Minneapolis was born as a center of grain commerce due to its location on the banks of the Mississippi. The river cuts through the downtown, formerly dividing Minneapolis from the city of St. Anthony. What was St. Anthony is now NE and SE Minneapolis.
The name "Minneapolis" (meaning The City of Lakes in a mash-up of Dakota and Ancient Greek) refers to the five fair sized (2-4 mile circumference) lakes. The city's excellent parks department maintains walking and biking paths around the lakes, offering residents a place to exercise or stroll. Personal sailboats may be buoyed on three of these lakes. The Lake Harriet Bandshell offers seasonal concerts.
The city has done an excellent job fostering developed neighborhoods each with a distinctive feel. Linden Hills for families, Uptown and Lake Calhoun for twentysomethings, and downtown for high-rise suits, sporting events (Timberwolves, Vikings, and Twins all play downtown), and nightclub scene. Lyn-Lake offers an edgy, cool twist.
Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport, . The airport is divided into the Lindbergh and Humphrey terminals with most flights arriving at the former. Savvy travelers should check to make sure they know which terminal they are arriving at/departing from.
The new light rail train is extremely convenient for those who need to get downtown from the airport. Fare is $1.50-2.00 depending on the time of day. The trains are fast and clean. They also serve the Mall of America and parts of South Minneapolis. The light rail is free between the Lindbergh and Humphrey terminals only.
Interstate Highways 35W and 94 are the main arteries into town. Both will take you very close to downtown. 35W runs north and south (for the most part) and 94 east and west. Both highways will connect you to the 494/694 beltway around the metro area. Be sure to keep an eye on which lane you're in, as freeway interchanges come up fast, and traffic back-ups can occur at any time, day or night.
Amtrak, . Daily service to Midway station, actually between St. Paul and Minneapolis. The "Empire Builder", Amtrak train 7/27 and 8/28, serves the Twin Cities area, terminating at Chicago and Seattle or Portland (the train splits in Spokane, Washington). This train covers a route similar to the historic "Empire Builder" of the James J. Hill Great Northern Railway.
The number 16 bus route runs along University Avenue, a block south of the station, and it that will take you to downtown Minneapolis or St. Paul. Taxi is probably your best bet for getting to your final destination from the train station.
Greyhound Bus Lines, . A station is located in downtown Minneapolis. It's just a few minute's taxi ride away from most of the downtown hotels. It's 4-5 blocks away from a few major bus routes and the light rail. Check the web site above for schedule details. The depot is near a homeless shelter, so it's not uncommon to see a few homeless people hanging out nearby. The area is well-patrolled and quite safe.
The city streets have a grid system that's helpful if you take the time to learn it. Minneapolis is divided into four quadrants: North, South, Northeast and Southeast. Hennepin Avenue forms the divider between streets labeled N and S near downtown. This division continues through the smaller portion of Minneapolis that lies east of the Mississippi River, dividing it into Northeast (NE) and Southeast (SE). Further to the west of downtown, this division lies along Linden Avenue, which is just north of the I-394 freeway. In North, Northeast and Southeast Minneapolis, all roads will carry the N, NE, or SE prefixes on street signs. In South Minneapolis, the north-south running avenues are marked with an S. The east-west running streets are marked with a W or E, depending if you are west or east of Nicollet Avenue. Even though the street signs show these directional designators before the street names, most locals will read the addresses with them at the end. Thus "York Avenue South" appears on street signs as "S York Ave" and "N 33rd Ave" is pronounced as "33rd Avenue North".
Minneapolis also is one of the few cities to use multi-colored street signs. These colors were originally developed to indicate the priority of plowing during winter storms. Although the plowing system has since changed, they can still be helpful to indicate what sort of street you are on. Blue signs indicate major roads which are "Snow Emergency Routes" in winter. These are still the first streets to be plowed after a storm. Rust colored signs indicate roads that run primarily east-west. Light green signs indicate roads that run primarily north-south. Dark green signs indicate scenic parkways that ring the city and the lakes.
Light rail. Serving downtown, the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, the airport, the Mall of America, and all points in between. This is probably the easiest, fastest, and safest bet for first-time visitors. There's a lot to do along the route, and since currently there only is one route, the odds of getting lost are considerably reduced.
