving that Minnesotans are clamoring to get up close and personal—and have more interaction than a regular concert, via Dessa’s questioning the musicians and post-show audience Q&A sessions. It’s like American Bandstand, except Dessa is Dick Clark, the musicians are homegrown, and the odds you’ll bump into the musicians at late-night happy hour after the show are more or less guaranteed. • Catch the next episode of Lowertown Line on October 31, tpt.org
 

BEST UNKNOWN LANDMARK

Skyway
photo by  A. Steinberg/Sidecar

The First Skyway

When Minnesotans hear “skyway,” they think Minneapolis. But the prize for the state’s first floating hallway—actually, the world’s first—goes to the link between the 17th and 16th floors, respectively, of the First National Bank Building and Merchants Bank Building in (drumroll, please) St. Paul. The sky-high connection was incorporated into the plans for the First National Bank Building in 1931, and though it’s no longer St. Paul’s tallest building, its “1st” sign—and unique walkway—will long be an icon of the skyline. • The skyway sits above Fourth Street, between Robert and Minnesota Streets.
 

BEST BRIDGE

Stone Arch Bridge

Not to knock the Cha-Cha Slide and Macarena, but there’s a whole world of dance beyond being told when and how to clap. For those of us who are more rhythmically challenged than The granite-and-limestone icon, built for no small sum by railroad baron James J. Hill, serves as a fitting tribute to the mighty Mississippi that fueled Minneapolis’s world-renowned milling industry. The bridge’s train tracks are long-since gone, but the remaining bicycle-and-pedestrian paths offer the city’s penultimate view of St. Anthony Falls. • nps.gov/miss/planyourvisit/stonearch.htm
 

BEST LESSON

Zenon Dance Company
photo by Scott Pakudaitis

Zenon Dance Company

Not to knock the Cha-Cha Slide and Macarena, but there’s a whole world of dance beyond being told when and how to clap. For those of us who are more rhythmically challenged than gracefully gifted, never fear. The 31-year-old, world-renowned Zenon Dance Company also operates a school, staffed with crazy-talented professional instructors. Friday night you’re watching these dancers bend into incomprehensible postures on stage at the Cowles, Saturday afternoon they’re teaching you—yes, you—how to overcome your wallflower syndrome and blossom into a regular Fred Astaire—or Beyoncé or Shakira or Nutcracker ballerina. (Well, maybe not that far, but you get the point.) • 528 Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-338-1101, zenondance.org
 

BEST MINNESOTA INVENTION

WIN
Water skis
PLACE
Rollerblades
SHOW
Nerf ball
 

BEST ART MUSEUM

WIN
Walker Art Center and Minneapolis Institute of Arts (tie)
PLACE
Weisman Art Museum
SHOW
Museum of Russian Art
 

BEST SPORTS VENUE

WIN
Target Field
PLACE
The Xcel Center
SHOW
TCF Bank Stadium
 

 
   
FUN HIDDEN GEMS » FOOD HIDDEN GEMS »
FUN TIMELESS CLASSICS » 8 RESTAURANTS YOU FORGOT ABOUT »
STYLE HIDDEN GEMS » FOOD TIMELESS CLASSICS »
STYLE TIMELESS CLASSICS »  
   

TIMELESS TWIN CITIES: The editors compiled this list of classic “bests” that have stood the test of time—and newcomers we believe will never go out of style.
 

BEST CITY VIEW

Heading south on the 35W bridge at sunset
 

BEST PUBLIC GARDEN

Vera’s Garden on the Midtown Greenway
 

BEST COLLABORATIVE WORKSPACE

Community room at Quixotic Coffee in St. Paul
 

BEST CONCERT SOURCE

cakein15.com
 

BEST TRENDSPOTTING

Dunn Bros on Nicollet Mall
 

BEST BATHROOM ART

Barbara Keith’s mosaics in Concourse E at Lindbergh Terminal
 

BEST KID'S PARTY

Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park
 

BEST BOOK CLUB

Talk of the Stacks at Minneapolis Central Library
 

BEST MUSIC VENUE, SMALL

Varsity Theater
 

BEST MUSIC VENUE, MEDIUM

First Avenue
 

BEST MUSIC VENUE, LARGE

Xcel Energy Center
 

BEST BUDGET MOVIE THEATER

Riverview Theater
 

BEST NEW MUSIC SERIES

New Century Sessions
 

BEST LOCAL PODCAST

Soapcast by The Soap Factory
 

BEST MUSICIAN SPOTTING

Electric Fetus
 

BEST WRITER'S HAVEN

Loft Literary Center
 

BEST SAILING

Lake Waconia
 

 
   
