Best of Southwest 2018

Lake Harriet
Seen here at sunset, Lake Harriet is a perennial winner in the Best of Southwest contest.

We asked and you answered with your favorite places to eat, shop, swim, hike and hang out.

Thanks to all who voted in our 2018 Best of Southwest contest. This year’s list is a celebration of everything we love about our corner of the city.

Congratulations to the winners!


Best gift shop / Best women’s clothing

Burlap & Brass

5013 Ewing Ave. S. | 886-2870

Burlap and Brass

Burlap & Brass appears on our list three times (it also tied for best home furnishings), so the Ewing Avenue shop must be doing something right.

Opened in 2016 by Rena Lindberg, a veteran of the Anthropologie retail chain, Burlap & Brass offers an eclectic mix of gifts, jewelry, apparel and vintage furniture. The selection at the 50th & France boutique ranges from elegant (Twine & Twig jewelry) to irreverent (an array of oven mitts with unprintably sassy messages).

For a touch of local flavor, check out the selection of Sota Clothing Co. gear, including hoodies emblazoned with “MN” and crossed canoe paddles and Sota trucker hats.


Best grocery store

Kowalski’s

2440 Hennepin Ave. | 377-3448

5327 Lyndale Ave. S. | 822-2935

5615 Chicago Ave. S. | 824-2430

Kowalski's

Southwest’s favorite market opened its first location on Grand Avenue in St. Paul in 1983, when Jim and Mary Anne Kowalski purchased a sleepy Red Owl store. The local, family-owned chain arrived in Minneapolis in 2002, when the Kowalskis bought out a small group of Supervalu stores and remodeled them in the signature style of Kowalski’s Markets.

At locations in the East Isles, Tangletown and Diamond Lake neighborhoods, shoppers will find aisles stocked with specialty items, full-service meat counters and in-store delis featuring an array of prepared foods. The recently expanded East Isles store also has a stand-alone wine and spirits store.


Best home furnishings (tie)

CB2

3045 Hennepin Ave. | 821-9303

Hunt & Gather

4944 Xerxes Ave. S. | 455-0250

Burlap & Brass

5013 Ewing Ave. S. | 886-2870

CB2 - Photo by Michelle Bruch
CB2 – Photo by Michelle Bruch

Southwest shoppers don’t have to venture far to find top-notch furniture and home decor, as the three-way tie in this category demonstrates.

The selection at Uptown’s CB2 outlet is sleek, modern and on-trend. Our other two winners offer a more eclectic mix.

Looking for, say, a mounted jackalope? Or perhaps an oversized letter stripped from a retail facade? Hunt & Gather should be your first stop.

Burlap & Brass, which also won this year for best gift shop and best women’s clothing, offers an assortment of decorative objects alongside gifts and apparel.


Best museum

Minneapolis Institute of Art

2400 3rd Ave. S. | 870-3000

Museum galleries with visitors

With a collection that includes tens of thousands of objects documenting human creation over millenia, Minneapolis’ free, encyclopedic art museum invites and rewards return visits.

Mia’s collection of Asian art, built on a foundation of generous donations, is known throughout the art world. Its collection of American modern art was bolstered in 2015 with the long-term loan of 550 works from the family of collection Myron Kunin. And Mia is in the midst of an ongoing effort to refresh its collection with works by living artists that began in 2008, when the museum created a new Department of Contemporary Art.


Best record store

Electric Fetus

2000 4th Ave. S. | 870-9300

Electric Fetus - Photo by Michelle Bruch
Electric Fetus – Photo by Michelle Bruch

Ranking as one of the best record stores in the country, the Electric Fetus turned 50 years old in 2018. It had long ago attained the status of a Minneapolis institution.

Founded on the West Bank in 1968, the Fetus has been in its current Whittier-neighborhood location since 1972. Shoppers enter through the incense-scented gift shop and can browse aisle after aisle of new and used CDs, records and DVDs.

