Check it out // moto-i patio

Experiences worth your while in Southwest

The undiscovered rooftop patio

moto-i has not suffered for lack of attention.

Within a month or two of the restaurant opening its doors last year, nearly every local publication (including us) made a visit to the to the place that billed itself as the only sake brew-pub outside of Japan. Most noted the several varieties of sake on tap were dangerously drinkable.

moto-i is now reliably packed on weekends. Large groups order round after round of the restaurant’s tasty small plates, and couples watch satellite feeds of Japanese television at the bar.

But what may be the best part of moto-i also seems to be the least known. Earlier this spring the new rooftop patio had yet to be discovered by the crowds who stream into Southwest hot spots to eat and drink the night away.

The rooftop patio is the Holy Grail of warm-weather dining in Minneapolis. The most popular — like Stella’s Fish Café in Uptown — are packed from happy hour to 2 a.m. many nights.

That’s why it was baffling when, on the first weekend in May, a small group had the rooftop patio almost entirely to itself. There was hardly a seat to be found in the main bar, but plenty of room — and fresh air — three stories above Lyn-Lake.

Views of the Downtown skyline are just as good, if not better than, nearby Stella’s or Drink. And, for now, at least, it hasn’t picked up those destinations’ meat-market vibe.

Now that you’re in on the secret — and it won’t be a secret much longer — swing by moto-i this weekend. Bypass the bar and head straight up the stairs, order a sake tasting flight and get a whole new perspective on Lyndale Avenue.

Where: 2940 Lyndale Ave. S.

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Paddling Minnehaha Creek

There’s no need to portage a canoe out into the wild for a paddle.

Minnehaha Creek, which winds through south Minneapolis west to east, offers plenty of adventure for novice and pro paddlers alike.

The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District controls the creek’s flow from a dam at Gray’s Bay, adjacent to Lake Minnetonka. Prime canoeing flow is generally during spring and early summer, when the lake’s water level is high, but the flow has been good enough for canoeing as late as October.

The creek offers a great mix of urban development and natural beauty, with something different around every corner. Street signs and portage notices are posted throughout the waterway. Portaging isn’t necessary at all of the marked locations — just be sure to get out before Minnehaha Falls.

The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District recommends canoeing the creek when it is flowing between 75 and 150 cubic feet per second, which usually happens in spring and early summer. Check the creek flow at www.minnehahacreek.org.

Where: Minnehaha Creek runs from Gray’s Bay off Lake Minnetonka to the Mississippi River.

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Broders’ After 8

For homemade pasta, nothing in town beats Broders’ Pasta Bar. And for a great dinner deal for two, their “After 8” special reigns supreme.

Starting at 8 p.m. every Sunday through Thursday, Broders’ offers an all-inclusive package for $28. That gets you an olive appetizer, a salad for two, two pasta dishes and a half bottle of the daily red or white wines.

The pasta bar opened in 1994 and is home to equipment brought specifically to Minnesota from Italy to produce fresh pasta on-site. If that sounds like something you can’t wait to get to until 8, we forgive you. But here’s a tip: If you can, distract your stomach with an early-evening stroll around nearby Lake Harriet, then head to Broders’. The deal is available 8–9:30 p.m., Sundays–Thursdays.

Where: Broders’ Pasta Bar, 5000 Penn Ave. S.

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The Birkenstocker at Burger Jones

How many burger joints does one town need?

Well, we’ve got another one. Parasole’s highly anticipated Burger Jones has opened in the old Applebee’s space in Calhoun Village. One burger on the menu looks like it could cause cardiac arrest on the spot — the White Trash Burger, which features chicken-fried bacon, fried cheese curds and plenty of Velveeta.

For a healthy alternative that won’t cause you to split your pants on the way out, the Birkenstocker is a good option. It’s a grilled veggie burger with avocado and pepperjack cheese. It’s listed under the “sorta burger” header on the menu. Plenty of great drink options, too, such as the Hillbilly Hooch (Jeremiah Weed Sweet Tea Vodka, lemonade and fresh mint) and the Michelada (Pacifico over ice with lime juice and a shot of hot sauce).

Where: 3200 W. Lake St.

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Wild Rumpus

Every Monday morning, clerks arrive at Wild Rumpus to find tots waiting for the store to open up, some of them still in their pajamas.

Children enter the shop through a purple kid-sized door that’s embedded into the entryway, and as they congregate on a rug that covers a creaky wood floor, their attention might drift to some of the creatures that inhabit the bookstore.

There’s a chicken named Pimento that has free rein in the shop, and every once in a while she’ll lay an egg. The eggs are collected in a basket up at the counter and labeled with the date of production. Cats appear in every corner, some of them snuggled together in arm chairs, some of them asleep on top of book displays, and others carefully stepping over stacks of books. Other animals in cages include Mo, the dove; Harry, the spider; Spike, the wize lizard; and Amelia and Mr. Skeeter, a pair of chinchillas.

Set off to the side of the Tale Time area is a wooden shed that’s covered with fall leaves and stuffed bats. Inside, kids will find ghost stories and Sherlock Holmes volumes. Other sections of the store contain everything from poetry and picture books to classics and biographies.

By 10:30 a.m., about 30 toddlers and preschoolers are settled into the back of the bookstore to listen to stories.

Where: 2720 W. 43rd St.