2013 Best of Southwest winners

Reader picks for their favorite hangouts, eateries, shops and more.

Lake Harriet is once again the readers' choice for best lake. Credit:

Here are the winners of our fifth annual Best of Southwest contest. Thanks to all who voted!  Once again, we have a lot of repeat winners in the mix. (Note: * indicates a previous winner.)

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Trail & Lake

* Lake Harriet 

At the band shell, visitors can listen to live music on nearly every warm night. At nearby Bread & Pickle, patrons can grab a burger and now a beer, thanks to the eatery getting an alcoholic license. The trail around the lake provides great opportunities for rollerblading, bicycling and running.

Take the loop and you’ll see kids jumping off swimming rafts, sailboats jetting across the lake and kids climbing on playgrounds.

Lake Harriet has a little something for everyone, yet doesn’t get as crowded as its northern neighbor Lake Calhoun.

 

Park

Lyndale Farmstead

3900 Bryant Ave. S.

370-4948 

Lyndale Farmstead has always been popular because of its sledding hill, ball fields, ice rink and historic Wirth Home. Readers have usually picked Linden Hills Park for this award, but not this year. Why is that? A good reason may be because the Minneapolis Park Board is building a new dog park on the west side of the park, ripping up an old parking lot and making it a place for dogs and their owners to meet. The off-leash dog area should be open in mid-July.

 

Neighborhood

* Kingfield

Bakeries, cafes, restaurants and a community garden dot the streets of the Kingfield neighborhood, a hot spot for young families that isn’t far from Lake Harriet or Minnehaha Creek. It also boasts a farmers market on Nicollet Avenue.

Bordered by Stevens Avenue on the east, Lyndale on the west, 36th Street on the northern boundary and 46th Street on the west, Kingfield is known for being a friendly neighborhood with residents passionate about community and independent businesses.

 

Best Bakery and Best Dessert Place

* Patisserie 46

4552 Grand Ave. S.

612-354-3257

Owner John Kraus is an artist and baker of the highest order. It took him just two years after opening his bakery at 46th and Grand to become the best place for sweets in the Twin Cities. He wins our award for both best bakery and best desert place. His scones, croissants and cakes are to die for, but he also makes some of the best ice cream around town. Not a sweet tooth? Patisserie 46 also offers a wide selection of breads and a small lunch menu.

 

Coffee shop

Dunn Bros

5008 Xerxes Ave. S./ 2814 43rd Ave. S.

926-8523/925-5659

Minnesota-based Dunn Bros Coffee has a strong presence in Southwest, with two shops within a couple miles of each other in Linden Hills and Fulton. Coffee beans are roasted in their coffee shops or nearby, making for a fresh cup of joe. Both locations in Southwest are great places for a business meet-up or a catch-up with friends.

 

Breakfast

Sun Street Breads

4600 Nicollet Ave. S.

354-3414

After running a stand at the Kingfield Farmers Market, baker Solveig Tofte opened her own bakery in the neighborhood. Known for its made-from-scratch artisan breads and pastries, Sun Street has also become popular for its breakfast selections.

The menu includes sourdough flapjacks, potato gordas (deep fried mashed potato balls) and lots of biscuit sandwiches.

 

Pizza

* Pizzeria Lola

5557 Xerxes Ave S.

424-8338

Where does she come up with these pizza ideas? That’s what you will ask yourself when dining at Pizzeria Lola in the Armatage neighborhood. Ann Kim’s wood-fired pizzas are unique, light and delicious.

Korean short ribs with scallions, arugula and sesame? Sounds strange, but it’s scrumptious. Same goes for the Sunnyside with two eggs cracked over the top and The Boise, which is potatoes, fontina and caramelized onion and rosemary.

Lola opened a couple years ago and it remains a popular spot. You may have to wait for a table, but sometimes it’s more fun to sit at the bar and watch your pizza bake in the big copper oven.

 

American

* Blackbird

3800 Nicollet Ave. S.

823-4790

Blackbird is so focused on a comfortable, causal eating-out experience that they don’t even make that big a fuss about all of the local, fresh and seasonal ingredients peppering their menu. The flavors speak for themselves. The quirky dining room, with its racks of antlers reflected in dozens of mirrors, is bright and airy at breakfast, cozy and candlelit after dark.

 

Sushi

* Fuji Ya

600 W. Lake St.

871-4055

So, there’s a place not far from Fuji Ya that brews its own sake, and is well known for it, and we won’t speak ill of them. That stuff is tasty, too. But if it’s all you’ve had, belly-up at Fuji Ya and let one of their bartenders lead you on a tasting tour through Japan. It’s eye opening, to say the least. You’ll of course need some sushi to go with the drinks, and lucky for you Fuji Ya’s is a cut above.

