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-   -   Visiting Minnesota? Everything you need to know here! (http://hfboards.hockeysfuture.com/showthread.php?t=922603)

llamapalooza 06-07-2011 02:30 PM

Visiting Minnesota? Everything you need to know here!


We have the Q&A Thread for people visiting, and it's served its purpose, but I'm working on a more definitive FAQ to go up on FRB, and I need some input.

Here's the outline I have so far, but please chip in recommendations, particularly on things like where to stay and eat, and what to do. Once we flesh things out a bit, I'll post each section in full separately for group scrutiny before adding it to the final post on FRB.

Intro - The Twin Cities: Yes! There are two of them!
- Minneapolis vs. St. Paul
- "Minnesota Nice" and the myth of the passive fan

About the X
- Arena Location
- Getting There
- Seats & Tickets

Where to Stay
(Any Thoughts? I'll mention the St. Paul if they're extravagantly wealthy, but I don't really know St. Paul's hotels other than that.)

Where to Eat
- Best Burger (hotly contested)
--- Jucy Lucy Controversy (I <3 Matt's)
- Best Pizza/Italian (Cosetta?)
- Best Poutine (gotta be Burger Jones)
- Best "fancy food" (suggestions?)
- Hockey bars (suggestions?)
- Apologies for our lack of Tim Hortons

What to Do
(This seems like an easier list to make for the offseason when there's more stuff going on... I mean I guess we can mention the Mall? Some of the theaters and museums, maybe. First Ave?)

this providence 06-07-2011 02:53 PM

I'll give this a shot. I'll likely omit things but maybe I'll come back to things...

Where to Stay -- I'd suggest really anything in Bloomington by the Mall of America. Names of the hotels escape me at the moment, but that is central to most places to visit. This is of coarse if you're renting a car, which I think you pretty much need to do. Short drive to the X by hoping on 494 to 35E. Right next to airport/MOA. Easy drive to get into Minneapolis. Close to Matt's Bar. And so on. I mainly recommend in Bloomington to my friends who intend on visiting.

Where to Eat
- Best Burger -- Matt's Bar. Don't sleep on Shamrocks near the X.
- Best Pizza/Italian -- Cosettas if we're talking near the X
- Best "fancy food" -- Manny's. Fogo de Chao. Ichiban. Khans (not all that fancy. deserves a nod.)
- Hockey bars Tom Reids. Eagle St. Both close to X.

What to Do -- World Pond Hockey Championships. College/High School game. Science Museum. (I'll add more)

rynryn 06-07-2011 03:41 PM

Where to Stay -- If you're here for a game and want to bump into players, stay at the St. Paul Hotel. They have decent food, too (St. Paul Grill). It's a walk through the park away from the X.

Where to Eat
- Best Burger -- Blue Door Pub if you want to venture ~ 5 miles away. American Burger Bar if you want to stay downtown St. Paul
- Best Pizza/Italian -- Pizza Luce (halfway to Blue Door Pub down the same street) if venturing, Reds Savoy for Pizza, Cossettas for cheap Italian, Pazzaluna for more adventerous (and costly) Italian
- Best "fancy food" -- Can't go wrong with Mannys, but if i'm spending money I would go to The Strip Club for the best drinks and order a bunch of small plates. Check out their menu! They created "Poutine Extreme" for the flames who ate there and it's now a menu item...though i haven't tried it.
- Hockey bars -- Tom Reids, Eagle Street, though there are a bunch to chose from and most of them have hockey fans milling around before and after game time.

Jarick 06-07-2011 04:31 PM

Minneapolis vs. St. Paul
Minneapolis is the big city with the skyscrapers and crime and lots of bars. St Paul is an older town, more low key. Basically the Twin Cities are two downtown areas that fade out into burroughs and suburbs surrounded by a freeway belt (494/694) rather than just one city.

"Minnesota Nice" and the myth of the passive fan
There is no myth, we're pretty whiny but passive, unless you go to a Vikings game, in which case you're probably going to get punched by a redneck.

Where to Stay
I'll second the suggestion of finding a hotel around Bloomington either near the Mall of America or near highway 100 and 494. And yes, you'll want to rent a car because we don't have a good public transit system, because we're not one city with a grid but two spiderwebs overlapping each other.

Where to Eat

Burgers: Matt's is the favorite, but I love Ike's in Minneapolis and have heard excellent things about Burger Jones and Burger Moes (which is a few blocks west of the Xcel but impossible to get a seat on game nights). Way under the radar but excellent is the American Burger Bar, kind of behind the X but walking distance. Minnesota does good burgers and bar food.

