Here are the winners of our third annual Best of Southwest contest. These are the readers’ picks for the best places to dine, drink, shop and hangout in Southwest. Thanks to all who voted! If you have feedback on the contest, visit us at Facebook.com/SWJournal or tweet us @swjournal. (* indicates a repeat winner)
Loop around Lake Harriet
Each member of the Chain of Lakes features amazing pedestrian trails, but Lake Harriet’s 2.75-mile loop takes the cake this year. Less crowded than Lake Calhoun but featuring more public activities than Lake of the Isles, Lake Harriet’s loop is an urban oasis ideal for walkers, runners, bikers and those who just want to take a few minutes and (literally) smell the roses.
Linden Hills Park
With summer in full bloom, there’s so much to do at Linden Hills Park. The park features fields for baseball and softball, courts for basketball and tennis, a totlot playground and wading pool for the kids. But though sub-freezing temps may seem like a distant memory, wintertime amenities are what put this year’s winner for best Southwest park over the top. So enjoy the wading pool while summer lasts, but come back to Linden Hills Park during winter for a skate or some pickup hockey on the outdoor ice rink.
Lake Harriet *
Again, it’s hard to go wrong with any Southwest lake, but Lake Harriet once again is the favorite among Journal readers. This year features a bit of both the old and new. As always, the bandshell will host Lake Harriet’s summer concert series, featuring the Minneapolis Pops Orchestra. But this is the first year Kim Bartmann’s Bread & Pickle is selling local organic food from the bandshell concessions area.
West 43rd Street and East Lake Harriet Parkway
In a sense, Linden Hills is the crossroads of Southwest. Situated between the bustling commerce of Uptown to its northeast and 50th & France to its south, Linden Hills is a relatively quiet place featuring a plethora of historic single-family homes and a number of thriving boutique shops and upscale restaurants near 43rd & Upton. This past year, Tilia and Naviya’s became the two latest critically acclaimed restaurants to open in the neighborhood.
The intersection of 46th & Bryant features three of Southwest’s most popular restaurants —the Latin fusion Café Ena, King’s Wine Bar and this year’s readers choice for best bakery, Patisserie 46. John Kraus’s shop features an array of delicious baguettes, croissants, macarons, cookies, ice creams, and cakes, and has been a huge hit since opening for business last summer.
4552 Grand Ave. S.
New independent coffee shops are constantly springing up throughout Southwest. In most cases, the template for such shops is quite similar to the one introduced to the Twin Cities market by Ed and Dan Dunn back in 1987. This year, Dunn Bros is embarking on a three-year quest toward sourcing all of its coffee from certified, sustainable sources. With six Southwest locations, you probably don’t have to travel far to enjoy one of the Twin Cities most renown cups o’ Joe.
Six Southwest locations
Open since 1992, Zumbro’s breakfast creations emphasize fresh, local, organic ingredients, with offerings spanning the gamut from Eggs Benedict to a tofu scramble. Known for its weekend brunches, the café’s affordable prices demonstrate that quality local food need not break the bank. So whether you’re in the mood for a classic breakfast or something a little bit different, Zumbro Café is a great place to start your day, especially on weekends.
2803 W. 43rd St.
Open since 1999 at Lyndale & 32nd, Pizza Luce sports one of the most creative pizza menus in town, including an entire menu dedicated to gluten-free offerings. And even if pizza isn’t your thing, Pizza Luce still has something for you — as the restaurant’s website notes, the outdoor patio provides a relaxing spot to enjoy a beer and a bite, “as well as great people watching.”
3200 Lyndale Ave. S.
Little was lost in Blackbird’s move to Kingfield from Lynnhurst, where its original location was destroyed in a February 2010 fire, and one important thing was gained: light.
Formerly a somewhat dark, if still romantic, cubbyhole of a restaurant, the new dining room’s relative sprawl now sparkles in the light streaming in from a full wall-and-a-half of windows. The daylight might be unfamiliar, but not so your old favorites: a focused but rewarding selection of taps and wine bottles behind the bar; comfort-with-a-twist treats like lamb nachos and a sinfully rich pork banh mi; and an unpretentious atmosphere that feels welcoming from brunch until after dark.
3800 Nicollet Ave. S.
How things have changed since Fuji Ya opened half-a-century ago on the Minneapolis riverfront, then the state’s first Japanese restaurant.
