2015 Best of Southwest winners


Southwest Minneapolis is truly blessed with a special mix of retailers, restaurants, parks and lakes. Our annual Best of Southwest contest is a chance to give a round of applause to the businesses and destinations that make this part of town such a desirable place to live and visit. Thanks again to all of our readers who voted for this contest. 


Best Lake
Lake Harriet 

Lake Harriet is one of the city’s crown jewels. It’s a favorite of walkers, bikers, runners, anglers and boaters.

During the summer months, the Band Shell hosts concerts several days of the week featuring musicians in a variety of genres — jazz, swing, folk, bluegrass, classical and much more.

Wheel Fun Rentals also has bikes, boats and paddleboards available for rental at the lake’s North Beach.

Bread & Pickle at the Lake Harriet Pavilion is the perfect pit stop for a bite to eat. The menu features breakfast items, hot and cold sandwiches, salads, ice cream, popcorn, cheese curds and much more.

We are thankful to the city’s early leaders who pushed to make the land around Lake Harriet public space.


Best Neighborhood


Kenny is home to a hidden jewel — Grass Lake, a 27-acre wetland area on the southern end of the neighborhood. It is bordered by 54th Street on the north, Highway 62 on the south, Lyndale Avenue on the east and the alley between Knox and Logan avenues to the west.

The Kenny Neighborhood Association organizes community get-togethers, including a summer party called Kickin’ Back at Kenny planned for July 30, 5:30–8 p.m., in Kenny Park. There will be local bands, a picnic and free games for people of all ages. If you haven’t had a chance to learn about all that Kenny has to offer — this is your chance.


Best Trail
Minnehaha Creek 

The trail that winds along Minnehaha Creek through southwest Minneapolis neighborhoods is a gorgeous urban respite.

The creek flows 22 miles from Lake Minnetonka to Minnehaha Falls. The trail is a popular destination for runners and bikers who can find relief under a beautiful tree canopy during hot summer days. There are many lovely homes to admire along Minnehaha Parkway as well.


Best Park
Theodore Wirth

Theodore Wirth Park is the city’s largest park. It is roughly 740 acres and has tons of activities for outdoor enthusiasts. In the winter, it’s a hub for cross-country skiing, tubing and snowboarding. In the summer, it’s a destination for golfers and mountain bikers.

The park’s namesake Theodore Wirth was the superintendent of the city’s parks system from 1906 to 1935. Under his leadership, the park system tripled in size.

The park is located in Minneapolis and Golden Valley.


Best coffee shop & bakery
Patisserie 46 
4552 Grand Ave. S.

Freddy, a regular at Patisserie 46, is quoted on the bakery’s website as saying: “There’s no place on earth like this patisserie.”

Many other people in southwest Minneapolis agree and can’t get enough of this special place.

Award-winning pastry chef John Kraus opened the bakery in 2010 and has since developed a loyal customer base for his artisan breads, pastries, confections and ice cream. Kraus was also nominated for a James Beard award this year.

So get over your carb fears and head to this bakery at once.


Best Breakfast
2803 W. 43rd St.
www. zumbrocafe.com 

In a city blessed with wonderful brunch places, Zumbro is a standout. The challenging part is determining what to pick from the menu. Maybe the Huevos Zumbrosos? Or how about the Chicken Wild Rice Hash? It’s settled — we’re going with the Steak and Egg Sandwich.

If you over indulge, you can head to Lake Harriet to walk off those calories.


Best Thai
Tie between Chiang Mai Thai
and Tum Rup Thai
Chiang Mai Thai
3001 Hennepin Ave.

Chiang Mai Thai is on the east side of Calhoun Square. A couple of specialties on its menu that caught our eye include the Pirate’s Treasure (lightly breaded king crab, sea scallops and shrimp with onions and scallions) and Steamed Curried Salmon (diced salmon with coconut milk and red curry steamed in a banana leaf.)

Tum Rup Thai
1221 W. Lake St.

Another Thai favorite in Uptown, Tum Rup Thai has an extensive menu as well. A couple of items listed as guest favorites include the Pad Nam Sriracha, a veggie stir fry served with a spicy Sriracha Sauce, and the Sweet Peanut Curry.


Best Pizza
Pizzeria Lola 
5557 Xerxes Ave. S.

We are thrilled that Pizzeria Lola is also planning a Northeast location. This southwest hotspot has been featured on the Food Network and established a reputation for outstanding wood-fired pizza. The pizza menu is clever and unique. A couple of our favorites — the Korean BBQ and the Sunnyside (a pizza with pecorino, cream, leeks and two eggs sunnyside up.)


