Download our Free Best Of App

People & Places

  • BEST ACOUSTIC PERFORMER

    If only for a second, every band should get to be the greatest band in the world. And when the Tropicals played "It's a Wild Life" at the Bryant-Lake Bowl on one charmed evening about a year ago, they were that, and then some. Some what? you ask. Well, some strange stuff that makes thee trite ol' Paul 'n' Artie… More >>
  • BEST ALBUM OF THE PAST 12 MONTHS

    It's an interesting moment in local music when the leaders of two of the biggest regional bands of eight years ago--Martin Zellar of the Gear Daddies and Matt Wilson of Trip Shakespeare--simultaneously self-release their deepest works to date. In Matt Wilson's case, his solo debut, Burnt, White and Blue, is a sad beauty of a record that makes good on… More >>
  • BEST ARGUMENT AGAINST MINNESOTA NICE

    What's worse, a tornado or a Minnesotan determined to do good? As you answer, consider what happened to St. Peter after the Big Wind. Between the town's high ranking on the cuteness scale, the location within easy commuting range, and the saturation TV coverage, the area was the perfect charity-tourism destination. Within days the Red Cross had registered 4,500 volunteers… More >>
  • BEST BAND NAME

     … More >>
  • BEST BAND TO BREAK UP IN THE PAST 12 MONTHS

    February's second-to-last official act as a band was to perform at the 1998 Minnesota Music Awards on April 23, where the ambient-rock quartet was up for awards in four categories, including Best Female Vocalist for singer Amy Turany. But for die-hard Februarians, the band's epochal achievement was the October release of the CD Tomorrow Is Today (Carrot Top) and their… More >>
  • BEST BAND TO LEAVE THE TWIN CITIES IN THE PAST 12 MONTHS

    First of all, Cute Band Alert! The blistering ska band Siren Six!--whose personnel ranged in appearance from James Dean kool to geek charm--did nothing for the Twin Cities dating scene by hitting Hollywood to chase down stardom. The music scene misses them too. The Six! usually are tossed into the pool of neo-ska bands, and to that end, they single-handedly… More >>
  • BEST BARTENDER

    Before the theater crowd invades downtown for drinks and dinner, restaurant managers and their wait staffs have a tendency to crowd Eli's long, polished bar for a pre-rush bump. Ed Nagle, who's owned the establishment for five years, says vet bartender Wrayge is their favorite. It's no wonder. Professionals know how hard it is to be both amiable and efficient,… More >>
  • BEST BEACH

    Summer invariably finds hippies and punks rebelling without a cause at the murky, unauthorized "Hidden Beach" on pristine Cedar Lake. What they won't admit is that the best beach in Minneapolis is actually the legit one directly across Cedar in the northwestern corner. Cedar North sits way out on a forested point in the lake that everyone foolishly ignores. While… More >>
  • BEST BED & BREAKFAST

    Tucked in among the mansions of Minneapolis's highbrow Lowry Hill neighborhood, this 102-year-old Colonial Revival residence became a B&B a decade ago, when current owner Chris Viken bought the place. The four well-furnished rooms go for $89 to $129 a night (including a breakfast of pastries and fruit), and the address is a stone's throw from such tourist spots at… More >>
  • BEST BEER SELECTION IN A BAR

    A list of tap beers should suffice: Bud, Miller, Leinenkugel, Summit Pale Ale, Bass Ale, Killian's Irish, Samuel Adams Boston Lager, Samuel Adams seasonal, Anchor Steam, Red Hook, Sierra Nevada Pale, Boulder Amber Ale, Boulder Amber seasonal, hard cider, Labatt's Blue, Newcastle Brown Ale, Paulaner Hefe-Weizen, Guinness stout. Now shall we discuss the 95 bottled beers?… More >>
  • BEST BIKE TRAIL (OFF-ROAD)

    The Lone Lake Park trail in Minnetonka (see above) is perfect for mountain bikers of an urban bent. But if you're the kind of gearhead who says things like "I spud-locked and corn-dogged, while you were buffing your 'roids" (translation: "My cleats got stuck in the pedals and I tipped over, while you were dragging your ass on your rear… More >>
  • BEST BIKE TRAIL (URBAN)

    It's hard these days to buy a bicycle that isn't either a mountain bike or a mountain-bike knockoff. So it's not surprising that there's a tremendous amount of pressure on our parks and public spaces from people who'd fancy a little off-road cranking to test just how worthy bike and biker really are. Unfortunately, most of our parks are now… More >>
  • BEST BIKER BAR

    In an age when our moral guardians have set the blood-alcohol limit at .08, it shouldn't be surprising that the best biker bar around isn't a bar at all. Replacing the Hell's Angels' recipe of coke and rum-and-Coke with the essential ingredient to a poor man's speedball--a strong cup of joe--Bob's Java Hut serves every grade of motor oil demanded… More >>
  • BEST BLOODY MARY

    After testing the red waters, we came to a conclusion: No matter how you cut it--with pickles, hot peppers, chili sauce, garlic powder, hoisin sauce, olives, or oranges--a bloody Mary is, in essence, simply booze and tomato guts. If it's thick, you get a few vitamins to help your hangover. If it's thin, the hair of the dog will heal… More >>
  • BEST BLUES BAR

    The ideal blues joint would be located in a blue-collar neighborhood like, say, the Frogtown section of St. Paul. It would have a downstairs bar jammed with hard-drinking regulars and other local characters, and a long, darkened stairway that leads up to an expansive room where enough beer and sweat have been spilled to bow and varnish the floorboards. The… More >>
  • BEST BLUES RADIO PROGRAM

    Host Pete Lee probably wouldn't even think of his wonderful weekly program as a blues show. It does, after all, cover everything from vocal jazz to jump blues, to great pre-rock 'n' roll R&B, and many of the historical wrinkles in between. That's what makes Bop Street so great. Like any great bluesman, Pete picks his favorite songs from the… More >>
  • BEST BOONDOGGLE

    This stretch of pavement would test the patience of a saint. At random times throughout the day or week--say, 8 p.m. on a Sunday or 10 a.m. on a Tuesday--drivers face the kind of stop-and-go traffic usually associated with grisly car wrecks. The cause of this particular headache is that the Crosstown narrows from three lanes to two, and just… More >>
  • BEST BOWLING ALLEY

    There are better places in town to bowl and be seen. But when you're looking to immerse yourself in the true Zen of this sport--the feel of your feet gliding like a dancer's along the lane, the echoing thunderclap of struck pins, the sweet smells of tap beer, French fries, and flop sweat swirling in the air--well, it's time for… More >>
  • BEST BOXER

    The St. Paul-based Montantes had his life cut short at age 28 when he was killed in a boxing match last September. A lightweight fighter with a devastating left hook, Montantes was knocked out permanently in the sixth round by James Crayton, and the impact of that punch is still being felt by mournful fans. Entering the ring at an… More >>
  • BEST BUS STOP

    Here's a sweet spot: a covered waiting bench across from the old Modern Café, backed by a full city lot lined in daylilies, daffodils, ribbon grass, barberries, peonies--really a three-season public garden that comes alive in spring and stays vibrant until the killing frost. Even after the snows start, a 10-foot totem of colorful tiles, a two-seat arbor, and a… More >>
  • BEST CAR WASH