Bus. The routes and fares are notoriously confusing to non-natives. The web site, however, is very user-friendly. It gives you the option of entering your beginning and ending points and times and points you in the direction of the best route(s) to get where you want to go. While some improvements have been made recently, you should still carry a schedule and map for any bus route you are riding. Bus stops are located very nearly everywhere throughout the city, but some are served only very infrequently, and most are not labeled as to which routes serve them at which times. The route with the most attraction is the number 6 bus which passes through Uptown, Dinkytown, and Downtown. The 16 and 50 bus routes connect Downtown with the University of Minnesota and Twin City, St. Paul.
There are loads of things to do downtown once you get there, and you can walk to most of them, so we won't focus a lot on the downtown stops. Let's assume you're starting downtown in a hotel somewhere. The first stop you might be interested in is The Metrodome, home to the Minnesota Vikings (football), The Minnesota Twins (baseball), various University of Minnesota games and the occasional rock concert.
Next stop, Cedar/Riverside. If you walk a few blocks east to Cedar Avenue, there's a vibrant, diverse and sometimes dangerous neighborhood known as the West Bank. When I say dangerous, I'm not talking about Cabrini Green level crime, but rather, a neighborhood where one should stay in well-lit areas and cab home if you have a few too many or stay a little too late. (Bars are open until 2 a.m.) Before you are frightened away, there's much this neighborhood has to offer that really shouldn't be missed. The 400 Bar is one of the top clubs in town. It used to be a place where local bands played on pool tables. Now they offer national touring acts from all over the country. The drink prices are a little inflated. The 400 is located on the corner of Cedar Ave and Riverside Ave. The Falafel King restaurant is across the street. If you head east on Riverside Avenue, you'll encounter the Hard Times coffee shop. Hard Times is only closed for two hours every day, from 4:00 am to 6:00 am. The quality of the food can vary widely depending on who is on duty. They offer good coffee, (often) loud music, games, etc. The Nomad is just a little further south on Cedar Ave. It has a nice outdoor patio for smoking and inside they have a stage where you can see a variety of local rock or jazz shows. Across the street from The Nomad, is Palmers. Palmers gets a little rough, if you don't know how to behave yourself while drinking. Not for the weak of heart or mind. Mind your own business if you go there. Keep heading back south down Cedar Avenue and you'll come to the Triple Rock Social Club, one of the best venues for music in town. The bar side has great food with a lot of vegetarian options. The club side has a big stage and fantastic sound system. Check their web site above for listings. Still further down Cedar Avenue are the Whiskey Junction and The Cabooze. Whiskey Junction is a favorite hang out for bikers, but a good number of those are the suburban type with expensive Harley Davidsons. The Cabooze is mostly a college hang out. Both venues offer live music most nights. If you make it to the Cabooze, you're already near the Franklin Avenue Light Rail stop. Get back on and head down to Lake Street.
Lake Street/Midtown has a lot to offer on weekend days in the spring and summer. Namely an outdoor market with lots of good food and locally made goodies. Worth a stop for sure. You can also catch a 21 bus from here to Uptown (make sure the bus is going west).
The next few stops take you to mostly residential neighborhoods. While there are things to do along them, they're not easily accessible on foot, so we'll skip ahead to 50th Street/Minnehaha Park. The Minnehaha Park station is adjacent to a park and Minnehaha Falls. You can see the 53 foot falls and walk along the creek on its way to the Mississippi River.
The Fort Snelling station is located after the VA Medical Center station. Fort Snelling makes a great day trip. It's the original settlement in Minnesota and an early wilderness outpost.
Next is the Airport and then the Mall of America, the gleaming, gargantuan monument to advanced capitalism. It offers an indoor amusement park, movies, restaurants and more shopping than is comprehensible. It's a day trip in itself, but not for the thrifty. Food, shopping and Camp Snoopy can burn through your wallet fast. Not for those with poor impulse control.
Although biking can be more difficult the colder half of the year, Minneapolis offers biking lanes and biking trails throughout the city, . Major bike trails such as the Greenway are plowed at the same time as major streets. In some neighborhoods like Downtown, Dinkytown, Uptown, and near the University of Minnesota campus, bikes are seen almost as often as cars.
Minneapolis on the surface seems like a pretty but rather quiet tourist destination. If you properly do your research though, there is plenty to do.
As mentioned earlier above, Minneapolis has beautiful lakes and riverfronts that the local residents work hard to keep clean. It is also easy with a car, the proper permits, and necessary equipment to go camping two hours and more out of town. And it can be delightfully cheap. Try Explore Minnesota for more info.
