Twin Cities Scene best of 2012

With the closing of the year, the KE looks back on the best restaurants, stores and cultural centers that emerged in 2012.

The+copper%2C+wood-fired+oven+is+featured+prominently+at+Ann+Kim%E2%80%99s+popular+Pizzeria+Lola.

Hollie Christensen

The copper, wood-fired oven is featured prominently at Ann Kim’s popular Pizzeria Lola.

Sophie Ronning and Jacqueline Bieter

Pizzeria Lola – 5557 Xerxes Ave. S, Minneapolis

Neighborhood artisan pizza restaurant Pizzeria Lola, located in Southwest Minneapolis, isn’t your run-of-the-mill pizza joint. Decorated with a photo booth and a wall of pictures, the atmosphere is always full of life. Although the restaurant doesn’t take reservations, the pizza is always worth the wait. The menu features more creative pizza toppings than the typical cheese and pepperoni, usually with a Korean twist (chef and owner Ann Kim, a Korean immigrant, was inspired by her mother’s cooking). Pizza options include “The Sunnyside” (La Quercia guanciale, pecorino, leeks, and two organic eggs served on top) and the “Lady ZaZa” (Korean sausage, kimchi, serrano peppers, and a sesame-soy chili glaze). Although the pizzas may seem out of many people’s comfort zones, Chef Kim’s tasty creations are sure to win over any skeptics.

 

Bun Mi – 604 Washington Ave. SE, Minneapolis

Vietnamese restaurant Bun Mi crafts spicy, delectable subs and offers customer service for the modern age. (photo courtesy of Bun Mi)
Vietnamese restaurant Bun Mi crafts spicy, delectable subs and offers customer service for the modern age. (photo courtesy of Bun Mi)

Bun Mi may be a hike for some people since it is located on the University campus, but with quick service and fantastic food, it’s worth the drive. The sandwiches are a far cry from a chain restaurant like Subway. The spicy Vietnamese-inspired sandwiches use interesting flavors to make a delicious sandwich. Every sandwich consists of a French baguette and protein choices of BBQ pork, lemongrass chicken, or beef. Although the meat and the bread are fantastic, the spicy mayo gives the Bun Mi sandwich its special kick. The improved service in 2012 (iPads take multiple orders at once) land them a spot on our “best of” list.

 

Que Será – 244 Water Street, Excelsior

A new addition to Excelsior’s Water Street, Que Será is a lively and eclectic boutique that offers a large selection of vintage-inspired furnishings, lighting, decorative accessories, and home accents. Que Será’s Mary Lauer has popularized not only their bedding and room decor, but also their fantastic jewelry and accessories. The warm and alluring ambiance of the store makes anyone feel welcome and their fresh take on vintage decor gives a new edge to decorating.

 

Yogurt Lab – 3100 Excelsior Blvd., Minneapolis

Yogurt Lab came onto the scene as part of the popular frozen yogurt craze.
Yogurt Lab came onto the scene as part of the popular frozen yogurt craze. (Hollie Christensen)

Opening in December of 2011, the Calhoun Village Yogurt Lab has already expanded across the Twin Cities. Growing in the past year with three more locations at 50th and France, the IDS Tower, and the U of M’s Stadium Village, Yogurt Lab has proven that even in chilly Minnesota, frozen yogurt is a great dessert all year round. The colorful “periodic table of flavors” showcases their impressive selection of around 60 yogurt flavors that vary depending on the season, such as pumpkin in the autumn and eggnog and peppermint during the winter holidays (at least 16 flavors of yogurt are on tap at each location). In addition, they provide almost 60 different toppings at lab stations such as varieties of cereal, fruit and candy bars. With constantly changing flavors and a helpful staff, Yogurt Lab is the best place to meet up before a game or grab an after-school snack.

 

Cowles Center – 528 Hennipen Ave., Minneapolis

The renovated Cowles Center opened in 2012 becoming a center for dance, partnering with Minnesota Dance Theatre as well as other local dance companies.
The renovated Cowles Center opened in 2012 becoming a center for dance, partnering with Minnesota Dance Theatre as well as other local dance companies. (photo courtesy of the Cowles Center)

Located on Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis, the recently opened Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts has quickly become the main center for dance in the Twin Cities. The Cowles Center includes the newly renovated 500-seat Goodale Theater and the TEKBOX, a black-box style theater used by the James Sewell Ballet. Connected to the theater is the Hennepin Center for the Arts, home to 20 prominent dance and performing arts organizations, including the Minnesota Dance Theatre and the James Sewell Ballet. The Cowles Center also offers classes for aspiring dancers to learn from the pros: “Open Door!” dance classes feature a new style of dance every month and dancer J-Sun leads open hip-hop classes every Tuesday. Upcoming events include the St. Paul City Ballet from February 8-10, the Contempo Physical Dance with “Batuque” from February 1-3, exploring the samba in Brazil, and the James Sewell Ballet’s “Ballet Works Project” from February 8-24, developing new work in the TEKBOX.