FUN HIDDEN GEMS » FOOD HIDDEN GEMS »
FUN TIMELESS CLASSICS » 8 RESTAURANTS YOU FORGOT ABOUT »
STYLE HIDDEN GEMS » FOOD TIMELESS CLASSICS »
STYLE TIMELESS CLASSICS »  
   

STYLE

BEST SHOP WITHIN A SHOP

Details
photo by A. Steinberg/sidecar

Details

When Elizabeth Varghese closed up her beloved Grand Avenue boutique, Picky Girl, St. Paul lost a personal shopping experience that also balanced style with affordable pricing. Except…they didn’t. But they didn’t know it. Varghese has been quietly selling her favorite picks—albeit on a smaller scale—out of Details Salon in downtown St. Paul ever since. And this fall/winter season, it will be getting a reboot of supplies, paring down the clothing even further (but not doing away with it altogether) and putting the focus on home accents and gift items. Expect Varghese’s picky—but not judgmental—eye for stylish goods at affordable price points. • 346 St. Peter St., St. Paul, 651-696-8700, detailsmn.com
 

BEST FLORAL DELIVERY

Spruce Flowers & Home

Begone, Teleflora! The next time you need to send some flowers—and let’s face it, you usually have some making up or impressing to do when this occurs to you—don’t opt for a faceless experience where your recipient may or may not get the flowers you intended. Instead, look up Spruce Floral & Home. If you call to have a bouquet made to order, they’ll send you a photo for appraisal when it goes out for delivery—guaranteed lusher and more thoughtfully arranged than those from the 800-number goliaths. And if you pull up Spruce’s website, it’s streamlined and simple to order. And after you make your choice, the bouquet that arrives at its destination will look just like (or better) than what you selected. • 4751 Chicago Ave. S., Mpls., 612-767-1101; 4940 France Ave. S., Edina, sprucemn.com
 

BEST SPA PACKAGE

LIfespa
photo courtesy of Life Time

Minnetonka Lifespa

Book a facial at Life Time Fitness’s Minnetonka LifeSpa (we recommend with Angie Swerdlick) and you can practically overhaul your entire life. The spa offers a full suite of services, from your classic facials and massages to more medi-spa treatments like laser hair removal, hydrafacials, and Zerona, all without needing a membership to the gym. Minnetonka’s location is “diamond level,” which means exactly what you think it means. Get two free hours of childcare, use the steam room, hot tub, have lunch at the café, attend fitness classes… a true retreat in the midst of the hustle-bustle. • 3310 County Rd. 101 S., Minnetonka, 952-476-1717, lifetimefitness.com
 

BEST FURNITURE

Danish Teak Classics

The “slightly eccentric” (their words, not ours) team behind Danish Teak Classics has abided since the late ’80s, precisely because its members are so eagle-eyed in their discoveries—they travel to Denmark for the best—and so consistent in their restorations, that walking into the store reduces most shoppers to a state of reverence. They’ve also created their own DTC:X line, new furniture and home goods made in the spirit of Danish midcentury modern. • danishteakclassics.com
 

BEST AFFORDABLE WELLNESS

Acupuncture
photo courtesy of thinkstock.com

Community Acupuncture

Sinking a Benjamin on an initial acupuncture treatment may give you pause. Will it work? How many of these do I have to do? Do I have to “believe” in this to work? Luckily, there’s a new movement afoot in wellness to treat patients in a group setting. Here’s how it works (and how the Chinese often do it, for maximum healing energy). The acupuncturist evaluates you, and gives you a needling. (This is obviously in places that are appropriate for the “community” to see, although sometimes you may end up being treated alone.) Then you cuddle up in a recliner in the dark, with tinkly spa music playing, and let the needles work their magic—err, science. Pay what you can afford, from $15 to $40 a session. • Glade Community Acupuncture, gladeacu.com; Minnesota Community Acupuncture, minnca.com
 