 

Thai

Naviya’s Thai Brasserie

2812 W. 43rd St.

276-5061

In a marketplace swamped with Thai restaurants ranging from sub-par to sublime, Naviya’s stands out for the quality of its ingredients and the care in their preparation. When the crispness of a sliced pepper or the tenderness of a broccoli floret shines through the heady mix of salty, sweet and funky flavors that define Thai food, you know you’re on to something good.

 

Italian

*Broders’ Pasta Bar

5000 Penn Ave. S.

925-9202

It may be impossible to knock Broders’ off this list. The same people who will happily pack the busy pasta bar’s waiting area should-to-shoulder just to twirl a fork in a plate of their homemade egg noodles will make Broders’ their top choice for Italian every time. A taste of the house fettuccini proves they’re right.

 

Mexican

* Pepito’s

Nicollet Shop Mall, 46th & Nicollet

825-6311

Another one of those Southwest classics that has cemented its place on this list, Pepito’s serves Mexican and Mexican-American food with a side of nostalgia. People go nuts for hearty Nachos Lupitas served on fried tortillas that are, like most everything else, freshly made in-house.

 

Vietnamese

* Quang

2719 Nicollet Ave. S.

870-4739

Everybody knows about pho by now, right? If comforting chicken noodle soup is the first 15 minutes of “The Wizard of Oz,” pho — the rich Vietnamese soup spiked with a mélange of spices — is the moment Dorothy sets foot in Munchkinland. Bam, Technicolor. Quang’s is one of the best in the region, but there’s so much more to try on the extensive menu, like Com Thap Cam, a platter that includes Quang’s amazing grilled pork chops. Order the version with eggs for a weekend brunch.

 

Fine dining (tie)

* Piccolo

4300 Bryant Ave. S.

827-8111

“Exquisite” may be the best way to describe Piccolo, a word that captures both the precision of Chef Doug Flicker’s cooking and the intensity of the flavors he coaxes out of top-quality ingredients. It works for the tiny dining room, too, where everything is just-so — formal, but not stuffy. The combination means every meal is an occasion at Piccolo.

Corner Table

4257 Nicollet Ave.

823-2011

It was about a year ago that founding chef Scott Pampuch departed Corner Table. Now it’s chef Thomas Boemer writing the menu — and rewriting it as the seasons change — but Corner Table hasn’t lost a step. It was, and is, all about refined, farm-to-table dining.

 

Local cuisine

* Wise Acre Eatery

5401 Nicollet Ave

354-2577

When a restaurant is basically an offshoot of a garden store, one supplied by its own 130-acre sustainable farm, that’s taking the local foods movement to the next level. The food is unfussy, approachable and ultra-fresh. Farm to table to mouth, it’s all good.

 

French

* Barbette

1600 W. Lake St.

612-827-5710

Perhaps you’ve heard of Kim Bartmann, the force behind venues like Bryant Lake Bowl and Pat’s Tap. Barbette was her first restaurant, opened more than 20 years ago. The farm-to-table menu offers brie & herb omelettes for breakfast, grilled shrimp risotto for dinner and Rousseau’s Chai Crème Brulée for dessert. Handmade pommes frites (French fries), served with saffron aioli, are made to be flavorful: they’re soaked in water for 24 hours and fried twice for crispness. The restaurant also stages bands, offers prix fixe four-course meals on Mondays for $32, and throws the annual summertime Bastille Day Block Party. Bikers who bring in a helmet earn a $4 happy hour special.

 

Indian

* Namaste Café

2512 Hennepin Ave. S.

612-827-2496

Based in a Victorian house, Namaste is perhaps best known for its Chai. The tea comes from the owner’s family tea farm in Nepal, and the chai is brewed fresh every day. The best-selling South Asian dish is the creamy masala curry, which is Namaste’s take on a traditional tikka masala dish with added yogurt and cream. The restaurant sources ingredients from local farms whenever possible.

 

Wine Bar

* Kings

4555 Grand Ave. S.

612-354-7928

The neighborhood bar offers more than 20 wines by the glass, such as the popular Elsa Malbec from Argentina, and the wine list changes every three months or so.

The chef keeps the menu interesting by choosing a different region of the country to inspire a new “burger of the week.” One recent creation out of Missouri was topped with American cheese, peanut butter and bacon.

 

Bar

* Pat’s Tap

3510 Nicollet Ave. S.

612-822-8216

With cheese curds, skee ball and canned beer, it’s easy to like Pat’s Tap.