Biking. An old freight train railway has been converted into the Midtown Greenway, , which cuts through the middle of South Minneapolis beginning on the West Bank and crossing west all the way to the Lake Calhoun area and meeting up with the Kenworth Trail,  which in turn connects with the Cedar Lake Trail, .
Walk, bike, drive, swim or paddle around the chain of lakes running north to south along the western side of Minneapolis proper.
Only beer in cans is allowed in Minneapolis Parks.
Shower soon after swimming to avoid swimmer's itch.
Cedar Lake. Cedar Lake has a shady public swimming beach and an unofficial nude beach.
Lake of the Isles. Lake of the Isles has bird sanctuaries on its islands, and a public skating rink (with warming house) are groomed in the winter months.
Lake Calhoun. Lake Calhoun has a large public beach and boat rentals (and lessons).
Lake Harriet. Lake Harriet also has boat rentals near it's bandshell.
Lake Nokomis. Lake Nokomis has several beaches including a swimming beach with life guards on duty. It also has public boat access for canoes, kayaks and sail boats. The swimming beach also has public rest rooms and vends food (hot dogs, ice cream, etc.). Several convenience stores and a grocery store are nearby on Cedar Avenue if you need to make a run for that item you forgot on your picnic.
Minnehaha Creek. Minnehaha Creek connects several (if not all) of the above lakes. If the water is high enough, one can canoe or kayak through all the lakes via the creek.
Mall of America, 60 East Broadway, Bloomington, 952 883-8800. Common thought is that it is in Minneapolis, but it is actually roughly southeast of the city, although not far. A dizzying shopping experience, and also technically the 4th largest "city" in the state. It has hundreds of stores and an IKEA nearby it. You can get there by Light Rail or bus.
Lava Lounge for fashion wear, it's located by Lyn-Lake. The clothes are fitted and range from hip hop to techno-industrial wear.
Ragstock is a local chain of used clothing stores. Clothing is shipped into the downtown "Warehouse" location from thrift stores accross the country. There it is sorted through and either torn to rags for commercial use, or pulled aside to be sold in one of the stores. There are currently stores on University Av. in St. Paul, West lake St. in Uptown Minneapolis, and N. 7th St. in Downtown Minneapolis.
The Twin Cities are a hotbed of independent presses and bookstores.
Uncle Hugo's Science Fiction, 2864 Chicago Ave S, at Lake Street, 612 824-6347, fax 612 827-6394, . M-F 10a-8p, Sat 10a-6p, Sun Noon-5p. Sharing the same building with Uncle Edgar's Mystery. A treasure trove of used and new Science Fiction and Fantasy books. It is the oldest SF/fantasy book store in North America, and has a well-earned national reputation for its vast selection.
Uncle Edgar's Mystery, 2864 Chicago Ave S, at Lake Street, 612 824-9984, fax 612 827-6394. M-F 10a-8p, Sat 10a-6p, Sun Noon-5p. Sharing the same building with Uncle Hugo's Science Fiction. Specializing in used and new mystery books.
The prices are reasonable and you can get an extra 10% off all purchases by buying a $4 discount card. If you're buying more than $40 worth of books, it pays for itself with the first purchase. It is located in a shady part of town, so it's best to arrive with plenty of daylight left.
Dreamhaven Books and Comics, 912 West Lake Street, 612 823-6161, fax 612 823-6062, . M-F 11a-8p, Sat 11a-6p, Sun Noon-6p. New and used Science Fiction, Fantasy, horror, film and art books, comics, an adults-only room. Mail order and in-store readings.
Orr Books & Cards, 3045 Hennepin Ave at Lake, 612 823-2408. Regional and national poetry, journals, arts, cookbooks, and course reading lists for local small graduate institutes. Splendid little bookstore in Uptown.
College of Comic Book Knowledge, 3151 Hennepin Ave S, 612 822-2309, . Shares the building with Nostalgia Zone. Great for newer and more mainstream comics.
Nostalgia Zone, 3151 Hennepin Ave S, 612 822-2806. Shares the building with College of Comic Book Knowledge. Best for hard to find old comics and independents.
You can also sell comics here, and the dealers are great. The establishment is over 30 years old.
Amazon Book Store, 4755 Chicago Ave, 612 821-9630, . Founded in 1970, well before the online book retailer of the same name. Boasts the title of the oldest independent feminist book store in North America. The store is practically a Minneapolis institution.
