My best friend is coming to visit me today, at my self-imposed exile in Minnesota! I am so, so excited for her to come! I don't have a packed schedule of things planned, because the main purpose of the trip is for us to catch up and see each other - she's here for less than two full days. But we will be doing some of things on this list, which, if you're visiting Minneapolis this summer, should be on your Things To Do:
Where to Eat
- Matt's Bar, Cedar Ave. Have you heard of the Jucy Lucy? Well, per Wikipedia, a Jucy Lucy "is a cheeseburger that has the cheese inside the meat patty instead of on top, resulting in a melted core of cheese within the patty". I don't think I really even need to embellish the language here to sell you on this. Melted cheese inside the patty.....?! Yup, I'm sold. And this is where it all originated. The menu is really simple - but there's really only two things you need to order (burger, and fries!). It can get quite crowded, so stop by at an off hour - yes, that means burgers at 4pm.
- The Butcher and the Boar, Downtown. Minnesota has a lot of German food. The Butcher and the Boar is German-meets-American, complete with it's own Beer Garden. Their hotdogs are famous (really!). Eat here.
- Punch Pizza, Calhoun Square. I like Punch pizza.... some people don't. It's wood-fired pizza with olive oil, and super delicious. The Calhoun Square location is the best one - you can take your pizza and go eat by the lake. If you've ever been to Salt Lake, I would say Punch is the equivalent of Pizzeria Limone.
- Original Pancake House, Edina. Pancakes.
Where to Drink
- Brit's Pub, Nicollet Mall (Downtown). Nicollet Mall is a good street to walk down if you want to get a sense of Downtown during the daytime. There are ton of restaurants and bars, but Brit's Pub is IMO the best for a classic summer rooftop bar feel. They have lawn games, events, and really reasonably-priced drinks. It has a neighborhood bar feel, but happens to have one of the best views in the city.
- Bar Louie, Uptown. I only recently discovered Bar Louie, and while the venue is not my favorite, I really like the staff and outside patio area. There's a pretty huge outdoor area with fountains and fire-heaters, and the music selection they play here is actually really good. It's Uptown as I like it best - classy but casual, not pretentious, and not obnoxiously "unpretentious", either.
- Seven Sushi Skybar, Downtown. Seven actually has really good sushi, and a really good view. It's the most upscale location of the bars I've listed here - more of an LA rooftop-vibe, overlooking downtown Minneapolis. They have some fun events here as well, so keep an eye out on the calendar for daytime parties, special showings, etc.
Things to Do
- Sculpture Garden (Downtown). If you're looking for an artsy afternoon, stop by the Minneapolis Sculpture garden and have a picnic in the park. I think the whole thing is undergoing some renovations currently, so you may not have access to all the sculptures/ artwork. But it's still a nice place to visit, situated at the edge of downtown. One of my favorite things to do growing up was hang out in the "Sky Pesher" - a free-standing room outside the Walker Art Center, where you basically just hang out, and look up at a window to the sky.
- Lake Calhoun / Lake of the Isles. Walk around a lake. Watch boat races. Hang out on the 'beach'. Welcome to Minnesota!
- Free movies / concerts (Lake Harriet). There are a ton of free summer events going on in Minneapolis, and some of the best happen at Lake Harriet Bandshell in South Minneapolis. There are endless nights of movies, concerts, and other performances going on during the summer months. Check out the schedule for upcoming shows.
- Mall of America. Yeah, I don't think I really need to say more here. It's worth stopping by, if you're in town for more than a few days! Especially if you're visiting from states like California or New York - remember folks, we don't have sales tax on clothes in Minnesota :).
- Best shows: the Pourhouse (Downtown). I personally like the Pourhouse. They usually have a pretty good lineup of hip-hop shows, which I like. The venue is small, which is another plus for me (easy to find people, plus a really nice intimate feel when bigger artists come through). The bartenders are awesome, and so is the rest of the staff. Drinks are not expensive either, so you can pretty much spend your whole night here!
- Best local music: IceHouse (Uptown). I have mixed feelings about IceHouse. It's not my favorite crowd, and I don't really like the setup. But, they definitely do an awesome job of featuring a wide selection of wide music from across the Twin Cities, as well as bringing in acts from outside. It's worthwhile checking out. Everyone seems to know each other too.
- Best club scene: ?. I'm actually still trying to figure this out as well. I'll get back to you... ! Right now, I would say look at for the re-opening of Spades Nightclub, slated for Late September. Can't remember at the moment what the new place will be called, but if I do, I'll update here....
Damn, am I killing it in the worldwide things-to-see review game? :)