Northloop & Warehouse District
“Best,” “favorite,” “cool,” “hippest” – the startling transformation of the North Loop
The neighborhood being ceaselessly recognized by both local and national sources as being an outstanding place to live aside, the area has a downright unfair number of wonderful places to eat, shop and pass a pleasant evening.
“North Loop” and “the Warehouse District” are used interchangeably in reference to pretty much everything north and west of 1st Avenue North, but still considered downtown, by most. The number of residents, mainly people under the age of 35, have more than tripled since 2000. This transformation is breathtaking, as is the number of current and former James Beard-recognized chefs working in kitchens that locals will uniformly recognize as some of the city’s top eating experiences.
“The Silicon Valley of Food”
This daring compliment originated from the lips of Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl, a possibly biased local who is nonetheless one of the most respected food writers in the country, so we’re happy to repeat it at every opportunity.
Leading the charge with so-called “New Nordic Cuisine” was and still is The Bachelor Farmer, a concept originally designed by James Beard award-winning chef Paul Berglund. Their dedication to using fresh, locally-sourced ingredients year-round (including from their rooftop garden) and whole-animal butchery sparked a proud and pleasing trend that can now be found in restaurants around the city. Their menu changes weekly, sometimes daily, but you can count on items with elegant and wildly creative twists on hearty dishes. The buzz-worthy three-course Sunday Supper is $36 per person. Their café next door is a popular place for lunch and idle coffee sipping. Marvel Bar, in the basement, shot to the top of the local craft cocktail scene almost immediately upon opening and is still going strong.
Opened in 2014 on a wave of buzz and anticipation the likes of which Minneapolis has rarely seen is Spoon and Stable. Housed in a former horse stable (circa 1906), James Beard Award winner, cooking superhero and Minnesota native, Gavin Kaysen, is both chef and owner. The menu is relatively short, with a Midwest seasonal theme, though tantalizing seafood options are also represented. It’s best to reserve well in advance. Failing that, there’s an even chance at walking in and scoring a seat in the bar which serves the full menu.
One of the neighborhood’s first hints at its future in food amazingness was Bar La Grassa, serving a wide variety of pastas and other crowd-pleasing Italian staples. Locals often mention Bar La Grassa in their first breath when asked for eating recommendations by visitors, making it a little tough, even after so many years, for those visitors to get a seat without a bit of planning.
A fairytale food-truck-turned-restaurant story if there ever were one, Smack Shack’s success with curb-side lobster rolls has blossomed into a full brick and mortar menu. Along with several lobster-enhanced dishes, there are items with oysters, crab, scallops, calamari, walleye (a local white fish) and other varieties of seafood.
Black Sheep Pizza introduced Minnesota to coal oven pizza. The thin crust, no nonsense pizzas gained fame for coaxing strong flavors out of few, sometimes as little as two, toppings. If minimalist pie isn’t your style, you can build your own from a generous list of ingredients.
The much-awarded Borough serves up some of the city’s most Instagramable food that also happens to be toe-curling delicious. Vividly colored seasonal ingredients dress up lovingly prepared pork, halibut, scallops, octopus and more. Their downstairs bar, Parlour, is one of the city’s top cocktail labs, most notably “The Parlour Old Fashioned,” which has quickly established itself as the Old Fashion that all other Old Fashions are compared to. No matter which floor you’re on, know that “The Burger” (two ribeye/chuck/brisket patties infused with garlic, shallots, and thyme with American cheese on an egg bun) has caused virtually every food critic to weep with joy.
A popular neighborhood and after-work option is Freehouse. It has a wide-ranging menu, including breakfast which is especially well regarded. They have a house-brewed beer that they’re so confident about they also sell other brands, just to make things interesting.
Dating back to 1906, the Monte Carlo is a classic supper-club that is these days best known as a casual place to drink. The coppertop bar with the awe-inspiring wall of alcohol behind it is downright hypnotic and the patio is considered one of the best in the neighborhood. The occasional old timer shuffling in to sit in the same spot he’s occupied for 50 years adds a nice element to the scene.
In some books, small but lively Jetset is the premier gay dance club in the city. This, naturally, means the straights wanting to dance like no one is looking have found it too. The staff is famously friendly and the crowd is generally upper-20s and older, with a generally less pronounced pick-up scene. If dancing to live music is more your speed, neighborhood legend Bunker’s Music Bar & Grill has hosted live music seven days a week since 1976. Thanks to Prince’s former habit of dropping in to see music and sometimes hitting the stage to jam, popular musicians passing through town now occasionally do the same.
The Fine Line Music Café is a small, upscale venue that gives guests the opportunity to see big name artists in an intimate, two-tiered cabaret style club.
Ask any touring comedian their favorite cities for performing and they will inevitably name Minneapolis. Press them for details and they will single out the Acme Comedy Company, based deep inside the North Loop since 1991 when it was pretty much all surface parking. Shows are Monday through Saturday with Monday set aside for open mic.
Play Ball! Pre and Post Game (or party any night)
Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins, opened in 2010 and was promptly named the “#1 baseball stadium experience in North America” the same year by ESPN The Magazine. The park has a seating capacity of nearly 39,000 and can accommodate soccer, football and concerts.
