2010 Reader's Raves Winners

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March 1, 2010
By: Journal staff
Journal staff

Congratulations to the recipients of our fourth annual Reader Raves contest. We asked readers to vote for their favorite spots to eat, shop, hang out and catch live entertainment in the Downtown area. Thanks to those who voted in the contest. Repeat winners are marked with an asterisk.



IDS to Macy’s*
While it’s probably the widest corridor traversing the heart of Nicollet Mall and its floor-to-ceiling windows provide an unimpeded view of Downtown, this section of skyway finds most of its appeal in its connection points. Opening up into the atrium in IDS Center, the corridor funnels you into a homey space of restaurants, shopping and urban bustle. On the other end is Macy’s, a Downtown staple that welcomes with understated elegance. The perfect spot to post up and people watch — or to take in the Holidazzle Parade — this skyway bridge represents Minneapolis well.


W Minneapolis–The Foshay
Dark, richly decadent and thrumming with intimate sex appeal — if only we could look as good as the W does. Housed inside the most storied building in Minneapolis, the Foshay Tower, the W is near cinematic in its treatment of Roaring 20s glam. The real history of the troubled Mr. Foshay and his ambitious skyscraper is preserved in a 31st floor mini museum, but the imagined art deco drama of the period plays out everywhere else in the hotel. The first floor “Living Room” is a vast hall of fireplaces, leather furniture and mood lighting. Manny’s is a steakhouse worthy of gangsters. And the famous Prohibition bar, on the 27th floor, has the secretive, loungey feel of a real speakeasy.

821 Marquette Ave.

Street and People Watching

Nicollet Mall*
In any given 12-hour period, this Downtown shopping corridor pulls together virtually every demographic of our Twin Cities population. Power suited businessmen stride down it toward noon-hour lunches at Brit’s and Vincent. Traveling girls basketball teams pose for photos around the Mary Tyler Moore statue. Street musicians and buskers spare change it with open instrument cases and impressive acts. Regular Downtown residents shop for toiletries in the two-story Target. And gaggles of nightclub goers clack along the tiled walkways in high heels at night. Mix in some architectural eye candy — the Central Library, Orchestra Hall, IDS Center — and a bustling farmer’s market, and you have tons to look at.

Quiet Place

Could there be any city with a better stretch of the Mississippi than Minneapolis? Here in Minnesota, the great river is still manageable and comely, easy to cross and look at it, and not the brown mess that rolls by St. Louis or the swampy delta that soaks New Orleans. With myriad riverside parks, bicycle and jogging trails flanking its length; a couple of historic islands dotting it; a university campus straddling its banks; a world class theater leaning over it; and a hopelessly romantic Stone Arch Bridge crossing it; the river here is lovingly integrated into the city. And with so many attractive places to sit near it, crowding is never a problem.



Jamba Juice*
This is the skyway joint for a blast of health-inducing vitamins in the winter. The Coldbuster, a blend of orange juice, peaches and bananas, packs a whopping 2,000 percent of your daily recommended intake of vitamin C. Jamba Juice ingredients pass any health nut test and can accommodate any special diet; they keep a continuous stock of fresh fruit, veggies, nonfat frozen yogurt, soy milk and dairy-free sherbet, which they can combine in various way to make over 20 varieties of smoothies. A small menu also offers pecan oatmeal, soups, low-fat breads and pretzels.

33 S. 6th St.

112 Eatery*
While we’re sure there are other standouts on the menu, we’ve been too distracted by 112 Eatery’s tres leches cake to care. The hyper-rich, sweet and moist dessert is reason enough for the restaurant to make this list.

112 3rd St. N.

Casual Dining and Happy Hour

The Local

The Local’s status as the world’s top seller of Jameson might be this Ireland-seeped destination’s main draw, but it keeps us coming back because of its decidedly non-U.S.A. pub vibe and non-cheap bar food. Seafoodies — or grease lovers — should try the fish and chips, others the flavorful Reuben. A note for the uninitiated: For your own good, never order a whiskey that’s not Jameson. If you ask for a shot of Jack and get scowled at, it’s your own fault.