    The test: A 4-year-old Toyota Paseo that was last washed as it departed the dealership where it met its owner. The time: 15 minutes before closing, just when we thought car-wash workers would be least interested in scrubbing traces of Big Gulp off the dash or picking cat hair out of the back seat. The result: For less than $15,… More >>
  • BEST CHAMBER ENSEMBLE

    Sometimes called the "clown of the orchestra" even by its devotees, the bassoon is basically a piece of arcane and complicated musical plumbing that nonetheless can produce real magic. It has the widest natural range of any wind instrument--four full octaves from a low B-flat to another...and then some--and the venerable South Minneapolis Bassoon Quartet (currently four witty women with… More >>
  • BEST CHARITY

    The brainchild of a group of women who all served as staff or trustees of local foundations, the Women's Foundation was formed as a response to research showing that only about 5 percent of philanthropic dollars go to programs aimed specifically at women or girls. Since the organization's inception in 1982 as a branch of the Minneapolis Foundation, women's funds… More >>
  • BEST CHARITY CASE

    Two years ago it at least seemed like the man once considered the most powerful pol in town might get his day in court, if not a chance to re-enter political life vindicated. No such luck. Since 1996, the former Hennepin County Board chair has been conducting a one-man crusade against the Star Tribune, which he alleges cost him his… More >>
  • BEST CHEAP THRILL

    We're Minnesotans, fer chrissakes, and there is nothing better than making slippery road conditions work for you. How? By crafting the proverbial "donut," also known as "the shitty." Here are the simple instructions: You need a car and someone to ride shotgun (i.e., an extra set of eyes looking out for cops). You find an almost-empty parking lot covered with… More >>
  • BEST CHURCH

    This congregation celebrated its centennial in 1993 after weathering a remarkable century of white flight, racial and economic tension, and soul-searching among its members. Today, Park Avenue Methodist ministers to the most integrated black-white flock in town, working into its services a host of glory choirs, open-minded sermons, and prayers for the living in an anxious, wearing time. What tops… More >>
  • BEST CLASSICAL RADIO PROGRAM

    Anyone who's suffered behind the microphone knows how hard it is to do good radio, to present a seamless audio picture in which the DJ plays the role of classy, informative, yet unobtrusive party host. It's a test the empty suburbanite chatterboxes (and part-time product shills) on MPR regularly flunk. For a wakeup that convinces you the world is worth… More >>
  • BEST CLASSICAL VOCALIST

    Competition for this honorific was fierce, but recognition is long overdue to mezzo-soprano Kathleen Humphrey, who, as Rossini's Italian Girl in Algiers, bore North Star Opera's recent production aloft on graceful wings of song. Humphrey's ability to carry a show--with her stylish instincts, velvety nuances, magnetic stage presence, and knack for turning wicked corners on any given line--was evident when… More >>
  • BEST CLUB DJ

    In person, DJ E-Tones (a.k.a. Tony Larson) is quiet, unassuming, and modest--which is appreciated, but in this case almost unnecessary: If anybody deserves to sport the self-important attitude that many DJs carry everywhere like it was their favorite box of vinyl, it's E-Tones. Whether at his regular Sunday-night gigs at the Gay 90's or at his occasional appearances at parties… More >>
  • BEST COCKTAILS

    The transformation of this restaurant from its drab West Bank roots to probably the classiest act in the Warehouse District is one of those mixed blessings for us old-timers. We lost a good, cheap eatery, but we gained an extravagant hangout--this is not Che's Havana. The house specialties are Cuban: The mojito ($4.75) is a sweet summer concoction of club… More >>
  • BEST COCKTAILS (PAPER-UMBRELLA DIVISION)

    Feeling like a Wicked Wahini? According to Bali Hai's drink menu you must "beware of this seemingly innocent beauty! She Bites!" Or are you more of a Dr. Funk? (Which "just might make your wishes come true.") Or is this the night for your Missionary's Downfall? ("Guaranteed to put you in a compromising position.") Once you're happily ensconced underground in… More >>
  • BEST COFFEE HOUSE

    Unlike South Minneapolis, where the coffee-house wave has swept from block to block like a synchronized swim team, the North Side doesn't have many venues for gourmet java. Perhaps that's why Destination X manages to assemble such a wonderfully variegated clientele. On a recent Wednesday evening, a prototypical coffee-house renegade was camped in one of the many '50s-style chairs (square… More >>
  • BEST COMEDY CLUB

    The home of the annual Funniest Person in the Twin Cities contest takes honors as the knee-slappingest place in town this year. ACME prides itself on booking edgy acts, says club manager Lewis Lee, and in the summer it brings comics to the Twin Cities who fall well outside of the polite mainstream. That reputation for fringe comedy not only… More >>
  • BEST COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER

    More often than not, SW Journal staff writers Martiga Lohn, Mark Engebretson, and Anne Discher scoop their monolithic daily competition on big stories that affect not just the people who live in their circulation area (Minneapolis's Lakes district, Uptown, Linden Hills, Tangletown, and Lyn-Lake, among other neighborhoods), but the rest of the city as well. These folks were all over… More >>
  • BEST CONCERT OF THE PAST 12 MONTHS

    Last year Wyclef's Carnival shocked the increasingly insular hip-hop nation with an album that incorporated Haitian compas and Bee Gees samples. The record, though uneven, had some great moments, and the touring version of the Allstars--featuring a full band and rapper John Forte--turned those moments into an amazingly energetic hip-hop history revue. We moved from classic Run-DMC to an ingenious… More >>
  • BEST CONCERT SERIES

    For variety and enterprise, it's hard to get around the Plymouth Music Series, which stages about a half-dozen concerts each year between October and June. Yeah, they toss up the occasional brick, but look at the ground they cover. Just in the current PMS season, you'll find a Handel oratorio (spiritedly performed), a guest engagement by the King's College Choir,… More >>
  • BEST CONCERT VENUE

    Obviously, the best concert venue is the one where your favorite act is playing; if you're a thrash fan, Orchestra Hall ain't the space to be. That said, the Fine Line covers quite a few genres with very little audience-venue dissonance. The room is intimate but rarely packed sardine-tight. The sound system is above-average; the sight lines are generally good;… More >>
  • BEST CONDUCTOR

    Comparisons are invidious (and the Twin Cities maestro scene has been fairly static for several years now), but it would be fitting to honor a conductor much venerated here, Klaus Tennstedt, who passed away this January. Tennstedt was one of those rare maestri as beloved by musicians as audiences; his presence on the Minnesota Orchestra podium was a guarantee that… More >>
  • BEST DANCE CLUB

    The Saloon wins by default. This club avoids the rubbernecking vibe of the Gay 90's; the strangely undanceable music selection of First Avenue; the stifling meat-marketeering of Tropix; and the urgent flashiness of the Quest. What it does offer is consistently acceptable, if not always exceptional, dance music in a suitably dark space with flashing lights and skinny young people--all… More >>
  • BEST DAY TRIP

    So much lies within an hour's drive of the city, we hesitate to select one destination over another. We thought about Lake Maria State Park near Monticello, where we like to meander through the last stand of maple and basswood forest that once covered the region. Any of the Hennepin County parks is an excellent choice for swimming, hiking, and… More >>
  • BEST DEMOLITION