They introduced the land of 10,000 fish fries to the sushi bar three decades ago, and now local menus are practically swimming in an ocean of flash-frozen fish. Want to find sashimi? Close your eyes, spin in a circle and walk until you hit a restaurant. Hopefully, it will be Fuji Ya: the first and still one of the best.
600 W. Lake St.
“Hat do we believe in?” Naviya’s asks on its website, endearing typo included. The answer? The “five tastes” — sweet, sour, bitter, salty and pungent — as well as their purported effects on corresponding vital organs. Maybe you believe your tongue is the only vital organ that matters, at least in a restaurant. If so, you’ll be pleased with the bright flavors and delicately treated fresh vegetables that have defined Naviya’s soaring reputation among local diners.
2812 W. 43rd St.
All other hopefuls in the “Best Italian” category might as well give up: Broders has a bear hug on the Southwest dining public’s affections, and it’s not letting go.
Their allegiance was won in the pasta bar and on the patio — the sites of romantic winter evenings and summer reveries, respectively. They brush aside those interminable waits in the crowded front hallway just as they would forgive a lover’s minor imperfections. We’ll call that mole a beauty mark and just agree Broders is worth the wait.
5000 Penn Ave. S.
Chef Lucia Watson, founder of her namesake restaurant, has impeccable local food credentials. Watson served on an organics task force for the state agriculture department and has taken her turn on the boards of the Youth Farm and Market Project and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. She’s an angler, and a published expert on preparing freshwater fish. But you won’t be eating her resume when you visit Lucia’s in Uptown. You’ll sit on the sidewalk patio with a glass of wine, order an in-season dish and let the food do the talking.
1432 W. 31st St.
The menu at Pepito’s three-location Minneapolis mini-chain plies the delicious culinary territory along the Texas-Mexico border.
That’s where the flavors of Mexico meet the American appetite. Dishes are beefed-up, literally. Cheese and sour cream are applied liberally. Flour tortillas are more prevalent than those made with masa. You get the best of both worlds when you order something like the Tex-Mex pork ribs (more Tex than Mex) with a Ceasar salad (invented in Tijuana, as one story goes).
Nicollet Shop Mall, 46th & Nicollet
When a restaurant is consistently mobbed with customers, as Quang is, it tells you something more than a dozen glowing reviews framed and hung near the entrance, the sight that greets patrons at the Eat Street mainstay. You might — might — find egg rolls as cracklingly crisp and savory somewhere else, and, heck, there are half a dozen proprietary versions of pho, the nourishing Vietnamese soup, on Nicollet Avenue alone. But Quang has it, whatever “it” is, that makes a 15-minute wait on Saturday morning and $6.95 seem like a very small price to pay for a platter of broken rice covered in two sweet-glazed, grilled pork chops and a fried egg (which, if you haven’t tried it, is fantastic).
2719 Nicollet Ave. S.
What will be your moment of revelation at the Heidi’s? Will it be when you sense the subtle, mysterious flavor of sarsaparilla in the “instant pork bun?” When you dive, blindly, into the Shefzilla Surprize, find something like anchovies layered on pork belly (a dish from this winter) and melt in gastronomic ecstasy? Maybe. Or, maybe it will be when you add up all the elements — the stage-lit open kitchen, the inventive drink list, the nothing-over-$20 menu — and realize Heidi’s isn’t just fine dining, it’s a great neighborhood restaurant.’
2903 Lyndale Ave. S.
Simple, classy and delicious. That’s what fans of Pierre’s Bistro have to say about their favorite French restaurant. Cute and cozy, romantic and welcoming, Pierre’s proves that French restaurants don’t have to be aloof and cold. It’s every bit the neighborhood place as it is sophisticated dining experience.
2221 West 50th St.
Darbar India Grill
Darbar India Grill looks and feels fancier than many of the other Indian restaurants around, and that ambiance goes a long way. What goes even further, of course, is the food. Along with all the traditional dishes you’d expect, the menu includes multiple kinds of naan, perhaps the most underrated element of great Indian food. Plus, they deliver!
1221 W. Lake St.
Middle Eastern restaurant
To win a restaurant category in our poll, great food is obviously a given. The other things are what make a restaurant stand out. In addition to dreamy hummus, crispy falafel and snappy curries, Jerusalem’s feature friendly staff, corkage for outside alcohol and even belly dancers. Dinner and a show!