BEST BRIDAL

L’Atelier couture bridal Boutique

It is in Amanda Kautt’s industrial-glam, open-studio space that the stuff of wedding dreams hangs, created by some of the most respected names in bridal couture (Vera, Oscar, Jenny, and Lela among them). Like the best gowns, L’Atelier excels at attention to detail, with attentive service, giant dressing rooms (all the more room to gawk at trains and bustles…and bring a second opinion), the right accessories, and the sense that your big day should also be the most beautiful. • lateliercouturebridal.com
 

BEST ONLINE SHOP

Ship & Shape

Think of Ship & Shape as a highly curated Etsy of sorts, run by two jewelry designers and a graphics guru. The site’s docents create an online shopping experience that points customers toward handmade fashion-forward jewelry, home accents, and paper goods, all at affordable prices. Quirky beaded jewelry, earthy leather goods, humorous cards, and accessible price points make make up a thoughtful, rotating collection that never fails to serve as a fruitful retail therapy session. • shipandshape.com
 

BEST LOCAL DESIGNER

Hackwith Design House
photo by L&E Photography

Hackwith Design House

Designer Lisa Hackwith has delighted us with her easy-wearing closet staples since she launched her line in 2010, but this year brought even more innovation. After a splashy relaunch of her heavy-on-the-white-space e-commerce site, she made public her manifesto that good design shouldn’t be mass marketed: thus, she makes a limited-edition piece that she releases each Monday on her website. She has also collaborated with some of the best shops in town—Mille, Parc Boutique, and Cliché—to create pieces that reflect the both Hackwith’s aesthetic and the energy of each respective shop. Hackwith’s design zeroes in on what women need most: hardworking staples that have stylish twists, ensuring they get pulled off the hanger again and again. • hackwithdesignhouse.com
 

 
   
FUN HIDDEN GEMS » FOOD HIDDEN GEMS »
FUN TIMELESS CLASSICS » 8 RESTAURANTS YOU FORGOT ABOUT »
STYLE HIDDEN GEMS » FOOD TIMELESS CLASSICS »
STYLE TIMELESS CLASSICS »  
   

BEST STATIONERY

Mae Mae Paperie
photo by MaeMae Paperie

MaeMae Paperie

Megan Gonzalez arrived in Minneapolis less than two years ago, but she is already making a big splash with her graphic design business, which includes custom-designed invitation suites and sleek, colorful branding and website design. She says her “Mae-Mae-ness” comes from cool patterns, quirky illustrations, and a touch of wittiness—and we agree. Guess who else does? Wedding giants Martha Stewart, Style Me Pretty, and 100 Layer Cake have all given her a nod. Watch for the launch of her American-made textiles. • maemaepaperie.com
 

BEST PRENATAL RESOURCE

The Childbirth Collective

The non-profit group of midwives, doulas, bodyworkers, and other birth professionals known as the Childbirth Collective is one of the best birthing resources in the Twin Cities. Their free, incredibly informative Parent Topic Nights—which help addled parents-to-be navigate the heretofore uncharted health-care and emotional waters of the childbirth year—separate information from rumor and dispel many pregnancy myths. The collective’s website hosts a wealth of information, including recommended books and DVDs, a comparison of local hospital birthing programs, and profiles of its members. Bonus: the husbands we know enjoyed the classes as much as the expectant mothers. • childbirthcollective.org
 

BEST DEAL

blu Dot Warehouse Sale
photo by Tj turner/sidecar

Blu Dot Warehouse Sale

Blu Dot’s mantra is “good design is good.” But you know what’s even better? When good design is crazy affordable, at the Blu Dot warehouse sale. While Blu Dot’s locally designed pieces are generally affordable when compared against other designer furniture, the deals they offer at their annual sale in Rogers can’t be beat. Prices are slashed at least 50 to 75 percent off overstock, scratch-and-dent, and prototypes of cult-favorite products. Outfit your entire living room for the regular price of a couch. But line up early. They’ll serve you coffee and pastries while you huddle outside, drawing up your game plan to finally score modern Flask lamps or industrial Real Good chairs you’ve been drooling over. Don’t worry if you drove the Volkswagen Golf and then bought a bed (and couch, and dining-room table: delivery’s available for a modest fee. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter for sale announcements. • bludot.com
 

