2011 Grapevine Awards
Campus Bar — The Library
Two truths about Dinkytown bar frequenting: We’ve all been to all of them (only like a million times), and we all have passionate opinions about which watering hole is our favorite. But consistency is important, and when it comes to a spot that never fails to provide a positive drunken experience, it’s The Library.
One of the main strengths of this bar is that it doesn’t matter what time of day you visit. It’s always cheap and it’s never boring. Whether you’re seated during happy hour to watch a game and devour 75 cent (and surprisingly delicious) tacos on a Monday evening or if you brave the masses on a weekend late night, it’s undeniable: So often great stories begin with “We were at the Library ….”
Uptown Bar — Stella’s Fish Café
Summer is fast approaching, and with it comes a shift in the standards of what alcohol-drinkers search for in their prospective bars. The most deciding factor: the patio. And the best rooftop patio in Minneapolis is undoubtedly at Stella’s Fish Café in Uptown.
Not only can you drink to an aesthetically pleasing view of the Uptown area (who doesn’t love to people-watch?), but the seafood-based menu provides excitement on the dining end of things too.
Minneapolis isn’t exactly bursting with seafood joints that are both approachable and delicious, so take advantage of those oysters and peel-it-yourself shrimp, because it pairs heavenly with a pint of beer. This place puts Cowboy Slims to sleep when it comes to mood and enjoyability.
Downtown Bar — Brothers
It must be acknowledged: Downtown drinking can be daunting for university students. There’s much that is exorbitantly priced and pretentious (look at the martini list at the Restaurant Max and you’ll see what I mean). And then there’s a certain brand of especially depraved, dirty, simplistic bars that while fun, are the ones you only go to when you’re really sauced (ahem, Sneaky Pete’s).
In a city of either excessive or overly kitschy establishments, Brothers is nothing less than a breath of fresh air. A quintessential wings ’n’ pitchers kind of a place with cheap apps and an assortment of nightly events (e.g. a weekly wing eating contest), Brothers doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what it is. And that’s precisely what makes it so likeable.
Salon/Barber — Aveda Institute
We all dream of having spa days: cup of steaming tea in hand, heavenly scalp massage, facial, haircut, highlights, followed by a mani/pedi. Am I right?
Walk in one person, exit revamped by a new look? It’s an unparalleled feeling, one that too often, due the curse of the cash-strapped undergraduate, remains a dream. But not when you choose Aveda. The Northeast Minneapolis-located training facility for young stylists of all sorts provides unbelievable deals (We’re talking $15 for a haircut. Let me rephrase: $15 for a haircut that’s not Great Clips. Yes, please.)
If you’ve ever splurged at a full-fledged Aveda salon, such as Uptown’s Juut, you know that these guys take quality seriously. This is no different when a student tackles your relaxation or beauty needs. They’re all trained under the same principles and despite not having years of field experience, are just as capable as the “professionals.” In fact, they are professionals, and they can cut my hair any day.
Pizza — Mesa Pizza
No surprise here, folks. Mesa Pizza has become a staple in the late-night Dinkytown social scene with lines stretching out the door and down Fourth Street until the wee hours of weekend mornings.
The $3.25-a-slice pizza consistently ushers in a stampede of drunken nomads reverberating the hootin’ ’n’ hollerin’ of the parties from which they hail. An atmosphere that caters to inebriated stress relief has bred a passionately supported reputation that is echoed all throughout campus.
The eclectic menu with a wide range of topping choices leaves tummies intrigued, while the cheap price leaves wallets with only minor dents. Oh yeah, they deliver too. The appeals of this place form a long list, but whatever the draw, the people have spoken, and its reputation has been cemented. Mesa Pizza asserts itself atop the Grapevine pizza totem pole.
Best Off-Campus Restaurant — Baldy’s BBQ
Since Baldy’s BBQ opened on the West Bank in September, it’s been the premiere destination for campus barbecue lovers. Baldy’s opened in the former home of K-Wok Asian, but with a bevy of Asian hotspots on campus, a good old-fashioned place for barbecue was a welcome change.