And this may be sacrilege but I don't get the Jucy Lucy hype, maybe it's because I haven't had one in a while, but I prefer a seared or char grilled high quality sirloin burger with really juicy toppings and a fresh bun. Boiling hot cheese inside a pair of patties cooked on the griddle doesn't compare to high quality meat crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, with thick cheese that melts on top. But that's just me.

Best Pizza: hands down Pizza Luce. There are a few locations but they have insane variety and incredibly fresh and flavorful pizzas. You can get taco or loaded baked potato pizzas!

Best Italian: I think Cosettas is kind of overrated; reminds me of cafetera food. I will go with Buca di Beppo because the ambiance is cool, the food is amazing (and way more variety), but portions are huge so bring the family and split a couple smaller dishes. Always a really good time. Also, DeGidio's down 7th (a couple miles from the X) has solid food at incredible prices and doesn't have a 45 min wait like Cosettas does.

Best Poutine: we don't have poutine; we have cheese curds. Nothing comes close to the State Fair ones though, but Chris and Robs, also on 7th has decent ones, plus I like the A&W chain version.

Best "fancy food": definitely going with Manny's because I haven't had Fogo, but Manny's has the oversized everything cooked insanely well and the prices to match. Avoid Chino Latinos, overpriced and a terrible dining experience. Stella's isn't quite as fancy but has some of the best seafood in Minneapolis, especially if you like fish and chips. Mancini's in St Paul on 7th is an excellent choice as well.

Hockey bars: Tom Reid's a few blocks west of the X on 7th. Gotta be Tom Reid's. Joe Senser's is okay in a pinch but not for a tourist.

Other bars: Okay I'm awful with the night clubs as I like to drink beer in a pub atmosphere. Brit's in Minneapolis is fantastic, especially in the summer with the eye candy. Great beer selection and food. The Local which is nearby is also great. And Kieran's. Basically all our Irish/British pubs are fun. Hipsters love the dive bars in North Minneapolis, but I won't go near there. St Paul, there's O'Gara's for a good standard bar (sometimes with music). There's the Onion nightclub which is about .01% as awesome as The Onion newspaper. Some other bars too but every time I'm in St Paul at bars its with women who want to dance and me to hold their purses.

Coffee: there are a lot of small shops but Caribou and Dunn Bros are our coffee shops.

What to Do
Aside from playing/watching hockey, drinking, and eating? Not a lot. We have the Mall of America if you like to shop and walk around until your legs fall off. I don't think Minnesota's known for much else. We like our food, our booze, and our sports. Unless you like art or theater I guess, we have a lot of museums and indie theater troupes. Some comedy clubs as well. If you're a hipster, go to Uptown Minneapolis and bask in the most hipster neighborhood in the US (not lying at all, it was in a poll a few weeks back). We also have a lot of bicyclists and are very gay friendly too. Again, mostly Uptown. I try and stay the hell away from that place. We also have a lot of live music too, check out First Ave (iconic but overrated), the Fine Line, the Cabooze, Triple Rock, and hundreds more.

Bookman 06-07-2011 05:41 PM

Great Waters deserves some love - their cask conditioned ales are superb, their food is decent, and they are within stumbling distance of the X.

Sabreality 06-07-2011 05:55 PM

jackpot...this is great info

llamapalooza 06-07-2011 07:49 PM

OK, I've got the first two sections written up for FRB. Lemme know what you guys think. Agree/disagree, errors, etc.


So you're coming to Minnesota for a Wild game? Awesome! We'd love to have you in town. The X gets quite a few visitors, especially coming down from Canada, and so we get a lot of questions from would-be travelers. Hopefully this clears some things up.

Minneapolis and St. Paul
Yes! They are separate cities!
They're called "Twin Cities" for a reason: they are not the same. Minneapolis and St. Paul are distinct and unique cities, and although they make up one Metro area, you should know that they don't make up a continuous city. Their downtown cores are separated and you'll need to be able to move between them (unless you want to limit yourself to just one). Minneapolis is the bigger city, with a more interesting downtown full of skyscrapers and nightlife. St. Paul is a bit smaller, both in terms of population and urban density. It's sometimes compared (favorably) to European and Canadian cities for its layout, architecture, and cleanliness.