And the Big Cheese Burger recently earned a spot on the top 10 list from the Twin Cities Burger Tour guys. It’s a frozen slab of Wisconsin cheddar thrown on a flat top and married with meat from a single cow — the chef buys a couple of cows each week to provide all of the restaurant’s beef. The fish tacos are another big seller, with marinated mahi  mahi, lime aioli, and corn tortillas made fresh at the Cinco de Mayo Mercado down the street.

 

Grocery store

* Kowalski’s Markets

2240 Hennepin Ave., 612-377-3448

5327 Lyndale Ave. S., 612-822-2935

5615 Chicago Ave. S., 612-824-2430

The Kowalski family’s grocery stores are designed to look like a European village, aiming to provide a calming shopping experience. Staff stock the shelves with local brands like French Meadow, Peace Coffee, Crapola Granola and Hope Creamery. European breads and Morning Buns are among the goods baked in-house. The store carries local and international cheeses, sushi to-go, chicken dinners for meals in a pinch, all-natural and organic meats, and more than 300 produce items. FYI: the butter cream frosting on the sheet cakes is co-founder Mary Anne Kowalski’s recipe.

 

Vegetarian

Ecopolitan

2409 Lyndale Ave. S.

612-874-7336

Patrons wind through the raw, vegan restaurant to reach a counter serving up vanilla almond smoothies, ginger lemonade and coconut water — just remember to bring your own container, or borrow a mason jar with a dollar deposit. Entrées range from pesto pizzas and flaxseed tostadas to purple kale salads with tahini-garlic dressing. Everything on the menu is organic. For those looking for an extra eco-boost, the building also houses an oxygen bar, infrared sauna, and lots of health education opportunities.

 

Middle Eastern

Jerusalem’s

1518 Nicollet Ave.

612-871-8883

The homemade curry sauce is a favorite at Jerusalem’s, where belly dancing takes the stage every Friday and Saturday night. Another favorite is the house meat platter, serving grilled chicken, lamb, kofta kababs and shawirma. The buffet runs Tuesday thru Friday from noon-3 p.m. The restaurant also boasts a dedicated parking lot and a leafy patio.

 

Record store

* Electric Fetus

2000 4th Ave. S.

870-9300

With three locations in the state, the Electric Fetus has become something of an institution for music lovers. It’s celebrating its 45th anniversary this year. The number 45 is also significant to music lovers because 7-inch records are also known as 45s. Singled out by the National Lampoon magazine for having the worst business name, the Electric Fetus has succeeded despite its unusual moniker and become a go-to spot for music lovers who believe in the power of record stores.

 

Spa

* Juut Salonspa

2947 Hennepin Ave. S.

823-0977

Juut got its start as Horst Salons three decades ago, which were owned by Horst Rechelbacher as part of the Aveda Corp. The husband-and-wife team David and Charlie Wagner have owned the business since 1991. There are now eight locations — seven in the metro area and one in Palo Alto, Calif. JUUT has an extensive menu of hair and body treatments.

 

Salon

BANGbang Salon

11 W. 38th St.

823-BANG(2264) 

bangbangmpls.com

BANGbang salon is right around the corner from the beloved Blackbird Café, another Best of Southwest winner. The Kingfield salon is both a full-service salon and a local art space that features work by local artists. Students are also treated to $25 haircuts on Wednesdays when they show their school IDs. 

 

Bookstore

* Magers and Quinn

822-4611

3038 Hennepin Ave. S.

The independent bookstore has called Hennepin home since 1994 when owner Denny Magers moved his smaller bookstore called All Books to Uptown and changed the name to Magers and Quinn. The store has grown to become one of the largest independent bookstores in the Midwest. In addition to its extensive collection of books, Magers and Quinn regularly features authors — both local and national — for readings.

 

Women’s clothing

* Anthropologie

4999 France Ave. S.

612-285-9164

There’s something chic about Anthropolgie. For a minute, you might mistake it for a boutique in Paris. While the clothes, accessories and home décor can be pricey, they are stylish and whimsical. For fashion and design ideas, check out the company’s Pinterest page at pinterest.com/anthropologie and its Tumblr blog at blog.anthropologie.com.

 

Men’s clothing

H&M, Calhoun Square

3001 Hennepin Ave. S.

hm.com 

H&M is a relative newcomer to the retail scene in Uptown, but it’s become a popular shopping destination for men and women. You can update your wardrobe with a lot of hip staples at H&M without breaking the bank.

 

Vintage clothing

Tatters

2928 Lyndale Ave. S. 

Tatters has been a popular shopping spot for more than 30 years. The Lyn-Lake store has vintage clothing and accessories for men and women from the ‘40s through the ‘80s. Whether you’re looking for an awesome pair of jeans, need a funky wig or are looking for an outfit for a Mad Men party, Tatters has got you covered.

 

Gift shop

* Patina

1009 W. Franklin Ave.

872-0880

&  5001 Bryant Ave. S.

