Neighborhood Bests

Your best bets in six great Twin Cities neighborhoods.

North Loop Minneapolis
Photos by Stephanie Colgan

Cafe Latte on Grand Avenue

Grand Avenue

SATISFY YOUR SWEET TOOTH: Always head for Cafe Latté to curb your sweet tooth? Bread and Chocolate boasts the same owners, shorter lines, and Cafe Latté's signature scones, caramel rolls, muffins, and other decadent goodies. 867 Grand Ave., 651-228-1017, cafelatte.com

ESSENTIAL WINTER SHOPPING: Those looking for the crème de la crème of outdoor wear shop Patagonia. We're just one of seventeen states to have this top-shelf shop. Plus, recent efforts to determine the carbon footprint of the products makes for interesting reading and exploration. 1648 Grand Ave., 651-698-1703, patagonia.com

TUCK IN FOR BRUNCH: Ah, the French. Who else knows how to truly enjoy a leisurely brunch? At Salut Bar Americain, pick from—to name a few—shrimp carpaccio, smoked salmon omelets, strawberry cheesecake crepes. Is it Sunday yet? 917 Grand Ave., 651-917-2345, salutbaramericain.com

WINTER WONDER: The Lex has been serving up the classics since 1935, and nails the turkey dinner, with homemade mashed potatoes, gravy, and cranberries. And the rich wood surroundings definitely help keep out the cold. 1096 Grand Ave., 651-222-5878, thelexongrand.com

PLACE TO GRAB A DRINK: You want a glass of wine, your friend wants an espresso. Head to Cafe Latté for the best of both worlds—cafeteria-style coffeehouse in the front, wine bar in the back. Plus, there's always the cake. 850 Grand Ave., 651-224-5687, cafelatte.com

Cathedral Hill in St. Paul

Cathedral Hill

SATISFY YOUR SWEET TOOTH: A Piece of Cake is known for its—can you guess?—birthday cakes, but also offers pretty pastries such as pumpkin-shaped minicakes, sandwich cookies shaped like slices of fruit, and huge black-and-white cookies. 485 Selby Ave., 651-846-0016, apieceofcakebakery.net

ESSENTIAL WINTER SHOPPING: Common Good Books gets lots of attention thanks to owner Garrison Keillor, but it's the feeling of the cozy, packed-to-the-gills space in the lower-level of the historic Blair Arcade Building that has us hooked. We particularly love the cozy sofas in the travel section. 165 Western Ave. N., 651-225-8989, commongoodbooks.com

TUCK IN FOR BRUNCH: Bon Vie's pull-apart cinnamon buns, eclectic array of quiches, scramblers, pancakes (a little coconut with your flapjack?), and lattes at this sister of A Piece of Cake make up for the lack of mimosas. 518 Selby Ave., 651-287-0112

PLACE TO GRAB A DRINK: With 44 beer choices on tap, 200 more in the bottle, a full wine and cocktail menu, and the vibe of a great neighborhood joint, The Happy Gnome is the perfect place for a nightcap. 498 Selby Ave., 651-287-2018, thehappygnome.com

TAKE IN A SHOW: As Lou Bellamy makes his way through August Wilson's Century Cycle, continues the tradition of Black Nativity, and brings in top-notch plays such as A Raisin in the Sun, the Penumbra Theatre is creating more and more reasons to make Cathedral Hill the place for dinner and a show. 270 N. Kent St., 651-224-3180, penumbratheatre.org

Meritage in Downtown St. Paul

Downtown St. Paul

SATISFY YOUR SWEET TOOTH: There's only one way to satisfy your ice cream cravings come winter: the hot fudge sundae. And Mickey's Diner serves up the classic—vanilla covered in piping hot fudge, whipped cream, chopped nuts, and, of course, a cherry on top. 36 W. 7th St., 651-698-0259, mickysdiningcar.com

ESSENTIAL WINTER SHOPPING: Looking for some ice? If you shed a tear when Bockstrock Jewelers closed, you'll be happy to know that most of the stores employees landed at Landmark Jewelers. Find diamond jewelry, fine gems, pearls, watches, and great prices on estate pieces. 21 W. 6th St., 651-222-2282, landmarkjewelers.net

TUCK IN FOR BRUNCH: Any place that offers steak frites in the morning is OK with us. At Meritage, Russell Klein serves a short, well-edited menu for his weekend brunch, offering up a mix of sweet and savory dishes, all in the French tradition. 410 St. Peter St., 651-222-5670, meritage-stpaul.com

WINTER WONDER: The lights, the rink, the Christmas shows at the Ordway. Rice Park has a steady stream of visitors through the winter months, and for good reason—the magic can't be matched.

