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A Local’s Guide to the Best of Minneapolis

Over the past year, travel has largely been paused.  While there’s been a lot of downside, the positive is that we’ve all been able to better explore and appreciate our hometowns. With that in mind, I’ve been reaching out to professional travelers and travel enthusiasts about the best of their hometowns.

Molly Mogren Katt is a food and travel writer and the host of  A Mess in the Kitchen podcast. She lives with her husband, two kids and rescue animals in an old fixer-upper in Minneapolis (you can follow their progress here).

Here’s Molly’s guide to her hometown, Minneapolis.

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How long have you lived in Minneapolis? Why did you move there?
I’m from a town about 30 minutes from Minneapolis, but moved to the city after college… so let’s say 16 years.

molly mogren katt - minneapolis

Three words to describe Minneapolis.
Progressive, Passive-Aggressive and Prince.

Minneapolis is known for its music. Best ways to hear the Minneapolis sound?
If given the opportunity, see a show at First Ave—it’s the place that put Prince on the map (or maybe the opposite is true). Next door is the 7th Street Entry, which is owned by First Ave. Smaller shows, up-and-coming bands. Every Sunday night, Dr. Mambo’s Combo—many of the members used to play with Prince—do a live show at Bunker’s. I actually saw Prince there in 2007 and almost fainted.

And of course, visit Paisley Park, Prince’s home and recording studio. I am a huge Prince fan and (embarrassingly) haven’t been yet!

What’s something that might surprise people about Minneapolis’ art and culture scene?
NYC is the only city in the country that has more theaters per capita than the Twin Cities. Great places to see live theater include the Guthrie and the Ordway.

bryant lake bowl

I personally love smaller shows, especially ones at the Bryant Lake Bowl (it’s in an old bowling alley and just so fun!). It’s said that short-form improv started in Minneapolis, and my favorite places to see it are Huge Theater and the OG spot, the Brave New Workshop.

What are your favorite restaurants in town? Any that are so iconic to Minneapolis that it shouldn’t be missed?
So many! A Jucy Lucy is a must. It’s an inside-out burger, where the molten hot cheese is inside the patty. You’ll find the best one at Matt’s Bar, partially because the atmosphere is pitch-perfect dive.

We have tons of great Vietnamese food here, too. The top honors go to Quang (order the pho and egg rolls). Hai Hai does a more elevated take on Vietnamese. And, in no particular order: Hola Arepa for fun drinks and Columbian food; Victor’s for breakfast; Red Wagon or Punch for pizza; Lowry Hill for sandwiches.

Where would you go for a special occasion meal?
My husband and I just celebrated our anniversary at Martina in Linden Hills. The chef is Argentinian, and the food is… just delicious? Incredible cocktails, fun vibe.

I haven ‘t been to Owamni yet, but can’t wait to go. It’s a modern Indigenous restaurant from Chef Sean Sherman, featuring ingredients from Indigenous  producers.

During the colder months, which is almost all of them in Minnesota, we love P.S. Steak. The food is great, but they have the most beautiful lounge in town. It’s historic and timeless, good lighting, and there’s Mamie Eisenhower pink tiles in the bathroom. I’m an old house person, so those details do it for me.

What’s your favorite place to get fresh air?
It’s a tie between the Walker Sculpture Garden (my kids love it there), and the chain of lakes. We live close to Lake of the Isles, which is where Mary Richards aka Mary Tyler Moore lived on her eponymous show. Sometimes I throw my hat into the air as I walk my dog. But the most fun spot on the lakes is the Lake Harriet Bandshell. There’s live music almost every night all summer long, great food and drinks, and excellent people watching.

We often don’t get to stay in hotels in our hometown, but let’s pretend: where would you stay in Minneapolis?
I love the W. It’s housed in the Foshay Tower, the original Minneapolis skyscraper. Lots of fun art deco details. In fact, my husband and I stayed there on our wedding weekend, and took photos from their observation deck. The Hewing Hotel is also great— kind of a see-and-be-seen vibe in the lounge, or as much of that as you can get in Minneapolis. Plus, they have a rooftop pool and sauna that’s open year-round.

Where’s your favorite place to shop?
I’m an antiques and vintage nerd, and the shops at 50th and Xerxes do it for me. Hunt and Gather is a favorite—it’s expertly curated chaos, with tons of fun art and found objects. Almost like getting lost in a Where’s Waldo book.

Let’s talk nightlife. What experience would be worth staying up past your bedtime?
I have little kids, so my bedtime is comically early. That said, I love a good dive bar. The CC Club is a classic. It inspired the Replacements’ song, “Here Comes a Regular.” And weirdly, at the turn of the Century it used to be a grocery store that was owned by the guy who built our house. His name was Harry, and we’re convinced his ghost still hangs out here. So sometimes I like to raise a glass to him at his old stomping grounds.

Best place for a selfie?
By the Prince (26th & Hennepin) or Bob Dylan (downtown) mural.

Best day trip?
My hometown, Stillwater, MN!

What’s the most quintessential Minneapolis experience?
In the summer, biking around the lakes on a beautiful summer day. In the winter, cross country skiing or snowshoeing on those same lakes.

What are your favorite spots in Minneapolis? Share in the comments!

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Over the past year, travel has largely been paused.  While there’s been a lot of downside, the positive is that we’ve all been able to better explore and appreciate our hometowns. With that in mind, I’ve been reaching out to professional travelers and travel enthusiasts about the best of their hometowns. Molly Mogren Katt is a food and travel writer. She the host of  A Mess in the Kitchen podcast. She lives with her husband, two kids and rescue animals in an old fixer-upper in Minneapolis (you can follow their progress here).  Here’s Molly’s guide to her hometown, Minneapolis.

Photos by Weston MacKinnon, Nicole Geri, Javier Quiroga.

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