Local and touring musicians regularly stop by the Fetus for in-store performances. And shopping. Prince was a customer and shopped the Fetus for the last time on Record Store Day 2016, less than a week before his death.


Best theater

Landmark Edina Cinema

3911 W. 50th St., Edina | (952) 920-8796

A 50th & France landmark, the Art Deco-style Edina Theatre sign beckons cinephiles to one of the region’s best venues for independent films. In June, that meant movies like the critically acclaimed Fred Rogers documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” and “First Reformed,” starring Ethan Hawke.

The theater dates to 1934 but was extensively remodeled in the 1980s. The neon sign above that memorable marquee isn’t quite original; destroyed by a tornado in 1981, the sign was reconstructed and named an Edina Heritage Landmark in 2002.

Landmark Theatres is a national chain of 52 movie houses. The Uptown Theatre and Lagoon Cinema in Uptown are both part of the group, as well.


Best men’s clothing (tie)

Belleson’s

3922 W. 50th St. | (952) 927-4694

prAna

3926 W. 50th S. | 884-6672

Belleson's
Belleson’s

For menswear, Southwest shoppers head to 50th & France.

Belleson’s specializes in suits, sportswear and outerwear. It stocks brands like Canali, Coppley and Paul & Shark, and offers made-to-measure suiting in addition to clothes off the rack.

prAna is a national activewear retailer, and although it sells its yoga, travel and outdoor clothing through a variety of outlets, the 50th & France shop is its only stand-alone store in the state. Designed for both everyday wear and adventure, prAna clothing performs just as well on the trail as it does in the office.


Best pizza

Pizzeria Lola

5557 Xerxes Ave. S. | 424-8338

The cat has been out of the bag for years that chef-owner Ann Kim’s pizzerias are some of the best in the country. And it all started back in 2010 in the Armatage neighborhood with Pizzeria Lola. The wood-fired pizza restaurant has earned its place on best-of lists around the country with its pies, which are known for their light, yet complex and smoky crust and both Korean and traditional Italian toppings, from Korean sausage and potatoes to almonds and house kimchi.

Pizzeria Lola’s popularity has expanded outside Southwest Minneapolis, having set a blueprint for its younger sister restaurant, Northeast’s Young Joni. Kim’s work continues to be lauded by critics, garnering her semifinalist nominations for “Best Chef Midwest” James Beard Awards over the past two years.


Best Italian restaurant

Amore Uptown

1601 W. Lake St. | 823-0250

Amore victoria

Whether it’s the huge rooftop deck outside or the rich Italian-American food inside, Amore Uptown, previously known as Amore Victoria, has been a staple for many Uptown residents for years. The Italian-American restaurant and bar has become a destination for its weekend brunch, mimosas and bloody marys and all, as well as its original and traditional takes on Italian classics. The Amore Roll is a comfort food consisting of two cheeses, creamy ricotta and gooey mozzarella, and pesto wrapped in dough and covered in marinara sauce. Or there’s the house Amore Burger with gorgonzola cheese and house pepper jelly.

Are you ever too late for a post-work happy hour? You’ve got a second chance, as Amore offers two happy hours during the week, from 3 p.m.–6 p.m. and 9 p.m.–close Monday through Saturday.


Best Mexican restaurant

Tinto Kitchen

4959 Penn Ave. S. | 354-2130

Tinto Kitchen

Fans of Tinto have even more to love now that the Mexican restaurant has moved from its Lake Street home in Uptown to 50th & Penn in the Lynnhurst neighborhood. And there’s a lot to love thanks to Thierry Penichot, the mastermind in the kitchen. Tinto’s Latin-inspired cuisine has influences as well traveled as Penichot, who cooked in kitchens across the globe before starting his own in Minneapolis. The team in the small, scratch kitchen churns out a variety of tacos, topped with Yucatan-style chicken, fried fish, crispy avocado and more, with tortillas made in house. If the international, naturally gluten-free menu doesn’t win you over, perhaps Tinto’s neighborhood charm will.


