Boy eating corn on the cob
Midsummer is the time for Fests and Days: Blueberry Fest, Muskie Days, and Crazy Days abound in small towns and streets all over. Perhaps you'd like to head north for a beer fest in vacationland, head east to a fest celebrating a vanished city neighborhood, or go west and kick it down at a farm Summerbration. Most will have cheese curds.
>> The Howe Daily Kitchen & Bar is now open in the bones of the former Rail Station. The space has been given a total modern overhaul and a shiny new name. I don't think we can call it a dive bar anymore, not with avocado toast and tuna tar tare on the menu, but there are some holdovers like the Nordeast Mushrooms. I'm sure there will be plenty of happy/sads in the hood.
>> Twin Spirits Distillery, our first one-woman spirits show, is open and cooking the vodka! There's no cocktails yet, but the retail spot is open and you can grab a very pretty bottle of M vodka and take a tour. They're open M-F Noon-7p, Sa 11a-8p.
>> Chips and cheese and margs apparently aren't enough to make a win in the North Loop, as Rojo has closed.
>> Welp. The Community Keg Room has closed and is looking for a buyer. I'm not happy when anyone who goes out on limb loses their business, but I never quite understood that place.
>> Here's something fun for hockey fans, Herbie's on the Park is coming this fall to the Wild HQ in the historic MN Club. There's some serious clubby looking dark wood paneling and fireplace as big as my first apartment in that room that will seat some 200 eaters. They're adding a great round bar to the center of the space, and keeping all the nostalgia in honor of the late Herb Brooks. Levy Restaurants out of Chicago will run the spot, but they're all about the local talent and local food game. Upscale tavern fare can be expected, but please please please can the servers all wear plaid pants?
>> The Lunds Byerly's store off of I94 over by the SunRay shopping center is about to become a second location of the Ha Tien Asian grocery store. Much like the original on University ave, this one will have a ton of groceries, plus a deli offering roast pork, duck, and BBQ pork banh mi which are delish. This is a 49,000 square foot store, and might end up being the single largest Asian market in town!
>> Rondo was a predominantly African American neighborhood in St. Paul which was divided and obliterated by the construction of I94 in the 60's, but its cultural contribution is still being celebrated at Rondo Days. This Saturday, July 16 there will be a parade and festival with lots of soul and lots of soul food from vendors like Wholesoul, Logan's Catfish, and Curbside Fried Chicken, just to scratch the surface. During a time when highways may be dividing us still, this could be a chance learn, understand, and get some fresh perspective.
>> If you haven't hit up Duluth for All Pints North Brew Fest, have you really ever beer fested at all? Truck it north and join in the fun on Saturday, July 23 for 120+ breweries sportin sips at Bayfront Park. Bring your chairs and blankets because there's live music, food trucks, and a clearly chill summer vibe at this one.
>> Festing on a farm isn't a bad way to spend a Saturday evening. Head west to Gale Foods farm in Minnetrista for their annual Summerbration on the 23rd. Your $50 ticket benefits park programs and scholarships aimed at connecting everybody to the farm, ans you'll be able to sip on local wines and beers with eats from Dakota Junction, Common Roots, Joey Nova's using local produce grown on the farm.
>> One of the best fests of last year, the Little Mekong Night Market, is back again this year on July 23-24. There's so much great food at this fest, it's almost not fair to other fests. Remember those kimchi fries? Remember that Korean ribs? You can go both nights, no one will stop you.
>> Need to get into competition shape? Barbecue competition fest shape? Do you even know what that looks like? Head out to Quetopia on July 29, the barbecue retail store in Minnetonka, for some pro-tips. The KC Pitmaster of Smoke on Wheels will be teaching some master classes on Ribs and Pork (which have sold out), but also a class on Mexican foods on the grill, which includes the hard to master tri-tip and flank steak.
++ Plus this weekend: Highland Fest in St. Paul, River Town Days in Hastings, Bar-B-Q Days in Belle Plain (just a skip from MN Largest Candy Store), Stillwater's Lumberjack Days, and the Ramsey County Fair in Maplewood, just to get your corn dog craving ratcheted up.