Baldy’s sandwiches are stuffed with gargantuan servings of savory, cooked-to-perfection meat and slathered with your choice of sauces (including the Gold Sauce, a tangy-yet-sweet honey mustard that comes highly recommended). If the food itself isn’t enough to bring you in, their reasonably priced daily specials — like a $6 pulled pork plate — should.
Baldy’s has the unique distinction of being the one true barbecue restaurant near campus. To get its delicious dishes, you’ll have to hike over to the Riverside Avenue, but it’s a trip that’s more than worth it.
Fries — Five Guys
Fries are kind of a touchy subject. Everyone seems to have their own opinions about which fries are best, and no one is willing to budge on the issue.
Anyway, the votes have been tallied, and Five Guys straps on the title belt. This good ol’ grease-bubblin’ burger joint took home three Grapevine title belts. They must be doing something right.
Forget the fact that a large order of fries contains almost 1,500 calories. You’re young! Your body can still take it! Besides, arteries don’t clog immediately. It takes a while for bloodflow to dam. Bitter veterans of the artery cloggin’ game, Annie’s Parlour came in second. Only time will tell if Five Guys has the longevity to outlast its neighborhood foe.
Wings — Buffalo Wild Wings
Minnesota’s own Buffalo Wild Wings nabbed some prime real estate for its University of Minnesota location. Its home in the the historic Fire Station 19 building across from TCF Bank Stadium will allow it to capture the bulk of any football game’s half-time deserters.
Everybody likely knows what to expect going to a Buffalo Wild Wings, and that’s kind of the appeal. With a surprisingly sparse chicken wing “scene” on campus, the national chain really is the surest bet.
Performing Arts — Guthrie Theater
The Guthrie Theater may be the most iconic structure in Minneapolis’ decorated arts scene. Sure, the Walker Art Center flaunts plenty of comparable modernity with its sculpture garden, but there’s true whimsy in the Guthrie. It sticks out like a sore thumb in the Minneapolis skyline in a wonderfully defiant way.
Simple pleasures like the "endless bridge" make it a Twin Cities highlight. As many theater geeks already know, the Guthrie recently announced its 2011-12 season, and Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” will open up the season in September.
Museum — The Minneapolis Institute of Arts
The Walker Art Center may be the valued sanctuary for contemporary movements, but the Minneapolis Institute of Arts is its historically stacked older sibling. A home to artistic academia more so than other local gallery spaces, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts functions as a temple for the classics.
There are works from Bacon, Goya, van Gogh and more. In a city of substantial gallery space, it’s nice to know there’s a place to pay some respect to the past masters.
Art Event — Stomp
Loud noises are cool. Think about it. There’s a reason toddlers choose to raise 10 kinds of hell by banging on anything with anything and everything. The simplest explanation for music is humanity’s weird fascination with manipulation and creation of new sounds.
The Ordway Theater’s April run of “Stomp” proved that most people still share similar sentiments. Sure, it’s quite the basic tactic, but almost everyone has at some point played drums on a table surface or cooking pot. It just so happens that these guys are really good at it.
Late night — Mesa Pizza
A drunken slice or two of Mesa Pizza at two in the morning has transcended from convenient hunger nullifier to collegiate rite of passage.
Nothing could be a better drunken treat than a slice of pepperoni pizza — except maybe a slice of one of Mesa’s other unique combos. After stumbling the half a block from The Library Bar and waiting 15 minutes in Mesa’s line, it’s all but required that you try a slice (or two) of macaroni and cheese or southwest steak and guacamole pizza.
It's a uniquely maroon-and-gold experience that has spread beyond the city limits. When rapper Common spoke at the University of Minnesota last year, he gave the little pizza shop a shout-out in his freestyle.
Place to hang out — Northrop Mall
The alluring campus green of Northrop Mall paired with the classy pillar-based architecture is enough of a sell for anyone to come to the University. You can just imagine John Keats stretching out on the grass and penning an "Ode on Northrop." In the spring and summer, hippies hurl Frisbees in the sun, tight-rope walkers stretch their lines across the trees and all is beautiful and serene in the universe.