Best neighborhood restaurant

George and the Dragon

813 W. 50th St. | 208-1047

Southwest residents are no strangers to George and the Dragon, which is why the Lynnhurst institution is no stranger to the Best of Southwest list. This is the third year in a row that the bar and restaurant has won the honor of “best neighborhood restaurant.” What’s the secret sauce at George and the Dragon? Perhaps it’s simply the genuine authenticity of owners Stacy and Fred Navarro. The two have based several menu items on dishes they’ve whipped up in their own home, plus they’ve made a commitment to supporting local family-owned businesses, using natural or organic ingredients and making the restaurant a place for kids with a shelf filled with books.


Best vegetarian restaurant

Agra Culture Kitchen & Press

3717 W. 50th St. | 345-5442

2939 Girard Ave. S. | 315-3349

2400 3rd Ave. S. (Minneapolis Institute of Art) | 870-3180

Agra Culture

In a world full of diet trends, health science and modern food ethics, Agra Culture Kitchen & Press has stood out as a home for diners with any diet restriction or culinary persuasion. The local fast-casual health food chain has grown over the years thanks in part to the industry experience of its founders, Andrea and Aaron Switz, who are also behind Yogurt Lab. The two are known for doing one thing that other health-conscious restaurants don’t: make “health food” fun. In particular, Agra Culture is easily navigable for vegetarians, who can order vegan chorizo tacos or raw veggie sandwich with hummus and zesty radishes, or several other clearly outlined options. And Southwest residents never have to go far, with locations at 50th & France, Uptown and the Minneapolis Institute of Art.


Best Vietnamese restaurant

Quang Restaurant

2719 Nicollet Ave. S. | 870-4739

The famed pho at Quang’s speaks for itself, putting the Eat Street mainstay on a pedestal with little fanfare and garnering a fanbase through word of mouth alone. Despite lots of competition in the best Vietnamese category, the pho-nomenal restaurant, family owned and operated since 1989, has earned its place on the Best of Southwest list at least a half-dozen times over the years. That’s because diners have lots to gush about here. There are the crispy egg rolls, the flavorful pho and the famous sea bass and shrimp noodle soup, a special worth the wait for on weekends.


Best Japanese restaurant

Wakame Sushi & Asian Bistro

3070 Excelsior Blvd. | 886-2063

Wakame

Wakame has been serving its customers since 2009 and offers options ranging across Japanese, Thai, Chinese and Vietnamese cuisine, both authentic and fusion in order to provide options for every customer. Wakame’s sushi bar includes classic nigiri, sashimi and maki rolls, though its customers also praise the specialty rolls.

Patrons can watch their rolls being made while sitting at the sushi bar. Otherwise, there are plenty of other accommodations, including a cocktail bar, a variety of booths and tables, or outdoor patio dining. Happy hour frequently draws a crowd in from 3p.m.–6 p.m. and 9:30–midnight with popular deals on drinks and rolls.


Best Thai restaurant

Naviya’s Thai Brasserie

2812 W 43rd St. | 276-5061

Naviya

Among the abundance of Thai restaurants in Minneapolis, be sure not to miss Naviya’s. Owners Naviya and Kim Labarge moved their Thai restaurant into Linden Hills in 2004, following success in Grand Marais and Richfield. Naviya’s feels like the neighborhood joint it is, with a small storefront and friendly servers, but the food goes above and beyond.

Naviya’s provides authentic Thai cuisine using fresh ingredients without MSG (excluding small amounts in soy and oyster sauce). From Thai teas to various curries to hot plates that are sizzling when they arrive at the table, it’s hard to go wrong. Don’t miss any of “Naviya’s favorites” off the menu.


Best dessert

Sebastian Joe’s

4321 Upton Ave. S. | 926-7916

1007 W. Franklin Ave. | 870-0065

Sebastian Joe's

Sebastian Joe’s started as a family business in 1984 and has remained family owned even as it expanded, with the ice cream being made fresh daily. Beyond standard scoops, Sebastian Joe’s offers sundaes, ice cream cakes and cookie sandwiches or pints and quarts to take home with you. With locations in Linden Hills and Lowry Hill, Sebastian Joe’s is also featured at many local restaurants, like Vicinity Coffee and Sea Salt Eatery.

