Dinkytown

Since one of my goals this summer was to document my favorite Minneapolis places, I figured I’d start with my stomping ground.  Dinkytown is the area just north of the East Bank campus where students will often grab food between classes or a drink at the end of the day.  There are several fun bars, some great restaurants, and the Varsity Theater as main attractions.  Let’s take a little tour and I’ll show you around.

Annie’s Parlour is your classic burger, fries, and a malt establishment but they make everything very well.  You might want to split your malt with a friend as they give you enough to fill three glasses, and unless you have more than six people I’d stick to the half order of fries.  Their patio is nice in the summer because you get a good view of campus.

The Kitty Cat Klub is bellow Annie’s and actually serves their fries.  It’s the hipster bar in Dinkytown, featuring cozy sitting areas with plush couches and chairs.  The decor is wonderfully eccentric and they often feature small local bands on their stage.  Their mixed drink repertoire trumps their beer selection (they make a great Sex on the Beach) but it’s a chill place to relax and chat with friends.

Further down the street we’ll find Loring Pasta Bar, the wonderful restaurant I raved about in my Valentine’s Day post.  I love the way they fill the sidewalk with plants and flowers in the summer, it definitely adds to the atmosphere should you choose to dine outside.

Feel secluded, even in the city

Feel secluded, even in the city

You can find their quirky advertisements all over the place.  Can you tell that I really like this restaurant?

Espresso Royale makes the best mochas, though weekends get busy fast.  It’s a great place to study if you’re lucky enough to find a spot to sit.

The tiny little restaurant next to Espresso Royale is the famous Al’s Breakfast.  This tiny little cafe only has about 12 seats and feels like it hasn’t changed since the 50’s.  The line is often out the door on a Saturday morning as college kids hung over from the previous night wait for blueberry pancakes.  And if you want to eat here before a Gopher football game, well you better get here 3-4 hours in advance to make sure you don’t miss opening kickoff.  But if you have time, the wait is seriously worth it.  Or you can come on one of the less busy weekday mornings and enjoy your food at a more leisurely pace.

Across the street from Al’s is Blarney’s, one of the three major Dinkytown bars.  They have this lovely patio area outside, though to be honest, I’ve never been out to it.  Blarney’s is usually the spot everyone ends up at the end of the night and their basement becomes an overcrowded hot terrible mess.  I don’t know why we keep going there… But it is a really fun bar, often playing live music.  I just prefer to go when it’s less busy.  Blarney’s also holds a soft spot for me as it was the place I had my first legal drink and one of the most wonderful birthdays I think I’ve ever had.

Now we’re going to talk about this rather unimpressive strip of Dinkytown buildings that houses Mesa Pizza.  Mesa is one of those pizza by the slice places that has all these unusual flavor combinations you don’t see at most pizza chains.  One of the most popular is Mac & Cheese, though I’m partial to the Avocado Black Bean, the Gyro, or the Philly Cheesesteak.  Open until 3am, they get the majority of the drunk-after-bar-close crowd though if you grab a slice during the day you won’t deal with much of a wait.  There has been talk about tearing out this strip of buildings so that a development company can build a hotel here.  Dinkytown is the student area of Minneapolis, and students have no need whatsoever for a hotel.  What do they need?  Drunk pizza at 2am.  So far the plans have been shot down by the community board, but I’m sure we’re far from the final say.  The same company has already been allowed to knock down other areas of Dinkytown for overpriced and excessively furnished “luxury student” apartments so I’m sure they know how to get what they want.

If you’re still living in Dinkytown, please try to stay active in what the plans are, attend community meetings, and let your opinions be heard.  After all, you’re the ones that spend the most time in this neighborhood.

I love this music venue.  It has a great atmosphere, isn’t too big, and hosts a wide variety of artists.  The first show I saw here was Noah and the Whale, but I’ve also been to the monthly Community show hosted by The Current.  But apparently Jesse McCartney was there last night?  If only I’d known… Tickets here are reasonably priced and they also have a pretty great bar.  I definitely recommend coming to see a show here.

On a side note, remember how I said Loring has super cool bathrooms?  Well this place has a killer loo also.  It won Best Bathroom in 2013.

Besides all the fun bars and restaurants, I enjoy the graffiti and murals displayed in random alleyways.  I feel like most people don’t notice it, but I think it’s really cool.

This last one is my favorite.  It’s on the side of the building that houses Loring, of course, and the chef just looks like a sloth to me.  I don’t know why, but it always makes me smile.

Not pictured is The Purple Onion, another popular coffee shop and homework spot, The Library, your stereotypical college bar, and Burrito Loco, my personal favorite bar.  They have delicious food, great drink and meal specials, and Tuesdays are birthday night, where the birthday girl/boy gets 5 free drinks if they bring 5 friends.  My friends and I have had many good times there, including an impromptu dance party.  We’re so cool.

Thanks for exploring my little corner of the city, I hope you take the time to visit it sometime!

– Steph

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