BEST SHOES

Pumpz & Company

Pumpz & Company may be boutique-sized, but it’s still the store of choice for some of the best-shod feet in town—take that, Zappos! Between its well-curated selection of footwear from up-and-coming designers (Alexander Wang) and tried-and-true favorites (Stuart Weitzman), it’s tough to limit yourself to just one pair. And if you are a shoe-with-handbag (or jewelry, or scarves, or belts) accessorizer, you’ll have great luck here, too. • pumpzco.com
 

BEST DESIGNER CONSIGNMENT OR THRIFT

WIN
Opitz Outlet
PLACE
Fashion Avenue
SHOW
Rodeo Drive
 

BEST BROW SERVICES

WIN
Blink for Beauty
PLACE
The Brow Studio
SHOW
Brow Bella
 

BEST BLOWOUT

WIN
Blowdry! Blowdry Bar
PLACE
The Wow Bar
SHOW
The Hive Salon
 

 
   
FUN HIDDEN GEMS » FOOD HIDDEN GEMS »
FUN TIMELESS CLASSICS » 8 RESTAURANTS YOU FORGOT ABOUT »
STYLE HIDDEN GEMS » FOOD TIMELESS CLASSICS »
STYLE TIMELESS CLASSICS »  
   

TIMELESS TWIN CITIES: The editors compiled this list of classic “bests” that have stood the test of time—and newcomers we believe will never go out of style.
 

BEST MEN'S BOUTIQUE

MartinPatrick3
 

BEST AMERICAN MADE GOODS

NorthernGrade pop-up shop
 

BEST GIFTS

Patina
 

BEST PET GEAR

Bone Adventure
 

BEST ARCHITECTURAL SALVAGE

Architectural Antiques
 

BEST VINTAGE CLOTHING

Lula Vintage Wear
 

BEST LIPSTICK

The Elixery Cosmetic House
 

BEST HAIR TREATMENT

Extrados Hair and Scalp Spa Therapy Treatment
 

BEST MUSEUM SHOP

Walker Gift Shop
 

BEST FACIAL SPA

Complexions on Carter Skincare Boutique
 

BEST OFFICE SUPPLIES

Mara-Mi
 

BEST SKINCARE TREATMENTS

Dermaplaning, the Nature of Beauty
 

BEST BLANKETS

Faribault Woolen Mill co.
 

BEST HIGH-END WOMEN'S CLOTHING

Grethen House
 

BEST SOAP

Shhh. 3-way beauty bar
 

BEST BABY & CHILDREN

Peapods
 

BEST HOMEGOODS

Forage Modern Workshop
 

BEST LOCALLY MADE SHOPPING

I Like You
 

BEST BUDGET HAIRCUT

Juut New Artists Academy
 

BEST SALON

Haus Salon
 

BEST JEWELRY DESIGN

Carrier Pigeon
 

BEST AMERICAN–MADE DESIGNER HANDBAGS

J.W. Hulme co.
 

BEST LEATHER GOODS

Leather Works Minnesota
 

BEST GREETING CARDS

Zeichen Press
 

BEST FASHIONISTA

Stephanie Lake
 

BEST CRAFT SHOW

No Coast Craft-O-Rama
 

BEST BOOK SHOP

Common Good Books
 

BEST SCANDINAVIAN DESIGN

FinnStyle
 

 
   
FUN HIDDEN GEMS » FOOD HIDDEN GEMS »
FUN TIMELESS CLASSICS » 8 RESTAURANTS YOU FORGOT ABOUT »
STYLE HIDDEN GEMS » FOOD TIMELESS CLASSICS »
STYLE TIMELESS CLASSICS »  
   