    There was, admittedly, a kind of eat-the-rich glee among the small crowd that gathered to watch the Conservatory implode just before 7 a.m. on March 16. Ka-boom went the marble halls that had been home to Mark Shale, the Sharper Image, the Nature Company; kablooie went the conspicuous-consumption dreamland that promised, "Not What You Need--What You Want." (Leave it to… More >>
  • BEST DRAG QUEEN

    The Miss Congeniality Award goes to Miss Richfield, who continues to grace local stages with her deliciously funny--if excruciating--fusion of campy fabulousness and Midwestern tackiness. But the jeweled tiara itself goes to Roxy Marquis, the de facto star of the Gay 90's' La Femme drag show. Roxy has studied femininity so deeply that she's been devoured by it, and the… More >>
  • BEST DRINK SPECIAL

    OK, OK, so it's the vats of free, greasy wings that keep us coming back. But without the rock-bottom, two-for-one deal on every drink from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., 3 to 6 p.m., and 9 to 10 p.m., those wings wouldn't go down so well. A perennial hangout for up-and-coming scenesters, Lyle's has provided more than a few starving… More >>
  • BEST ELEVATOR

    For nearly 60 years after the Young Quindlan Department Store opened in downtown Minneapolis in 1926, elevator operators shepherded the well-heeled between six floors of merchandise, eventually depositing exhausted shoppers at the Tea Room. The store closed in 1985 but the operators remain, sliding steel grates shut and swinging throttles on two of the building's three elevators between 7:30 a.m.… More >>
  • BEST FARMERS' MARKET

    You know by now why grocery-store produce tastes like soggy newspaper (no offense to the fine product you're holding in your hands): Really good vegetables, no matter how fancy the label, won't tolerate long journeys and refrigerated storage. So what are you doing freezing your butt off under neon lights? You belong in Lowertown, among crates of real tomatoes, fluffy… More >>
  • BEST FESTIVAL

    With the exception of In the Heart of the Beast's annual May Day celebration, Pride puts all other festivals to shame for sheer visual spectacle, yummy food, hard-core babe-watching, and genuine community vibe. The parade is a particularly thrilling declaration of interdependence: Where else will you find Paul Wellstone (walking all the way), bound-and-chapped leather dudes, clergy members, hunky Northwest… More >>
  • BEST FIBERGLASS CRITTER

    We almost picked the giant smiling critter impaled outside the Gopher Campus Motor Lodge in Dinkytown, but we weren't sure what it was. (It's got the teeth of a beaver, the tail of a squirrel, the body of a gopher, and a metal pole running up its butt.) But there's no doubting the big trout mascot at Trout-Air, the restaurant/artificial… More >>
  • BEST FIREWORKS DISPLAY

    Are you the kind of fireworks fanatic who hunts down the biggest holiday display and gets there two hours early? Do you fantasize that just once, the fuse guy will slip and shoot off the whole enchilada at once? When the rest of us are singing "Auld Lang Syne," are you jonesing for the Fourth of July? Pyromaniacs rejoice. For… More >>
  • BEST FISHING HOLE (RURAL)

    Picking an ideal fishing hole from one of Minnesota's 10,000 fabled lakes can be an exercise in absurdity. On the other hand, the avid angler shouldn't overlook dozens of terrific rivers, streams, brooks, and creeks. Indeed, some of the world's biggest fish have been caught in what our Wisconsin friends call "flowages"--rivers that have been modestly dammed, creating wide, slow… More >>
  • BEST FISHING HOLE (URBAN)

    The nice thing about fishing in the city is that you don't need expensive lures, a deep-bottom sonar device, or an "as seen on TV" fish locator, since most of the lakes in town are stocked by the DNR. Although sunnies and crappies occur naturally in Lake of the Isles, Cedar Lake, and Lake Calhoun (and in aerator-assisted lakes such… More >>
  • BEST FOOD COURT

    With ManchuWok, Subway, Greek Garden, Hardee's, DaVinci Express, Pizza Hut, and the Great Steak and Potato, it covers most of the fast-food spectrum. But the vendors are not the star attraction here. What separates this food court from the competition is the central fountain two floors below. Sitting at the tables encircling it, diners can watch as the rush of… More >>
  • BEST GADFLY

    When she finally decided to make a run at the mayor's office late last spring, Carlson told CP she didn't have a snowball's chance at unseating Sharon Sayles Belton. Her sole goal was to bring issues to the table, get people gabbing, and light a fire under Her Honor. She did just that, and more. The characteristically casual and often… More >>
  • BEST GAY/LESBIAN BAR

    Here it is, our rationale, straight from the lips of a CP staffer whose mother would probably be happier if we left him nameless: "Where else can I go with my lesbian friends and just chat, meet a nice, hard-bodied boy, dance, and buy a cock ring--all under one roof?" As someone who can't even spell compromise, Party Boy rushes… More >>
  • BEST GIFT FOR A TEENAGER

    For a nominal honorarium (determined by the client), one of the two sexuality educators at Planned Parenthood will sit down with three or more teens and answer all those questions you'd never ask Mom or Dad. They cover the old standards such as how to avoid disease and pregnancy, but also help teens--and, for that matter, adults--approach issues relating to… More >>
  • BEST GOLF COURSE

    Stonebrooke looks more like a public garden than a golf course. Flowers abound, and the perfectly manicured fairways and greens are adorned with creeks and ponds. Golfers are fond of the course because of the variety of play it offers. The par 3s, 4s, and 5s all come in different lengths and elevations, but each fairway gives golfers a good… More >>
  • BEST GOSPEL SINGER

    When the Chicago Bulls visited the Target Center this season for possibly the last basketball game Michael Jordan will ever play professionally in the Twin Cities, Minnesota Timberwolves officials wisely chose Eddie Robinson to perform the national anthem. Four minutes later, as Robinson strolled off the floor to a thunderous ovation from the crowd and players alike, it was clear… More >>
  • BEST GROUND ZERO

    A decade ago, when Minneapolis city officials got their skivvies in a snarl about crime on Block E, they did what their predecessors since time immemorial have done when faced with such weighty matters: They broke out the wrecking ball. But then they did something uncharacteristically intelligent: They left the flattened acreage, located across Hennepin Avenue from the Target Center,… More >>
  • BEST GUN RANGE

    One name continually shoots to the top when gun-shop owners are asked to rate area gun ranges: Burnsville Pistol Range, regularly cited for its economy and customer service. Open since 1981, the range has been tended for the last seven years by owner Roger Hird--who, along with his assistant, J.D. (both NRA-certified), watches over the range's dozen 25-yard lanes. In… More >>
  • BEST HAPPY HOUR

    Kieran's is an oasis of grungy humanity in the unlikeliest of environs, the sanitized steel-and-glass labyrinth that is the Minneapolis habitrail--er, skyway--system. And its popular happy hour is the perfect antidote to a long day at the white-collar hamster wheel. Unlike some downtown happy hours, where lonely-looking business types nurse overpriced drinks, this one (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday… More >>
  • BEST HOTEL

