Minneapolis is more than the city with a big bent spoon holding a gravity defying cherry. In Minneapolis, you can jump into a frozen lake for a good cause. Proper taco eating techniques can be taught in the big M (I guess there was something wrong with the way I’d been eating them). It’s the city where a breakfast in hell can be followed up with a delightful donut from a heavenly place. Minneapolis can be marveled at from great heights, if you know where to go.
It's where my husband posed like mary tyler moore. For the record, he looked adorable. See:
Celebrate being in one of the most literate cities in the United States by cozying up with an artisan coffee drink at Conexion Bistro. It’s located in the heart of Open Book, the only book and literary arts center of its kind in the country. My favorite drink is the Novelist (vanilla milk latte macchiato with a drizzle of caramel). Chris enjoyed a cappuccino while we were there.
While seeing a show is the best thing to do at the Guthrie Theater, it’s worth a visit regardless. Chris loves their escalators! Yes, this is being written by his Shakespeare-loving wife, who still loves him very much even though the escalators are always a big highlight for him. I must admit, they are pretty impressive. No tickets are required for this ride.
Bonus: the escalators lead to the Endless Bridge.
Walking the Endless Bridge in the Guthrie is open to the public and free of charge. From the bridge you can enjoy remarkable views of the Mississippi River. When the theater opened in its new location along the Mississippi in 2006, the Endless Bridge was the largest occupied cantilever in the world.
Another reason to put the Guthrie Theater on your Minneapolis Must list is that the Guthrie is one of its most recognized theaters. When it opened in 1963, Newsweek said it was, “Conceivably the most important theater opening of a generation.” In 1982, the Guthrie Theater received a Tony Award for its outstanding contribution to the American Theater. It’s kind of a big deal.
Great biking and walking paths surround it. Though in winter those paths aren’t always needed. Some people choose to walk across it when it’s frozen over (not something that I’d ever do or advise). Others don’t mind biking into it when it’s frozen (details are in our video).
A variety of activities happen in and around the lake. During our weekend in Minneapolis, my little brother took part in The Polar Plunge. Chris and I donated money. Then, we stood on the sidelines with our coats on and watched him jump into Lake Bde Maka Ska’s icy cold water. My brother described the water using the f-expletive. He’s in his 30s. I don’t remember ever hearing him utter that word before. Must’ve been cold.
Barrio is a great place to warm up, or chill out depending on the season. We started with margaritas and chips and salsa. Chris had the Trinity Margarita (cabrito blanco, cointreau, and lime juice). I spiced it up with the Diamante Pepino (maestro dobel diamante, cointreau, cucumber, jalapeno, lime juice).
They serve three salsas with the chips: verde, habanero, and roasted tomato-chile de arbol. All are delish. My favorite is the verde. Chris’s is the roasted tomato-chile de arbol.
They charge by the taco, so we ordered a variety: wild mushroom (garlic mojo mushrooms, epazote, queso fresco, pepitas, chipolte-black garlic salsa), grilled steak (garlic, cumin and red chile marinated flank steak served with roasted poblano rajas and mexican cream), grilled chicken (achiote marinated chicken is grilled and served with arugula, avocado aioli, queso fresco, green onion and jalapeno), and pork carnitas (duroc pork shoulder slow cooked in cinnamon and orange with salsa verde, onion and cilantro).
Here are just a couple of the delicious tacos we tried:
The Mary Tyler Moore Statue
Being near Mary’s statue made me feel all empowered and leader-like, so I decided to take that energy and direct my husband with it. He felt I was being bossy. I thought I was being encouraging and inspiring.
Have you heard of The Mary Tyler Moore Show? It was popular in the 1970s and was the first sitcom to take place in Minneapolis. Mary Tyler Moore represented Minneapolis well (in our humble opinions). The statue in her honor is on Nicollet Mall, just a couple blocks down from Barrio.
Hell’s Kitchen is Minnesota’s most-booked restaurant according to USA Today. It’s been around since 2002 – well before Gordon Ramsay began his popular show. It’s our favorite place to brunch after a night spent in the big city. Coffee is my morning beverage of choice. Yet, we’re committed to leisure testing, so I gave their Jacked Up Champagne Mimosa Bar a try. They have a Bloody Mary one too.
When I ordered mine, the server brought me a large glass with a reasonable portion of champagne in it and a ticket. Then, he led me over to the Bloody Mary and Champagne Mimosa Bar. At the entryway to the 35 foot bar, a couple of Hell’s Kitchen staff members offer instructions on how to build the drinks. One helped me put blackberry syrup and blueberry sugar on the rim of my glass. Then, I was free to roam along the mimosa bar where there were options galore: several juices, fresh fruit, candy, mini muffins, heart shaped brownies, and more.
A staff member or two monitoring the bar, making sure all of the goodies were plentiful. Given their rules and how clean the area was, I didn’t fret about catching the coronavirus, or any other. This was a couple of weeks before the first round of shutdowns.
We also ate delicious food. Chris had their number one customer favorite, the Huevos Rancheros (a crisp flour tortilla layered with buttery hash browns, spicy black beans, soft-scrambled eggs, and a 3-cheese topping baked golden brown, and topped with hand-chopped salsa and a dollop of sour cream). I had Nearly Classic Eggs Benedict (sweet cream hollandaise, a slab of slow-roasted pit ham, and two poached eggs on an English muffin). They’re our favorites.
Just upstairs from Hell’s Kitchen is Angel Food Bakery + Donut Bar. Chris loves donuts. His imperative leisure testing task: trying a Samoa Donut.
In case you can’t tell by the expressions on his face, Chris gave it a double-thumbs up yum. I am not much of a donut fan, but in the name of leisure testing, I decided to try a bite. I give it a double-thumbs up yum vote too.
Our final stop on our weekend of fun was the observation deck at Foshay Tower. We stood on its official selfie-taking spot and took a picture of its reflection in the building across the way.
In addition to the awe-invoking views of the city, there is an impressive museum on the tower’s 31st floor. The tower was built in 1929 by Wilbur Foshay as an homage to the Washington Monument. Visit the tower for the rest of the story.
Our weekend in Minneapolis was Double-Thumbs-Up Fun & Yum! It is one of our favorite cities. We did all of this about a month before COVID-19 caused our state to begin sheltering-in-place and about three-and-a-half months before the riots. We don’t think any of the places listed in this post sustained any damage.
Concerned over people’s health, Hell’s Kitchen has been closed since March. It looks like they’ll be ready to offer pickup and delivery sometime in July with plans to open the restaurant back up in September 2020. Angel Food Bakery is unable to offer takeout or local delivery. They are selling some of their fabulous selections via nationwide shipping on Goldbelly. At last check Open Book and its tenants including Conexion Cafe and Minnesota Center for Book Arts are closed due to COVID-19. While the Guthrie Theatre is closed at the moment with plans for performances to be back on stage in March 2021, they are offering some outdoor events. Their Facebook page seems pretty up-to-date.