red cow; Photo by Alex Steinberg/Sidecar
In recent years, Minneapolis’s North Loop and its rapid influx of retail and restaurants have all but dominated the local conversation. But the intersection of West 50th St. and France Ave. S. in Edina still offers the best holiday shopping thanks to its sheer density. Among an eclectic mix of more than 175 high-end businesses—most of them locally owned—the node’s retail shops span clothing, beauty, and home.
During the holiday season, 50th and France transforms into a winter wonderland, festively decorated with white lights strung along sidewalk patios and evergreen trees, with strolling holiday carolers throughout the month of December (1-3 p.m. Dec. 5, 12, and 19).
Despite its veteran status as a tony shopping district, today’s 50th and France offers a decidedly more upscale and modern experience than it did 20 years ago. The old gas station, Arby’s fast-food chain, and senior-friendly Pearson’s family restaurant have been replaced by Anthropologie (anthropologie.com), the hip tequila bar/Mexican restaurant Barrio (barriotequila.com), and gastropub Pig & Fiddle (pignfiddle.com), though a few stalwarts, including Talbots and D’Amico & Sons, continue to stand the test of time.
Women’s fashion has long been 50th and France’s focus, and though designer clothing boutique Grethen House (grethenhouse.com) has maintained its storefront since 1953, it keeps its selection of-the-moment by stocking cult brands as well as emerging names. Other top destinations to find gifts for the fashionistas in your life include Bluebird Boutique (bluebirdboutique.com)—good for premium denim and luxe basics such as leather jackets and chunky knits—and Bumbershute (bumbershute.com), which stocks hip designer brands in styles ranging from casual to cocktail. And for deal hunters, there’s always the high-end resale store Fashion Avenue (fashionavenueresale.com), which stocks names both classic (Chanel) and newer (Tory Burch).
Recent additions to the intersection offer clothing alongside small giftable items (accessories, fragrances, and stationery), including Parc (parcboutique.com), which takes a more minimalist approach, and Equation (equationmn.com), with a slightly quirkier sensibility. For more focused gifting, there’s always luxury cosmetics and skincare from the European-styled beauty shop Cos Bar (cosbar.com); silk sleep sets and luxurious, beautifully packaged bath oils and salts from lingerie boutique Room No. 3 (roomno3.com); or jewelry from the longtime, family-owned R.F. Moeller (rfmoeller.com).
Parc; Photo by TJ Turner
While 50th and France caters to the fashion-forward female, it still offers a wide range of goods for various tastes. For cooks, there’s the duo of upscale cookware retailers Sur la Table (surlatable.com) and locally owned Cooks of Crocus Hill (cooksofcrocushill.com), which offers in-store cooking classes. For athletes, alongside the influx of stylish workoutwear chains, General Sports (generalsportsmn.com) remains a classic for jerseys and equipment. For unique children’s finds, there’s Pacifier (pacifier.me), Goodnight Moon (goodnightmoon.us), and the new Bambino Décor (bambinodecor.com). And those who baby their pets should look no further than Bone Adventure (boneadventure.com).
Bambino; photo by TJ Turner
Designer home goods always make for great hostess gifts during the holiday season; take out the guesswork and stop by At Home and Co. (athomeandco.com), operated by a couple of interior designers, or Gather (gatheronfrance.com), which has beautifully packaged soaps and candles for a fail-safe present. And if you’re the one hosting, head to Spruce Flowers & Home (sprucemn.com), a new-fashioned flower shop known for its lovely, unique floral arrangements and assortment of modern vases and pots.
Spruce Flowers & Home; photo by TJ Turner
And before you head home, don’t forget to treat yourself with a glass of wine at Beaujo’s Wine Bar & Bistro (beaujos.net), a blowout at the Wow Bar (thewowbar.com), or a mani-pedi from full-service salon and day spa Spalon Montage (spalon.com). After all that shopping, you’ve earned it.
Where to Dine
Former Travail chef Tony Callies recently updated Arezzo Ristorante (arezzoristorante.com), the longtime 50th & France classic Italian restaurant. The latest version walks the line between traditionalist and modernist, reinterpreting classic Italian dishes.
All Fired Up
Like its name suggests, Mozza Mia (mozzamia.com) is chiefly concerned about two things: mozzarella and pizza. Accordingly, its wood-fired pizzas are as good as they get: a thin, crisp crust topped with smoky sausage, prosciutto, and plenty of silky white cheese, which the restaurant makes fresh every day.
Though burgers and beers are the emphasis of new gastropub Red Cow (redcowmn.com), be sure to try the cheese curds and poutine, which comes slathered in a rich, Summit-infused sauce.
Salut Bar Americain (salutbaramericain.com) stays true to the French-inspired brasserie model, offering classics such as steak frites and croque madame at affordable prices in a laidback environment.
Japanese restaurant Raku (rakumn.com) was the first to bring sushi to the neighborhood when it opened five years ago. In addition to udon noodles and raw fish, the menu also offers some Western-inspired fusion items, such as grilled lamb chops and tuna pizza.
50th and France may be best known for its burger, pizza, and pasta eateries, but the new Agra Culture Kitchen & Press (agra-culture.com) has been well received, with a health-conscious menu focusing on fresh ingredients and cold-pressed juices.
A 50th & France Favorite Place: Wow Bar
“I love the Wow Bar. It’s such a happy environment, and really puts you in the spirit of whatever event you’re going to. When you walk in, you get a glass of champagne and you feel very treated while you’re there. And best of all, I always leave with perfect hair.” –Beth Boucher, co-owner of Room No. 3
Wow Bar; photo by TJ Turner