    When the Saint Paul opened in 1910 as the only four-star hotel in town, the 12-story Italian Renaissance Revival structure contrasted sharply with the dirt road and burgeoning city just outside its gilded doors. But the service was stupendous and the surroundings sublime, so the likes of William Howard Taft, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Charles Lindbergh kept coming back. And… More >>
  • BEST IRISH BAR

    We're not talking Irish pub: no dark-oak furniture, tasteful Celtic art, and private-label beer. We're talking bar: fake wood paneling, duct tape on the furniture, St. Pat's decorations up all year, and the most rollicking good time to be had this side of County Antrim. There's almost always live music (and a $5 cover); the two-man Irish Brigade practically lives… More >>
  • BEST JAZZ RADIO PROGRAM

    A jazz ambassador who broadcast his first jazz program in 1940, Leigh Kamman can be found on any given night checking out a local cat or national act at venues all around the town. If you're lucky enough to chat him up, he'll regale you with detailed tales about the many jazz legends and up-and-comers he's interviewed over the years--folks… More >>
  • BEST JUKEBOX

    There is only one place in town where you can interrupt the boozy pleasures of the bar by unleashing Jimi Hendrix's dissonant "Star-Spangled Banner": at the C.C. Club. Even the proprietor of this dingy and perennially popular hangout has been heard uttering, "What the hell is this?" in a fit of discomfort at the sounds emanating from the back of… More >>
  • BEST KARAOKE

    Let's get one thing straight: All you ironic punks who like to get up and sing Donna Summer in falsetto to cover your embarrassment, to show off for your hipster friends, to mock the standards--you can rent your own damn karaoke machine and do it in your living room. That said, there's room for all varieties of karaoke kings and… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL BLUES BAND

    A cantankerous old coot who goes his own way--meaning outside the orbits of the Blues Saloon, Whiskey Junction, and Viking Bar--Juliano is not universally admired among his peers. No matter: His impassioned vocals can shine on a down-home ballad, or growl through the sleek funk of old hits put out on the Stax label during the 1960s. His backing band,… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL BOY GONE BAD

    In the last chapter of his tell-all-say-nothing book No Room for Crybabies, the Vikings head coach sent the Twin Cities' white-bread sports fans and their thin-skinned columnists into a snit. Complaining about mistreatment from management, he outlined a plan to overthrow his bosses. Then, after taking heat in the local dailies, he claimed there was a media conspiracy to have… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL BOY MADE GOOD

    At a time when the post-Pulp Fiction thriller has run out of gas, erstwhile Minneapolitan Garret Williams filled up the tank with Spark, which uses the outlines of the road-movie thriller as a springboard for exploring the nuances of race relations in America. Williams's debut premiered earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival and was later chosen as the… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL GIRL MADE GOOD

    Right on, sister. Proving that neither the Church's sacred orders nor Uncle Sam can get in the way of a righteous babe, this 70-year-old Minneapolis native joined some 600 civil disobedients last November in a mock funeral at the U.S. Army's School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia. (They were protesting the training of South American military officers at… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL JAZZ ARTIST

    It is our great good fortune that Cox, who is internationally renowned as one of the sturdiest, most adventuresome bassists in jazz, prefers to maintain his Minnesota residence as a respite between high-powered gigs in New York and elsewhere. Rather than rest on his laurels and reputation, Cox never stops trying to find new ways to expand his virtuosity. Early… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL LANDMARK

    Wilbur Foshay made a fortune in public utilities, and he built the first Midwestern skyscraper outside Chicago as a monument to himself. Italian, French, Belgian, and American marbles, along with gold- and silver-plated ceilings, were installed throughout the art deco interior. Wilbur's office and home on the 27th and 28th floors featured African mahogany and magnificent teak, rose, and walnut… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL NOISE BAND

    Fifteen years after the Hüskers' noise grail Metal Circus, most (maybe all) variations on the Whitey Guitar Squall theme seem entirely played out. But ambient-noisists Ousia don't play guitars; they twaddle with knobs. And their scatterbrained electronic drones weld blankets of barely audible breakbeats to song structures that are as mutable as chance. Their debut, Why Is That a Four?,… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL R&B BAND

    When they released their self-titled CD back in 1996, Vanguard was a bevy of singers specializing in playfully pleading harmonies backed by sharp beats and long, arching guitar solos; influences included P-Funk, Cameo, and Prince. Since then, a combination of personnel changes and the added experience of the remaining members has sharpened the group. Live, the tighter mesh of bass,… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL RAP GROUP

    For local hip hop, the Headshots crew (a.k.a. Rhyme Sayers) isn't the only name in town, though it's definitely the most visible one. And among the dozen or so Headshots rhymers, DJs, and producers, the superfriends group DynoSpectrum is to Twin Cities rap what Golden Smog is to hometown roots rock. (Like the Smog, the members even have code names… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL RECORD LABEL

    An easy, obvious choice. Bob Feldman's little label had an outstanding year, boasting a typically stellar new release from folksinger Greg Brown, a distribution arrangement with Appleseed records that produced a glorious two-CD tribute to Pete Seeger (featuring everyone from Bruce Springsteen to Ani DiFranco), and a delightfully quirky and surprisingly trenchant solo album from Suzzy Roche. But in some… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL ROCK BAND

    Not just the best band in town, but the funniest, Deformo are indie rockers with more brains in one of their ingeniously ungainly hooks than 50 major-label bands have in their whole lousy discographies. Strident students of the post-punk rave-up, they'll also add a taste of Tijuana with a two-piece horn section, and they do it without sacrificing their fervent… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL SPORTS COACH

    Perhaps the best measure of a coach's skills--in any sport, at any level--is how well his teams play away from home, where even the most talented squad can easily stumble and usually nothing less than first-rate preparation and mental toughness allows the visitor to escape with a W. Under Ted Riverso's guidance, the University of St. Thomas women's basketball team… More >>
  • BEST MARGARITA

    When you first sit down at this longtime West Side fixture, your server will present you with a drinks menu that boasts a wide array of margarita choices. Bypass the foo-foo blue ones, the slushy blender versions, the yup-version made with Grand Marnier, and head straight for the la Señora ($4.25). This, boys and girls, is what God was thinking… More >>
  • BEST MARTINI

    A downtown scene featuring sleek lines and sexy people, Table of Contents is the perfect place to sip on the Classic--95 proof Bombay Sapphire, chilled and shaken with a dash of dry vermouth (the classic price: $5.50). If that mix is too high and tight, there are 25 other martinis to choose from: John's Smartini, sporting Ketel One vodka, dry… More >>
  • BEST MINIATURE GOLF

    Adventure Gardens offers 18 holes of golf on a challenging, hilly course with numerous water hazards, split greens, and trick angles. In terms of golfing in general, this is the spot for those who like to play the game without all the tiring exercise that comes with a walk of 500 yards rather than five feet. And as mini-golf goes,… More >>
  • BEST MONTH TO BE IN THE TWIN CITIES

    Let's start with the heat. The 16-hour days. The horror-movie jingle of ice cream trucks in the long shadows of crepuscule. The stampede at Target for floor fans. The beads of sweat snaking down the swell of the bike messenger's calf. The exposed stripe of leg between the top of the knee-length sock and the bottom of the miniskirt. The… More >>
  • BEST MONTH TO LEAVE THE TWIN CITIES