Local music — Atmosphere
Out of all the Rhymesayers adulation that saturates our beloved metropolis, there is no act more celebrated and widely known than local hip-hop duo Atmosphere.
Since their 1997 debut "Overcast!,” emcee Slug and his digital wingman Ant have gone from being basement legends to the reigning kings of independent hip-hop, building up a catalog that matches quantity with quality. And despite lulls and pitfalls along the road, the pair hasn’t seemed to have lost any of their creative drive.
But Atmosphere’s contribution to the underground movement transcends their own musical creations. Flanked by local rap cohorts like P.O.S. and Brother Ali, the duo has played a leading role morphing the once-little-known local rap label Rhymesayers into an underground empire.
Concert — Kid Cudi
When word got out about Kid Cudi’s on-campus concert, tickets sold out faster than it took for America to forget about viral superstar Rebecca Black (Don’t try too hard to remember. It’s not worth the trouble).
The show, which coincided with the University’s Homecoming weekend, sold out almost instantaneously, which prompted the University’s Student Unions & Activities to release additional tickets not once, but twice.
Despite a last-minute venue change, the concert went on without a hitch at Williams Arena. Fortunately, Kanye West’s most eccentric protégée brought plenty of showman’s swagger for a show that ended up attracting more than 4,000 students.
Concert Venue — First Avenue and 7th Street Entry
Located in downtown Minneapolis, First Avenue is one of the Twin Cities’ most cherished historic landmarks. Originally built as a Greyhound Bus Station in 1937, the venue has become the musical center of the Twin Cities scene.
Not only did it serve as the main set for Prince’s ’80s soap opera “Purple Rain,” but it’s also considered a rite of passage for a wide array of scene staples that have gone on to become local legends.
While the club might not be the biggest venue in the Twin Cities (the Mainroom tops off at a 1,500-person capacity), it continues to be the metropolitan hotspot for the most anticipated shows of the year.
Place to study — Walter Library
What’s not to love about Walter? The towering, three-story science and engineering library sits at the very heart of campus and is one of the most frequented study areas.
Boasting multiple computer labs, private studies and even its very own café, it’s no wonder that Walter Library is the University’s most popular studying destination.
Coffee shop — Bordertown Coffee
Tucked away between University and Fourth avenues, Bordertown Coffee is Dinkytown’s best-kept secret — well, it used to be, at least.
Bordertown Coffee was founded by Campus Journey director Greg Silker a little less than a decade ago. Since then, the shop has endured its fair share of trials and tribulations.
Now located in the old Theta Chi building, Bordertown is one of Dinkytown’s most revered local treasures. The nonprofit coffee shop poses a quiet alternative to the ever-busy environment of chain shops like Caribou and Dunn Bros.
Bordertown even has its own bakery, serving everything from vegan muffins to organic soup. Hipsters, sorority girls, weary professors … they set aside their differences and come rejoice at Bordertown.
On Campus Restaurant — Raising Cane’s/Big 10 Restaurant & Bar
It’s understandable that Raising Cane’s and Big 10 would share the top spot for on-campus dining. The two Stadium Village mainstays are true-blue college eateries. The menus aren’t vast, but the prices are low.
Their doors also close earlier than the restaurants across Dinkytown’s bar-laden blocks, but no one is going on campus for their post-bacchanalian gorge anyway. Think of these as some nine-to-five lunch options. The sandwich shop storefront of Big 10 offers a no-frills roster of satisfyingly overstuffed subs along with french fries by the bag. Raising Cane’s touts a similarly limited menu that puts a strong emphasis on carbo-loading, frying their chicken fingers better than anyone on — or close to — campus.
So if Dinkytown’s bars rule the night, Stadium Village’s restaurants are top spots to be during the work or school day. When traveling down Washington Avenue, there are few places as good as Raising Cane’s or the Big 10.