1518 Nicollet Ave.
The French Meadow bakery is the oldest continuously running organic bakery in the country, so it’s no wonder that the café was named Southwest’s best vegetarian option. Along with the huge array of all-natural breads, salads and pasta, there are some great options for carnivores too. And let’s not forget the great wine specials!
2610 Lyndale Ave. S
With its encyclopedic wine list, it’s no wonder that Kings Wine Bar is the returning champion in this category. But a great wine list alone does not for a great wine bar make. What puts Kings over the top are its atmosphere, intimate little nooks, small plate menu items and the other little touches. And while the wine list may be the main drink attraction, the beer list is no slouch, either.
4555 Grand Ave. S.
The CC Club is a dive bar. That’s not an insult, that’s what makes it great. It’s dark, the staff can be rude, the food is greasy and the drinks are cheap. In other words, it’s everything that a bar should be. Top it off with a killer jukebox and some great breakfast offerings, and greatness has been achieved.
2600 Lyndale Ave. S.
Sebastian Joe’s has been a local favorite for years, and it’s easy to see why. Both locations have friendly staff, local artwork, free WiFi, complimentary computers and even a pet-friendly patio at the Linden Hills location. Oh yeah, did we mention the dozens of creative ice cream flavors made in small batches with all-natural ingredients? That probably has something to do with it, too.
4321 Upton Ave. S
1007 Franklin Ave. S
Linden Hills Co-Op
Organic veggies. Farm-raised meats. Bulk grains. Green cleaning products. Cooking classes. Farm tours. A kid’s space. If you can think so something you’d like in a grocery store, chances are that the Linden Hills co-op has it all. Heck, it even has its own solar panels on the roof. Is it any wonder that the Linden Hills co-op was voted our readers’ favorite grocery store?
3815 Sunnyside Ave
Southwest readers know a good record store when it’s in their neighborhood. Electric Fetus is not only the best record store in Minneapolis, it’s also the sixth-best in the nation, according to Rolling Stone magazine. There’s no secret to Electric Fetus’s success. The store’s employees have decades worth of experience and they can find you the record you’re looking for. The shop will celebrate its 40th year on 4th Avenue in 2012.
2000 4th Ave. S.
The League of American Bicyclists recently gave Minneapolis the gold award for veing a bicycle friendly city. The voters of the Southwest Journal gave Penn Cycle the award for friendliest bicycle shop with a humongous selection of bikes. With 4,000 bikes to choose from and 54 years in service, Penn Cycle is a great place for a tune-up, new bike or a bit of expertise for riding the trails this summer.
710 W. Lake St.
Hair, skin, nails, facials, tanning, massages … there’s not a lot you can’t find at Spalon Montage. For 22 years Spalon — which also has Woodbury Chanhassen locations — has been making people look pretty and feel good. A haircut and a massage? They’ve got you covered. A facial and a yoga session? Check. How about a waxing and a pedicure? Spalon is a one-stop shop for beauty and wellness needs.
3909 West 49 1/2 St
Roxanne LaQua and her team of expert stylists offer a variety of services including coloring, highlights, hair cuts, and the ever-popular hair enhancement system — fused bonds hair extensions. Stylists at SalonROX will take the time consult with their customers about color preference, hair texture, skin tone, eye color and even lifestyle. SalonROX rocks the Fulton neighborhood.
3100 W. 50th St.
Magers and Quinn *
No surprise here. Magers and Quinn has the best of both worlds. It boasts a collection the size of a national book chain but the prices and services of the independent shop it is.
The greatness of Magers and Quinn is that the store doesn’t just peddle paper and ink. It advances and promotes good literature. It hosts book clubs. It frequently hold readings by local authors as well as national writers (John Irving and Yann Martel, to note a couple). It keeps rare classics. It employs people who truly live and breath books.
Magers and Quinn isn’t the best of Southwest. It’s just the best.
3038 Hennepin Ave. S.
It’s rare nowadays to find a clothing boutique that’s been in business for more than 25 years, but Local Motion has kept it going through good times and bad in Uptown.