FOOD

BEST PATIO

Sea Change
photo by tj turner/sidecar

Sea Change

Sea Change is hardly under-the-radar, especially not this year. 2013 turned the spotlight on chef Jamie Malone when she graced the cover of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs issue. Lured by those accolades, the responsibly harvested porcini-crusted ahi tuna, and, of course, the theater, crowds are flocking to the chic dining room and raw bar. Weather permitting, they’re also swarming the restaurant’s tiny, street-side patio, but, the restaurant’s second “back patio,” often sits empty, likely because it's not visible from the front entrance. It’s a shame, as the dozen or so tables, shadowed by the Guthrie’s Endless Bridge, have some of the best views in Minneapolis. Facing the river and looking out onto the curving line of the Stone Arch Bridge and the neighboring Mill City Museum feels like a seat on the Midwest’s back porch. • 806 S. Second St., Mpls., 612-225-6499, seachangempls.com
 

BEST FOOD NEIGHBORHOOD

North Loop

Back when Origami and Sapor arrived in the North Loop area, the neighborhood felt as if it had more restaurants than residents. But as former factories were converted to modern lofts, so followed Black Sheep’s artisan pizzas, Bar La Grassa’s fresh pastas, and the Bachelor Farmer’s Scandinavian toasts. This year, the neighborhood launched two of the Twin Cities’ hottest new eateries, which brought in a classic lobster boil (Smack Shack) and a decidedly more experimental foie gras torchon with house-made marshmallow (Borough). Now, an easy jaunt around the block could turn into a progressive dinner.
 

BEST BREAKFAST

Heartland Restaurant & Farm
photo by A. Steinberg/sidecar

Heartland Restaurant & Farm Direct Market

Heartland Restaurant put St. Paul on the four-star dining map when it opened in 2002 with an egalitarian vision of working with local, sustainably raised products: what’s good for the diner is good for the local economy. When the business moved to Lowertown, the upscale dining room was joined by a full-scale butchery and market to offer the restaurant’s raw ingredients and value-added goods. Among the market’s stellar breakfast fare is a bona fide quiche—a savory, custard-y tart, not an egg bake in a pie crust. On the sweet side, there is pain au chocolat as buttery and flaky as you’d find in a Parisian café and even jelly-filled doughnuts. You can sample all three, along with a cup of locally roasted coffee, without cracking 10 bucks. The market’s purpose is less revenue generator than restaurant larder and community builder. The stocks available in the freezer, for example, sell for less than the cost of their production. • 289 E. Fifth St., St. Paul, 651-699-3536, heartlandrestaurant.com
 

BEST PASTRY

Sun Street Laugen Croissant

Long before there was the cronut—and long after it is gone—there was and will be perhaps the most inspired pastry combination since butter met flour: the pretzel croissant. This is a bakery mainstay in parts of Germany and Austria (known as laugencroissant or laugekipferl), and New York’s City Bakery has built its reputation on them. Here in the Twin Cities, there’s only one place to get them: Sun Street Breads. Sun Street’s pretzel croissant is pretty close to its Bavarian counterpart: soft, buttery layers on the outside, with a chewy—never tough—mahogany crust. It’s a little salty and has a recognizably sharp, pretzel-like tang, appreciated by those who just don’t understand sweet pastries in the morning. Use one to sop up the yolk of a perfectly soft-cooked egg at Sun Street, or take it home and slather it with tart jam. But get there early—the last pretzel croissant is often snapped up by midmorning. • 4600 Nicollet Ave., Mpls., 612-354-3414, sunstreetbreads.com
 

BEST DESTINATION BURGER

New Scenic Cafe
photo by stephan hoglund, stephanhoglundphotography.com

New Scenic Café, Duluth

Chef Scott Graden’s New Scenic Café has long been the North Shore’s standard-bearer of gourmet fare, featuring ingredients from the lake right out the window as well as those from oceans far beyond. We’ve come to expect excellence from the sorts of dishes you don’t often find in Duluth, such as Superior-sourced, prosciutto-wrapped herring sandwiches and delicate sashimi tuna tacos. What we didn’t anticipate was how much we’d enjoy Graden’s most casual offering: the cheeseburger. His straightforward formula of ground beef (local and grass-fed, when they can get it), shallots, tomato, and cheddar has been on the menu for years, hiding amongst the beet-cured gravlax and asparagus flan, pitch-perfect with savory umami and juiciness. The quirk is the burger’s accompaniment: fruit, not potatoes. But with pineapple this sweet on the plate, you’ll never miss the fries. • 5461 North Shore Dr., Duluth, 218-525-6274, sceniccafe.com
 

