Best of the Twin Cities: Introduction

The national media makes love to Gov. Jesse Ventura at least three times a month. Minneapolis just banked millions on Final Four weekend. Even that "nasty" Janet Jackson prefers to party in the land of 10,000 lakes. And yet thousands of Minnesotans still suffer from an inferiority complex, the sense that there's more to do and see in almost every other major metropolitan area in the country (except maybe Cleveland). That is why we're sure that at least a few curmudgeons among our readership (and we know you're out there), believe our choice of an agriculture theme for Best of the Twin Cities 2001 is some snide alternative journalist's idea of a joke, a thinly veiled reference to our coastal status as a flyover state.


As we do every year at this time, the editorial staff at City Pages took a few weeks off from digging up dirt to throw some roses (or in this case, fertilizer) at all the great things the Twin Cities metro has to offer--an expanding area, we were recently reminded, that becomes more diverse, more eclectic, and more sought-after with each passing year. Judging by the unprecedented response to our annual Readers' Poll, we're not alone in our springtime optimism. More than 1,700 ballots were cast, for everything from Best Neighborhood Bar in St. Paul (winner: O'Gara's) to Best Toy Store (Creative Kidstuff). Kevin Garnett was the top vote-getter, easily winning Best Timberwolves Player with more than 500 ballots in his name. (Lest you think we've become predictable, our writers chose Sam Mitchell). Governor Ventura snagged Best Politician and Best Villain--both by landslides. And corn dogs edged out cheese curds for Best State Fair Food. Scandalous!

We chimed in with a few surprises of our own, of course (with more than 325 items to work with, we had plenty of opportunities): a chef whose specialties include Chinese chicken with root-beer sauce; a place where you can lube your after-hours libido with oysters and Champagne; a used-record shop with its own listening lounge; dozens of places to tie one on; and more than a few ways to while away the morning after.

Before leaving you to search for the Best French Fries and the Best Beach on which to nibble them, we want to extend a special thanks to Fred Petters and his accomplice, Dana Lewman, for the stunning photographs that grace this year's categories, and to Michael Dvorak, who shot the pictures that accompany the "Locals We Love" feature scattered throughout. Also to Ben Ganje, Caitlin McNally, Julie Madsen, and Natasha Uspensky for their much-needed help with the details.

One final piece of very good news that seems appropriate to share in this context of superlatives: This past Sunday night at the annual James Beard Foundation Journalism Awards banquet in New York, City Pages food writer Dara Moskowitz won top honors for Newspaper Restaurant Review or Critique. The James Beard Awards competition is open to all U.S. publications and is not subdivided according to circulation--which means Dara now occupies a category all her own: Best Restaurant Reviewer in the Nation.