Longtime fashion designer Barbara Heinrich stocks her shelves with unique dresses, skirts, T-shirts, coats and jeans. Her attire comes locally and from abroad. Some of it is her own, some of it is from other Twin Cities designers and some of it comes from as far as Paris and New York. To boot, Local Motion keeps things affordable for clientele that ranges from 20-somethings to 70-year-olds.
2813 Hennepin Ave. S.
When you walk into Top Shelf, owner John Meegan can take one look at your neck, size it up, and tell you what type of collar you should be wearing on your dress shirts to best accentuate your face. He can tell you how much your shirt will shrink after you buy it and clean it, so you can purchase one that will match your size for the long haul.
Top Shelf is a high-end clothing store, with shirts ranging from $114 to nearly $500. It also sells suits and ties.
But its strongest asset is its reputation as the best tailoring service in the Twin Cities. Meegan can slice up a suit until it sings.
3040 Lyndale Ave. S.
When it comes to vintage clothing, Tatters is the royalty of rags. This Lyn-Lake treasure chest has been in Minneapolis for over 30 years, supplying the Uptown crowd with all the best throwbacks. Long-time general manager Doug Derham travels the country searching through rag houses to find what may wind up being the newest trend in Minneapolis.
2928 Lyndale Ave. S.
For now, Patina has one location in Southwest in the Kenwood neighborhood, but soon the store will be back at 50th & Bryant corner. It’s a great spot to look for gifts for just about an occasion. The store is also popular for its jewelry, unique accessories and bath and beauty products.
1009 W. Franklin Ave.
Harriann Upholstery *
Once again, Journal readers have overwhelmingly voted for Harriann Upholstery as their favorite home furnishings store. The website declares: “Older furniture is better.” If you have a drab couch or chair in need of a makeover, this is the place to go. It promotes that it can rehab your furniture for half the price of buying new.
3537 W. 44th St.
The first Bachman’s store got its start on Lyndale in the mid-1920s. Since then, Bachman’s has opened six other garden centers in the metro area. Bachman’s also has indoor and outdoor landscaping divisions and 670 acres in Lakeville where it grows many of the plants and flowers for the garden centers.
6010 Lyndale Ave. S.
Hunt & Gather *
We know Southwest folks have unique and eclectic tastes so it’s no surprise that there are big fans of Hunt & Gather. The store has 25 stylized booths “jam-packed with only the good stuff,” according to its website. “No reproductions or stale junk.” So if you need some funky garden supplies or need a vintage pillow, you’ll likely find what you need at Hunt & Gather.
4944 Xerxes Ave. S.
The neighborhood gallery has been showcasing local and national artists for more than a decade. Exhibits rotate every six weeks and as the name reflects, the gallery has a mission of showing “art in every degree,” according to its website. From traditional paintings to offbeat multimedia installations, Gallery360 works to promote a diverse selection of artists. We give the gallery extra kudos for showcasing our illustrator’s WACSO popular neighborhood sketchbook series in a recent exhibit.
3011 W. 50th St.
Minneapolis Institute of Arts *
Since the museum’s early days, the MIA’s permanent collection has grown from 800 art pieces to about 80,000 works of art. Some of the objects date back 5,000 years. The museum has seven areas: Arts of Africa & the Americas; Contemporary Art; Decorative Arts, Textiles & Sculpture; Asian Art; Paintings; Photography and New Media; Prints and Drawings; and Textiles. More than half a million people visit the museum each year.
2400 3rd Ave. S.
A sibling cinema to the nearby Uptown Theatre, the Lagoon screens noted independent and foreign films. The Lagoon’s namesake is the original Lagoon Theatre, which burned down in the 1930s and was replaced by the Uptown Theater on Hennepin. The cinema’s décor is inspired by the nearby Chain of Lakes.
1320 Lagoon Ave.
If you love to sweat, CorePower Yoga is the place for you. The fast-growing chain has locations all over the Twin Cities. CorePower Yoga specializes in a power-vinyasa style yoga in a heated room. The studio also has 90-minute hot yoga classes and a popular yoga sculpt class where yogis work with weights.
2930 Emerson Ave. S.
Settegren’s Ace Hardware *
A trip to Settegren’s is a very different experience than one to a big-box hardware store. The approach here is an old fashioned, customers first mentality. Settegren’s also has a list of reliable professionals to help with home-improvement projects. And don’t forget to say hi to the store dogs Jager and Odis when you make a visit.
5405 Penn Ave. S.