BEST BOWLING ALLEY - 2002
Minnehaha Lanes - CLOSED
Cold hard fact: These towns are lousy with excellent bowling opportunities, the likes of which no longer exist in most metropolitan areas. Notable contenders for the Best Bowling Alley crown include New Hope Bowl and Doyle's up toward the northwest (be sure to avail yourself of the pizza at the former and the karaoke at the latter), and Elsie's in Nordeast. The venerable Bryant-Lake more than makes up in entertainment value what it gives up in lane conditions. And don't miss Ran-Ham in St. Paul: If you dig Bryant-Lake for the faux nostalgia factor, this place offers the real thing. All that said, this year we're going with Minnehaha. The first thing that got us about this gem, which occupies the back end of a forlorn mall-ette about a half-mile east of Lexington Parkway, was the huge faded sign on top, which lists what we consider to be life's essentials: Food. Bowling. Cocktails. Inside, the space is divided in two, with one side rigged for "midnight bowling"--you know, that black-light extravaganza that makes your balls glow. We like the other side. But whatever your pleasure, all 40 lanes are painstakingly maintained. There's a decent selection of house balls, and if you're really into your kegling, plenty of serious league action. The lounge is spacious and clean, the staff is friendly, and right next door is one of the best pro shops we've seen in town: Mike's. Buy a ball and they'll give you a free lesson.