Weekend Visitor

This past weekend, Noah’s sister visited from Chicago. I’d say it was an opportunity to act like a tourist…but I sort of think we always act like tourists.

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Rachel got here Friday afternoon and we went to the Midtown Global Market (site of Kitchen in the Market) for dinner and then to a Ragamala Dance show at the Walker.

No pics from Friday, but there are plenty of photos from Saturday’s activities. It was a super active day, with a run in the morning and most of the afternoon occupied by a bike ride.

Noah and I each had our own bikes, and we rented a bike for Rachel from Nice Ride.

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Noah has a leftover Nice Ride membership from the summer, so we were able to get the bike for no charge. Also, Nice Ride has recently added a lot of new bike stations (including one very close to my apartment!) and extended the no-charge ride time for members from 30 minutes to 60 minutes. Noah and I had high ambitions for the bike ride, and we wanted to show Rachel all of the Minneapolis highlights:

  • Chain of Lakes (Lake Harriet, Lake Calhoun, and Lake of the Isles)
  • Hiawatha Bridge and Midtown Greenway
  • Guthrie Theater and Mill District
  • Stone Arch Bridge
  • University of Minnesota
  • Nicollet Avenue Pedestrian Mall and Downtown

Please note the magical fact that all of these wonderful locations were accessible via protected bike path.

We somehow mustered the energy to hit all of the spots, although we didn’t actually bike along the chain of lakes because we could see it some from the greenway and had also run near the lakes that morning.

Hiawatha Bridge along the Midtown Greenway:

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Hiawatha Bridge and Greenway

View from the bridge linked the east and west banks of the University of MN:

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view from UofMN bridge

View of the Guthrie and Mill City Museum from the Stone Arch Bridge:

view of the Guthrie and Mill City Museum from the Stone Arch Bridge

Slightly over two hours later, the journey was complete and it was time to return the Nice Ride…

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…and get some beer!

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A friend of mine has a coworker who knows a guy who knows a guy (yes, I meant to type that twice) who works at the Excelsior Brewing Company and said he would give us a tour, so a group of us headed out there in the late afternoon. Apparently, it was one too many degrees of separation though, because when we got there the fellow in question was out boating and unable to show us around. We somehow managed to recover and sample some of the brews. On tap was a brown ale called Bitteschlappe,  Bridge Jumper IPA, and Big Island Blond. They were out of their pale ale (called XCLR), so those who ordered flights had to double up on a different variety:

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I ordered the brown ale because it had the lowest bitter rating. I enjoyed it for approximately 3oz. and then the beer flavor was too much. They say it’s an acquired taste…but I certainly have yet to acquire.

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After a sufficient amount of time in the brewery, we decided to walk around the town of Excelsior. From the drive in, we knew there was a cute Mainstreet that led to a park and pathway along Excelsior Bay. We walked through town to get to the water:

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Notice the prom pictures happening in the background behind us. This was clearly a hotspot for photos since we also saw a wedding!

When we got back to Minneapolis, we were all hungry and ready for dinner. We tried to go to Brasa but the line was too long, so we ended up at Bryant Lake Bowl instead.

Noah ordered a bison steak salad, I ordered a beef sandwich, and Rachel ordered a black bean and beet burger:

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The food was good, but we were still hungry after (maybe because of all the biking!). We picked up a slice of pizza to go from Pizza Luce later in the evening.

It was a lot of fun to have a visitor over the weekend, and I especially enjoyed the bike tour. Especially now that I know I’m leaving Minneapolis, I’ve been eager to go back to all of my favorite places one more time and, of course, take lots of pictures for the memory books!

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Muddy Waters and Food Trucks

This week I had two new food experiences.

The first new food experience was going to Muddy Waters for lunch. Muddy Waters is a bar/eatery/coffee shop in Uptown on Lyndale between Lake and Lagoon. I’ve been interested by the establishment for a long time, and I finally made plans to get food there. The atmosphere is pretty unique since it does seem to truly be a coffee shop, bar, and restaurant all rolled into one.

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When you walk in the door, to your right is a full bar and to the left is a full barista bar. The restaurant (and patio, when it’s nice outside) are full of patrons enjoying booze, coffee, or some variety of good eats. For my lunch rendezvous, we stuck with food and coffee. I ordered a malted mocha (something I’ve never seen on a menu before!) and the black bean hummus plate:

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The hummus plate came with carrots, zuchinni, parsley, jalapenos, queso fresco, and grilled bread. The hummus was amazing. I could have eaten it with a spoon. In fact, that’s exactly what I did once I ate all of the veggies/bread. My lunch date ordered a made-t0-order pizza with ricotta cheese and spinach:

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It received high reviews. Although their menu in not that extensive, all of the food was great (and the dishes we saw being brought to other tables looked equally appetizing). I would say this is a fun spot for a favorite dish, but if you’re looking for a wide selection or large plates, then you would be better off going elsewhere. If you’re a coffee fan though, it’s worth noting that the coffee bar was a walk-up counter and several customers cam and got to-go drinks. Their coffee menu had some unusual choices. Besides the aforementioned malted mocha there was also a white mocha, thai coffee, cubano, and all the regular espresso favorites.

The second new food experience I had this week involved food trucks. Since it was the weekend, the workweek line-up of trucks downtown wasn’t an option, so we sought out a different location. We discovered that a few food trucks were gathered by Fulton Brewery.

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The brewery seems to have a relationship with the food trucks, and beer-seeking visitors can bring their food inside to the bar. The food truck options were:

  • Lulu’s Street Food: serving tacos and fries
  • Cafe Racer: serving Latin American food
  • MidNordEmpanadaTruck: serving, you guessed it, empanadas

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Our primary business went to Cafe Racer. Noah got the Colombian hot dogs and I ordered the pulled chicken plate with carrot souffle and moduro (fried plantains):

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We also shared an order of chicken empanadas from MidNord:

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I loved my pulled chicken and Latin American side dishes. The empinadas were also very tasty (and came with a delicious lime sauce), but the fried exterior was a little much for me. Since an ill-timed bout of pouring rain began right when we got our food, we enjoyed our lunches inside the walls of the brewery.

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The brewery offers tours every Saturday at 1, 2, and 3pm. Although we didn’t join a tour group this time around, we speculated that it could be a fun activity in the future. The brewery was especially full of Twins fans who were watching the game on TV (and possibly heading to the stadium later).

My first food truck experience definitely piqued my interest, and I would like to head downtown for lunch during the workweek to check out a more extensive selection of food trucks. If you’re interested in the Minneapolis Food Truck scene, make sure to check out Reviews on Wheels, another WordPress blog devoted to exactly that topic!