Sebastian Joe’s offers seven signature flavors that are always available: raspberry chocolate chip, chocolate, Oreo, vanilla, salty caramel, Nicollet Avenue Pothole, Pavarotti, and salty caramel) with many more rotating in daily.


Best antiques

Hunt & Gather

4944 Xerxes Ave. S. | 455-0250

Hunt and Gather

Hunt & Gather is easily recognizable with its big block-letter sign and the scattering of extra letters piled outside. With each room of the two-floor shop stocked full of objects you can’t find anywhere else, the store itself is an adventure to explore whether or not you bring home your own finds. However, it’s probably hard to walk away empty-handed with the variety provided. From vintage and cloth and costume jewelry to one-of-a-kind chairs and couches, everyone can find something. Take advantage of this collection that is unique to Minneapolis.


Best hardware store

Settergren Ace Hardware

5405 Penn Ave. S. | 922-6055

2813 W. 43rd St. | 920-2813

Settergreen Hardware

At Settergren Ace Hardware, the employees will be just as excited to greet you as their store dog, and maybe even know you by name. The store prides itself on its old-fashioned ways while still providing the newest technology and products.

The store’s outdoor displays feature a variety of grills and gardening supplies in the summer and everything to cover your snow and ice needs in the winter, plus providing all your standard hardware inside. Settergren’s knowledgeable staff members go above and beyond by referring customers to community contacts for jobs that they can’t do themselves.


Best salon

Root Salons

4289 Sheridan Ave. S. | 886-1100

Root salon

Root aims to provide positive experiences to its community by matching each customer with a stylist that best suits their needs. You can even take a quiz and receive a stylist recommendation before making your appointment. Root goes beyond the standard cut and color that takes place in the salon and works to find the right style and care for each person’s hair so it can be re-created at home.

Root takes pride in education. Its own stylists are well educated and the salon frequently offers classes open to stylists in the community still trying to study the trade. If customers enjoy their experience in the Minneapolis location, Root’s St. Paul location has even more to offer, such as facials, nails and waxing.


Best wine bar

Terzo

2221 W. 50th St. | 952-0330

Terzo

The Broders’ folks have a knack for taking a piece of parking lot and making it feel like an Italian escape. That’s the case at the Broder family business Terzo, which features a patio wrapped in garden greenery and an outdoor window for ordering porchetta sandwiches with crimini mushrooms or garlic-parsley aioli.

An ever-changing wine list offers more than 300 selections from the cellar along with a select group of craft beers. Rosé flights include selections like Lagrein by Elena Walch (featuring cocoa with wild berries and sweet cherries), Nebbiolo by Luigi Giordano (known as “The Piedmont Guy”) and Sangiovese by Corzane e Paterno (a Tuscan vineyard anchored by a centuries-old field stone farmhouse).


Best bar (tie)

CC Club

2600 Lyndale Ave. S. | 874-7226

Harriet’s Inn

4000 Lyndale Ave. S. | 354-3852

Martina

4312 S. Upton Ave. | 922-9913

Up-Down

3012 Lyndale Ave. S. | 823-3487

Wild Mind Artisan Ales

6031 Pillsbury Ave. S. | 345-4514

Wild Mind Artisan Ales
Wild Mind Artisan Ales

A five-way tie showcases the breadth of bars in Southwest Minneapolis, with top votes going to both the oldest and newest bars in town. French Meadow continues to keep the landmark CC Club alive, keeping essentials like the jukebox intact and offering straightforward bar food like Heggies Pizza. Harriet’s Inn is a casual neighborhood burger bar with walleye from Lake Winnipeg, weekend brunch and Minnesota Twins game day specials. Martina holds an extensive wine list and cocktails by industry veteran Marco Zappia, who crafted drinks like the Naked Ballerina #2: blanco tequila, rosa vermouth, curacao lemon, passionfruit and absinthe. Up-Down is the place to play 80s and 90s arcade games for a quarter, like “NBA Jam” and “Street Fighter III”, with more than 60 beers on tap. Wild Mind Artisan Ales’ 500-plus oak barrels brew inspired beers like Pass the Kvassier, which incorporates German sour rye bread from Patisserie 46, and the Humulus Luau, a “hazy” IPA refermented with pineapple and coconut.