Best Burger – Five Guys
Sometimes it’s fun to get animalistic with a meal. We may not be hunters and gatherers anymore, but there are occasions where a certain taste or sloppiness in eating method just draws out the savage inside a person.
It is always easy to find burger-lovers engaged in this primal tactic at Five Guys’ new Dinkytown location. The national chain’s menu of sinfully tasty burgers tends to draw out something beastly within many patrons; many end up wearing more food than they eat.
Unlike the late-night hours of their neighborhood competitors, Five Guys is only open until 10 p.m. — for now. When Five Guys finally gets the green light to stay open late, one can only imagine the endless amounts of burgers they’ll flip into the wee hours of the morning.
Residence Hall — Middlebrook
The largest residence hall on campus, Middlebrook is situated alongside the Regis Center for Art and Ted Mann Concert Hall. Built in 1969, the residence hall overlooks the Mississippi River and recently expanded with an addition facing the river.
A sort of gateway to the West Bank, Middlebrook’s location offers advantages in getting to concerts at the 400 Bar, Cedar Cultural Center, Triple Rock Social Club and more. Various theaters, co-ops, international restaurants and coffee shops also call West Bank home. The culturally rich West Bank offers students situated at Middlebrook in close proximity to constant events in town. With more than 900 residents, Middlebrook also houses an expansive dining hall.
More important than anything the building itself can offer, Middlebrook’s unique location presents an immediate point of access to Minneapolis beyond the University of Minnesota campus.
Student Group – Collegians For A Constructive Tomorrow
Collegians For a Constructive Tomorrow, a student group with global ambitions, takes up lofty causes. Now voted best student group, CFACT asks questions like “What threatens our future?” Recent earthquakes in Japan and the devastation surrounding nuclear power plants make groups like CFACT increasingly relevant, informing students about the consequences of human impact on the earth.
With a positive message, the group educates students on issues related to wildlife, global climate change and clean air and water. Such issues are unfortunately likely to grow more important with the world’s rising population. Looking toward the future, the group cites science and technology as ways to solve our environmental problems.
Ice Cream — Chilly Billy’s Frozen Yogurt
Dinkytown may have a lot going on in the realm of food and nightlife, but until very recently, when it came to a quick ice cream cone you were pretty much limited to McDonald’s. Now, thanks to the opening of Chilly Billy’s Frozen Yogurt, the corner of 15th Avenue and Fourth Street has been changed forever with a sweet addition of the frozen, creamy kind.
With 10 flavors to choose from and an endless array of toppings, the greatest appeal of this Dinkytown fro-yo hotspot is that it’s DIY. Meaning you could put pineapple in your peanut butter flavored yogurt. You could put cookie dough in your pomegranate-flavored yogurt. Really, at 45 cents per ounce, you have the ability to achieve something completely unbeknownst to man in the field of frozen yogurt creativity. The possibilities are endless. It’s truly a beautiful thing and is sure to survive longer than Cereal World.
Sushi — Wasabi
Wasabi is, like, so hot right now.
If the 69 Boyz had gotten their start in Japan, they might have demanded to see that sushi roll.
Like a good piece of sushi, Wasabi is fresh and lively, and the downtown restaurant has charmed sushi-lovers everywhere with its youthful dining atmosphere and sophisticated evening ambience.
With sushi options that stretch from the economical, like its $2-4 à la carte pieces, to the extravagant $65 Treasure Boat platter, Wasabi has something for everyone.
While nibbling on some choice rolls, 21-plus patrons will find themselves in an elegant place to get sauced. Wasabi has class up the glass, and it’s sure to double up on that happy hour to give boozehounds and winos alike early evening deals that go down smooth — shaken or stirred.
They say the way to a person’s heart is through his stomach. Wasabi nonetheless hedges its bets and stages a two-pronged attack on the eyes and stomach, with dishes that are both pleasing to look at and to taste.
Vegetarian — Chipotle Mexican Grill
There’s a whole lotta Mexican goin’ on, goin’ on at Chipotle. Though the tailored jingle may not have the same ring to it as usual, Chipotle has nonetheless won the hearts of campus vegetarians with its vast, ever-lovin’ menu of bean choices and sweet, sweet fountains of guac.