BEST OFF-MENU ORDER

Dogwood’s Chocolate Gibraltar

Dogwood Coffee Bar barista Keith Mrotek has been handcrafting drinks for a decade, so he’s got more up his sleeve than the already-excellent options available at the popular Calhoun Square caffeination spot. We adore his off-menu Gibraltar with chocolate, a four-ounce amalgam of espresso, artfully poured steamed milk, dark-chocolate powder, powdered sugar, and Madagascar vanilla. The drink, which leans more heavily on the espresso than a mocha, is sweet, but subtly so. (The chocolate-free version has a notable lineage: it was developed by James Freeman, owner of the Bay Area’s groundbreaking Blue Bottle Coffee Co.) Though purists may scoff at the presentation—in the tiny glass tumbler that serves as the Gibraltar’s namesake—we like the way it showcases the beverage’s earthy hue and frothy texture. • 3001 Hennepin Ave. S., Mpls., dogwoodcoffee.com
 

BEST PRIVATE DINING ROOM

Domacin
photo by jeff johnson

Domacin

Hospitality is high on the list of appealing attributes about Stillwater’s Domacin—the name, pronounced DOME-ah-chin, is a Serbian term for an affable host. In fact, one of the restaurant’s owners descends from a Serbian vintner, so Domacin’s wine program is another strong suit, and it’s best enjoyed from the private cellar room. The snug space is lined with wine racks that hold selections from the 700-plus-bottle list, and the curved wood ceiling makes it feel like you’re sitting inside a giant wine barrel. (It can seat a cozy group of eight.) If you care to indulge in one of Domacin’s most precious bottles—they’ve been known to carry rare, costly specimens such as a 27-liter Flaccianello “Super Tuscan”—this would be the place to partake. Just be sure to autograph the empty bottle, which the owners often display in their guests’ honor. • 102 S. Second St., Stillwater, 651-439-1352, domacinwinebar.com
 

BEST TABLES

Want to feel like a VIP? Reserve the chandelier-graced, high-backed cocoon at the base of Porter & Frye’s dramatic stairwell. If you prefer a romantic ambiance, there’s always one of the corner booths at Barbette or Saffron’s most secluded two-top, tucked next to a window in the living room’s small nook. But our new favorite place to perch is in the northwest corner of the Uptown Republic, which offers a birds-eye-view of Hennepin-Lake—and the backside of the restaurant’s sign. • porterfrye.com; barbette.com; saffronmpls.com; republicmn.com
 

BEST WINTER WARM-UP

Kimichi Tofu House
photo by tj turner/sidecar

Kimchi Tofu House’s Jjiggae

Kimchi Tofu House, a small restaurant near the U of M, specializes in Korean soft tofu stew, called soondubu jjigae. Arriving at the table still boiling, the stew is cooked and served in black enamel clay pots that retain heat for impressive lengths of time. This is advantageous for the flavor of jjigae, which is traditionally made from bits and pieces of leftovers, but zealous eaters should take heed, as the stew could easily blister the palate. Diners choose among a dozen possible additions, from basic vegetables to more adventurous seaweed, octopus, or kimchi, as well as spice levels, ranging from mild to the cautionary “very, very” spicy. When it arrives, bubbling and aromatic, crack the raw egg (delivered on the side) into the stew and stir it slowly, taking care not to break up the chunks of tofu floating into the intense, peppery broth. It’s a steaming bowl of comfort capable of combating even the bitterest cold weather. • 307 Delaware St. SE, Mpls., 612-331-1112
 

