I’m in Minneapolis!

10th July 2014

I’ve never been to Minnesota before, but I’m in Minneapolis for a few days, so I’d love some tips. I’m particularly looking for delicious items of food to put in my mouth — like the best doughnut, or best bloody mary, that kind of thing. Also, I’m curious about fun places to shop, especially vintage and second hand.

Last night our waiter at the Mexican food restaurant said, “The green salsa is gonna be our Salsa Verde.” Also, there were key terms on the back of the menu explaining the types of peppers and what “queso” was and such. For me, it was exotic, like the menu at Denny’s needing a glossary. The food, in case you’re wondering, was delicious.

So far, Midwesterners are living up to their reputation of being crazy nice, and the streets downtown are clean enough that I’d feel comfortable picnicking on the sidewalk.

Hat in the air,

(Update: I wanted to edit the menu paragraph after a couple of people pointed out that my comments came across as rude, but decided to apologize and explain my intent in comments instead. Search for *** to find my notes.)

34 thoughts on “I’m in Minneapolis!

  1. Casey

    Hell’s Kitchen downtown is one of the BEST breakfasts I had during 18 months of touring the US with Les Miserables. And I loooovvvvee breakfast. I recommend the huevos rancheros and the lemon ricotta pancakes.

  2. Liz

    We visited a few months ago and loved Heartland and Meritage…more upscale farm-fresh food. Birchwood Cafe for delicious easy breakfast. My friends transformed a rundown Victorian mansion into a B&B that is worth seeing. They live in part of it and run a Montessori school out of another part. It’s pretty spectacular. http://www.newvicbb.com/

  3. Raia

    I live in the suburbs of the Twin Cities and a great place to enjoy the beautiful weather is Sea Salt at Minnehaha Falls park, really like the calamari tacos!

  4. Cass

    Check out Donnie Dirk’s Zombie Den and Psycho Suzie’s Tiki Bar & Motor Lounge for sure! Also, Cossetta in St. Paul too.

  5. e

    Food: 112 Eatery is my favorite restaurant in Minneapolis. Sit at the bar!
    Doughnuts: I’m partial to A Baker’s Wife, but lately people have been going crazy for Bogart’s doughnuts and Glam Doll.
    Bloody Mary: Red Stag has an excellent one, and a good fancy brunch too.
    Cocktails: Should probably stop by Marvel Bar or Parlour.
    Vintage shopping: sorry, but you should go to St. Paul – Snelling and Selby has 3 vintage shops (including Lula), one consignment, plus gift stores and a fancy lingerie shop.
    Farmer’s Markets – Mill City Farmers market on Saturday is where I always take visitors – excellent views and a great Minneapolis experience. Get some food from the Chef Shack truck – including mini-donuts!

  6. kat

    Bachelor Farmer is amazing for cocktails and modern Scandinavian food (If you can’t get a reservation eat at the bar). Bar La Grassa is wonderful Italian. Go to Pizzeria Lola for pizza, some Lady Zaza or Korean BBQ. Bogart’s Donuts are amazing! Get some Izzy’s Ice Cream if you are by the Guthrie.

    Check out Via’s Vintage in Uptown for clothing. Hunt and Gather is a fun store too.

  7. Jen

    Love that you’re here!

    I second e’s suggestions for both Baker’s Wife for pastries(whole in the wall, as inexpensive as delicious) and the Red Stag (great atmosphere, cocktails and french fries).

    Brasa and Sparks are two of my favorite restaurants.

    You should go to one of the city lakes or Minnehaha Falls when the weather’s decent. They all have small restaurants, so you can grab a drink and a snack while looking out over or walking around the lake.

    Vintage, mostly stuff, not clothes – check out Hunt and Gather or the Mall of St. Paul.

    Enjoy your visit!

  8. Tom

    Are you trying to sound superior on purpose? Or is it the kind of typical SF jackass behavior a Minnesota wouldn’t dream of writing about online?

  9. Kaitlin

    Wow. Some nice comments above….

    My husband and I juuuust moved back to Minneapolis after living in SF for three years. (I actually used to see you from time to time in my neighborhood and felt like a weird stalker.)

    If you’re looking for a good dive bar burger, then head to Matt’s and get a Jucy [sic] Lucy [definitely a far cry from the Juicy Lucy juice stand at SF farmers markets….

    Baker’s Wife has good baked goods, and I’ve also heard great things about Mel-O-Glaze Bakery, though I have yet to get there myself.

  10. Lori Baker

    Baker’s Wife is fantastic. If you get there early there are fantastic cinnamon sugar cake donuts

    The Craftsman has a fantastic beet cosmopolitan, delicious food and a great patio

    Citizen Cafe has the best scallops and cheesecake I’ve ever had.

    I love Longfellow grill for breakfast or a great turkey burger. They also have a fantastic patio.

    Pumphouse Creamery has delicious ice cream.

  11. Lori Baker

    Oh and Spoonriver is a great place for a meal after you’ve visited the Mill City Farmers market.