Best Italian
Broders’ Pasta Bar & Cucina Italiana
5000 Penn Ave. S., 925-9202
2308 W. 50th St., 925-3113

It should come as no surprise that Broders’ has once again claimed the title for best Italian restaurant. Molly Broder and her late husband Tom took cooking classes with Marcella Hazan in Bologna, Italy in 1980. Lucky for us, the couple was inspired to open their own deli in Minneapolis in 1982. The pasta bar later opened in 1994.

The Broders’ signature product is its homemade egg pasta. The pasta bar is the perfect date-night destination and the deli is a comfy hangout with pastas, pizza and much more available for dine-in or takeout.


Best Vietnamese
Vo’s Vietnamese Restaurant
3450 Lyndale Ave. S.

Vo’s opened in Uptown in 2013 after the owner Francois Vo took a break from the restaurant business for about 10 years. Before that, Vo’s was located on West Broadway and in Richfield before that.

The restaurant has a variety of appetizers, rice noodle salads, BBQ entrees, stirfry dishes, curries, bahn mi sandwiches and much more.


Best Local Food
Convention Grill
3912 Sunnyside Road

Convention Grill has been a beloved diner since 1934. If one could get away with eating grilled cheese every day, we would be happy to make daily visits to this restaurant.

Besides the grilled cheese, just thinking about the hamburgers and fries makes our stomachs growl. And do not forget to order a malt!


Best dessert
Sebastian Joe’s 
4321 Upton Ave. S., 926-7916
1007 W. Franklin Ave., 870-0065

One measure of a good ice cream is how long people are willing to wait in line to taste it.

On warm summer evenings, they queue dozens deep at Sebastian Joe’s for flavors like chunky, fudgy Nicollet Avenue Pothole, beer-based Surly Bender and Chocolate Coyote, with its whisper of chile heat. No wait is too long when you’re jonesing for a scoop of Sebastian Joe’s Oreo, which sets the global standard for cookie-based ice cream.

Best Mexican
La Fresca
4750 Grand Ave. S.

Shall we call him the grandee of Grand Avenue? Kingfield’s king of cuisine?

Chef Hector Ruiz has demonstrated an uncanny ability to please Southwest foodies, first with French-inflected Latin fare at Café Ena, then at Rincón 38, his tiny tapas powerhouse located eight blocks north of Ena on Grand Avenue. When it opened in 2014, Ruiz’s fans eagerly followed him to La Fresca — also on Grand and just one block south of Ena — for polished plates that draw from the deep well of Mexican food traditions.

One chef, three restaurants, thousands of satisfied diners.


Best sushi
3758 Nicollet Ave. S.

From the time it opened in 2014, Kyatchi was a sushi restaurant unlike any other in Minneapolis.

Not many sushi spots offer a hotdog, much less the lineup of four on Kyatchi’s menu, which includes the House Dog topped with yuzu mayo and shishito peppers. The sushi stands out, too: sustainably sourced fish and — surprise! — lots of vegetarian options, unfussy presentations and clear-as-a-bell flavors.


Best American bistro
2726 W. 43rd St.

Tilia achieved classic status about five minutes after Chef Steven Brown, a James Beard Awards semifinalist, threw open the doors in the spring of 2011.

The best-restaurant awards came pouring in that winter, although it doesn’t take a plaque on the wall to prove Tilia’s worthiness; the crowd ravenously eyeing empty tables at the small, no-reservations restaurant is the best evidence. The patient are treated to exceptional menu of bistro classics from brunch to dinner, all at modest prices.

Best bar
Pat’s Tap
3510 Nicollet Ave. S.

You’d think coziness is something a neighborhood bar and restaurant ages into, but Pat’s Tap had something of that quality from the get-go. Maybe it’s the cute wallpaper covered in promenading poodles or the dark-wood bar. The full bar features an extensive selection of canned beer complimented by taps highlighting Midwest breweries like Founders, Bell’s and Minnesota’s own Fulton, Surly and Summit. What could go better with a drink than the kitchen’s take on the classic Cheez-It cracker? Nothing, really.


Best salon
11 W. 38th St.

The intersection of 38th & Nicollet in Kingfield emerged recently as a foodie destination, but the cluster of hot restaurants isn’t the only reason to visit.

Located just around the corner from Blackbird Café, BANGbang describes itself as a “hair salon and creative space,” a nod to the rotating mini-exhibitions by local artists. Up front, the team of trend-aware stylists is led by owner, Kingfield resident and neighborhood booster Ashley Haley, a graduate of Aveda Institute.


Best vegetarian
French Meadow Bakery and Café
2610 Lyndale Ave. S.