    It may be the shortest month of the year, but it feels like the longest. The holidays are distant memories, but there's still no reprieve from the cold and the snow. Even El Niño can't budge the mercury. And then there's Valentine's Day, that moment when the flower, greeting-card, and restaurant cartels conspire to remind us of our romantic incompetence--and… More >>
  • BEST MUSIC ZINE

    Schlock-rock trio Vinnie and the Stardüsters exist primarily as a satire on rock itself, and the sporadic publication of their eponymous comic (a division of the Fascist series that has included such titles as A Fascist Home Companion) is at least as important as their music. The zine borrows a concept from the French Situationists called internment--the writing of new… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD BAR--MINNEAPOLIS

    This smoky, often crowded bar located on the northern edge of Nicollet's bustling ethnic district appears unspectacular at first. The food is average; the booze run-of-the-mill; and the architectural charm modest. That's the secret. An old-school watering hole, Porter's is a wholly unpretentious neighborhood hangout for ordinary folks looking to unwind from the grind. A two-for-one happy hour gets things… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD BAR--ST. PAUL

    All right. We might be stretching definitions here by classifying the Manor as a neighborhood bar. Usually a neighborhood bar is a smoky tavern, a place for quiet conversation, or maybe even a book and a cig. You can attempt all of the above at the Manor--which doubles as a brassy supper club--but we bet you'd rather gather around the… More >>
  • BEST NEW BAND

    At Lunar 9's live debut April 4, opening for Polara in the Entry, audience reaction varied from "The best first show I've ever seen a band play!" to "Pretty good Oasis tribute." The truth is probably somewhere in between. Four years in the making, Lunar 9 rose to the stage from the ashes of several local bands that specialized in… More >>
  • BEST NEW NIGHTCLUB

    The Twin Cities clubscape typically grows when old-guard drinking holes such as Mayslacks or the Terminal Bar either build stages in the corner or elevate the hipness quotient of their band bookings. The new music space with the best environmental control, though, would be the Twilight Lounge, the remodeled back room of the Jitters Cafe in downtown Minneapolis. The aptly… More >>
  • BEST NEWSPAPER BEAT WRITER

    Sweeney is the perfect guy to afflict the comfortable. Eschewing the chummy, chat-'em-up school of beat reporting, he's a tireless researcher and dogged interviewer who doesn't much care whether or not his sources like him, so long as he gets the story straight. That was evident in his biggest coup of the past year, the revelation that Twins owner Carl… More >>
  • BEST NEWSPAPER COLUMNIST

    He calls himself a moderate, but from week to week for the past 11 years this sports-columnist-turned-news-junkie has been in the trenches for the little guy, taking shots at the Man. As a journalist, he continually scoops his opinionated peers, unearthing people, places, and things Strib reporters skip past on their daily beats. Like his idols--Chicago's Mike Royko before he… More >>
  • BEST OLE AND LENA JOKE

    Professional and amateur Scandinavians alike recognize that the Ole & Lena joke is a necessary and inescapable ethnic albatross. So, just like an Italian-American with a pasta sauce, or a Scot with a plaid wallet, the Scando-Yank might as well keep a good Ole & Lena handy for those (frequent) awkward pauses in conversation: Ole and Lena got married. On… More >>
  • BEST OPEN-MIKE NIGHT

    Midnight is the witching hour--especially when chanteuse Leslie Ball takes the stage in her self-titled open-mike performance cabaret. After priming the audience with her silky vocals, Ball becomes glamorous hostess to a lineup of seven-minute wonders. Anyone can get in on the act: musicians, dancers, poets, comedians, performers who defy characterization. Just talk to Leslie before the Saturday midnight start… More >>
  • BEST PICKUP BASKETBALL GAME

    If you're a thirtysomething who's nearly a decade removed from competitive play, don't bring your sorry, nostalgic ass to this court. Ankle-breaking crossover dribbles and sweet fadeaway jumpers are the rule here, and while the "no blood, no foul" catechism is regularly violated by at least one whiner or two, you can expect enough physical defense to bump you out… More >>
  • BEST PICKUP HOCKEY GAME

    The heck with baby shoes; in certain neighborhoods on the East Side of St. Paul, hockey is such a family value that parents are more likely to bronze their child's first pair of skates. After the best of these kids have proven their mettle on high school or college teams and are still itching for a pickup game on the… More >>
  • BEST PICKUP JOINT

    Calling all girls with a taste for bad boys, cheap drinks, and experimental music (or any combination thereof): Here's an adventure for you. Stroll into the Terminal Bar on Tuesday nights, all by your badass, lonesome self, and sit down at the bar. Act cool. Lazily gaze at the band onstage. Look chic and a little bored. Occasionally give your… More >>
  • BEST PINBALL MACHINE IN A BAR

    George Lucas goes head-to-head with Steven Spielberg in this category, as Indiana Jones edges out the much-beloved Star Wars machine, which recently returned to First Avenue. Though slapping a small metal ball with prosthetic flippers may seem pretty much the same from machine to machine, the "plot" here involves tunnels, stampeding elephants, and edible monkey brains. And somewhere inside this… More >>
  • BEST PLACE FOR A FIRST DATE

    At $4 a ticket, you can afford to take a date to the Minneapolis Planetarium and have things not work out. That's not likely, however, given how much fun this indoor sky-gazing venue can be: It's dark, the ambient music's not half bad, and you watch from a low, cushy bench as the Minneapolis skyline--or at least its 360-degree likeness--is… More >>
  • BEST PLACE FOR A PICNIC

    Are the concrete slabs and shimmering glass megastructures of the city beginning to suffocate you? Would you like a respite from late-20th-century cacophony, but without the commute? A quiet picnic in the park might be just the balm for your weary soul, and at Nicollet Island Park you can relish the guilty pleasure of getting away from it all without… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BIRD-WATCH

    Pack your bird guide and your binocs, because you're bound to see some uncommon species here. The big guys--bald eagles, pelicans, and egrets--like to hang out in these parts, and if you're lucky, you'll glimpse some showy, smaller ones too, like warblers, indigo buntings, and ruby-crowned kinglets. The refuge is a rest stop for migrating birds, a nursery for waterfowl,… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO CANOE

    One of the singular joys of canoeing in the Twin Cities is the surprising pocket of peace and solitude you can find on all of our lakes, thanks to a longstanding law against most boat motors. Even a busy day on Lake Calhoun is no noisier than the nearest sail that wants trimming. If solitude is the measure of a… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO CROSS-COUNTRY SKI

    There's only one major city in the world with better cross-country skiing than the Twin Cities, and that's Oslo, the virtual birthplace and acknowledged Mecca of the sport. So anyone with a serious yen for this most graceful and noble of winter pastimes knows the only thing more common here than a good ski trail is a lighted hockey rink.… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO DUMP SOMEONE

    As Big Muddy's waters ooze past, you think of where it all began and where it will end. This mighty river, you consider, starts as a naive little spring, growing with each tributary until, grown grand and polluted, it ends in a Mardi Gras climax at the Gulf. The ocean accepts, changing the freshwater to salt, until the hot equatorial… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO GET DUMPED

    When you're looking into the abyss, faced with the love of your life wielding the heartbreak ax, you might as well stare into your postrelationship future. Take time to look around you. Mortimer's is filled with auguries of the long, lonely months ahead. Gone are the intimate hours of cuddling; soon your life will be consumed by interminable evenings of… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO GO CAMPING