  12. Leanne

    Yes, Sea Salt is good and a great location. It you can drive 30 mn east to Hudson, WI, my fave little shop for clothing is La Rue Marche. You’ll love it:)

  13. stefanie

    Restaurants & bars have been covered, so I’ll help with activities. The sculpture garden at Walker Art Center is pretty famous and worth visiting (it’s home to Claes Oldenburg’s Spoonbridge and Cherry, which you’ve undoubtedly seen pictures of anytime Minneapolis is mentioned online or in print). In the summer, there’s an artist-designed mini golf course there, as well as various activities on their Open Field schedule (the big giant hill of a backyard behind the building).

    We’ve also got a lot of street festivals and block parties in the summer, most of which have free live music. If you’re still here Sunday, you can catch the Bastille Day one outside Barbette in Uptown.

  14. stefanie

    Also, St. Anthony Main is a lovely area. Walk across the Stone Arch bridge to the Guthrie Theater. You can go inside even without a ticket and get a view of the city via the cantilever “endless bridge.” On the St. Anthony Main side, Aster Cafe has a charming cobblestone patio and refreshing tea-based cocktails. Or you can walk from there over to Hennepin Ave. to check out Nye’s Polonaise. Esquire named it best bar in America a few years ago. It’s part old-school Midwestern supper club (complete with piano bar) and part dive bar with a polka band.

    If you make it to that neighborhood (which is also near Red Stag, which a few people mentioned), you should also stop in an adorable shop called I Like You. Loads of cute trinkets, jewelry, and gifty stuff, most of which is made locally.

  15. Maggeh Post author


    “Tom,” calling me and everyone in my town a jackass seems an odd way to assert your superiority on the etiquette front. I was taught as a very young girl that name calling isn’t polite, not where I’m from anyway.

    That said, apologies to those of you who were offended in silence and too polite to engage in name calling. I see where my comments could have come across as rude, and I’m sorry.

    To explain a little, I grew up in California, where half of us speak Spanish as a first language and those of us who don’t eventually learn enough to stumble along. I think lots of cities have a population of non-English speakers whose food or phrases you start to forget aren’t English, or at least aren’t widely known outside your own state.

    Minneapolis is an urban area, and I didn’t expect to find many differences between here and San Francisco — aside from the usual political shift that happens because SF is almost exclusively liberal.

    The menu and the waiter’s comment were just nice reminders of how big the U.S. is. Differences like this are why I like to travel, and when you notice a something like that, it doesn’t make you feel superior, it makes you feel a little silly to have assumed your experiences mirror everyone else’s.

    Still, I see why it came across as rude to some of you, and again I apologize to those of you who were rightly offended.

    (Note: I’m going my leave the post how it is with asterisks so people don’t wonder what I’m going on about in comments.)

  16. kathy

    thanks for your follow up, as a native Minnesota (and current Minneapolene) who has lived on both coasts, you unfortunately get used to a condescending attitude, but your observations were just that – true observations of what you saw.

    (And you’re right, it is clean. :) Reminds me of Scandinavia)

    If you’re looking for a different cultural experience, I recommend the Hmong market in St. Paul. It’s open everyday 8-8 and has lots of fresh food as well as prepared dishes.

    One of the most “Minneapolis in the summer” things you can do is go to the lakes. The Chain of Lakes in the uptown area are popular – always lots of people for watching. If you’re into kayaking, I’d recommend renting one and heading out into Lake of the Isles and then paddling through into Cedar Lake.

    Vintage! There are some kooky shops on West 7th Street in St. Paul (near intersection of 7th and James) I also like a store fittingly named “I like you” in NE Minneapolis which features some wacky and some very nice locally handmade items.

    Welcome! Looks like the sun is coming out now. Hope you’re first time in MSP is lovely. :)

  17. ElJay

    The political shift shouldn’t have been too big this time, at least… Minneapolis is almost completely liberal, too, although we’re a little quieter about it.

    I’m curious what Mexican restaurant you were in, because while there are certainly some around that have the explanations you mention, there are plenty of more authentic places as well, particularly in the District Del Sol on St Paul’s west side and along Lake Street in Minneapolis.

    That said, if you want a different ethnic experience while you’re here, the Twin Cities is home to the largest Somali population in the US and the second largest Hmong population, after California. If you haven’t spent time in the Hmong community, I highly recommend a visit to the Hmong Market in St Paul: http://www.hmongtownmarketplace.com/welcome.html Eat in the West building foodcourt, then go back and walk through the fruit building to add a few to your 1000 fruits project.

    Somali is a little harder, since things still change pretty fast, but Safari is good as is Afro coffee shop in the Riverside area. Here’s a rundown from last year: http://minneapolis.eater.com/archives/2013/08/07/a-handy-guide-to-minneapoliss-best-somali-food.php

    Donuts and cocktails have pretty much been covered by everyone else. :) Have fun!

  18. Robin

    Matt’s Bar DEFINITELY for a Jucy Lucy. They have a friendly feud with the 5-8 Club up the street about who came up with it first. The 5-8 spells it “Juicy Lucy”. I think Matt’s is better.

