2013 Best of the Twin Cities
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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 »|
BEST MUSIC VALUE
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
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’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
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.
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
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