    Certainly, one of the primary appeals of camping is getting as far away from other humans as possible. But you don't have to drive all day to achieve this. Within an hour of the city, you can pitch a tent under the stars, backpack into a remote campsite, and see wildlife besides squirrels. Some of the best campsites within a… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO HEAR BLUEGRASS

    If you like beer with your bluegrass, head over to Dulono's on Lake Street. But if you don't mind standing and coffee is your fuel of choice, the most beguiling boinging can be heard at the Homestead Pickin' Parlor's "Jam Sessions." Here, music shoppers and anonymous local pickers alike bring their banjos, fiddles, dobros, spoons, and everything else to make… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO HIKE (URBAN)

    Crosby Regional Park beats out the chain of lakes, Theodore Wirth Parkway, and the bluffs on several counts: There's no risk of getting beaned by a beach volleyball, no chance of crashing an upscale wedding, and no danger of losing your footing off a cliff. This park is serene, sparsely peopled, even terrain that shifts with the seasons and the… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO HIKE (WOODSY)

    Carver Park's many miles of trails traverse 3,300 acres of rolling prairie and maple- and oak-studded woodland. But the park's true treasure is 1,700 feet of boardwalk that penetrate several acres of cattail marshland near the Lowry Nature Center. Encompassing four lakes, the park is home to ducks, egrets, and muskrats, and has recently seen the reintroduction of the once-threatened… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO HORSE AROUND

    Here in the Big City, the high cost of acreage coupled with the threat of lawsuits (you mean you can get hurt falling off a horse?) means renting mounts for trail rides is largely a thing of the past. But that doesn't mean you have to forgo the chance to be around horses. When you're ready to put away your… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO ICE SKATE

    Sure, Lake of the Isles' expansive skating area suits the Lipinski-ites and the desperately seeking singles, but if you shimmy in the Michelle Kwan school of solitaire artistry, Loring Park's recently enlarged pond is hard to beat. El Niño ruled it out in '98, but the Loring's advantages include a deluxe warming house, lights and music at night, and free… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO JOG

    This asphalt path curls up to the Mississippi River, stretches uninterrupted for miles, and boasts one of the finest views in Minneapolis. In the summer, the trees that line the boulevard form the sort of lush, green canopies that the Cities' streets used to have before Dutch elm disease struck. Autumn yields a fiery rainbow of color and winter shows… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO MEET SINGLE MEN (GAY)

    The amenities--three bars, Web access, regularly scheduled DJs and VJs--aren't that unlike those of any well-kept downtown watering hole. But it's the Saloon's commitment to offer a haven for both scene vets and novices that makes it stand out. "It's pretty hard to disentangle the Saloon from the gay community," says manager James A. Anderson, who considers his establishment a… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO MEET SINGLE MEN (STRAIGHT)

    The advantages: If his head's not on straight, at least it's pointed in the right direction; you have weeks to ponder his character, as well as his assets, before making a move; and if you're in the "bad boy" phase, the pickings are plentiful. On the downside is the fact that these guys have even more "issues" than your average… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO MEET SINGLE WOMEN (GAY)

    Judging by her choice of reading material--Dorothy Allison, Audre Lorde, Alison Bechdal--she's definitely an Ellen. (Didn't we see her at the Dinah Shore Open?) The question remains: Is she yoked or free-range? You strut, you stare, you sigh. She fails to take notice. As k.d. lang croons in the background, you collapse into a couch at the back of the… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO MEET SINGLE WOMEN (STRAIGHT)

    It's the adult version of the kid-in-the-candy-store principle: The selection is astounding! (And you can pick your playground, too.) From Hooters to Planet Hollywood to Players--acre for acre, there's more drinking and mingling at the Mall than anywhere else in the five-state area. If you prefer to move at a slower pace, the bookstores offer decent opportunities; there are several… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO ROLLERBLADE (INDOOR)

    After dodging gravel, twigs, and God knows what else on city sidewalks, skating at the Dome is like gliding on glass. The concrete floors encircling the stadium are so smooth that even first-time bladers lose their fear of falling. To further calm skaters' nerves, protective gear (including wrist, knee, and elbow pads) is available free of charge. For more advanced… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO ROLLERBLADE (OUTDOOR)

    The beauty of this location is that it serves bladers of varying skills while dishing up some of the best people-watching in the city. Start your roll at Lake Harriet (the shadiest of the three lakes) and wend your way north. On the south end of Lake Calhoun, the populace ranges from urban hip hoppers with bass-booming boxes to suburban… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO SALSA

    The selection of local salsa nights is surprisingly rich: Throughout the week, dancers and awed spectators can bask in los ritmos afrocubanos in such spaces as Amelia's, South Beach, and the downtown Hyatt. But the Quest on Monday nights is the center of the scene, a fact that owes less to the club's glitzy decor than the night's diverse clientele… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO WALK YOUR DOG

    Sure, there are always the trails around the lakes--but pulling Pooch off a rollerblader's legs is only fun so many times. If your canine's well-being (or your insurance bill) demands a diversion, leave the leash at home and head out to Hennepin Parks' Elm Creek Reserve. Tucked away at the end of a trail off County Road 202 is the… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO WATCH EAGLES MIGRATE

    You know the feeling, that bittersweet urge, that pull on the pit of your stomach that says: "What are you still doing here? What happened to seeing the world?" It's especially hard to escape in the fall, when the eagles circle overhead in that effortless, perfect glide that sets them on their way south. For a near-intolerable dose, head to… More >>
  • BEST POLITICIAN

    He's not cool. He's not even funny. He's annoying as hell, running around with that tight-lipped smile, that rumpled shirt, that voice that never quite broke. He's your grade-school civics teacher, your senior-high student-government enthusiast writ large; worst of all, he seems to actually believe all that stuff about democracy, ethics, and fairness. Doesn't he know that it doesn't work… More >>
  • BEST POOL HALL

    No fancy finger food here to mess up your cue. No booze to stagger your shot. No overdressed yuppies with $250 sticks trying to impress each other playing 8-ball. This out-of-the-way, no-frills parlor is all about the game--chesslike straight pool and breakneck 9-ball. The well-kept tables are generously spaced, giving everyone from the hotshot high school banger to the ol'… More >>
  • BEST POP GROUP

    We looked high and low for the successors to the hallowed "'Sota Pop" class of '94, but these perennial heroes remain the best thing we have going. On last year's excellent So We Go they channeled an assortment of sweet, '60s pop sentiments through the sonic soul of the Byrds, and that nary acknowledged pop influence, Simon and Garfunkel. It… More >>
  • BEST POUR OF GUINNESS

    A year ago last October, owner Tom Scanlon changed the name of his Ace Bar, a popular hangout for students at St. Thomas, to the Dubliner Pub--an appropriate move considering his Irish brogue and the establishment's reputation for artfully pouring a glass of Guinness stout. The cost: a still-reasonable $3.75. During the week they go through at least 15 kegs… More >>
  • BEST PUBLIC ART

