Leave it to Minneapolis to immediately exceed my expectations. 

What am I doing in Minneapolis (or Minneanapolis as I kept saying when telling friends where I was going. I knew it was wrong…but I couldn’t figure out why.)? Well, The Movement Minneapolis is hosting an event called Pull For Pride. There are a few of these going on this weekend around the country, but thanks to meeting Jennifer Blake (JVB) IRL a few months ago at the Girls Gone Strong WSEW…I find myself Twin Cities bound for a deadlift-only competition. My deadlift is far and away my worst lift. But fuck, it’s for a good cause (see: Avenues for Homeless Youth), with badass women (see: Jen Sinkler and Jennifer Blake), in what is quickly proving to be a glorious city…..so why. the fuck. not.

It took all of 12 hours here for me to ask the question:

“Have I been living under a rock or is Minneapolis America’s best-kept secret?”

I was quickly reminded that I am here in June and might feel differently during a February visit…but that’s neither here nor there.

 

 – Food – 

 

Wild Acre Eatery

The first thing I did upon sitting my ass in my rental car at St. Paul International Airport was Google: “Best breakfast Minneapolis”. It took a few scrolls, and I was making my way to Wise Acre Eatery. Here, there are actual hand towels in the bathroom, along with fliers for a farm event happening this weekend. Duh, I’m already sold. The floor is open, and the entire front is a wall of window-garage doors for all of the natural light to be let in. The decor is welcoming and rustic without being kitchy. The menu is simple, fresh ingredients, with 75+% being sourced directly from their own farm (Tangletown Gardens) in Plato, MN. They have brunch every day. Every. Day. I’m not sure what that means other than you can feel OK about boozing it up before noon…but whatever…I’m into it. Oh, not only is the coffee legit…but my cream came. in a STEEL MILK CARTON. ‘Nuff said. 

I had the ‘If You Must’. Scrambled egg and herbs with potatoes and half-inch slices of bacon. Really, really good bacon.

I could eat tacos every day. It’s almost always a good bang for your buck and with so much variety it’s hard to get bored. While I was driving up one of the main drags, Hennepin Ave, I passed a spot called Nico’s Taco Bar. Now, we nicknamed a good friend of mine from college ‘Nico’…so obviously I had to go. The corn tortillas were fresh and held up. I got the lengua (I will always get a tongue taco when I get the chance), shrimp and pork al pastor. The margarita menu was tempting, but no booze was had that day. The people-watching from the porch ALONE is worth a stop in.

First night in town = tacos

Milkjam. Guys. If you’re skimming this, stop skimming and take a moment to really read this. Milkjam is the fucking TITS. There was a line out the door on a THURSDAY. Which I waited in. By myself. And it was TOTALLY worth it. It’s Friday now and I plan on going back every night until I leave on Sunday. I might even go Sunday before I get on the plane. Oh, I should probably tell you that Milkjam Creamery is an ice cream shop. My bad. It’s not just any ice cream though. The flavors change regularly and range from Poppin’ Bottles, a champagne sorbet (you need your ID to get this one, kids), to Cashew Ousside (malted sweet cream with caramel cashew bar and chocolate chips), to Wake Flocka Flakes…vanilla bean with caramelized corn flakes and berry swirl. I got Black – a pitch black, dark chocolate/coco (which I later discovered was also non-dairy), and Cereal Killer (orange coriander ice cream with gluten-free candied pebbles aka Fruity Pebbles). Sometimes ice cream like this, the funky flavor kind, is just a gimmick. I’m telling you though, the ice cream is legit and SO worth a ten minute wait in line.

So I’m going to be real with you. This post got away from me. There is SO much more in Minneapolis than I expected to find. My OG plan was to write about each place while I was actually in them. In theory, great plan. Document my immediate feelings on the place, get it down. In practice? I just wanted to eat. 

After the event commenced and all the deadlifts were done (more on that another day), I ended up at Kyatchi for dinner. One of the BIG benefits of traveling and eating alone is that even in places with a 45 minute wait for a table, you can more often than not sit down right away thanks to seats at the bar. Such was my luck at Kyatchi (and later at Burch Steak). You might be thinking, “Why the hell would you get sushi in the middle of the country?”. Let’s get something straight. I highly doubt that the sushi you’re getting at your favorite spot, wherever you live, is ‘local’. If the sourcing is good, the sourcing is good, regardless of geography. Another fun fact: good sushi – NOT ‘fresh’. Super fresh fish doesn’t have a very appealing texture. It’s mushy AF. From there, the fish needs to pass through rigormortis and essentially be ‘aged’ in order for the texture to be where you want it (for the most part – there are always exceptions). As usual, I digress. I had a glorious sushi dinner at Kyatchi. My favorite part, was the Oshizushi, which I had never had before. It’s a pressed sushi, where you get the best of both worlds: a sushi roll and sushi nigiri.  I went with the Sake: Salmon, with thinly sliced lemon and masago. Another highlight of the meal with the Arctic char sushi nigiri which legit melted like butter in my mouth. Bomb.