Roadrunner Records, 4304 Nicollet Ave S, 612 822 0613, . Has a great selection of independent LP's, CD's and DVD's. Known for their international music section. Punk and alt-country genres don't suffer. A great independent record store with lots of local and independently produced product.
Extreme Noise Records, 407 West Lake St, . Specializes in all punk and subgenres therein. A cooperative run for over ten years by local punks. Amazing selection of punk 'zines, CD's, LP's and 7-inches. The place in town for finding hard-to-find punk records, trading punk records, finding other punks, seeking out that basement show, etc. Don't let the punk rock moniker scare the less-than punk away. If you want to see what a truly independent local scene can produce and meet some of the most earnest members of said scene, you must check out Extreme Noise.
Electric Fetus, 2000 4th Ave. S, (on the corner of Franklin Ave and 4th Ave, near 35W), . Possibly the most complete selection of CD's in town across all genres. Hold on tight to your wallet when you walk in here. If there's an obscure CD you've been looking for, this place is likely to have it. Listening stations are posted throughout the store enticing all who enter to try out some new music. It's the place you would go if you had unlimited resources for buying new music. Be prepared to pay full price, although new releases are frequently on sale. Buy four CD's and get a discount. Tickets for local venues are on sale here too.
Minneapolis is renowned for its restaurants, ethnic or American. It would take a good half a week or so to sample just a part of what it has to offer. For a good listing of the city's best restaurants check the City Pages' Best of 2005 or their restaurant reviews . Also, try The Rake  or the Star Tribune .
It's all about the locals when looking for a great place to eat. Here are some gems that earn frequent top kudos from Minneapolis' locals:
Don't miss Nicollet Avenue South's "Eat Street" centered on East 27th Street for a variety of ethnic fare. Highly recommended are Quang Restaurant and Jasmine Deli for Vietnamese, Yummy for Chinese, and the so-called Black Forest Inn (which is not a hotel) for German cuisine. Little Tijuana is a nice stop for alluring punk/goth waitresses and Mexican plates. The Vietnamese restaurants are incredibly cheap ($5-$10 per person) and have received consistently exuberant reviews since their openings (Quang was even positively reviewed in the New York Times). The latter four are standard $8-$20 dollars per person except during lunch.
The Dinkytown and Stadium Village areas near the University of Minnesota have great offerings. The daily dining specials at Sally's Saloon help make it a popular afternoon and evening destination among University students.
French Meadows Bakery, 2610 Lyndale Ave S at 26th, 612 870-4740, , fax 612 870-0907, . Owner and founder of this excellent bakery and cafe, Lynn Gordon, has a passion for fabulous yeast free breads, and has been an artisan baker since before that term began to be applied to high-quality individual bakers. $4-$20, depending on the time of day. Cheapest in the morning.
Perkins forget Denny's, Perkins is a family-trad local area chain of restaurants serving plain old good food at all hours of the day and night. Several locations.
The Wienery Small, family owned diner that serves basic fare. It's where the punks, aging hippies and various harmless riff-raff go for breakfast or a lunch of fries, burgers, brats or hotdogs slathered with your choice of toppings. They also carry veggie dogs for the vegetarian in you. The fries are shredded right in front of you and come out oh so crisp!
The Dinkytowner Literally underground off 14St in Dinkytown (hence the name), serves a large greasy spoon menu, along with breakfast, burgers, pizza, etc. Great bacon. By night, it becomes one of the area's best hip-hop bars. Near the University of Minnesota campus, it's probably not what you'd consider a "college bar" though. Prices are average for the city, and the service is good. Always good music, and cool sparkly vinyl booths.
Restaurant Alma 528 University Ave SE, 612 379-4909. Amazing food which can best be described as a combination between French, Fusion, and small-town Minnesotan. They use almost exclusively organic ingredients. $30-$60 per person for a three-course meal with wine. Cheaper, but not by much, at lunch.
D'Amico's Cucina, 100 North 6th St, 612 338-2401. One of the areas most expensive restaurants, serves amazing Italian cuisine with international and fusion touches. Expect to spend over $60 for two people. Absolutely gastronomical. Call for sure for reservations and directions. It is a little hidden.
Pane Vino Dolce, 819 W 50th St, 612 825-3201. Considered one of the best and authentic Italian restaurants in town. There's no sign, but you'll find a hand written menu taped in the window each day. There are only about 15 tables - small, romantic, and plenty of charm.