What more needs to be said about French Meadow? The restaurant has been doing its thing on Lyndale Avenue seemingly forever, but it never stopped evolving, either, adding Bluestem Bar and expanding the patio back in 2013.

The country’s first certified organic bakery always had a soft spot for vegetarians, who will find plenty of meat-free and even vegan options to choose from on the menu. Bustling at brunch, relaxed and candlelit at dinner, French Meadow is a dawn-to-dusk crowd pleaser.


Best wine bar
Terzo Vino Bar
2221 W. 50th St.

Terzo Vino Bar’s all-Italian wine list goes deep — like spelunker deep — into one of the world’s biggest and most important wine-producing regions.

You’ll probably need a guide, and the bartenders and wait staff at Terzo Vino will happily lead you from Piedmont to Puglia, hitting all stops in between. You’ll also need food — maybe some shareable small plates or antipasti, and definitely one of those crave-able porchetta sandwiches.

Seriously: How many wine bars also do brisk business at a seasonal walk-up sandwich window? Hooray for the Porchetteria!


Best French
Cavé Vin
5555 Xerxes Ave. S.

Cavé Vin has developed something of a reputation for being unfairly overlooked. It’s a kind of paradox: A restaurant known for being a neighborhood secret.

The Fulton neighborhood’s little French bistro is not hidden, but it is a gem. The menu is short, sweet and classic, from the frog legs to the steak frites, and the brief, globe-hopping wine list follows the same winning formula.


Best gift shop
821 50th St. W., 821-9315
1009 W. Franklin, 872-0880

Leave yourself plenty of time to visit Patina. A second pass through the store can take as long as the first. The local owners are currently excited about merchandise that highlights the state — cutting boards in the shape of Minnesota, for example, and pint glasses stamped with state lines. Felt Minnesota key chains come from the local vendor Dundry Hill. Larissa Loden (a former Patina staffer) sells a line of Minnesota charm and locket necklaces. And One of One Clothing makes t-shirts with sweet “Minnesota Nice” graphics.


Best museum
Minneapolis Institute of Arts*
2400 3rd Ave. S.

Sometimes it’s hard to believe general admission is free. The MIA’s long corridors are filled with pieces ranging from Vincent van Gogh’s “Olive Trees” to Savador Dali’s “The Portrait of Juan de Pareja, the Assistant to Velázquez.” The Japanese and Korean art collection of more than 7,000 pieces ranks among the top five in the United States. In June the museum will showcase Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Leicester, one of his original notebooks (on loan from Bill Gates, who bought it for $30.8 million, according to Fast Company).

The lobby area includes a kids’ playroom, free Wi-Fi, Dogwood Coffee and views of a Raphael piece, on view thru Aug. 9.


Best record shop
Electric Fetus
2000 4th Ave. S.

National Lampoon magazine once called Electric Fetus the worst name for a business. But Rolling Stone has since named it one of the best record stores in the U.S., citing its unhurried atmosphere and longtime staff.

The flagship record shop carries old and new vinyl, CDs and DVDs, along with a gift shop filled with unique finds. In-store performances and signings have featured acts like The Jayhawks, Atmosphere, CHVRCHES and Mike Doughty.


Best art gallery
Weinstein Gallery
908 W. 46th St.

Founded in 1996 by former attorney Martin Weinstein, his gallery has a special focus on modern and contemporary photography.

“I love sharing things with people,” Weinstein said in a Minneapolis Institute of Arts video. (He’s given more than 500 collected photos to the museum.) “If I like something, I want someone else to like it too. What would you rather do — have it either in a file cabinet or on your wall, where four people saw it and no one else enjoyed it? I like sharing things.”

The current Weinstein exhibition running thru June 27 features large format aerial photos by Edward Burtynsky that offer a “global portrait of water.”

Gallery hours are 12-5 p.m. Tuesday thru Saturday or by appointment.


Best garden supply
Sunnyside Gardens
3723 W. 44th St.

The never-pushy staff at Sunnyside Gardens undergo intense training to expand their knowledge, and they have lots of fun suggestions: Herb care and food pairing ideas, plants that naturally repel mosquitoes (marigolds, basil, lavender), or how to plant a bee-friendly bed (plant nepeta, salvia and coneflower).

Sunnyside started as a small garden plot, and it remains in operation 80 years later.

The center is a winter destination for trees and garlands, and the warm greenhouse is now home to the Linden Hills’ winter market as well.


Best home furnishings
3045 Hennepin Ave.

The more affordable, more modern version of Crate and Barrel has funky outdoor lounge chairs, colorful throws, movie sofas and smoke glass pendant lights. The store launched in Chicago and opened on Hennepin Avenue in 2011, quickly becoming a destination in Uptown’s shopping district.


