Take your own sweet time rediscovering Water Street

At first glance, Excelsior might look unchanged since, well, its 1853 inception. And that’s just how this waterfront town wants it. The community takes pride in keeping it local, openly opposing national chains like Starbucks in favor of Dunn Bros and other Minnesota-grown ventures. While Excelsior maintains its historic feel, a smattering of stylish establishments—including recently added Jake O’Connor’s Public House—is breathing new life into downtown.


223 Water St.

Owner Christine Kuhns’s Montana roots explain Meridian’s rustic warmth and the easy style of its chic assortment. These are clothes you’ll want to live in. Johnny Cotton Western shirts, studded suede Tylie Malibu bags, and big-buckle D.L. Rhein belts bring out the cowgirl, while Nicole Miller dresses, David Kahn denim, and Georgia Fletcher vintage jewelry bring out the lady.

Bella on the Bay

Photo by Terry Brennan

474 Second St.

A really good thing happened to Excelsior when a really old house (now remodeled) became this spa salon. Bella’s Vichy hydrotherapy massages release stress and muscle tension with seven shower sprays that target the chakras. The signature “Belladone” body-contouring treatment promises to shape and tone figures with a kick from caffeine. Once you return to earth, pick up some soothing Rose Visage toner from Phytomer, a favorite of product junkies.

Photo by Terry Brennan

318 Cafe

318 Water St.

When musician cousins Matty O’Reilly and Tom Peterson turned restaurateurs, Excelsior got 318. Which is to say, a made-from-scratch menu, locally roasted Wicked coffee, a steal of a happy hour, and live music by night. Where else can you feast on pizza topped with crispy prosciutto, sautéed spinach, chévre, and roasted grapes—five feet from rocker Martin Zellar?

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