Minneapolis and Bismarck Local Flavor: Stand Up!
January 15, 2010 1:23 PM   Subscribe

North Central U.S.-filter: Where should my girlfriend and I absolutely for sure eat, drink coffee/tea, window shop, and experience art, culture and local amazingness in Minneapolis, MN and Bismarck, ND?

We are two queer women (age 30) and will be in Minneapolis tonight through Sunday and in Bismarck Sunday afternoon, staying
over for one night there.

We would love to have delicious food and the best coffee/nicest baristas around. We're psyched for quirky, fun, weird neighborhoods and window shopping. We love off-the-beaten path art of all kinds. We're all about best ice cream/desserts around, vegan/vegetarian places (make no mistake: we eat ANYthing but enjoy veg. options), cool bookshops, etc. We're both from cities in the east, so this area is all new.

We have a car and limited money. Where should we wander? What can absolutely not miss?
posted by Rudy Gerner to Travel & Transportation (24 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I love the Seward Cafe in MPLS.
posted by box at 1:41 PM on January 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Two coffee places to try in Minneapolis are Spyhouse and Espresso Royale.
posted by soelo at 1:47 PM on January 15, 2010

Since you'll have a car, check out the art shanties on Medicine Lake. It's out in the burbs but can be cool. They open tomorrow.

Not off the beaten path, but arty: The Walker is verrrry modern, sometimes too modern for me, but I really like the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (it's cheaper, too). It has some neat modern stuff, but also great classic and ancient objects as well. The Sculpture Garden outside the Walker is neat (and free) and has nice views of the downtown skyline.

Food: Cheap ethnic eats can be had at the Midtown Global Market
posted by soelo at 2:04 PM on January 15, 2010

Coffee: Wilde Roast on Hennepin in Northeast (also gay-friendly), Bad Waitress on Nicollet in Eat Street (also great sandwiches), Common Roots on Lyndale in Uptown (a lot of veggie foods too, the veggie sandwich melt is nice), and Urban Roots on Bryany in Uptown (surly waitress but nice atmosphere. Dead quiet too, if you need some quiet time).

As for neighborhoods, most people would say, but I like the Northeast! I Like You! (local crafts) and Bibelot (little things) for shopping. Also a yarn store, but I can't recall the name. Red Stag (Classic Midwest Lodge-theme; a must!), Punch Pizza (Neopolitan-style), Pizza Nea (more Neapolitan pizza), Anchor fish and Chips, and Bulldog NE (good appetizer selection) for dining. Whiteys (hand-squeezed grapefruit juice in their Greyhounds!), Bulldog NE (good beer selection), and Red Stag (lots of seasonal cocktails) for drinking.

For vegan/veggie: Dry Dock Cafe in North Loop (kind of hidden but their vegan burgers are supposedly good), Birchwood Cafe in Seward, and Hard Times Cafe near campus.

Books: Magers and Quinn in Uptown.

For the most for your money and time, hang out in the NE neighborhood. In the University Ave/Hennepin/Central Ave triangle, there is a lot to windowshop, dine, drink, and coffee. Close to that area is the St Anthony Main, which runs along the river amongst the empty factories. That is good for a stroll, and Pracna is one of the oldest bars in town. Historical drinking!

The Stone Arch Bridge is right there, too. You can look for bald eagles and look at the dam before hitting the other side of the river. There you can go to the Guthrie Theater (take the elevator to the Endless Bridge, really great view!) and the Mill City Museum for free. The museum actually costs money but the ruins it's built in is really cool and worth looking at.