821-9315

If you need a gift for a friend or relative, Patina won’t let you down. It’s got something for everyone. Recent highlights noted on the store’s website include a sign that reads “I Love You More Than Bacon” and a headrest pillow shaped like a log. You can count on Patina for creative gift ideas.

Patina is known for it’s unique and eclectic assortment of accessories, jewelry, and gifts for all occasions. From silly gag gifts to beautiful home décor, residents rely on Patina as the neighborhood spot to pick out the perfect present.

 

Home Furnishings & Antique Store

Hunt & Gather

4944 Xerxes Ave. S. 

Stepping into Hunt & Gather conjures images of 17th century art salons, every inch from floor to ceiling covered in an astonishing variety of items. Amongst their constantly evolving displays, Hunt & Gather makes a habit of collecting unique and varied home decor items, including furniture and home accessories. Don’t worry about having the same decor as your neighbor – items here are truly one-of-a-kind.

 

Garden Store

* Tangletown Gardens

5353 Nicollet Ave. S.

612-822-4769 

Just walking into the rich and abundant space of Tangletown Gardens has the power to fuel the imagination of even the most amateur of gardeners. With thousands of varieties of plants and flowers surrounding the beautifully renovated 1939 Pure Oil station, and an impressive assortment of pottery and garden-related merchandise, Tangletown Gardens is the go-to store for garden projects large and small. Not sure what will best suit your garden space? The staff offers attentive and expert help, as well as delivery and implementation services.

 

Art Gallery

* Gallery 360

3011 W. 50th St.

925-2400

Gallery 360’s collection is creative and original, living up to their tagline, ‘art in every degree.’ The work of local and national artists alike have shared the space, whose exhibits rotate every six weeks. Beyond the traditional media of painting and drawing, Gallery 360 highlights diverse works of ceramics, jewelry, mixed media and more.

 

Museum

* MIA

2400 3rd Ave. S.

870-3131 

After opening its doors in 1915, The Minneapolis Institute of Arts now houses over 80,000 art objects spanning 5,000 years, and includes many defining works from diverse mediums and cultures. The museum’s vision, to ‘inspire wonder through the power of art,’ is alive and evident. Best of all, due to its many members and supporters, visitors enjoy free general admission every day of the week.

 

Theater

* Jungle

2951 Lyndale Ave. S.

822-7063 

For over 21 years, the Jungle Theater has been entertaining and inspiring audiences, bringing a unique artistic depth to the stage with every production, which includes both traditional and contemporary plays.  Known for excellence in all areas of theater production, the Jungle Theater as well seeks to enrich its community through outreach programs and community arts education at its location in the heart of Lyn-Lake.

 

Yoga Studio

taraNa Yoga (tied with Blooma)

3757 Grand Ave. S.

822-2646

At the thriving intersection of 38th and Grand Ave., taraNa Yoga owns a peaceful studio space and welcomes visitors to practice yoga in a non-competitive environment. Many varieties of yoga are offered, and while session packages are available, no pre-registration is required, so join in anytime. Check out their Happy Hour Yoga, a monthly tradition on the first Friday of each month, where a class is succeeded by a “social gathering complete with adult beverages, snacks, and community spirit.”

Blooma

5315 Lyndale Ave. S.

223-8064

Customers that attend Blooma during and after their pregnancy are frequently glowing with praise for the studio, where they often find a sense of community, empowerment and calming energy. While they specialize in yoga for pre- and postnatal mothers, Blooma as well offers a variety of classes suited to everyone’s needs and level of experience. They also offer classes that involve their clients’ children, such as BYOB — that’s Bring You Own Baby — Yoga.

 

Hardware Store

* Settergren’s

2813 W. 43rd St. and 5405 Penn Ave. S.

920-2813/922-6055

Settergren’s has long been a staple of the Southwest neighborhood, and with the opening of a second location in Linden Hills in 2011, residents know who to turn to for all their around-the-house projects. Priding themselves in their “old-fashioned” approach, the ever attentive and friendly employees greet customers by name when they can and ensure they leave with all the right supplies. A visit isn’t complete without giving their store dogs, Jager and Odis, a pat on the head.

 

Bike Shop

* The Alt

3013 Lyndale Ave. S.

612-374-3635

Locally owned and operated, The Alt has a loyal customer base and it is easy to tell why. Whether you come in for a quick adjustment on your bike (or board, for that matter) or a full overhaul, the employees are helpful and friendly without the snobbery or smug vibe of some bike shops. They are always ready to share their knowledge and help you find the right equipment. In addition to offering maintenance services, they sell a wide variety of bike and board accessories. And don’t forget, if you purchase your bike with them, you get free lifetime service.