A lot of the things you might have heard about Minnesota are probably true. During hockey season? Yeah, it's pretty damned cold. "Minnesota Nice"––that unique form of passive-aggression we Minnesotans are famous for showing around strangers, Lutheran church congregations, acquaintances, and in-laws? It's a real thing, and you might run into it at your Wild game if you "step out of line" by doing things like cursing, booing loudly, cheering for your team, or showing emotion. Don't let it bug you, though! We really are nice people, and you'll probably just get everyone around you more into the game. Sometimes the Wild fans need a bit of encouragement to get pumped up about the team. Four years of utter mediocrity can do that, but it also happens in part because a lot of the spectators at games aren't Wild fans––they're hockey fans. Minnesota loves this game, and when we lost our North Stars (and, seriously, we are still bitter at former owner Norm Green) a lot of us started cheering for local schools and college teams instead of an NHL team. We'll still show up and cheer, but because of that history, the Wild aren't #1 in everyone's hearts.

The Xcel Energy Center
Lucky you, you get to see a game at the best arena in the NHL! Well, if ESPN is to be believed, anyway. The wide concourses are awesome, the sightlines are perfect from every seat, and there's a lot of cool **** to see like the Zamboni organ, or hockey sweaters from every high school team in the state on display on the suite level.

Getting There
The Xcel Center is in downtown St. Paul. Unfortunately, St. Paul is not yet connected to Light Rail. Bus is an option––and your tickets let you ride for free for 2 hours before and after the game––but it's rather inconvenient. If you're not staying within walking distance, you'll generally want to drive to the game. In fact, you probably will want to have a car even if you're staying within walking distance of the X, so you have access to Minneapolis and to suburbs like Bloomington, where the Mall of America and airport are located. Driving to the Xcel Center is pretty simple; it's right off I-35E, very near I-94, and easily accessible by two of St. Paul's major roads, Sheppard Rd. and Kellogg Boulevard.

Parking near the Xcel Center can be fairly pricey on game nights ($10-15) but is generally fairly convenient, accessible, and readily available. The RiverCentre ramp is popular, since it is directly connected by skyway (that's an indoor tunnel over the street, for you southerners). I think the parking ramp at the Science Museum (directly across Kellogg Boulevard) is a nice alternative, as it is part of the same structure and is about a sidewalk block separated from the skyway entrance, and comes in $3 cheaper than the RiverCentre ramp. There's also a municipal ramp one block away (anyone know the prices?). Official parking at the Xcel Center is limited to season ticket holders with a parking pass.

Seats and Tickets
A lot of people wonder whether tickets are tough to come by in hockey-mad St. Paul. We did sell out our first four hundred preseason, regular season, and postseason games as a franchise, but that streak came to an end in 2010-11, with attendance dipping as low as 16,000 on a few nights. Still, the arena averaged about 99% of capacity even with the weak on-ice product, so it's probably a good idea to get your tickets ahead of time, unless you're planning on a Student Rush night (M-W nights in 2010-11, but could change). Cheaper tickets, particularly the highly-demanded upper-level ends, tend to go pretty quickly, while "good seats" are pretty readily available. The official TicketExchange, where season ticket holders post tickets they won't use, generally has prices relatively close to face value, and is often a good option to find seats even if the game isn't sold out yet. Single game, face value tickets range from about $25-50 in the upper deck, $75-85 in the lower bowl, and $90-100 on the club level. Prices will be higher for certain "premium" games, depending on the night and the team in town.

In terms of seats, there aren't any bad ones. Nothing obstructed, nothing too far to see, nothing awkward or inaccessible. I've sat on the glass and in the last row of the upper-deck corner, and I'd almost go so far as to say I preferred the view from the cheap seats to being on-the-glass, as it gives a better view of the far end of the ice. As with any arena, the sides tend to be easier to watch from than the ends, though they're also a fair amount more expensive.

rynryn 06-07-2011 07:54 PM

you could mention the various bars that shuttle to the wild game...i don't take them but i know there are a couple out there. O'Garas i believe does one. Park for free, have a beer or two, get shuttled.

llamapalooza 06-07-2011 08:05 PM

OK, I added this to the parking section:


There are also a few bars which offer their customers free parking and shuttles to the Xcel Center on game nights. Alary's, Bennet's, and O'Gara's in St. Paul all offer this service.

shleeban 06-07-2011 08:31 PM

everyones forgetting lions tap for burgers

this providence 06-07-2011 08:36 PM


Originally Posted by shleeban (Post 33489888)
everyones forgetting lions tap for burgers

Eh, too far from most. They're really not 'that' special anyway. Speaking of tap-named places, anyone ever eat at Andy's Tap in Bloomington? It was a dive-ish place but I really liked it. Good burgers. Closed now, though. Was off of Old Shakopee in southwest Bloomington.