It's a lot of walking that way, but this weekend is warm relatively, in the low 30s! Make sure to dress appropriately and you will have a great time!
posted by mlo at 2:16 PM on January 15, 2010

Two more coffee places: Blue Moon and Two Moons.
posted by box at 2:19 PM on January 15, 2010

(If you haven't done so already, you should check the questions tagged Minneapolis--there are quite a few.)
posted by box at 2:20 PM on January 15, 2010

Bedlam Theatre's pretty cool, too (disclaimer: a friend-of-a-friend is involved).
posted by box at 2:22 PM on January 15, 2010

If you love ice cream, do yourself a favor and head to Pumphouse Creamery. I wish I could put my love of that ice cream into words. If I could, I'd be a James Beard Award winner for sure!
posted by advicepig at 2:27 PM on January 15, 2010

Dang, on a Sunday you're a little more limited. I would just say head for downtown Bismarck and at least you'll have a few coffee shops and stuff. Unfortunately, shops will be closed...
posted by Eicats at 3:06 PM on January 15, 2010

I can't vouch for Bismarck, but Fargo (as you pass through) has a lot of neat eateries, shops, and things to see in the recently "revitalized" downtown. Zandbroz, Atomic Coffee, Antiques on Broadway are places I recommend; on the north end there's a couple small art galleries, and the Plains Art Museum has a cafe, too.

Bismarck is the capital, and the State Historical Society has a neat small museum that covers a lot about the area, right on the Capitol grounds. The capitol building is pretty cool, too. Downtown Bismarck is quite nice, but I haven't been to Bismarck enough to recommend anything in particular. Their Downtowners have a website, too.
posted by AzraelBrown at 3:10 PM on January 15, 2010

And re: Eicat's comment: North Dakota has blue laws still -- nothing in the state opens before 12 noon on a Sunday, unless it's a grocery store or gas station (something that sells essentials). If you're early risers, maybe gauge your Mpls departure time on that.
posted by AzraelBrown at 3:22 PM on January 15, 2010

I would like to second the Walker Art Center and Minneapolis Institute of Arts because they're both absolutely fantastic.
posted by dmo at 3:22 PM on January 15, 2010

I'll go ahead and third the Walker. It's awesome, especially the sculpture garden.
posted by box at 3:38 PM on January 15, 2010

I was born in Bismarck. Be sure to check out Coffee Break on Main ave. Sia, the man who runs it, has the place open no matter what, makes the best soy latte around, and basically exceeds other coffee shops by a wide margin.

I hate to say it, but there is not a lot more that I can recommend. You might enjoy One World Imports, also on Main in Bismarck... not to mention Seeds of Hope thrift store, which has lots of crazy stuff and great prices. Much of Bismarck is retail, but it's chain/franchise stuff.

Contact me via email if you want to talk more.
posted by fake at 4:08 PM on January 15, 2010

Seconding the Art Shanties. In Minneapolis, for late-night dining in particular, I can't resist 112.
posted by desuetude at 5:53 PM on January 15, 2010

Stop on the way through at Valley City and have a pizza at Pizza Corner. Homemade local pizza place. You can be on and off I-94 in an hour. Valley City is so small it is easy to find. Please. Do it for me. I am stuck in Indiana. :-)
posted by Silvertree at 7:39 PM on January 15, 2010

Bismarck on a Sunday afternoon in winter is tough, a fair amount of downtown will be closed. The nicest part of Bismarck is along the river, you might enjoy the drive out to Fort Lincoln. If you want to get a drink, The Blarney Stone has a good beer selection. A couple of good food options that are a little more upscale (but still reasonably priced compared to most other places) are Peacock Alley and The Bistro.

I wish there was more I could think of to recommend, but it's been years since I've lived there and the lack of quirky weirdness is one of the reasons I left.
posted by TungstenChef at 8:47 PM on January 15, 2010

Across the street from advicepig's ice cream recommendation is Amazon bookstore (no, not that Amazon). For coffee and a breakfast sandwich, try May Day Cafe.

(that said, I think the superlative TC ice cream is found at Izzy's in Saint Paul!)
posted by substars at 8:11 AM on January 16, 2010

Thanks, everyone!

box, you're battin' 1000! We had breakfast at Seward Cafe and loved both the food and the people/vibe, practices of the place, etc.! I even left with a (union-in-the-USA-made) Seward Cafe mug.

I am now delighting in a delicious cup of dark roast at Blue Moon.