Best art gallery

Gallery 360

3011 W. 50th St. | 925-2400

Gallery 360

Part gift shop and part gallery, “art in every degree” at Gallery 360 means you’ll find everything from soap stones and hand-painted tableware to ceramics and wall-mounted paintings. Gifts come at price points accessible to every buyer, with a small gallery situated at the back of the shop. Posted artist statements help visitors dive deeper into the pieces, revealing Andrew Vomhof’s computer-aided process to map patterns around the stars, or Emily Frank’s thoughts on the similarities between artistry and motherhood. The striking “Grecian Lion” outdoor piece comes courtesy of Al Wadzinski, who creates sculpture out of reused materials.


Best bike shop

Tangletown Bike Shop

816 W. 50th St. | 259.8180

Tangletown Bike Shop

Staff at Tangletown Bike Shop can rent you a fat bike, promise fast repair turnaround and tell you where to find the best rides. They’ve got mountain bikes, road bikes, kids’ bikes, trailers, cruisers, refurbished 10-speeds and spare tires.

Originally Charlie’s Bike Shop in the Tangletown neighborhood, the shop relocated this year to 50th & Bryant to double its footprint and open a larger service area. Starting with the late founder Charlier Siftar and continuing under friend and employee Mike O’Leary, this is a bike shop known for nice people and good service.


Best book store

Wild Rumpus

2720 W. 43rd St. | 920-5005

Wild Rumpus

Once named the best children’s bookstore in the nation, Wild Rumpus continues to delight young readers with its tail-less Manx cats, egg-laying chicken, kid-sized entry and books for both babies and teens.

Inspired by the book “The Salamander Room,” in which a bedroom gradually morphs into nature, the bookshop’s ceiling cracks apart to reveal the sky. A “haunted” shed houses the scary books, and there are rats under the floor and fish in the bathroom.

Story time for toddlers and preschoolers is every Monday at 10:30 a.m.

Shoppers with a Wild Rumpus reusable tote receive a “secret” discount of 20 percent off each purchase.


Best fitness studio

CrossFit (Linden Hills location)

4420 Drew Ave. S. | 547-8794

CrossFit Linden Hills
Photo courtesy of CrossFit Linden Hills

As CrossFit hits a year in business in Linden Hills, the owners said they couldn’t be happier with their new community. They anticipated serving a range of athletic abilities, but discovered a large spread in ages as well, from high schoolers to active seniors. Now they’re adding family fit classes and family acro-yoga for parents and kids to sweat together.

“It’s important for our kids, whether they’re working out with us, or watching us, see their parents prioritize a healthy lifestyle,” co-owner Anne Mezzenga said in an email.

CrossFit is defined as constantly varied movements performed at high intensity, and the movements are based on disciplines like gymnastics and weightlifting.


Best garden supply store

Bachman’s Floral, Gift & Garden

6010 Lyndale Ave. S. | 861-7600

Bachman's

The family-owned Bachman’s business has greened the metro since 1885. It’s a year-round destination thanks to the winter farmers market, greenhouse and Patrick’s French Bakery & Cafe.

The large Lyndale Avenue lot holds garden supplies, gifts, home décor, shrubs, annuals, perennials and edibles. Bachman’s also helps customers gain green thumbs — an online information library is always available to help keep the plants alive.

