BY DEBRA KEEFER RAMAGE
To my way of thinking, the good news is that the Midtown Farmers Market Saturday market started right on time, in early May. If you haven’t been yet, you should go. Geek Love Cafe had been closed, but at some point in late April or May, they rigged up a very nice to-go window on the north side of the building, which means that as you’re finishing up with your market shopping, you can stop by there and get a coffee and maybe a snack. I believe that’s available Monday through Friday also, not just market day. In June, the Tuesday markets will begin. Moon Palace Books is taking online orders and shipping them. They have a great website for ordering and fast service.
Gandhi Mahal is serving their full menu, except for the buffet, of course. You can use Bite Squad or DoorDash for delivery, or call in an order for curbside pickup. Other restaurants with takeout and delivery along the strip from 26th Street to 42nd Street include two Ethiopian places: Katar River at 28th Street and Meseret at 39th Street, the Howe at 37th Street, Dumpling at 40th Street, and Parkway Pizza at 44th Street. Parkway Pizza also has its own delivery service as well as delivery to your car if you want less contact when picking up. All Square, the popular nonprofit grilled cheese place, has been closed since the start of the COVID emergency. They are still running their training and education programs, so please donate if you can.
In addition to these full-service restaurants and cafes, there is a taqueria in the convenience store Sosa Foods and Deli, at 3909 Minnehaha Ave.—Taqueria Mi Guanajuato. They are also available for delivery through GrubHub and DoorDash. For a sweet treat, only open in warm weather (they opened the first week of May this year) Minnehaha Scoop offers premium ice cream, dairy-free soy ice cream, or real Italian ice, plus popcorn, all to go.
If you’re like me, you probably are open to trying new books, TV shows, music, games and activities to enrich your stay-at-home time. It can’t be all eating, shopping and sleeping. Well, it can, but that’s not very healthy. Did you know that Minnehaha Avenue has two highly rated geeky game shops? Well, technically one of them is on 47th Street, but it’s less than two blocks from Minnehaha.
The first is Heroic Goods and Games at 3458 Minnehaha Avenue, which sells a mix of used and new games of all varieties—from cards and dice and jigsaw puzzles to the latest computer games. They have been plugging away with their website, which is currently not e-commerce ready (but soon!) and having occasional curbside pickup sales of selected items through May. They also offer home delivery for online or phone orders. They are NOT planning to re-open May 18, but are creating a new website and will go to a full online ordering system when it’s ready. They also accept trade-in games and items at their curbside sales.
The other game shop I have not had a chance to visit—spoken highly of by gamer people I know—is Dreamer’s Vault. They are part of a small local chain, with, in addition to the shop at 4701 Hiawatha, stores in St. Louis Park, South St. Paul, Burnsville, and Champlin, plus a fully online store called Lotus Vault. They had been offering curbside pickup on ship-to-store orders from Lotus Vault or phone orders, and they did reopen on May 18 at all stores. (But, of course, you can still be safer and shop online if you want to.) Check out either of these sources and learn some new games.
The Hook and Ladder Theater and Lounge at the corner of Lake and Minnehaha is operating a live concert streaming service called #HookStream to keep Minnesota artists and the Hook itself in business. They have some awesome shows coming up from the first week of June—The Jones Gang (a Grateful Dead experience), Frogleg (a World Music group from New Orleans), Sarah Morris, Grayson deWolfe, the Belfast Cowboys, the Shackletons, and Davina & the Vagabonds. Go to thehookmpls.com for more information and ticket sales.
Getting back to shopping, Minnehaha Avenue is not quite the antique mile that it used to be, as a number of the shops have moved to other areas of town. Like the bookstores, game stores, and other small retailers, antique / junk / small furnishing stores have been closed to the public during the stay-at-home order, but were allowed to re-open with a safety plan from Monday, May 18. Turquoise Vintage is one that managed to sell things on a Facebook shop and via Instagram for the closure period, and is now open. Although it’s not exactly an antique shop, the Habitat for Humanity Restore is a place to get used furniture, as well as cheap building supplies and working, gently used appliances. Habitat has closed the retail stores and is not planning to re-open in May, but they can still pick up donations as long as you arrange pickup on the website and place the item on the curb or in your driveway or garage.
Here’s an interesting thing. Fractal Cactus at 3750 Minnehaha Ave. sells cacti (duh), succulents and terrariums. They have several
clever ways to sell during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can ask for a short video tour of the store, place your order, and pick it up curbside, you can be in the store by appointment with up to four people in all for almost-normal shopping, and then with the advent of good weather, they are periodically having tent sales in the lot behind their store, with masks preferred and social distancing. Check out their Facebook page for more information.
There are loads of grocery and food shopping opportunities along the whole length of Minnehaha. Starting in Seward, there is of course Coastal Seafoods, a real local treasure for cooks and aficionados of healthy food. You can also get online ordering and delivery from Coastal Seafoods through mercato.com. (I tried Mercato out for shopping the Midtown Global Market’s Produce Exchange, and they were good—fast, accurate and helpful. Remember to tip well.) Nearby is another interesting alternative—United Noodles. You can find a plethora of ingredients for numerous cuisines of Asia, and often at lower prices too.
There is the massive Cub at the Minnehaha Mall, and in the same vicinity, Target (which is also available for delivery via Instacart) or if you need to save money, a choice of two Aldis within a few blocks of Minnehaha either way. But you could try a newer, smaller, and possibly less crowded Cub down at the Lowa46 apartment complex at 46th Street between Hiawatha and Minnehaha. It’s a nice, clean and spacious store, with a huge and impressive deli section.
When you get tired of games, music, shopping and all, I suggest you might go to Minnehaha Falls and have a socially distant wander through the little slice of wilderness just off Minnehaha Avenue. Or another fun walk would be to walk across the Ford Parkway bridge and back, pausing to contemplate the Mississippi River. It’s free, and it may free your soul from all this pandemic-induced anxiety.