A quick jump back to Burch Steak. It was my last meal in Minneapolis. I got a grass-fed NY strip with grilled prawns as a starter. The space itself was worth the trip. Huge windows created a wide-open feel. My steak was cooked textbook med-rare (the only way to order a steak, by the way. Anything cooked more…just get the chicken.) And yes, I went back to Milkjam.

– Coffee –

There seems to be a lot happening in Minneapolis for coffee. As I was heading to my Airbnb, I drove past one spot called Tao Natural Foods. A quick internetting revealed an organic cafe and market with a breakfast/lunch menu along with gluten free and vegan baked goods. I popped in to check it out, but didn’t stay long. Honestly, it was just a little crunchier than I was in the mood for at that moment. I needed somewhere to post-up and bang out all of the outstanding work that I needed to get done before the weekend really got going. I drove a quarter of a mile up the road to Spyhouse Coffee, and just walking in I knew I had make the right choice. Tons of tables and comfortable seating that screams, “I bought a coffee, I live here now” (shoutout to Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee). I told the barista that I had never been before and when she provided her recommendation, any doubts were erased: A lavender honey latte….with oat milk. Yes, please and thank you.

Spyhouse Coffee

For a little less fuss. Well, a lot less fuss. Ok, basically zero fuss. You can head to Urban Bean. They have two locations, but I spent a few hours Friday morning at the one on Lyndale Ave. Huge windows, lots of light, and a coffee menu that’s as simple as can be (which echoes the basically bare white walls). They go for coffee that’s properly prepared with no pressure on their patrons to hurry up and leave. 

It’s good to know locals who know good coffee when you travel. When I mentioned that I was going to be venturing out on the lookout for some good coffee to drink too much of while laying out my planner schedule for the week, Dave Dellanave was quick with recommendations that didn’t disappoint. Kopplins, and Five Watt Coffee.

Five Watt Coffee

If you want to see the coolest fucking espresso drink menu you’ve ever seen in your life, you cannot miss Five Watt Coffee. They make and use cocktail bitters for their latte concoctions and I promise you that you’ve never had anything like it. I had the Busy Beaver: maple syrup, cinnamon, blackstrap bitters, cracked pepper, milk and espresso with a molasses drizzle. Some other drinks on the menu were made with things like dates, rosemary, coriander bitters, basil syrup and black walnut syrup. Up front is a HUGE slab table with bar stools that allow you to basically sit outside while having a giant workspace. 

Crack espresso drinks at Five Watt

A short drive to St. Paul, and you’ll find Kopplin’s. Nothing too froofy. Just good espresso. That’s it. Kopplin’s came to be, I’m told, because the owner felt that a simply perfect espresso was something missing in the Twin City coffee scene. If you’re looking for a drip coffee, you’re not going to get it here. I grabbed a latte and one of the gluten free brownies that were at the register….duh. 

 – Lifting Shit – 

While I would’ve liked to explore this a little bit more, I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent at The Movement Minneapolis.I went in the day before Pull for Pride for a full on arm-pump sesh with Jen Sinkler & JVB. The first thing you notice when you walk onto the main floor, is the huge skylight overhead that lets all of the natural light pour in. It almost tricks your brain into letting you think you’re lifting outside. Almost. To call it a welcoming environment is a stark understatement. I quickly felt at home and my only regret of the trip is not returning for an actual class to experience the team in their glory. Oh. Side note. Try some reverse bicep curls and let me know how that goes for you. I can’t speak highly enough of the Pull for Pride event, which was the whole reason I found myself randomly in Minneapolis.  . The gym’s GM, Mark Schneider, did an impeccable job with the whole show. The lifting itself ran smoothly, but that’s a drop in the bucket when you consider that over $22,000 was raised for the local Avenues for Homeless Youth

All in all…

I want to go back to Minneapolis. There’s a sentence I never expected to write.