Japanese cuisine is highly competitive. Prepare to spend more at the first two establishments for sushi, which runs $5-$8 at both places per serving. The best showings are probably:
Nami, 251 1st Ave N, 612 333-1999. Located in the Warehouse District nearby 1st Ave, which runs parallel to Hennepin. Lunch specials, decor, and very modern, relaxing atmosphere. $10 per person plus tip at lunchtime, and $20 per person in the evening
Origami, 30 N 1st St, 612 333-8430. Best known for their sushi. Located in the Warehouse District nearby 1st Ave, which runs parallel to Hennepin. $10 per person plus tip at lunchtime, and $20 per person in the evening.
Fuji-Ya, 600 West Lake Street. 612871-4055 A Lyn-Lake (Lyndale and Lake intersection) favorite.
In recent years, Minneapolis has developed a core community of Mexican-born residents. As a result, several good, authentic Mexican restaurants have cropped up.
Taco Morelos, near the corner of Nicollet Avenue and 26th St in the "Eat Street" area. What was once a cheap, authentic, storefront restaurant, has become a mid-price, authentic restaurant/bar with at least three locations in the Twin Cities area. The original location on on 26th St. is now called a "Tex Mex Grill", but don't let that fool you. For around $10 you can still get a fantastic burrito or one of the best plates of huevos rancheros in town.
Mercado Central, Corner of Lake Street and Bloomington Avenue. Meant to mimic a Mexican outdoor market but all indoors (probably because of the prodigious winters). You can buy tamales to go and there's a "food court" comprised totally of Mexican and Salvadorean owned restaurants.
Pepito's. A mainstay of South Minneapolis with two locations.
The deli-style fast food version is located on the corner of Nicollet and 46th. Try the fish tacos, they're fantastic. No alcohol, but fast service and fantastic food for those on the go.
The sit-down restaurant version is located on the corner of 48th and Chicago Ave. There's a full bar, a kid-friendly menu and good food at reasonable prices. If you're traveling with a toddler and want decent food in a family-friendly restaurant, Pepitos has a good kid's menu with items for $4.95 each and the food comes fast. So you and yours can eat before your two year-old throws the entire bowl of chips at the adjoining booth.
Holy Land Deli and Bakery, 2513 Central Ave NE, 612 781-2627. Middle Eastern and Mediterranean/Greek cuisine. The gyros are some of the best in the United States, and the chicken curry gyros are very original and tasty. It's hard to go wrong with their menu, which is especially friendly towards vegetarians. The lunch/dinner buffet also is good and cheap, but call to make sure that the gyro meats will be served with it. $6-$10 dollars per person. It also sports a full-sized market. The bread, hummus, imports, and other specialties are wonderful, but call ahead to make sure that you get fresh produce on a delivery day.
Crescent Moon Bakery, 2339 Central Ave NE, 612 782-0169. What they are known for is their savory and spicy Afghani pizza with its special sauce - one of the most underrated and unique pies in town (if not the best). What most miss due to the pull of the pizza is their equally incredible gyro meat, expertly seasoned and lightly charred for a nice texture. They also serve kabob platters. Prices run as low as $5 for a gyro and $12 for the huge Afghani pizza (could easily feed 3 normal appetites), and as high as $25-30 for one of the massive platters.
True Thai, 2627 E Franklin Ave, 612 375-9942. True Thai stands as the current champion of Thai food in Minneapolis. The Chili-Tamarind, Rama Spinach Curry, and Pad Thai are amazing at this establishment. $9-$17 dollars per person for an entree and drink.
Chiang Mai Thai, 3001 Hennepin Ave S, 612 827-1606. In Uptown, Chiang Mai Thai has a romantic and authentic ambiance and large servings. Try the Thai Basil or Ginger Stir Fry. Entrees are $9-$18.
Thanh Do, 3005 Utah Avenue S, 952 935-5005. Although a trek from the city itself (in St. Louis Park) the Basil Pod Thai is the best in the area. Get it take-out, though, as the service and atmosphere is lacking.
Sometimes you roll into town and you just want a good slice of pizza. Minneapolis has a few offerings.
Punch Pizza has three locations around town and one of them know a true northern italian pizza when they see it, will be more than happy to discover this little gem. Punch is one of the few restaurants that actually has certification from the official Napoli pizza organization. Pizza Luce is the crowd favorite but Luce is the critic's. Evidently it is Meryl Streep's as well.