    The 45-minute drive north may deter those who like their art parks nice and close, but the ambling peace of Franconia Sculpture Park would be impossible in the busy confines of the city. On a 14-acre plot in the rural nowhere between Shafer and Taylors Falls, local and international sculptors prop up massive works in various stages of completion: A… More >>
  • BEST PUBLIC BUILDING

    There's nothing quite like stepping into the Great Reading Room for the first time and having your gaze drawn up, way up, to the dark-paneled ceiling; like straining to see the walls of books, two stories high and ringed by wrought-iron balconies; like running your hands over the granite columns that could be holding up the Acropolis. Never mind that… More >>
  • BEST PUBLIC PARK

    Okay, so Minneapolis has 170 parks to St. Paul's 150; so Minneapolis's park system was recently lauded by urban-planning demigod and Yale professor Alexander Garvin as "the best located, best financed, best maintained public open space in America." But they don't have gorillas over there, do they? They don't have palm trees under glass, Technicolor bulb shows, candlelight weddings, ultimate… More >>
  • BEST PUBLIC REST ROOM

    Sci-fi author Robert Heinlein once said that the first sign of a decaying society is unsightly public washrooms. If that's true, then the people at Bloomingdale's are trying to lift us all to a new level of civilization. Pinks and peaches adorn the couch and love seat in the sitting area of the women's lounge, and a small private area… More >>
  • BEST PUBLIC WORKS PROJECT

    In an era of government cost-cutting, public-works projects that display both civic-mindedness and artistic value are rare. But the 200-foot span of galvanized steel lofted above the east entrance to Chanhassen is both pragmatic and pretty. With a price tag of $850,000, construction of the pedestrian bridge was not without controversy. But the structure not only links the city's southern… More >>
  • BEST REASON TO LOVE THE METRODOME

    "Baseball Museum" doesn't begin to do justice to Ray Crump's monument just across the railroad tracks from the Marshmallow Mausoleum, and with major-league baseball still threatening to skip town, there may be no more perfect time than this summer for a jaw-dropping visit. The front of the cluttered and noisy space masquerades as a sports-memorabilia shop, selling everything from T-shirts… More >>
  • BEST REGGAE BAND

    Shangoya may be Minnesota's elder statesmen of Island music, but the All-Stars still have a way of stirring a crowd into a mellow mess. The band started as a one-off lark back in the early '90s when a group of guys from various local bands jammed onstage at a party for Bob Marley's birthday. Since then, these members of Shangoya,… More >>
  • BEST RENOVATION

    England has its ruined abbeys, Greece the Parthenon. Minneapolis has the legacy of flour, and this picturesque ruin to commemorate it. In 1873 Cadwallader Washburn built what was then the largest flour mill in the world at the foot of Portland Avenue. Powered by the water from St. Anthony Falls, it was just one of dozens of flour, lumber, and… More >>
  • BEST RESURRECTION

    Two winters ago the only signs of life around this property were a set of dog tracks in the snow and a small, scraggly pine weeping ice in the side yard. The 112-year-old Central neighborhood grande dame had been condemned by city inspectors, boarded up, nailed shut, and slated for demolition. But 3044, built of the stuff dreams were made… More >>
  • BEST ROAD TEAR-UP

    Veterans of war and urban planning say you should always suspect incompetence ahead of conspiracy as a reason for the otherwise inexplicable. And so we won't assume that when Minneapolis plunked a Kmart smack in the middle of the Lake-Nicollet intersection, it wasn't consciously trying to fortify the thin red line of Lake Street against the dark-skinned masses encroaching from… More >>
  • BEST ROCK CLUB

    Gotta give props to the monolith. In an age when the clubs that used to make up the American punk-rock network seem to be outnumbered by outlets of the House of Blues, First Ave. remains one of the most catholic rock clubs in the country. Booking everything from West African folk to the Flaming Lips Experiment, the main room remains… More >>
  • BEST RUMOR

    Probably best known as the setting for Christian Slater's turn as a waitress stalker in Untamed Heart, Jim's Bakery has been vacant for a few years now. Several factions of the local music community--from the crusty punks in South Minneapolis to the indie rockers at the UM--have thrown around the idea of turning this one-time Nordeast greasy spoon into a… More >>
  • BEST SANCTUARY FROM THE FAST TRACK

    Established more than 90 years ago by a schoolteacher and naturalist who foresaw the urban sprawl that has made many Minnesota birds and wildflowers rare sights, these 14 acres are a sliver of lovingly tended paradise. All the environments we've paved over are represented: woodland, wetland, prairie, oak savannah. The garden is a living museum of native plants and wildflowers,… More >>
  • BEST SAXOPHONIST (ALTO)

    Even before he suffered a heart attack and colon cancer--and started playing better than ever--Berger was a local jazz legend, having virtually founded the Twin Cities bebop scene after moving here from Philly in 1959. A stone disciple of Charlie Parker, Berger has mentored literally hundreds of musicians both in the classroom and on the bandstand. But that's not why… More >>
  • BEST SAXOPHONIST (TENOR)

    When T.S. Monk brought an acclaimed ensemble to the Guthrie Theater last winter to honor the compositions of his father, Thelonious Monk, one of his saxophonists fell ill the day of the gig. After a series of frantic phone calls to unearth a local horn player who could read and adequately play some of the most complex and idiosyncratic tunes… More >>
  • BEST SHOW OF SPINE

    History has a few choice examples of what happens when people of otherwise good sense turn off their bullshit detectors. History also shows how hard it is to go against the current: When everyone around you believes that the emperor is fully clothed, who are you to state the obvious? Which is to say that people like Judge Jack Nordby… More >>
  • BEST SOCIAL SERVICE AGENCY

    It was lawyers at the Neighborhood Justice Center who recently defended Juan Garcia, accused of joining four women in a drug-related robbery. It's also NJC attorneys who are handling several cases involving elderly Southeast Asian shamans charged with possession of opium, a substance used in their culture for medicinal purposes and in religious ceremonies. To these folks it's all the… More >>
  • BEST SOLO ALBUM

    Even the promise of Casey's first CD didn't adequately prepare us for the emotional intensity, brittle humor, and commanding metaphors that weave through Super America (Urban Ear). He's a competent guitarist, getting fairly folksy support here from his open-ended backup band, the Old Possums. But Casey's main strengths lie in the expressiveness of his songwriting and delivery. Except for the… More >>
  • BEST SOLO MUSICIAN

    The funny thing is, he doesn't play solo much, preferring the synergistic spark of simpatico accompanists like superlative jazz bassist Anthony Cox, or the unique percussionist Marcus Wise. But when Dean Magraw decides to take over a song, be it on acoustic or electric guitar, everybody else onstage knows enough simply to mark time, fill in some encouraging accents, and… More >>
  • BEST SONGWRITER

    It was a typically iconoclastic move for Mike Merz, your basic outcast singer/songwriter, to open his EP, Merzworld, with an old-school rap (and a good one, at that!), boasting, "A lot of wack songwriters in this land of the lakes/Wouldn't know a fresh lyric if it hit 'em in the face!" He's right, of course, but Merz himself is one… More >>
  • BEST SPORTS BAR

    If you're in search of a big screen with Surround Sound, scantily clad waitresses, and overpriced designer beer to pump up your game day, stay clear of this old-fashioned neighborhood watering hole. This place is for sports fans: blue-collar, worn-white-collar, and college-aged. The seen-it-all wait staff will get you started with a 23-ounce "schooner" of brew (preferably Leinies), a basket… More >>
  • BEST STRANGE BEDFELLOWS