Anyway, looks good llp.

rynryn 06-07-2011 08:52 PM

Looks great! Easily better than any local scene type handouts at any hotel i've been in.

rafterman 06-07-2011 08:55 PM


Originally Posted by this providence (Post 33490012)
Eh, too far from most. They're really not 'that' special anyway. Speaking of tap-named places, anyone ever eat at Andy's Tap in Bloomington? It was a dive-ish place but I really liked it. Good burgers. Closed now, though. Was off of Old Shakopee in southwest Bloomington.

Anyway, looks good llp.

I had a few burgers at Andy's over the years...

firstroundbust 06-07-2011 09:20 PM

this concept is a bust without mentioning Alary's for bars and parking...and staff.

Great idea. Love it.

llamapalooza 06-07-2011 10:06 PM


Originally Posted by this providence (Post 33490012)
Eh, too far from most. They're really not 'that' special anyway. Speaking of tap-named places, anyone ever eat at Andy's Tap in Bloomington? It was a dive-ish place but I really liked it. Good burgers. Closed now, though. Was off of Old Shakopee in southwest Bloomington.

Anyway, looks good llp.

I didn't forget Lion's Tap; I haven't gotten to burgers yet. Lion's Tap is pretty great, but it is really far out for someone who's just visiting, especially since they're probably focusing on downtown.

DrMarvinCandle 06-08-2011 08:34 PM

Since nobody's covered what to drink, although the idea of drinking heavily has come up, I cannot over-state the importance of sampling Minnesota beers. Some folks like Summit, but to me, it has always tasted like soy sauce. Coming from the northernmost reaches of New England, I grew up on Labatt's and Molson, neither of which are unheard of in the TC, but if you're looking for a good hockey beer, try Grain Belt Premium. There are more than enough taps at the X, but if you're looking for a good session beer for after/before/during the game, the fruit of New Ulm is the best hockey beer in the area.

If you're into fancy, that's also available. The aforementioned Summit originates from St. Paul, but for me the real local gems are Surly (Brooklyn Center) and Schell's Dark (New Ulm).

Secret bonus protip Do not bother with anything but Philips rail drinks in Minnesota bars. The local distillery makes excellent Rye and Vodka, and Peppermint Schnapps for your wife and girlfriend.

rynryn 06-08-2011 09:04 PM

hell yeah to the Surly nod! I'm actually back into liking Summit again with the unchained series and Horizon Red, but then I tend to buy different beer every time i'm shopping.

GopherState 06-09-2011 12:07 AM

If this hasn't been apparent, I'm all about Surly. And Matt's - no one makes a better Jucy Lucy.

Kari Takko 06-09-2011 12:24 AM

Surly Cynic is the only way to go. It's a PA along the lines of a Summit or Bass Ale.

Anyway, the reason I wanted to post was for best Authentic Mexican because it's so close to the X. El Burrito Mercado is a friggin' gem, and it's right on Robert & Concord (Cesar Chavez).

Jarick 06-09-2011 11:10 AM

Best Mexican is down at Mercado Central, which is a damn-near underground Mexican market. Bring $20 cash and lock your wallet in your glove compartment.

firstroundbust 06-10-2011 07:36 PM

when this does get posted, it should get a permanent spot along the "half wall" with previous posts.

This is a good FAQ for others' reference.

Generic User 06-10-2011 07:45 PM

Yeah, this thread has been shaping up to be great. I was going to thrown Khan's out there but then I saw TP mentioned it. If you're in the St. Cloud area Mongo's is nearly identical to Khan's, except it offers more meat, spice and vegetable options. It's actually cheaper as well. The cooks are more obnoxious, but it's great food.

Bookman 06-11-2011 09:37 AM

Well, if you expand beyond the confines of Downtown St. Paul, there are some spots worth mentioning:

Up behind the Cathedral, on Selby Ave., there are two of the best beer bars around, the Happy Gnome, and the Muddy Pig. The Gnome is a bit more upscale in the food department, but both have an array of taps that will have you calling for a cab by gametime.

Also, over at 7 corners in Minneapolis you have Town Hall Brewery, a great brewpub/eatery.

llamapalooza 06-23-2011 01:27 AM

Well here it is!


I'm going to go back and add a bunch of pictures. Please let me know anything content-wise that should be changed or that was omitted or should be restructured or anything like that.

Foxlockbox 06-23-2011 01:48 PM


Driving to the Xcel Center is pretty simple; it's right off I-35E, very near I-94, and easily accessible by two of St. Paul's major roads, Sheppard Rd. and Kellogg Boulevard.
Oh you name roads after your first round busts now? :sarcasm:

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