Photo by Tracy Walsh

Welcome to Minneapolis, football fans

Updated: February 8, 2018 - 2:17 pm

A guide to make the most of your Minneapolis moment

Minneapolitans still dreaming of a Minnesota Vikings Super Bowl may not give the most enthusiastic welcome, but the Twin Cities have been preparing for the big game for years now — and it’s finally here.

Football fans have a lot to see in the North Star State, from nightly concerts on Nicollet Mall to big-name parties at pop-up venues. But there’s a lot more to Minneapolis than Super Bowl 52.

Spend a day outside the hotel walking around the east side of downtown. Or head west to the North Loop where nationally recognized restaurants and bars can be found on each corner. Finally, Southwest Minneapolis is worth the trek with its restaurants that double as hip hangouts and gaming corners.

The ninth floor of the Guthrie Theater is bathed in yellow light thanks to tinted windows. Photo by Lauren Mueller
The ninth floor of the Guthrie Theater is bathed in yellow light thanks to tinted windows. Photo by Lauren Mueller

More than a stadium

Beyond U.S. Bank Stadium, there’s a lot more to Downtown East, or what some locals call East Town.

For breakfast, try out Northern Coffeeworks at Washington & 11th where you can sample Intelligentsia coffee or something from one of the shop’s guest roasters. The pastries — a lovely Bostock among them — are good start to any day.

Avocado Toast 7 minute egg, greens, radish, olive oil and lemon (2)After that, the Guthrie Theater is one of the city’s best places to capture one-of-a-kind photos of the Minneapolis riverfront. Head up to the theater’s Endless Bridge or the Dowling Studio on the top floor, also known as the yellow room to locals, to catch the views.

Head downstairs and toward the Mill City Museum, a museum built into the ruins of the former Washburn A-Mill that exploded back in 1874. Take a tour and get hungry for lunch at Bushel & Peck on the ground floor.

The newly opened café offers lunch and a weekend brunch. The eye-popping avocado toast is dressed up with radishes, greens and a gooey seven-minute egg. For something more substantive, the house burger comes served with the works on a potato roll.

Hop21Lucky for downtowners, the east side of downtown is home to the city’s one-and-only pingpong bar, Hop21. Found in a basement off Washington, the family-friendly bar has plenty of tables to work on your serve or set up an informal tournament — just be sure to check if it’s not closed for a private event. If hunger strikes, Hop21 serves pizza and beer — exactly what the doctor ordered.

As the day winds down, head a block down to Zen Box Izakaya. The glassy Japanese ramen pub boasts hundreds of action figures, Japanese toys and more from chef John Ng and general manager Lina Goh’s collection. The highly shareable menu features crowd-pleasing plates like the avocado tempura or edamame for some quick protein. Try a Japanese beer or, for those not looking to imbibe, one of the bar’s zero-proof cocktails, such as the Rain in Spain with “gin” bitters and tonic.

The North Loop's Colonial Warehouse building. Photo by Eric Best
The North Loop’s Colonial Warehouse building. Photo by Eric Best

A day in the bustling North Loop

The city’s hippest neighborhood is just a short walk from a downtown hotel. The North Loop is full of historic Minneapolis warehouses and newly renovated or constructed addresses, and with those have come award-winning restaurants, unique boutiques and more.

Hewing Hotel, Minneapolis Boutique hotelStart the day with coffee and quiche or another starter at Moose & Sadie’s. Or, if you don’t mind the trek, check out Spyhouse Coffee on the far end of the neighborhood. The Instagram-worthy coffeehouse carries its own coffee bean blends and crafts its own cocktail-style lattes and drinks. The Spygirl, a latte made with lavender and honey flavors, is a favorite of the shop’s regulars.

From there, take advantage of some of the city’s best shopping opportunities. Guys can find rare and high-end duds at MartinPatrick3 in the Colonial Warehouse Building. The sale section is a great place to find luxury wares for a low price. For a different style, Atmosfere on Washington Avenue boasts affordable fashion couture for men. Ladies can check out Statement Boutique where they can find jewelry made in the Twin Cities, perfume, eyewear and clothing.

For a midday meal, Tullibee in the Hewing Hotel creates North Woods-inspired meals with an elegant touch. The woodsy hotel restaurant offers some of the best lefse made outside grandma’s house. Chef Bradley Day wraps falafel made from cauliflower, curry yogurt and greens into the traditional Norwegian flatbread.

IMG_5417 webMake sure you bring home a souvenir by making it yourself at Upstairs Circus. The newly opened arts-and-crafts bar gives patrons all the supplies they need to make the perfect gift or décor for their house, from a print of Prince’s silhouette to Minnesota string art. Guests reserve time to pick a craft while drinking and dining, whether from snacks they’ve brought themselves or from the bar’s menu of flatbreads and shareable plates.

For an evening cocktail, there’s no better option than Marvel Bar, the basement bar below the Bachelor Farmer. The sleek hangout spot has a charming, dimly lit atmosphere and completely original drink menus. Some of the city’s most talented bartenders sling drinks like the Ladykiller with dry vermouth, apricot and Beefeater gin or the Good Witch, a beverage boasting tamari, lime and Strega liqueur.

Photo by Michelle Bruch
Photo by Michelle Bruch

Take a trip to Southwest  

urban-bean-6The southwest corner of the city boasts an engaging small business culture with plenty of places only found in Minneapolis. The LynLake area is an activity hub featuring several restaurants, stores and more.

Start the day with a brew from Urban Bean, located at Lake & Bryant. The clean, minimalist coffeehouse crafts its own signature beverages. If you’re warm enough, the café’s cold brew can be mixed with housemade vanilla and a splash of cream for a morning treat. For something to power you through the day, Urban Bean makes a smoothie with protein powder, fresh fruit and yogurt.

From there, walk east toward Lyndale Avenue to find Bryant-Lake Bowl & Theater. The combination theater, restaurant and bowling alley is the place to find the latest independent stage productions and vegan eats. In back, you’ll find a small bowling alley. The venue even recommends its own wacky ways to play, such as playing on your knees, playing as slowly as possible or spinning around twice before you toss your ball down the lane.

IMG_1558For lunch, head north on Lyndale to Muddy Waters Bar & Eatery where the lunch menu features bits and pieces of food culture from around the world. Start with shareable yucca fries or black bean hummus, then order a baba ganoush burger with Greek yogurt or one of the restaurant’s pizzas. If the breakfasts foods still catch your eye, the rosemary butterscotch waffle has strawberries and candied almonds, making it an extra treat.

Spend the afternoon at Up-Down Minneapolis, a 21-plus arcade and craft beer bar where each game only costs 25 cents. Pinball wizards will be happy to see the collection of classic games in the arcade, from “Ghostbusters” to “The Addams Family,” along with newer machines based off “Game of Thrones” or “The Walking Dead.” Groups can get into skee-ball or set up a tournament around “Mortal Kombat.”

If you can find it, check out Volstead’s Emporium. The literally hidden gem is a speakeasy like no other in the city. Find a door with a red light and go in to find an old-fashioned atmosphere. Enjoy a Prohibition-era cocktail before moving on to desserts at one of the curtain booths.