With Target Center, home of the Minnesota Timberwolves and champion Minnesota Lynx, anchoring First Avenue and Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins, in such close proximity, this part of downtown is frequently bustling with sports fans. The area is consequently teeming with bars and clubs to extend the merriment. Just a few of the options in the area include Kieran’s Irish Pub (restaurant, pub), Gluek’s Restaurant and Bar (German beer, pub food), Brothers Bar and Grill (sports bar), City Works (giant sports bar, American food), Lyon’s Pub (English pub, bar food) and O’Donovan’s Irish Pub.
The Minneapolis Farmers Market, on the western edge of the North Loop, opened in 1937 at its current location (the original opened in 1876) and currently has 230 vendors working out of 170 stalls. Products include seasonal fruits and vegetable, beef, poultry, pork, bison, cheese, honey, eggs, wild rice, herbs, flowers and garden items. The market is open year-round, with reduced hours in winter. The adjacent, unaffiliated Farmers Market Annex, open on weekends only, sells pottery, metal sculptures, wood carvings, clothing, jewelry, crafts, paintings, and more.
The number of independent and small chain shops in the North Loop has exploded. The massive floor space at the luxury-oriented MartinPatrick3 gives them the freedom to feature men’s clothing, furniture, interior design, apothecary products and gifts. Unusually, there’s also a bar where power shoppers get take a break. Men’s clothing and formalwear shop Atmosfere, are best known for their suits for weddings and similarly swanky affairs, but they also carry a selection of business and casual clothing.
D. NOLO (“Destination: North Loop”), described as a “curated collection of unexpected finds,” is a boutique shop selling fashion-forward women’s clothing, home goods and accessories. Grethen House stocks a delightful variety of upscale women’s clothing and accessories, with a sharp eye on trends and the season. Statement Boutique carries “approachable” (meaning price-wise) local and designer jewelry, clothes and accessories. Women’s athletic wear chain Lolë not only carries active wear, swimwear, dresses, shoes, bras and accessories, but they also hold yoga classes on the roof!
Askov Finlayson sells high-end, magazine photo shoot-ready men’s clothing, bags, accessories, apothecary items, outdoor apparel and supplies. You can tell proud Minnesotans own the store, with the “North” theme spread across its products. Wilson and Willy’s is a “modern day general store,” featuring Minnesota-made items like men and women’s apparel, home furnishings, décor and accessories and apothecary products.
Down a freight elevator into a basement with rough, rocky walls is the aptly named Cave Paper. For over 20 years, they have made colorful paper and cards by hand from raw fiber for artists, bookbinders, calligraphers and everyday consumers. James & Mary Laurie Booksellers, founded in 1969, have accumulated a staggering 120,000 books (many of them hard to find or out of print) and 30,000 vintage classical and jazz records. The Foundry Home Goods is a small shop that stocks a dazzling array of upscale home décor, natural cleaning supplies, body care products, lighting, utensils, linens, toys and more.
Jeromeo wellness center and shop offers both massage therapy and items like jewelry, pottery, art, antiques, and other home and personal items.
One on One is a bike shop/café hybrid. They sell new, refurbished and custom bikes, do repair and have an Indiana Jones-caliber “bike junkyard” in the basement where the patient and curious can dig through the heap of bikes and parts. The café serves coffee, soup, sandwiches and pastries.
- 5th Avenue Market
201 North 5th Ave
730 Washingotn Ave. N
- Askov Finlayson
200 N 1st St.
- C'est Chic Boutique
Warehouse District, 210 N 2nd St.
- Cave Paper
212 North 2nd St
- Chrome - Minneapolis HUB
115 Washington Ave North
- Ciel Loft & Home
219 North 2nd St (in D.Nolo)
- Commers Custom Jewelers
217 5th Ave North
- Cooks of Crocus Hill
208 N. 1st Street
219 N 2nd St.
- Foundry Home Goods
Warehouse District, 125 N 1st St.
- Goldfine Jewelry
600 Washington Ave North
- Grethen House
212 3rd Avenue North, Suite 109
530 N 3rd St.
219 North 2nd St
- James & Mary Laurie Booksellers
250 3rd Ave North
- Jeromeo in the Loop
230 3rd Ave N
- Jumpwings Outfitters
28 N 4th St.
- Kit & Ace
113 Washington Ave North
- L'Atelier Couture Bridal Boutique
219 North 2nd St Suite 404
- Litin Everything Party 'n Paper
434 East Lyndale Ave North
337 Washington Ave North
- Luna Vinca
401 North 3rd St Suite 280
- Maison Spring
125 1st Ave North
212 3rd Ave N Suite 106
- Minneapolis Farmers Market
312 East Lyndale Ave North
- Mirtrebox Custom Framing, Cards & Gifts
213 Washington Ave N
- One on One Bicycle Studio
117 Washington Ave N
- Pacific North Loop
219 North 2nd St #102
- phOREM Skincare
718 Washington Ave N
- Ribnick Fur & Leather
224 N 1st.
- Spring Finn & Co.
125 North 1st Ave
- Statement Boutique
212 3rd Ave N
- Stephen Vincent Design
212 N 2nd St.
- Wilson & Willy's
211 Washington Ave North