BEST COMFORT FOOD

St. Constantine Church Pirogi
photo by tj turner/sidecar

St. Constantine Church’s Pirogi

There was once a time when Northeast Minneapolis was dominated not by hip, scruffy artists but by Eastern European immigrants who worked hard and, as their community grew, seemed to build a church on each and every block of their convivial neighborhood. While languages and traditions were distinct, common among them was pirogi—doughy half-moons stuffed with potato (usually) and often smothered in sour cream. Those immigrants mostly are gone or assimilated, and despite the reinvention of many old-world dishes on restaurant menus, pirogi haven’t made a roaring comeback. A shame, because what’s not to love about soft, yummy fillings—potatoes, sauerkraut, or, if you’re lucky, prunes—wrapped in pasta? Thankfully, there are holdovers from that earlier era passing on the tradition in the century-old Saint Constantine Ukrainian Church. Each September through April or so, volunteers gather to cook the tender dumplings (which they call “pyrohy,” by the way). On Fridays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., eat them in the cafeteria of the church’s adjacent school. Buy a bunch frozen for takeout, too. With them comes friendly advice on how to cook the dumplings—and a cup of caramelized onions. It’s what you’d call old-school hospitality. • 515 University Ave. NE, Mpls., 612-379-2394, stconstantine.com
 

BEST TREND

Blends

Here’s a new party idea: DIY local beer mash-ups, a Minnesota riff on the Brits’ Black and Tan. Travail taught us that Surly’s hop-blazing Furious and smooth, creamy Bender could be blended and drunk as a “Fender.” The folks at Lift Bridge have been known to mix their Chestnut Ale and Farm Girl to create the provocatively titled “Chesty Girl.” More creative combinations are yours for discovering, with the help of a few friends and a few six-packs. • surlybrewing.com; liftbridge
 

 
   
FUN HIDDEN GEMS » FOOD HIDDEN GEMS »
FUN TIMELESS CLASSICS » 8 RESTAURANTS YOU FORGOT ABOUT »
STYLE HIDDEN GEMS » FOOD TIMELESS CLASSICS »
STYLE TIMELESS CLASSICS »  
   

THE BEST 8 RESTAURANTS YOU FORGOT ABOUT

PUT THESE SMALL NEIGHBORHOOD RESTAURANTS BACK ON YOUR MUST-EAT LIST. WHAT THEY LACK IN PIZZAZZ, THEY MAKE UP FOR WITH CONSISTENCY.

1. Barley John’s Brewpub

With 13 years under its belt, Barley John’s Brewpub is a relative old-timer in the local craft-brewing scene, humbly perking up a nondescript intersection in New Brighton. Award-winning brews, including its staple brown ale, the Wild Brunette, are matched by its scratch-crafted bar menu, which includes everything from grilled pizzas to ambitious specials—a reflection of owner John Moore’s tenure as a corporate recipe developer before he committed to brewing. • barleyjohns.com
 

2. Golden’s Deli

Golden’s Deli began attracting attention in Lowertown with its walkup lunch window back in 1998. Over the years, its eclectic, local-art-infused dining room has become a neighborhood favorite for fresh, local deli fare (often using ingredients from the adjacent farmers’ market) listed on colorfully painted blackboards. • goldensdeli.us
 

3. Bread & Chocolate

Despite landing on every local “Best Brownie” list, Bread & Chocolate in St. Paul gets overshadowed by its flamboyant sister next door, Cafe Latté. Where cakes and tarts rule the latter’s dessert case, B&C specializes in addictive pastries, cookies, and an only-on-Sunday cardamom coffeecake. • cafelatte.com
 

4. Barbary Fig

Herb-infused, aromatic tagines and couscous were not on most Minnesota diners’ minds 25 years ago, but Brahim Hadj-Moussa wasn’t deterred. He opened the Barbary Fig in an awkward space on a then-depressed Grand Avenue and cooked what he wanted—lamb, fish, chicken, rabbit, vegetables, fruit—with great care, down to the lentil. Today, regulars love the bargain prices, sensible wine list, and excellent patio. • barbaryfigrestaurant.com
 

5. Obento-Ya

Obento-Ya offers a wide-ranging menu of authentic Japanese fare, particularly for a small, neighborhood eatery. It rules the bento box (28 options—don’t miss the compartment with the Japanese potato salad!) but also offers robata, sushi, and noodles. The modern-yet-cozy dining room and secluded patio make it Southeast Como’s classiest date spot. • obento-ya.com
 

6. Beirut Restaurant

The road to Lebanon leads to West St. Paul, where Beirut Restaurant’s cooking suggests that soul food did not originate in the southern United States, but millennia before in the Middle East. Flavors are coaxed from simple ingredients and garlic’s full potential is realized. Lamb, chicken, and beef dishes (including raw kibbeh) are highlights, but vegetarians are well cared for, too. And did we mention the belly dancing on Fridays? • beirutrestaurantanddeli.com
 