    Mall of St.Paul (at Selby and Fairview) is a treasure trove and it is right near a bunch of vintage clothing stores (at Selby and Snelling). Pizza Luce is right near by too (just past Selby and Hamline). Grand Avenue and Victoria is a good spot- so is a walk down Summit Ave in St. Paul. Seconded on the Birchwood. If you are in the mood for Japanese or sushi, try Tanpopo in Lowertown or Midori’s in Minneapolis.

    Have fun!

  19. Maggeh Post author

    OK, so far I’ve tried Glam Girl doughnuts, had a Bloody Mary at Icehouse, and an _amazing_ meal at Piccolo. I rummaged around at Hunt and Gather which was so unique and lovely, and hit a bunch of the antiques shops nearby. Had breakfast this morning at Hell’s Kitchen partially because it was so close to where I was, and have made a bunch of reservations based on your recs.

    Thank you all very, very much. The best recs are always the one someone scribbles down on a napkin for you. Reading through all your comments was like having dozens of local friends guiding the trip.

  20. Robyn

    Check out The Sample Room, it has delicious everything. I also second the Mill City Farmers market on Saturday am. Izzy’s has some of the best ice cream in the city. Enjoy minneapolis, it is a great city

  21. Shelly Kang

    Hi, Maggie! I am the lady with the two daughters who stumbled past you mouth-agape near 50th and France in Edina as you were headed to the paper store. Let me just say that you are as lovely in person and when casually strolling as when you are posing for pictures. Thank you for being so sweet when I stumbled for words. What I wanted to say was that I’ve been a long-time reader and admirer of your blog and if my girls and I hadn’t been on our way to our own little adventure, and if it wouldn’t have been creepy-weird I would have loved to buy you a treat or a cup of coffee and sit down for a chat. I hope you’re having a lovely time in Minneapolis, and if you’re going to have Vietnamese food while you’re here, you really must go to Pho 79 rather than Quang because while the decor leaves something to be desired, the broth in the pho is so much richer and less greasy, and the prices are better. I love their bun too! As for donuts, it’s a bit of a drive from downtown, but Yo-Yo donuts are at least as good as Glam doll, and also interesting/fun, but maybe in a less grown-up, more suburban way. While Minnesota is not particularly known for barbeque, my family’s favorite barbeque place is right off of a light rail stop kind of near Minnehaha Falls. It’s called Cap’s and it’s pretty amazing, also not very expensive. If you’re interested in stopping in a cool toy store for a souvenir for Hank (that’s his name, right?) Creative Kidstuff is pretty good – they have one in St. Louis Park in the West End area, which is our version of Edina’s 5oth and France, and a few other locations around town. If you’re over in St. Paul at all, spend some time on Grand Avenue – the Red Balloon bookshop is an amazing children’s book store, the Yarnery is the best yarn shop ever, and Cafe Latte is this really cool cafeteria-style restaurant that makes great soups and salads, and great desserts. I could recommend a bunch more, but maybe you’re already flying home by now, or at the very least booked solid before you head home. Also, I got it about the mexican restaurant menu. I thought your commentary was cute, and I didn’t take offense. But then again, I can read Spanish so maybe I don’t have that particular chip on my shoulder. :-) Seeing you was a lovely shock, so thanks again.

  22. Miranda

    Just saw your post–really hope I’m not too late!

    I have to recommend exploring St. Paul! Definitely worth crossing the river, St. Paul has character and charm. The patio at WA Frost is beautiful (and located in Cathedral Hill, where F.Scott Fitzgerald grew up). If you’re not hungry enough for a meal, Nina’s coffee is infamous in these parts. There are also cute shops along Selby in St. Paul (near Selby and Dale, not far at all).

    A Minneapolis Recommendation–the Wild Rumpus, an independent children’s bookstore. A wonderful place to wander and explore (they have chickens! and cats!).


  23. Meg

    I lived in Minneapolis for 5 years and loved it! I think of my time there often. Check out French Meadow Bakery in Uptown if you have the chance. And if you like bubble tea, check out The Tea Garden nearby. Have something delicious for me!

  24. Katy

    Dive-y Bar: 1029 Bar in Nordeast Mpls, best karaoke on Thursday nights. http://www.the1029bar.com/
    Improv/Live Theater: We have so so much here, but you’ll certainly find something fantastic at HUGE Theater in Uptown. The Friday and Saturday night lineup is fantastic: http://www.hugetheater.com/
    Both of those websites are a little tough on the eye, but they are FANTASTIC places.
    Vintage Shopping:
    -B-Resale (I follow their Instagram feed, so I can dibs something before going to the store) http://bresale.com/
    -Forage Modern Workshop and Parka (coffee shop next door) have both great vintage finds and new, beautiful home things http://www.foragemodernworkshop.com/

  25. Kristen

    I second Matt’s Bar for the burger. It’s greasy, Midwestern awesomeness. :) The German Chocolate Cake at Café Latte in St. Paul is great with a cup of coffee.

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