For my TC friends, thought I’d rattle off a few of my favorite places to eat and shop. Please comment on this page if you have places of your own to share!
TWIN CITIES RESOURCES
“Help! I need a dress for an event ASAP!” or “I want to refresh my closet with a few distinctive and on-trend pieces.”
- Arafina – Galleria, Edina. Range of dresses for dinner out, wedding guests, cocktail dresses, and formal gowns — lots of options that you won’t find at the typical department store. Solid designer sportswear including Helmut Lang, M Missoni, Tory Burch, Smythe, and Alice+ Olivia.
- Bumbershute @ 50th & France, Edina. Carefully edited collection of designer sportswear and dresses. Think Alexander Wang, A.L.C., IRO and Rag & Bone. Sales staff could not be nicer and there are frequently sale racks in the back by the dressing rooms with some good finds.
- Grethen House and GH2 - 50th & France, GH2 in NE Mpls near Surdyk’s. The boutique is an eclectic selection of some more conservative/work clothes (Rene Lezard, Les Copains, White + Warren) and some avant-garde sportswear (e.g., , Yigal Azrouel, Rick Owens, and Maison Martin Margiela). GH2 the outlet/consignment store is the real find, with some of the same brands either new but outlet/excess clearance inventory at low prices, or consignment clothes and accessories in great condition at even better prices. I’ve usually had little luck at consignment/outlets but have found several treasures at GH2.
“I feel like my outfits are a bit plain and need sprucing up, but I don’t want to spend a fortune on new accessories.”
- Hot Mama – lots of locations in Minnesota, including Edina, where it’s home office is. but also see here the others. Their main thing is the awesome on-trend casual clothes they sell for moms and non-moms alike – meeting a need for women who are not yet of a certain age, but aren’t 22 and shopping at A&E, A&F, or H&M anymore. Super-friendly and approachable stylists advise on your picks, and they have a great selection of costume jewelry, belts, scarves, etc. Good range of price points too! (e.g., necklaces, bracelets, and earrings for around $20-$100+).
- Fringe Accessories – 50th & France, Edina or Grand Ave, St. Paul. Fun concept, the bulk of this store’s merchandise is well under $100, in fact, I’ve typically seen jewelry in the $15-35 range. Great, trendy pieces that you can buy guilt-free for a season or two.
“I want some of my furniture & decor to be different from the Pottery Barn/Crate & Barrel standards but not super stuffy, expensive, or too traditional.”
- Spinario Design & Gallery -New location in Mpls., in Art + Architecture building. Amazing vintage home furnishings, mainly mid-century design. Some of the selection is on their site, but must visit in person to really get a sense for the wide-ranging selection. Prices really range based on the piece and the condition, but I’ve found the prices pretty fair and, have been able to negotiate on a few.
- On that note…Art + Architecture, amazing place for vintage and antique furniture, architectural finds like salvaged built-ins, massive mantels and grand wood doors.
- Room & Board Outlet @ Golden Valley – assuming you already know about Room & Board if you’re in TC. But if you haven’t scouted the outlet you’re missing out because some of the stuff is pretty much the same as in store and cheaper — get there early on Sat. AM if you want the best selection, it can get crazy!
- Martha O’Hara Interiors – 9950 Wayzata Boulevard, off 394 in East Minnetonka. This design company has a showroom open to the public Monday-Thursday.
- Que Sera – Water St. in Excelsior, gorgeous store, offers interior design and lots of odds & ends you won’t find elsewhere.
- CB2 - Hennepin & 31st St. in Uptown, Minneapolis. The right mix of classic modern and trendy accessories for the right price.
“I’m entertaining and want some fresh ideas” or “I need a gift that’s personal, beautiful, and not too expensive.”
- Tangletown Gardens – Nicollet & 54th in Mpls (just off hwy 35W). They call themselves “advocates of beauty” and this is no lie! They use sustainable practices and focus on local, but that is just the fine print. What must be said upfront is the place has a unique and sophisticated point of view. The fresh and dried and even “botanically correct” faux pieces are gorgeous. Just walking in for a visit perks you up, even in the deadest of winter they are filled with lush winter greens and delicate dried items. They also have a huge collection of containers for potting and/or for displaying your beauties.
