If you are a vinyl aficionado and haven’t been to Mill City Sound, a record store in downtown Hopkins, you are seriously missing out. A mecca for music lovers in the southwestern metro and neighborhood fixture, Mill City is owned by Rob Sheeley, a lifelong record lover who opened his store in 2014 after selling an audio/visual business. Housed in a 115 year old storefront, across the street from Pub 819, that originally was home to a pharmacy and a hardware store. The spaces were adjoined in the 1950s. Rob and his wife opened Mill City Sound and a neighboring antiques store. Because of the popularity of Mill, the antique store was closed to expand which will move the basement full of 45s upstairs for easy access. Rapidly become known as one of the largest purchasers of used vinyl in the upper Midwest, Rob recently bought 100,000 unopened records, an entire vinyl inventory of a record store that closed its doors in 1984 in Big Spring, Texas. With an already extensive local music collection that includes an entire section of releases by artists associated with Prince, the new impressive catalogue will bring in collectors from not just Minnesota, but all over the country. Mill is a good place to find refuge from the bitter temperatures; come peruse and talk music for a few hours with the most knowledgable staff around. Full of Rock, Jazz, Blues, Soul, Reggae, Country, Electronica, and Folk, Mill offers new and used records and CD’s and stereo equipment. Don’t feel like leaving the house? That’s cool. you can shop in-store OR online. Have a collection of your own that you’re ready to part with? Also, cool. Ron buys up vinyl LPs, 45s, and CDs (yes, whole collections) and will even make house calls!
Up next is Pub 819, a bar and grill in Downtown Hopkins. Off Mainstreet, the place is a little hidden with its dark exterior but inside, the garage door style windows accentuate the oakwood walls, inviting you into this modern American gastropub. Replacing Hopkins Tavern, the Pub declares itself the place for “Whiskey, Beer, Burgers,” and with a slogan like the bar is set pretty high. If you are a whiskey and craft beer type, this is the place for you, offering more than 90 different whiskeys and even flights, and more than 30 craft beers on tap. OR try the Brunch Bloody Marys. They have all kinds; spicy, bacon and jalapeño, caprese, caesar and the popular Pub 819 Bloody. Or if you’re more like me, you can spend a brunch indulging in the bottomless mimosas. They have scratch made specialty burgers, too! If you are a purveyor of all things ‘burger’, try the Drunkin’ Lucy; a bleu cheese stuffed patty with Guinness cheese sauce and topped with crispy onions and Jameson glaze, or the Hopkins Fire Station with jalapeño bacon, ghost pepper cheese, hot onions, atomic sauce and arugula. They also offer a great chicken and waffles, so I’m told. I can’t rave enough about the battered and crispy fries with spicy ketchup. With nice patios in front and back, it’s a great place to hang out as they have trivia, giant Jenga games and deals/giveaways. Have you been here yet?
Friday night, serendipitously, a few of us crossed off Pizza Lucé from the #mnbucketlist. With eight locations including Uptown and Downtown Minneapolis, Duluth, Hopkins, Richfield, Seward/ University, St Paul and the new location in Roseville (mentioned by Visit Roseville MN during the amazing #minnstameets_oval), most were surprised that I had never been. I mean, they’ve had a Block Party that just celebrated 12 years, I ought to have. Everyone raves about this place and truth be told, I didn’t realize that they had originated in Minnesota. And I’m certainly glad they did! Although the name suggests, they are known for more than their pizza and to make sure it was up to par, we tried most of it. Bruschetta, pasta, pizza, you name it. They even have vegan and vegetarian options, and they deliver. This location has lots of room and makes for a great hangout. Any favorite locations I should try? [photos by @rebeccazenefski]
Next up on the #MNbucketlist is actually a really cool quasi antique store called Retro Wanderlust in Hopkins. If you’re from the area and you don’t know what it is, don’t worry, I hadn’t heard of it either. I stumbled onto it. They are in a white, brick garage with painted retro bobbles on the outside. I walked in and I’m so glad that I did! Such an amazing collection that clearly took a lot time and work. Some of the best quality antiques I’ve seen in forever. If you’re looking for 50s, 60s, 70s furniture, lighting, dishes, art or accessories, stop in. The staff is welcoming, so fun to talk to and will tell you about every piece. On the southwest corner of 12th and Main Street, they are open Wednesday through Sunday. Where was your last hidden find?
If you haven’t noticed the surge in frozen yogurt shops, you are A. Not on the ball or B. Not sugar frenzied. My favorite is the Yogurt Lab. They are all over the place but I like the one off Lake Street in Wayzata, across from CoV on Lake Minnetonka. With crazy flavors that are (in my humble opinion) better than ice cream and a really great design, its worth stopping in – even in the dead of winter! (As I was told very recently, ice cream is better in the winter because it doesn’t melt!)
Before I start, I should warn that I’m a tad bit obsessed with this next place, so don’t mind me, I may gush about it a little. Pairings Wine and Food Market, as kitschy as it sounds, is the cutest, best designed eatery with an unbeatable atmosphere in Minnetonka. Its right off Shady Oak, near Yoyo Donuts and Lone Lake Park and is dog friendly! They offer wine tasting, a well set up outdoor patio and underground parking. I swear by their ravioli and soup. Hands down my favorite tomato basil. They have a salad bar and a dessert section too. If you work in the area, stop by for lunch, and if you are just looking for casual ambiance that’s really well done, well you should stop by for lunch, too.