The relatively recent addition of the new sterling golden foil wraps cements Chipotle’s position as the gold standard for corporate burrito craft. However, the chain, in a winking disclaimer, warns that the new wraps are “for an unlimited time only.”
But the fancy foil isn’t to say that your working-day veg can’t get the gold-medal food at bronze-medal prices. The beans and rice combo is a Mexican staple and a cheap go-to for stingy vegetarians looking to eat ethically on a limited budget.
What might look to the naked eye like an obscenely huge, foil-wrapped mass is actually an economical flavor journey replete with beans, rice, cheese, lettuce and your choice of salsa — all contained in a package roughly the size of an adult guinea pig and topped with a loving dollop of sour cream.
Asian — Village Wok
In an award category with about a dozen local Asian restaurant contenders, Village Wok had to knock out some stiff competition. It was a veritable battle royale, but the campus institution held fast and told all other eateries to hit the road — to take a “wok,” so to speak.
Whether you’re just stopping in to get your snack on with a side order of fried wontons or you’re about to dive into a simmering roast duck hot pot, Village Wok offers a panoply of options that ranges from the light and cheap to the full-on belt-unbucklers.
Village Wok planted its feet in the neighborhood when several University students from Hong Kong opened the restaurant in 1975, making it old enough to be one of the elder statesman of Stadium Village. But with its late hours and extensive menu, Village Wok has a tireless, buzzing energy that matches the endless revolving-door antics of its student patrons.
Date Night — Loring Pasta Bar
It’s Friday night, you’re with that special someone, that friend with fringe benefits — even that sexting buddy from media studies class — and you want to show her that you like her enough to go to a place with cloth napkins. Standing on the corner of 14th Avenue and Fourth Street, the world seems to spin faster and faster as you search for the only place in Dinkytown that serves up pan seared sea bass with an extra helping of student discount.
Standing hand-in-hand with your date before the rehabbed brick facade of an old pharmacy, “Loring Pasta Bar” rolls off your thoroughly Chap Sticked lips as easy as the “I love yous” that will precede the passionate lovemaking to soon follow.
Under the winding, fantasy-like brickwork and twisted metal, the Loring is where antique industry and new-world elegance come together in an atmosphere that is both playful and sophisticated.
Looking into your date’s eyes over a single, votive candle as you slather your complimentary bread with yet another slab of that addictive herb butter, you can rest assured that you have not only brought some serious romantic game, but you haven’t gone completely bankrupt to do so.
Gay/Lesbian Bar — Gay 90’s
Surprising exactly no one, Gay 90’s has once again emerged to reassert its heavily sequined and gold lamé throne over Minneapolis’ vast and fertile drag queendom.
Whether it’s filling its vast coffers with foam, hosting another one of its famous drag events or serving up drinks from one of its six bars, the 90’s is as manic and fun-lovin’ as the place’s clientele, who find themselves dancing until 3 a.m.
With its rainbows, drag shows and diehard club kids, the 90’s reputation certainly precedes it. The classic downtown drinking emporium embodies the classic image of a gay bar, with stripper poles and foam parties to boot.
The 18-plus crowd is a welcome addition to Wednesday and Sunday nights (and the third weekend of every month). The $10 cover may be a bit steep, but it’s well worth the price of admission to dive into the vibrant locale, where three floors of music, dancing and friendly crowds can offer something for everybody, and the weekend-long La Femme drag show reigns supreme.
Tea — The Tea Garden
The Tea Garden’s locations in Uptown and Stadium Village feature the unique “bubble tea” as well as more traditional drinks. Customers can choose 30 different combinations, or different types of drinks, including coolers, shakes and tea lattes.
Originating in Taiwan, the dessert drink also contains pearls — tiny jellies at the bottom of the cup. Flavors of the jellies include tapioca, mango, green apple and more. Wide straws in bubble teas allow tea connoisseurs to eat the pearls as they slurp down their drink.