On tap for later is advicepig's Pumphouse Creamery which looks amazing and pretty much exactly how we roll.

We're undecided on where to get dinner--we've checked out all the links here and are still undecided. We'll play it by ear. The Midtown Global Market is a definite possibility. Otherwise, feel free to pipe in with great dinner options!

We aren't getting a chance to make it to any of the art places recommended above, which we're bummed about. We just couldn't jam it all in.

Will keep you guys posted on the rest of Mpls and Bismarck. Thanks everyone, we're having a wonderful (and delicious) time here so far!
posted by Rudy Gerner at 12:37 PM on January 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Thirding the ice shanties - I went today, and it was delightful!

Dinner suggestions: definitely the Midtown Global Market, or Quang's on Nicollet, Galactic Pizza on Lyndale, Shish in St Paul... Galactic Pizza is definitely the quirkiest, with Midtown Global Market and Quang's on the cheaper end. And Shish is just delicious!
posted by Maarika at 1:47 PM on January 16, 2010

Hell's Kitchen
posted by Demogorgon at 7:48 PM on January 16, 2010

Actually, I'll just repost my answer from this thread. The only thing is that it hasn't been rainy and Aqua Teen Hunger Force is no longer the midnight movie:

"I had a fun date one morning going to Coffee & Tea Ltd. in the Linden Hills neighborhood for a cup of Kopi Luwak followed by a walk around Lake Harriett. It's $10 a cup, so we split one, but they have other stuff they can brew if you're not feeling as uh...adventurous. Lake Harriett is right near Uptown, where this Saturday the Uptown Theatre is showing Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theatres as the midnight movie.
Within walking distance from the MIA there is a well-known local Mexican/American restaurant called Little Tijuana that has been here since the 60's. I recommend the taco dinner.
Also, a block north of Little T's on Nicollet is a popular coffee shop called Spyhouse. It's usually filled with students from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (which houses a free exhibit).

Ecopolitan is an organic, vegan, and raw food restaurant.

Nthing Hell's Kitchen, though parking can be difficult, and there is often a substantial wait before you are seated. Plan ahead, you'll love it. Huevos Rancheros and Eggs Benedict are phenomenal, and so are their home-made peanut butter, jam, and marmalade (I have all three in my fridge!).

I recommend checking out our local brew pubs. Rock Bottom Brewery is a downtown brewpub which is very close to First Ave., the Pantages, and Pizza Luce. The master brewer for Rock Bottom left though, and started his own local brewery called Surly. It's mighty popular here, so give it a try if you get a chance. They sell it in 4-pack cans for about $10 bucks at the local liquor store. Don't forget that liquor stores here mostly close at 10:00 pm, with some (like Surdyks [great wine & cheese!] in the St. Anthony Main area) closing earlier. All liquor stores are closed on Sundays.

Other local brews include Summit, Grain Belt, and Schell but apart from maybe sampling a Summit, I'd stick to trying some of the in-house brews found in the Brewpubs list on MN Beer. I highly recommend Barley Johns even though it's a little ways out of downtown. They have great food, and exquisite beers. Town Hall is closer, also good. Food not so great.

Bring umbrellas, it's been kind of rainy."

The Black Forest Inn next to Little T's is also really good.

My girlfriend recommends The Chatterbox Pub.
posted by Demogorgon at 8:00 PM on January 16, 2010

Well, Pumphouse Creamery was amazing.

Downtown Fargo was cute. Lots of stuff was closed by the time we rolled in, but I got some coffee at Atomic Cafe and was charmed by the Fargoscape I got to take in. (Thanks for calling Fargo to my attention, AzraelBrown!)

We aren't in Bismarck for enough time to try much of anything although Smoothie Operator looks awesome. We will definitely hit Boneshaker Coffee before hitting the road again though!

Thanks again, all!
posted by Rudy Gerner at 8:09 PM on January 17, 2010

Heh. I just checked Smoothie Operator, and it looks like they're closed.
posted by math at 10:32 PM on August 5, 2010

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