PLACE TO GRAB A DRINK: With the best bar food comes some of the Twin Cities' best liquor selections There are more than a few rare Scotches, whiskeys, and cognacs to choose from at the St. Paul Grill, plus a solid wine list, great martini selection, and classic clubby surroundings. 350 Market St., 651-228-3877, stpaulgrill.com

50th and France in Edina

50th & France

SATISFY YOUR SWEET TOOTH: Wuollet's makes a killer cake and darn good classic cookies—sugar, chocolate chip, peanut butter, oatmeal raisin, and snickerdoodles. Plus, the Brownie Enormous is perfect for a grab-and-go sugar boost during a day of shopping. 3608 W. 50th St., 612-922-4341, wuollet.com

ESSENTIAL WINTER SHOPPING: If you're lucky enough to have a warm weather getaway on your horizon, head to Nani Nalu, a hot spot for all swim things. Jennifer Cermak (a veteran of swimwear retailing and design) stocks and special orders lines such as Betsey Johnson, 1940s-inspired Shan, and Billabong shorts for men and an assortment of suits for children. 3922 W. 50th St., 952-546-5598, naninaluswim.com

TUCK IN FOR BRUNCH: From the new group that brought us the Longfellow and Highland grills, Edina Grill serves breakfast favorites with a twist—meat loaf hash & eggs, a salmon scramble, walleye and shrimp Benedict. 5028 France Ave. S., 952-927-7933, edinagrill.com

PLACE TO GRAB A DRINK: Beaujo's serves thirty wines by the glass, half-glass, flight, and bottle, plus a solid beer selection and that great wine bar atmosphere. 4950 France Ave. S., 952-922-8974, beaujos.net

TAKE IN A SHOW: Part of the Landmark Theatres chain, the Edina Cinema shows limited-release, art, and foreign films that can't be found elsewhere in the cities. 3911 W. 50th St., 651-649-4416, landmarktheatres.com

East Lake Street in Minneapolis

E. Lake Street

SATISFY YOUR SWEET TOOTH: Lefse? Check. Macaroons, almond crescents? Check, check. Started by a couple of long-time employees of Lake Street institution Ingebretsen's? You betcha. Cafe Finspang has the perfect ingredients for a winter pick-me-up. Midtown Global Market, 612-872-2462, midtownglobalmarket.org

ESSENTIAL WINTER SHOPPING: Ingebretsen's is probably the best Scandinavian shop in the country. It's filled with art glass, jewelry, clothing, linens, Scandinavian Christmas accouterments, plus imported foods and an authentic meat market. Eighty-six years at one location? Those Scandinavians do have good genes—and sweaters. 1601 E. Lake St., 612-729-9333, ingebretsens.com

TUCK IN FOR BRUNCH: Mike Phillip's Craftsman serves a top-notch brunch each Saturday and Sunday. It is traditional brunch fare with special fixings such as Fischer farm meats, homemade jams, and a mimosa-like cocktail made with Lillet Cooler, 7up, and orange juice over ice. 4300 E. Lake St., 612-722-0175

PLACE TO GRAB A DRINK: There's been a lot written about the mixmasters at the Town Talk Diner. Stop in for a simple gimlet or an adult malt such as the diet-busting Monkey Business (chocolate, peanut butter, banana, and bourbon), or a High Life, served in a champagne glass. 2707 E. Lake St., 612-722-1312

TAKE IN A SHOW: Each Saturday, the ancient art of puppetry comes back to life during In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre's family shows (10 a.m. and noon, puppet-making workshop at 11 a.m.). 1500 E. Lake St., 612-721-2325, hobt.org

North Loop Minneapolis

North Loop

ESSENTIAL WINTER SHOPPING: If we could build our dream bathroom, it would include the round Japanese soaker tub by Americh on display at Euro-chic Montaggio. With a twenty-nine-inch water depth you can warm up your bod from nearly head to toe. This little baby will set you back $1,650 plus a little more if you want whirlpool or spa options. But heck, it's cheaper than a getaway. 150 2nd Ave. N., 612-333-6264, montaggio.net

TUCK IN FOR BRUNCH: Moose & Sadies only uses organic eggs and real butter and serves everything on homemade bread. The nerve. No artificial spreads here, only the real good stuff—gooey cinnamon rolls, huevos rancheros, steel-cut oatmeal, cornmeal pancakes, and yogurt and fresh fruit. 213 3rd Ave. N., 612-371-0464, mooseandsadies.com

WINTER WONDER: USA Today and MSNBC have both tagged the Depot as one of the ten best places to ice skate in America, so grab the fam and head down for one of the public skate dates. 225 3rd Ave. S., 612-339-2253

PLACE TO GRAB A DRINK: Babalu is a breath of fresh Caribbean air during the cold winter months. Sink into one of the low-slung couches and let the Latin beat and a glass of sangria take you to a tropical island far from our winter wonderland. 800 Washington Ave. N., 612-746-3158, babalu.us

TAKE IN A SHOW: As the new home of the revived Ruby's Cabaret, the Lab Theater houses some of the most diverse groups in the Twin Cities. 700 N. 1st St., thelabtheater.org