 


Best lake

Lake Harriet

Lake Harriet

Lake Harriet has been among the most popular destinations in Minneapolis since the Park Board acquired the land around it in the 1880s. The 470-acre lake is home to sailing, a winter kite festival, a winter art festival and much, much more. Bikers, walkers and joggers frequent the lake’s nearly 3-mile-long trails year-round, and the Lake Harriet Band shell is the Park Board’s signature venue for concerts during the summer. The lakeshore is also home to the restaurant Bread & Pickle and the William Berry Play Area and was the site of a speech by former President Barack Obama in 2014.


Best neighborhood

Linden Hills

Highly regarded restaurants? Check. Top-rated schools? Check. Charming houses? Check. Linden Hills offers all of these amenities and more. The 8,000-plus-person neighborhood (according to U.S. Census Bureau data) has as many amenities as many small cities do, including multiple schools, churches, coffee shops, restaurants and shops. The neighborhood borders Lake Harriet to the east and France Avenue to the west, and it offers residents and visitors everything from a grocery store (Linden Hills Co-op) to dentists, an ice cream shop and a children’s bookstore. Linden Hills is indeed “a small town in the big city,” as the Linden Hills Business Association says on its website.


Best park

Linden Hills Park

3100 W. 43rd St. | 370-4913

Linden Hills Park

Linden Hills Park is bustling with activity during the summer months, with kids splashing in the wading pool and playing on the playground equipment during the day and playing baseball at night. The 7.85-acre park is also home to a consistent flow of tennis and basketball games and activities such as yoga, ceramics and sports camps. Other activities at the park include summer camps, a tech academy, youth soccer, Friday night card games and more.


Best trail

Minnehaha Creek

Minnehaha Trail

It’s easy to feel as if you’re in a forest as you bike, walk or jog along parts of the Minnehaha Creek trail, which starts in earnest at Lynnhurst Park. The trail is lined by trees on both sides as it makes its way through the Lynnhurst and Tangletown neighborhoods, across Interstate 35W and eventually to Minnehaha Falls. The 5.5-mile stretch of trail passes Hiawatha Golf Course and a business node along Cedar Avenue, giving thirsty bikers, walkers and joggers a spot to stop for a beverage. There are also several hills along the route, for those looking for a more strenuous ride or walk.


Best bakery

Patisserie 46

4552 Grand Ave. | 354-3257

Patisserie 46

John Kraus opened Patisserie 46 in summer 2010, selling croissants, macarons, ice cream and more out of his storefront on 46th & Grand. The bakery has received consistently strong reviews ever since, winning Best of Southwest honors for eight straight years. Kraus, who trained as a chef in London, worked at The French Pastry School in Chicago for 10 years before opening Patisserie 46. He opened Rose Street Patisserie in Linden Hills in 2016 and plans on opening a second location in St. Paul this summer.


Best breakfast

The Zumbro Café

2803 W. 43rd St. | 920-3606

Zumbro

The Zumbro offers breakfast and lunch on Tuesdays through Fridays, and brunch from 7:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. on weekends. The over 23-year-old restaurant has a breakfast menu that includes everything from flapjacks and Belgian waffles to eggs benedict, chicken wild rice hash and frittatas. Its lunch menu includes everything from grilled salmon to organic egg salad and a wild rice black bean burger. The Zumbro has grown from a 12-seat coffee shop into a full-service café over the years and features local meats and produce whenever possible. It recently added wine and beer to its menu.


Best coffee shop

Dunn Brothers Coffee

Dunn Bros

Brothers Ed and Dan Dunn opened the first Dunn Bros café on Grand Avenue in St. Paul in 1987. They’ve since grown the business to include 80 locations in eight states, most of which are locally owned. Dunn Bros has 61 locations in Minnesota and 19 in Minneapolis, including five in Southwest Minneapolis. The stores roast all of their coffee in small batches, never selling coffee that’s more than five days old. The company imports all of its coffees from Indonesia, East Africa and South and Central America, with the goal of offering 100 percent certified or independently verified sustainably produced coffee.

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