Best bookstore
Magers & Quinn Booksellers*
3038 Hennepin Ave.

Magers & Quinn is often cited as one of the most authentic holdouts in Uptown. It’s easy to lose track of time inside the no-frills bookstore, which stocks new, used and antiquarian books. What started as a semi truckload of books bought sight unseen has become a Hennepin Avenue staple running more than two decades. New books on the floor are discounted 10 percent, and new books online are discounted 25 percent.


Best theater
Lagoon Cinema*
1320 Lagoon Ave.

The Lagoon plays both big-budget releases and indie films few theaters are showing. The Landmark Theatre chain (which includes Uptown Theatre and Edina Cinema) serves popcorn in eco-friendly bags and is dedicated to exhibiting and marketing independent film. Each theater in the five-screen venue has the steepest incline allowable to provide the best possible views.


Best women’s clothing
4999 France Ave. S.

The Philadelphia-based store is the place to splurge in Southwest Minneapolis, with its bohemian dresses and detail-driven designs. Located at the prominent northeast corner of 50th & France, the store is airy, lit with chandeliers and filled with clothing fit for the beach or the business meeting.

The apparel isn’t thrifty, but it’s worthwhile to check the sales racks. The website also makes it easy to shop sales and sort by price.


Best vintage clothing
Buffalo Exchange
2727 Lyndale Ave. S.

Buffalo Exchange, a favorite of thrifty hipsters and vintage fashionistas, is Uptown’s staple consignment shop for buying and selling new and used wares. The store, part of a national chain, offers second-hand luxuries, old-school looks and hard-to-find clothing for pennies on the dollar. Lyndale shoppers can rely on Buffalo Exchange to score some guiltless new digs — or to trade in their own old clothes.


Best spa
Tula Spa
323 W. 48th St.

Tula Spa, now located in Tangletown, is named after a Sanskrit word meaning balanced, and that’s what the spa aims to help you achieve with its massage therapy and skin treatments. From the organic “goddess facial” to massages with Himalayan salt stones, services from the “beautifully balanced” spa could be a gift for Mom or a treat for yourself. If you’d rather have Tula’s practitioners come to you, the spa can also bring their services to a workplace or ladies night out.


Best antiques
Hunt & Gather
4944 Xerxes Ave. S.

One step under Hunt & Gather’s fantastical storefront and you’ll enter into a zany children’s fantasy, one filled with a dizzying assortment of Midwestern oddities and stories. Far from the typical antique store, this nationally recognized, eclectic emporium of steals and deals offers a colorful assortment of décor, craft supplies and plenty of other goods that you won’t let collect dust. Fulton’s Hunt & Gather is a great detour for unique gifts, one-of-a-kind furniture or a little escape from reality.


Best bike shop
Charlie’s Tangletown Bike Shop
322 W. 48th St.

Tangletown shoppers will always find new, used and rental bikes hanging in the windows of this South Minneapolis bike shop. Owner Charlie Siftar’s store offers a selection of cycling gear, tools and fat bikes, perfect for tackling the city’s trail system all year round. The store is also just a short detour from prime bike trip locations, from the shores of Lake Harriet to the trails around Minnehaha Creek, for cyclists looking to see what the city has to offer.


Best yoga studio
5315 Lyndale Ave. S.

This Tangletown yoga studio has developed a growing community of women, children and soon-to-be additions to the family around yoga and wellness. Blooma goes beyond the traditional yoga session to offer childbirth classes, happy hours for little ones and even massage — for infants and mother alike. From events like Bellyrama to bring-your-own-baby yoga classes, Blooma has everything yogis, mothers and soon-to-be parents need.


Best grocery
Linden Hills Co-op
3815 Sunnyside Ave.

This long-time food co-op has been Linden Hill’s go-to grocer for nearly four decades, specializing in fresh seasonal selections and sustainable products. The store offers much more than the conventional grocery experience, with membership deals, Community Supported Agriculture pickup and plenty of sustainable health and body care items. The co-op’s deli is also a great place to grab a quick bite for diners with all types of diets, from vegans and vegetarians to omnivores.


Best hardware store
Nicollet Ace Hardware
3805 Nicollet Avenue S.

Nicollet Ace Hardware is much more than a tool store; it’s a one-stop-shop for all things on your to-do list — or should-do list. With a small-town charm, the hardware store is up on the latest ways to be more sustainable and help out the planet, from beginner bee hive kits to urban farming supplies. Ace Hardware’s red vest-clad staff can also help you start gardening projects, explore composting or even put in a backyard chicken coop this summer.