Happy Trails: Biking and Eating in Minneapolis

A beautiful day on Nicollet Mall

By the time you read this, our two-week run of glorious Indian summer will have passed. While it was here, I acted like a true Minnesotan (I'm a transplant), and got outside while the getting was good. I'm a newbie to bicycling, and my younger son just started kindergarten, so I grabbed the opportunity to take longer rides and try some new things. The long stretch of good weather is probably gone for a while, but many of the lessons I learned and places I visited can be appreciated year round.

Tilia's Corn Chowder with Bacon FoamTilia's Corn Chowder with Bacon FoamMy first excursion was lunch at Tilia in Linden Hills. I traveled via the Cedar Lake Trail, the nation's first bicycle freeway. I got a little lost, even with a map AND a smart phone. I made it, eventually, and celebrated with a bowl of sweet corn chowder with grilled rock shrimp, topped with bacon foam, followed by the BLT hot dog, with spicy brown mustard and chopped, marinated vegetables. 

The next day, my cupboard was bare of lunch fixings, so I decided to try Sea Salt Eatery at Minnehaha Falls. I'd heard about large crowds, but they weren't a challenge on a weekday afternoon, though the extensive outdoor seating was still well-populated. I ordered a po-boy sandwich, which has a generous portion of fried oysters atop lettuce and tomato in a soft bun. The whole thing is drizzled with tartar and hot sauces. I had to work hard not to devour it in a few bites; it's that delicious. (And I was that hungry.)

In the morning, I met friends at the Victory 44 coffee shop, which has a new breakfast menu. I tried the eggs benedict, with poached local eggs on sliced baguette in a whole-grain mustard hollandaise sauce, along with the signature latte, which has orange and hazelnut flavors from house-made syrups. One of my friends enjoyed breakfast so much she made a date to bring her husband next time!

Angry Catfish Cappuccino and Baker's Wife CookieAngry Catfish Cappuccino and Baker's Wife CookieBy the fourth day in a row, I realized I'd begun a biking habit, and should probably keep at it. The gusts of wind that day were daunting, but I headed out for the Hiawatha Trail toward the Angry Catfish Bike and Coffee Shop. The sun vanished, the wind increased, and the temperature dropped; it was not a fun ride. When I arrived, I had one of their expert cappuccinos and a cookie from the nearby Baker's Wife bakery to restore my spirit for the return journey. It began to spit rain, and I got a flat tire about halfway. Fortunately, I was a few blocks from Freewheel Bike, who fixed my tire so I could make it home. Strangely, the wind, cold, rain, and flat tire didn't sour me on biking.

Rather than resting the next day, I met a friend in downtown Minneapolis. I was disappointed by the lack of bike racks. Minneapolis was voted the #1 bike city in the U.S. by Bicycling magazine, but I had to lock my bike to a garbage can on Nicollet Mall. Once parked, though, I browsed inside the skyway and out. For lunch, I had an addictive coconut chicken bahn mi sandwich from Sameh and Saed Wadi's World Street Kitchen, followed by a carrot cake cookie sandwich with cream-cheese frosting filling from the Cocoa and Fig bakery. Headed home, I saw a bag of Dogwood coffee at one of the sidewalk vendors. I pulled a U-turn and got a lovely macchiato in a ceramic cup curbside from Joseph of Origins Coffee Cart.

On the sixth day, I rested. But the next day I was back in the saddle for a Joy Ride sponsored by the fine folks at the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition, which is involved in things like bike lanes and paths that made so many of my rides last week not only possible, but enjoyable. For one extraordinary week, I got outside, went places I hadn't been before, and ate well-prepared and thoughtfully sourced local foods. Winter is coming, but now that I've had a glimpse of what's out there, and how to get there, I'll continue to explore the world-class bike trails and the local-food treasures that are near them.


Kristin Boldon is a frequent contributor for Simple Good and Tasty, who also writes for the Eastside Food Cooperative's newsletter on health and wellness, Minnesota Monthly's food blog Dara & Co.and for her own blog Girl Detective.