931 Nicollet Mall


Moose & Sadie’s

Spaghetti and meatballs for lunch? Eh, why not? Moose & Sadie’s focus on locally grown and organic foods, as well as its homemade touches, make this a popular Warehouse District lunch spot. Try the sandwiches, which range from the basic BLT to the classier grilled cheddar and gruyere, or go for the polenta. Oh, or the spaghetti and meatballs. That’s good, too.

212 3rd Ave. N.

Coffee shop

Dunn Bros

Anchored by their cozy Loring Park location, Dunn Bros is a Downtown fixture. While less corporate in vibe than direct competitors Starbucks and Caribou, the chain still challenges for the biggest number of locations in the area: 21, all within 5 miles of where you picked up this paper.

On the ground in Loring Park, Elliot Park, North Loop, Mill District, Central Library, or at just about every turn in the Skyway.


The Shout House
The Shout House is for anyone who’s ever wanted to sing at the top of his or her lungs after downing a couple of drinks. (Everyone?) There are plenty of sing-along opportunities, with a dueling pianos setup that cruises through six decades of rock hits.

650 Hennepin Ave.


Pizza Luce*

Creative options pepper the menu — the baked potato pizza comes to mind — but even the dough-sauce-cheese standards taste better at Pizza Luce. Plus, for those who desire their pizza sans gluten, Luce now offers a gluten-free menu every day.

119 N. 4th St.


Origami *

When fugu became available in town this winter, only a few sushi restaurants chose to offer it. If you were planning to dine on the potentially toxic meat of the pufferfish, where would you go? Probably the sushi restaurant with the best reputation in town.
Eat at Origami and live.

30 N. 1st St.



Masa’s dining room softens its sleek, white modernism with orange light, colored tiles and murals that reflect the menu’s inspiration: the food traditions of Mexico.
The menu takes the rustic dishes that define Mexican cuisine — mole con pollo from Oaxaca, tacos al pastor from Mexico City, seafood from the coasts — and updates them with modern technique. The results on the plate are as harmonious as the surroundings.

1070 Nicollet Ave.


The Oceanaire Seafood Room*
For many, The Oceanaire means special-occasion dining. Of course, finding fresh, excellently prepared seafood 1,000 miles from the nearest saltwater — and getting top-notch service, to boot — can turn any old meal into a special occasion.

1300 Nicollet Ave.


Nearly everything at Manny’s Steakhouse is big, big, big — from the 40 oz. “bludgeon of beef” to the Maine lobster that looks as if it could challenge Godzilla to a duel.
They are dishes sized to impress. Actually, the entire Manny’s experience is meant to impress, whether your dinner date is a business client or, well, a date.

825 Marquette Ave. S

Grocery store


Lunds is a better-than-average grocery store in several important ways: the produce is fresher and better looking; the selections of meats and cheeses are deeper; the prepared foods are more enticing; and the aisles are stocked with high-quality items that invite a splurge. At its University and Central location, Lunds combines all this with a drycleaner, coffee shop, florist and pharmacy. What’s not to like?

25 University Ave. SE


D. Brian’s Deli & Catering *
There are approximately one million places in the skyway to pick up lunch for the office, but D. Brian’s rises to the top for Downtown Journal readers. Why?
When you’re doing the basics — sandwiches and wraps, salads, meat and cheese platters — quality counts, and D. Brian’s has it.

Multiple skyway locations


Long before “fresh,” “local” and “sustainable” became foodie buzzwords those dining concepts were inspiring the work of Brenda Langton, the local chef and restaurateur behind Spoonriver. Vegetarians are no second-class diners at Spoonriver, where meat-free and vegan entrees get equal billing with the grass-fed beef and Minnesota-raised lamb. Those vegetarians who can abide fish will be pleased, too.