- Arts and Flowers Design Studio - Excelsior Blvd & hwy 100 in St. Louis Park. They will make you the most beautiful flower arrangements, small or large, but the best part is actually the fresh-cut flowers that you can pick out yourself from their cooler to make your own arrangements or bouquets. The flower quality and variety is the best I’ve seen in the cities and because they’re so fresh they usually last me at least a week or more if I take care of them at home.
- Cocoa & Fig – Gaviidae Commons downtown Mpls & farmers markets seasonally. Bakery and caterer extraordinaire! Love, love, the food, the presentation, and the professionalism. The owner/chef studied at the Culinary Institute of America and worked under Thomas Keller at the famed Bouchon in Napa. Her experience is apparent in the polish and refinement of her dessert flavors and presentation. I’ve used them to cater and they did a fabulous job. The bakery is tiny but convenient for those downtown, and features a variety of creative and mouth-watering cupcakes, scones, breads, and pastries. They also make custom cakes, cupcakes, etc.
- France 44 – 44th & France, Edina. Great wine, cheese, and meat shop that also runs an outstanding catering operation. Have used them a few times for somewhat large events — their service is professional, the menu varied and customizable, and the prices are more reasonable than you’d expect for a full service catering operation.
- Gastrotruck - this local food truck catered a party for us recently and did an awesome job! They parked the truck in our driveway and prepped the food in there, then brought it in to serve in our home. Great pork belly sliders and spicy thai cucumber hors d’oeuvres were a hit.
More Great Gifts: Hostesses, girlfriends, moms, in-laws…whoever you deem so deserving!
- Victory @ 44th & Beard, in SW Mpls - one of a kind vintage home decor items, new items too like lamps, leather goods, and Assouline books
- Ampersand @ Galleria, Edina - home decor, tabletop, & cosmetics/toiletries, candles
- Mitrebox @ downtown Mpls on Washington Ave – framing and gift store with unique collection of different and affordable gift items
- Mara-Mi @ Main St. in the quaint town of Stillwater. Worth the drive, eat at Smalley’s, but save room for dessert at Mara-Mi, they have the best ice cream (Izzy’s) and bake up some tasty cupcakes and other confections. But, best of all, get all your gift-buying done here — stationery, Russell+Hazel, art papers, and the most special desktop items, frames, notebooks, etc.
TWIN CITIES EATS
I love food, and though I enjoy cooking and experimenting in my own kitchen, eating out is such a treat. Here’s a list of restaurants I’d suggest, some may appear in multiple categories:
- Fine dining: La Belle Vie, Saffron, Piccolo, Heidi’s, Restaurant Alma, Borough
- Neighborhood Foodie spots: Victory 44, Tosca, Travail, Tilia, Lucia’s, Parka, Birdhouse, Pizzeria Lola
- Comfort Food – Elevated: Tilia, HauteDish, Bachelor Farmer, Sun Street Breads, Parka
- Seafood: Sea Salt Eatery, Sea Change
- Refined ethnic/fusion: Saffron, Masu Sushi & Robata, World Street Kitchen (WSK)
- Authentic ethnic: Kabuki, Mandarin Kitchen (dim sum on wknds), Tea House, Szechuan Spice, True Thai, Sakura, Quant, Midtown Global Market (a variety of cuisines represented)
- Italian: La Grolla, Trattoria Tosca, D’Amico Kitchen
- Best Pizza: Pizzeria Lola (foodie find), or Carbone’s (traditional with zesty sauce), Punch Pizza
- Great with kids: Midtown Global Market, Edina Grill, Pannekoken or Original Pancake House, Crave, Pei Wei, Punch Pizza, Tea House, Pizzeria Lola, Convention Grill
- Great for drinks or for groups: Bradstreet Crafthouse, La Belle Vie lounge/bar, Barrio, Moto-i, Icehouse, Borough
- Somewhat overrated (in my opinion): Cosmos, Bar La Grassa, Oceanaire, Broder’s
Favorite places for treats:
- Bakeries: Cocoa & Fig, Patisserie Margo, Rustica (the first 2 have excellent french macarons, the last has the best Kouign Amann – butter cake, ever!), Patisserie 46, Salty Tart at Midtown Global Market, Sun Street Bread, Queen of Cakes (best cakes for celebrations)
- Ice Cream: Crema, Izzy’s, Sebastian Joe’s Frozen Yogurt: Yogurt lab
- Chocolates: Max’s, Surdyk’s, Patisserie 46