Owner Nick Nguyen bills the place as a “tea bar,” complete with a DJ or jazz music on the weekends and a lively atmosphere. Local artists also adorn the walls of the Tea Garden. Now with locations at the Mall of America and Grand Avenue, the Tea Garden keeps rising in stature as patrons enjoy their bubble tea.
Sandwiches — Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches
If you had to guess where the most popular place to get sandwiches was, the three locations surrounding campus suggest Jimmy John’s. You really can’t walk very far without finding one.
Deservedly so, the franchise expands with the insatiable appetite and laziness of college students. Their slogan, “Subs So Fast You’ll Freak” perfectly fits students’ late-night (or anytime) sandwich needs. The no-nonsense menu and guarantee of fresh vegetables and meats compliment the casual atmosphere in the store.
Maybe the down-to-earth honesty of Jimmy John’s also contributes to its success. Jimmy John himself says, “OK, so my subs really aren’t gourmet and we’re not French either. My subs just taste a little better, that’s all.”
Movie Theater — St. Anthony Main
With the St. Anthony Main’s upcoming annual involvement in the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival, the theater continues to boast its eclectic lineup of independent, foreign and wide releases. Over three weeks, 170 films from across the world, including local Minnesota movies, will play at Northeast Minneapolis’ favorite theater.
Year-round, the theater offers the same varied choice in movies, attracting many to its five screens. Recently becoming the hub of Minnesota Film Arts, the venue has allowed for the expansion of art house and alternative cinema.
Built in 1983, the theater perfectly complements the active riverfront outside. Old factories and warehouses became a hub of entertainment within Northeast Minneapolis, with St. Anthony Main at the center.
Apartment — Sydney Hall Residences
As the old housing cliché goes, “Location, location, location.” Sydney Hall Residences has it. Sitting kiddy-corner from Dinkytown’s golden arches on Fourth Street and 15th Avenue, these luxurious student abodes are just a block away from the Pleasant Street entrance to campus. The convenience of this location is two-fold and quite simple; it’s the nexus of the Dinkytown social scene and the gateway to the University. Additional amenities include a workout facility and an underground parking garage. These student pads challenge the stereotype that college living is tough and gross. A tour of these brand new, fully furnished shacks looks like something out of a “Modern Homes” magazine.
On-Campus Event — Spring Jam
It’s late April, and we still haven’t fully transitioned into spring. We’ve been teased here and there, but the sun never stays long. Our dreary woes must end eventually, and Spring Jam will be a great reward for having to wear a winter coat so late.
The event spans three days and will feature performances by local heroes Trampled by Turtles and P.O.S., as well as the headlining act, OK Go. The concerts will punctuate days filled with other various events including a dance competition, a Beatles cover band and a battle of the bands, which will be co-judged by the Minnesota Daily’s own A&E editor, Mark Brenden.
New Restaurant — Five Guys Burgers and Fries
Since its opening in the fall, Five Guys Burgers and Fries has sufficiently filled the niché of an alternative burger in Dinkytown. Nothing is wrong with a big and juicy one from Annie’s Parlor, but Five Guys’ approach to the burger is a different monster.
The Five Guy burger is a perfectly greasy affair — a ’50s-diner feel with 21st-century sensibilities. Five Guys staff makes your burger right in front of you, letting you watch your patty’s progress while you munch on a handful of peanuts. A wide range of toppings from the traditional (lettuce or tomatoes) to the novel (relish or jalapeño peppers) sets a Five Guys burger apart from the competition.
With continued turnover among campus restaurants, this category had a ton of competition. But Five Guys stands out from the rest, just as it does in Dinkytown.
Breakfast — Al’s Breakfast
If Al’s Breakfast were a basketball player, it would be Tim Duncan — an old-school humdinger who excels in the new school by mastering the fundamentals.
Al’s makes a standard omelet, a standard skillet and a standard pancake — but they simply make it better than anybody else. The sweaty shoulder-to-shoulder shuffle to your seat couldn’t be more worth it.