750 S. 2nd Ave.

Bev’s Wine Bar*
Bev’s is tucked away in the Warehouse District, a cozy, candlelit space regulars still think of as a bit of a secret. If that adds to the ambiance, you can think of it that way, too.

250 3rd Ave. N, Ste. 100

Entertainment and cultural venues

Art Gallery

Circa Gallery

This Downtown gallery is a favorite among lovers of contemporary art. It presents seven exhibitions a year and displays other works that can be viewed year-round. The gallery prides itself on featuring a diverse assortment of contemporary styles, media and expressions.

210 N. 1st St.


Guthrie Theater*
The Guthrie’s modern, iconic exterior design immediately sets it apart it from its more traditional competitors. Its three stages, restaurant, multiple bars, incredible views and diverse performances add to the wow-factor.   

818 S. 2nd St.

Dance and Music Venue

First Avenue*

For live music Downtown, it’s hard to beat the area’s landmark venue, First Avenue. The place has hosted a plethora of local and national bands over the years and its intimate setting gets concertgoers close to the action no matter where they’re standing.

701 N. 1st Ave.


Minnesota  Twins*
With a brand-new outdoor ballpark ready for its first season, Minnesota Twins baseball is on the minds of many these days. Last year they clinched their division in a stunning series against the Detroit Tigers. Fans are hoping for an even better season this year. The Twins’ home opener is set for April 12 against the Boston Red Sox.



Antiques Riverwalk*
Whether you’re looking for British cufflinks, a gilded opera-themed clock or an Italian carved cassone, Antiques Riverwalk is the place to go for high-end antique accessories and furnishings. The shop features items from a variety of dealers and also consigns, appraises and purchases antiques.  

210 3rd Ave. N.

Men’s and women’s clothing


The national retail chain is once again a favorite among Downtown shoppers for men’s and women’s clothing. Macy’s Inc. has corporate offices in New York and Cincinnati and has more than 800 department and furniture stores across the country.

700 Nicollet Mall


Liz Bastian and Heidi Skoog launched their design studio in 1997. All their floral work is custom and tailored to the needs of their clients. “We share a hunger for good design and culture (and shoes), modern aesthetic sensibilities, and most importantly, discriminating taste. Well established with those in the know, we are the darlings of the design-minded every persuasion. We are your representatives of good design in Minneapolis,” they say on their website.

310 2nd St. N.


Barnes and Noble*

This is a perfect place to escape to over your lunch hour or for a short break from your desk. The two-story bookstore has an extensive selection of books and magazines. There are plenty of places to kick back, too, with a cup of coffee to unwind.

801 Nicollet Mall

Workout place

501 F1T

This 8,000-square foot fitness studio features small group classes. Company founder Phil Martens has developed his own group fitness method called the G-Werx Gym. Besides classrooms, the studio has a weight room, cardio equipment, locker rooms and shower facilities.

501 Washington  Ave. S.,
third floor

Gift shop


The Downtown location for the gift store is tucked in a street-level space in the Bridgewater development. Besides offering a wide selection of unique gifts, artwork and clothing, CorAzoN often hosts artists and musicians for special events.

1026 Washington Ave. S.

Nail and hair salon

Brian Graham Salon

The North Loop salon provides a wide range of beauty services, including cuts, color treatments, waxing, manicures, pedicures and much more.

220 Washington Ave. N.

Convenience store

Metro Market on 5th
The independent grocery store and deli in the North Loop now has a sibling store in the Loring Park neighborhood, too. The Metro Market carries a large selection of groceries. It also features a salad bar, soups and hot food specials.

201 5th Ave. N.


JB Hudson*

The jeweler has been in the historic Young Quinlan building since 2008. The first JB Hudson opened at 230 Nicollet in 1885. More than 35 luxury brands from around the world are affiliated with the company. Besides its extensive jewelry collection, JB Hudson also carries a fine estate collection.

901 Nicollet Mall