7. Barker’s Bar & Grill

Hudson, Wisconsin has become a dining destination with a range of options, including Winzer Stube, Pier 500, and Stone Tap. One place on that’s kept pace for more than 20 years without losing “local bar” cred is Pete Foster’s Barker’s Bar & Grill. The menu offers burgers with adornments worthy of any Twin Cities pub du jour—green chilies and char-grilled pineapple, for example—as well as house-cut New York strip steaks. • barkersbarandgrill.com
 

8. Pad Thai Restaurant

A bland name—Pad Thai Restaurant—doesn’t do justice to this St. Paul eatery’s flavor-packed cuisine. Fortunately, its neighbors appreciate the fresh, vibrant meals influenced by owner Pooh Phetnongphay’s native country (laab, curry dishes, and, of course, pad Thai) and those fueled by her curiosity beyond (the amazing house-made beef jerky, a.k.a. meat candy). • padthaiongrand.com
 

BEST FOOD TRUCK

WIN
World Street Kitchen
PLACE
Chef Shack
SHOW
Hola Arepa
 

BEST GOURMET PIZZA

WIN
Punch Pizza
PLACE
Black Sheep Coal Fired Pizza
SHOW
Pizzeria Lola
 

 
   
FUN HIDDEN GEMS » FOOD HIDDEN GEMS »
FUN TIMELESS CLASSICS » 8 RESTAURANTS YOU FORGOT ABOUT »
STYLE HIDDEN GEMS » FOOD TIMELESS CLASSICS »
STYLE TIMELESS CLASSICS »  
   

TIMELESS TWIN CITIES: The editors compiled this list of classic “bests” that have stood the test of time—and newcomers we believe will never go out of style.
 

BEST SPLURGE

La Belle Vie
 

BEST DATE NIGHT

Piccolo
 

BEST STEAK HOUSE

The Strip Club
 

BEST FRENCH

Meritage
 

BEST THAI

On’s Thai Kitchen
 

BEST MIDDLE-EASTERN

Saffron
 

BEST ITALIAN

Bar La Grassa
 

BEST JAPANESE

Masu Sushi & Robata
 

BEST CHINESE

Szechuan
 

BEST GREEK

Gardens of Salonica
 

BEST INDIAN

Gandhi Mahal
 

BEST MEXICAN

Sonora Grill
 

BEST BAKERY

Patisserie 46
 

BEST OVER-INDULGENCE

Icehouse Foie Gras Burger
 

BEST TAKE OUT

Hello Pizza
 

BEST HOLE-IN-THE-WALL

Al’s Breakfast
 

BEST CUPCAKES

Cocoa & Fig
 

BEST DONUT

A Baker’s Wife Cinnamon Sugar
 

BEST RESTAURANT TREND

Sustainability
 

BEST BRUNCH

The Kenwood
 

BEST FARMERS MARKET

Mill City Farmers Market
 

BEST TAPROOM

Indeed
 

BEST ROOF DECK

Union
 

BEST FOOD TRUCK LUNCH

World Street Kitchen Yum-Yum Rice Bowl
 

BEST PANCAKES

Good Day Café Glazed Donut Pancakes
 

BEST DEAL

Mondays at Barbette, Tuesdays at Red Stag Supperclub
 

BEST SWEET SCIENCE

U of M Dairy Salesroom
 

 


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

Oct 18, 2013 04:56 pm
 Posted by  dabhi32

This is the link for Glade Community Accupuncture's website:

http://www.gladeacu.com/

Thanks. If you have not visited - I HIGHLY recommend it!!

Add your comment:

Subscribe

Your Essential Guide to Dining, Shopping & Culture
  • Less than $1.67 an issue.
  • 66.7% off newsstand price.
  • The best Minnesota has to offer.
MNMO E-newsletters

Your guide to the good life, delivered to your in-box.

One click gets you the best local news, events, and info.

Once you submit your email, you will then select which e-newsletters you want.

We don’t like spam either, so we’ll keep your e-mail address to ourselves.