Hot intersections: 48th & Chicago

Two-story brick buildings with architectural character help define this commercial district. Credit: Photo by Linda Koutsky

Travel is all about discovering new things. We all get in routines that take us to the same stores, restaurants, and ATM machines, or we drive to work so many times on auto-pilot that sometimes you don’t even remember getting there. Travel shakes that up. It’s good for the brain. You have to look more carefully at the world around you. And when you do that I think you appreciate it more.

I actually don’t travel very much. That’s why I believe in weekend trips, quick getaways, an afternoon adventure. A “vacation day” can really be a vacation in a day. Even a half-day. And Minnesota is a great place to vacation.

A couple weeks ago I passed through 48th and Chicago on my way somewhere else. Wow! What happened to that intersection? Had I been away so long it completely changed? So last weekend I decided to go back and enjoy it.

Successful small towns or urban commercial districts need both practical and entertaining businesses to survive and this intersection has it all. Fun stores, good restaurants, a lively cafe, doctors, lawyers, bankers, even hand-crafted ice cream! Go for lunch and stay for diner — you’ll find plenty to do in between.

Turtle Bread Company has been a staple in the artisinal bread scene before the term got popular. Watch bakers knead dough for delectable treats destined for one of their three locations. Soups and sandwiches make the bread even better. But save room for dessert — Pumphouse Creamery’s ice creams and sorbets are locally made all the way down to their waffle cones. The winter special features three different kinds of chocolate ice cream. How do you decide? A little bit of each. Follow that with a steaming cup of Turkish Roast coffee at Sovereign Ground. Parents relax in a cozy Arts and Crafts-style environment while kids burn up energy in the popular indoor playground play area.

If you’re looking for Minnesota-themed merchandise, this intersection is a hotbed. Carver Junk Company carries fine art poster prints, cards, and jewelry by local artists with strong state themes. They also have lots of whimsical home furnishings like gilt antlers, old books cut into letters, candles, retro barware, and vintage furniture redone with colored milk paint. Shop in the City carries Minnesota T-shirts among their huge stock of greeting cards, jewelry, gifts, soaps, books, kids’ toys, and crazy animal slippers. Sassy offers upcycled and organic clothes for kids. On the corner is the forth location of Primp, a “cheap, chic, boutique” run by a group a saavy business women interested in showcasing great fashion for less money.

The commercial part of the intersection runs a couple blocks either direction on Chicago and about a half block either way on 48th Street. There are too many businesses to mention but rounding them out are a bike shop, portrait studio, a couple hair salons, florist, shoe repair, Chinese take-out, a few more bars and restaurants, an animal clinic, liquor store, bank, urgent care, and a number of private offices. The neighborhood elder has to be 40-year-old Pepito’s Mexican restaurant. Not only is it still rolling burritos, but it also operates the movie theater/live concert venue next door. If that’s not enough to keep you busy, Minnehaha Parkway is a few blocks south and Lake Nokomis a nice stroll from there.

This neighborhood has everything you need. Spending an afternoon here rejuvenated me. It was a delightful afternoon vacation, then I was home for dinner.

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