    Let there be no mistake: Both Kirk Hill and Charles Disney are certifiable oddballs, at least compared to a lot of the soft-spoken process-heads who pass for community activists around here. But like most eccentrics, these two--one representing poor tenants, the other the landlords who rent to them--are on to something. They know that, though they may have been mortal… More >>
  • BEST STRIP CLUB (FEMALE DANCERS)

    With a $6 cover and airport-priced drinks ($4.75 for a Coke!), Schieks is no cheap thrill. But you get what you pay for: an aura of class in a dimly lit, well-decorated setting where every part of the room seems both intimate and somewhat visible from everywhere else. The inside of this vaulted room features a molded ceiling, a bar… More >>
  • BEST STRIP CLUB (MALE DANCERS)

    Even with the much-hyped hetero influx, the 90's remains the quintessential downtown club, a high-ceilinged, multiroom, multilevel complex with an unparalleled hip-hop floor, a bone-rattling house floor, enormous (and cheap) hamburgers, strong (cheap) drinks, a peerless drag show, a leather room (the "men's room"), and male exotic dancers as friendly and clean-cut (and straight?) as any human specimen this side… More >>
  • BEST TENNIS COURTS

    As bucolic as free tennis can get this close to the city, these half-dozen clean, well-maintained courts are located half a block south of Highway 55 and just west of Winnetka Avenue: far enough from the highway to keep car noise minimal even at rush hour and close enough to the Brookview Golf Course and adjacent park to allow for… More >>
  • BEST THING TO HAPPEN AT THE TWIN CITIES AIRPORT

    So they're rebuilding the runways to send more jets roaring over more backyards; so they're putting up a $150 million parking ramp that might have to come down in 10 years. Let's give the Metropolitan Airports Commission credit for one job well done: letting Icelandair have some gates for direct service to Reykjavík and 18 cities in Europe. Now here's… More >>
  • BEST TILT AT A WINDMILL

    You may have seen the billboard, heading back from the airport on that winding stretch of Hiawatha Avenue that hasn't yet been turned into a semi-freeway: "STOP the Reroute," it says in a multicolored script nestled amid pictures of trees and a kindergarten sun. It's almost heart-wrenching in its assumption that, if people only knew, the powers that be would… More >>
  • BEST TIMBERWOLVES PLAYER

    Will Garnett be worth $126 million over the next seven years? We'd guess that in 2005 the answer will still be yes. In the hyperathletic National Basketball Association, KG stands out as a singular talent: a 7-foot-tall player who's as quick as a mongoose, who has what coach Flip Saunders refers to as "Inspector Gadget arms" that seem to extend… More >>
  • BEST TOURIST ATTRACTION

    With its myriad breast-enlargement devices, phrenological contraptions, and the type of foot X-ray machines once found in fashionable shoe shops, this pint-size museum would shake even the surgeon general's faith in modern medicine. The home of the 250-item collection--the once-thriving, now-sleepy St. Anthony Main--is itself a testament to faddishness. Thankfully, the days of radium suppositories (once believed to boost sexual… More >>
  • BEST TOURIST TRAP

    If we were apt to argue with God, we'd point out that absorbing 2.5 million square feet of retail is not necessarily something for a metropolitan area to be proud of. We'd complain that we'd like 18 square feet of affordable housing, not shopping, for every man, woman, and child. We'd gnash our teeth at the very idea of 16… More >>
  • BEST TRADE

    With apologies to Twins pitcher Eric Milton--who looks like a future star but is one of the principals who cost us Chuck Knoblauch--the best local sports swap over the past year has to be the February deal that brought shooting guard Anthony Peeler to the Minnesota Timberwolves from Vancouver in exchange for Doug West. At the time of the trade,… More >>
  • BEST TWINS PLAYER

    Last season, the ever-diligent Radke fine-tuned the location of his off-speed pitches with spectacular results: 20 wins (including 12 in a row), an ERA below 4, the seventh-best strikeout total in the American League, and a third-place finish in the Cy Young voting. The guy really has no weaknesses, as he also fields his position well and presents an above-average… More >>
  • BEST UNPAVING OF PARADISE TO FEND OFF A PARKING LOT

    Folks in Richfield like their cars as much as the next suburbanite, but it turns out they like their trees, too. When citizens woke up in December to discover a 3-acre section of Veterans Memorial Park had been denuded of 208 old oaks and cottonwoods in preparation for the construction of a city parking garage, they didn't just sit there… More >>
  • BEST USE OF TAXPAYER DOLLARS

    Make that the central library's eight reference desks: Business and Economics; Technology/Science/Government Documents; History and Travel; Literature and Language; Art/Music/Video; Sociology/Religion/Sports; Children's; and Special Collections. (This last one houses the library's Minneapolis Collection, a treasure trove of photographs, documents, and old City Council minutes.) Last year the 46 info-sleuths who staff the desks answered more than 1.15 million questions--almost 440,000… More >>
  • BEST VICTIM

    Used to be ships got stolen, and they called it pirating. Then planes, and they called it hijacking. When it was kids, it was kidnapping. Now it's houses, and they call it honeycombing. Sometimes the owner's there and the jackers still just move in and set up shop until things get too hot to stay. Sometimes the owner's out of… More >>
  • BEST VIEW

    For a split second as you drive west across the bridge carrying I-94 across the Mississippi, it's possible to imagine that you're not in your car, that you're not about to slam into the I-35W gridlock or the stream of office workers fleeing downtown Minneapolis. Below, the muddy waters meander and the greenbelt still sports some joggers and dog-walkers. Trees… More >>
  • BEST VIKINGS PLAYER

    By now everyone's heard about this defensive lineman's numbers--the league-leading 84 sacks since 1991, the five straight Pro Bowl starts, the $32.5 million over five years. But what really sets him apart is his appreciation for pro football as high theater. Randle often dons face paint before doing battle, and with his creative, nonstop jabbering, he's raised trash talk to… More >>
  • BEST VOCALIST (FEMALE)

    Music and media artiste Ana Voog (a.k.a. Rachael Olson) is best known, here and around the world, as the star of www.anacam.com, a 24-hour Web site that lets the viewer watch everything in her weird yet workaday home life (yes, everything). The problem with this new medium is that it ignores Ana's most exceptional, versatile asset: her voice. On songs… More >>
  • BEST VOCALIST (MALE)

    Face it, the world of masculine rock vocals is a sorry lot, loaded with fake soul and alt-rock's characteristic post-Vedder moaning and leering. Yet there are exceptions. John H. Knowles is a droll, middle-aged fella--also known as "The Caveman" to some--whose entire body quakes after he plugs in his wah-wah banjo and yelps and gurgles out mock-tragic lyrics such as… More >>
  • BEST WEEKEND GETAWAY

    Less than a hundred miles south of the Twin Cities, the Mississippi widens to form Lake Pepin. The lake straddles the border between Minnesota and Wisconsin; on the east side, nestled at the base of soaring bluffs, sits the miniature town of Pepin. The setting is spectacular, and so are the sunsets that highlight the sailing vessels on the lake.… More >>
Loading...