Pizza Luce has three locations in town. Go to the downtown location if you can on the corner of 5th St. and 2nd Ave N. Easily the best pizza in town. Full bar, punk rock staff. You can get pizza by the slice or sit down and order a whole pie. Open until 3 a.m. The Uptown location is on the corner of 32nd and Lyndale Ave. S. The pizza is still fantastic, but the service is not as good. The Seward location on the corner of 22nd and Franklin Ave has mixed results. Pizza is still good there, but not as good as the other two locations.
Davanni's, located on the corner of 26th St. and Riverside Avenue, is probably the only place in town where one can get authentic, Chicago-style pizza. Beer on tap. Good hoagies too.
Jakeeno's offers good pizza and other pasta dishes. Try the potato and rosemary pizza. Located on the corner of 36th and Chicago. Not a horrible neighborhood, but not the best either. Jakeeno's is clean, friendly and family-run however. Worth the trip. Wine and beer served.
Fat Lorenzo's is located on the corner of 56th St. and Cedar Ave. Good service, good pizza. "Fat" is in the name of the place--plan accordingly. A good first stop or last stop on your way to or from the airport. Beer and wine.
Galactic Pizza Uptown's newest pizza joint. The decor is kitschy. Their stand out feature is not only a little car run 100% by electric power but the delivery driver dons a funky costume while driving said vehicle. If you order the Second Harvest pizza (which is excellent, I must say) the business donates a dollar to the Second Harvest Food Bank (for every one ordered).
See also Crescent Moon Bakery in the Middle Eastern section above.
Minneapolis has one of the most vibrant and independent music scenes in the country. The city is probably most famous for its purple pop wonder, Prince, but also boasts bands such as Soul Asylum, The Replacements, The Jayhawks, and Polara just to name a few. Several clubs in town play host to shows by local bands and your chances of finding a good one are better than average.
The nightlife in general can be vibrant in several areas. The Warehouse District is great for clubbers, Dinkytown is good for college partygoers, Uptown is good for those with a bit more money, and The Mall of America has several spots for the middle aged and sports fans. Minneapolis is not the 24 hour city that New York is, but bars close at 2AM - so that is still plenty of time, especially if you find a party to go to afterwards (it is best to be accompanied by friends and to know someone either through a reliable acquaintance, friend, or client who knows your host's social status).
Minneapolis certainly accommodates those seeking a good drink. There are over a dozen Irish, German, or British pubs, such as The Local, Black Forest Inn, Brit's Pub, or Kieran's. Local dining, clubs, pubs, and bars in general compete for the best Happy Hour specials. It's a good idea to pick up a City Pages or to do an internet search to find the best deals.
Most liquor stores in the general metropolitan area close at 10:00PM. This is true for all areas on Fridays and Saturdays. The exception is in the Minneapolis city proper - stores there close at 8:00PM on Monday through Thursday. You can save more money by purchasing your own supply. Be sure to check out the yellow pages for liquor stores which specialize in wines or beers.
Surdyk's, University and East Hennepin just northeast across the river from downtown. A liquor store with an amazing wine selection and an impressive amount of international specialties like sake and plum wine, beers (dozens of English microbreweries are represented), port wines, champagnes, vodkas, whiskeys, and others.
France 44 Wines & Spirits, in southwest Minneapolis, literally across the street from the city of Edina on West 44th Street and France Avenue South. This shop used to be a converted gas station but went through a miraculous renovation a couple of years ago. Be sure to check out the walk-in beer cooler, as well as the accessories and fine spirits collection in the basement. A very competent deli shares an entrence.
When you are a stranger, sometimes it's hard to find a good cup of coffee besides the ubiquitous Starbucks. Luckily, Minneapolis' independent spirit has yielded good cups of coffee in so many places, one can hardly throw a rock without it landing in a latte.
Caribou is second to Starbucks in number and of similar feel and quality in the drinks. The shots are 1.5 oz compared to Starbucks 1.0 ounce.
Dunn Brothers is third in chains for number of locations. The coffee here is fresh (ground daily in the shop) but somewhat stronger than most places in town. Their fantastic brewed coffee is a little more impressive than the espresso, but their shots are at least a mighty 3.0 oz.
Other independent shops abound in various neighborhoods with the coffee shops per block reaching critical mass in the Uptown and Dinkytown neighborhoods. Never fear, wherever you end up, you can be assured a coffee shop is within a few blocks. Particularly in South Minneapolis.