Small Town Vibes in the Big City
One of Minneapolis’ oldest neighborhoods, Seward has a small town feel, surrounded by the big city. It is simultaneously hip and laid back, boasting vibrant arts, eats, drinks and activities. Bordered by the natural beauty of the Mississippi River, with miles of scenic bike trails, Seward is a well-known destination for those who choose to bike, scooter or even walk from Downtown, yet is also highly accessible by public transportation.
Where to Eat and Drink
Just off the Mississippi River’s West River Road on 25th St., the Birchwood Café has been a cornerstone of Seward’s unique foodie culture. Summer finds flocks of diehard cyclists lining up at the cafeteria-style counter. Originating as a dairy at the turn of the 20th century, the café with its seasonal outdoor patio caters to vegans, vegetarians, gluten-fee or omnivorous alike, serving imaginative, locally sourced, organic food. Their savory waffles alone qualify as a destination! A newcomer on the same block is Café Racer Kitchen that famously offers ‘benefits’ to those who pedal and present a Bicycle Benefits program sticker. Their Colombian street food menu is unique, authentic and well priced. A healthy favorite is the vegan, gluten-free Breakfast Americano.
Franklin Avenue, Seward’s main drag, features four iconic eateries all in walking distance: Catching a meal at the Seward Café offers bonafide time travel – a trip back to the 60s. Worker-owned and dang proud of it, Seward Café serves up the affordable, flavorful basics in a funky, fun setting. Their Earth Breakfasts with piles of scrambled eggs, hash browns and various toppings are a sure bet! Pizza Luce, Minneapolis’ most original pizza parlor, diagonally across the street from the café, features an astonishing signature Artichoke Dip, a must have pre-pizza teaser.
Heading east on Franklin Avenue back towards the river is the stylish Seward Co-op Creamery Café. Dairies abounded in historic Seward and this latest addition to the culinary scene shares a milky past, its remarkably remodeled building housed a dairy production plant, now a light-filled open space with ample seating and historic photographs nodding to its history. A part of the Seward Co-op (see Where to Shop) the Creamery goes all out to showcase local food, art and décor. With attractively priced all-day brunches, inventive bowls bursting with lamb, kimchi, beef and veggie choices, this is a great spot to gear up or unplug at day’s start or end.
For a true old timey neighborhood happy hour, Tracy’s Saloon boasts a scratch kitchen that redefines bar food. Weekend specials include a great deal on a delicious Nebraska-style Flat Iron Steak and Center-Cut New York strip steak. Strike up a conversation with the local regulars and get a true neighborhood feel.
Or go for a more hip and happening happy hour at Lawless Distilling Company. Tucked away among former and repurposed warehouses adjacent to the Ivy Building’s artist quarters, this evening-only haunt serves up a menu of craft cocktails made from their own selection of spirits in a space reminiscent of a speakeasy.
Where to Shop
Northern Clay Center is a place both to shop and to do! With its curated sales gallery, a visit can yield a purchase of high-end, original ceramic art at prices that are sure to please. While browsing the store, guests can also take in one of 10 annual exhibits featuring a complete range of work in clay. Shopping is enhanced by perhaps by taking a class or guided tours of the artists’ studios. Like most Seward spots, Boneshaker Books is all about community, offering an interesting array of progressive and radical literature, and a free meeting space run by dedicated volunteers.
Perhaps the best known shopping destination in the ‘hood is United Noodles’ 15,000 square foot pan-Asian grocery store chocked full of any product imaginable from China, Japan, Korea, Thailand, India and more! United Noodle’s best kept secret? The to-die for ramen, BBQ pork and specialties from the attached Unideli. Expect long lines.
Keeping the social consciousness of all things bicycle, Cycles for Change offers unusual and an ever-changing supply of gently used, reconditioned and hybrid bikes along with hard-to-find parts, and excellent service at a fraction of retail cost. Of course any trip to Seward should begin or end by stopping in flagship of the neighborhood, the Seward Community Co-op. This member-owned enterprise is the real McCoy, featuring exceptional locally sourced grocery, cheese, bakery, produce, deli and homemade prepared foods, as well as unique home and gift selections.
Things to Do
Absolutely free is cycling, running or walking along the Mississippi River’s scenic East River Road that forms Seward’s eastern border. Solcana Fitness is a Minneapolis based, queer-friendly, social-justice minded, feminist gym designed for folks of all fitness levels and backgrounds. Visitors to the area can check online for a drop in schedule. Similarly, Common Ground Meditation Center offers a number of mindfulness classes, retreats, courses, workshops and lectures, all open to the public with drop-in options, as does Big River Yoga, a locally owned studio offering classes and massages.
World-class, first-run plays can be seen at the internationally acclaimed Playwrights’ Center where visitors are welcome year round to a series of free readings and workshops through the their PlayLabs festival, one of the nation’s most comprehensive play development programs. Ready for retro fun? Memory Lanes offers a state-of-the-art facility with 30 bowling lanes, a full-service bar and restaurant featuring pizzas, sandwiches, burgers and other favorites with 14 tap lines and a wide selection of bottled and canned beer and all the popular spirits, live music and other live events, 29 LCD screens, two outdoor sand volleyball courts, darts and arcade games.
Getting to and Around Seward
From downtown it is possible to bike, run, scooter or walk to East River Road for a healthy trek. The Blue Line Franklin Avenue Station is the most convenient stop, although the neighborhood is spread out, so be prepared to walk quite a few blocks – or catch a amply available ride shares. Bus lines include the 2, 9, 22 and 67.