Minneapolis is home to several internationally renowned arts institutions, including the Guthrie Theater (818 2nd St S, 612-377-2224, guthrietheater.org), the Minneapolis Institute of Art (2400 Third Ave S, artsmia.org) and the Walker Art Center (1750 Hennepin Ave, 612-375-7600, walkerart.org). While each offers a stellar array of programming and exhibitions, they only scratch the surface of the Minneapolis arts and culture scene.
Each summer, the Minnesota Fringe (fringefestival.org) draws theater artists from all over, but that’s not the only time to catch daring work in a blackbox. The 20% Theatre Company (twenty per-cent.org) was founded in response to a jarring statistic that only 20 percent of professional theater artists are women. The social justice-minded company gives the stage exclusively to female and trans-identified artists and, each spring, it plays host to Q-Stage, a slate of experimental works by queer performers.
Queer Voices (intermediaarts.org/queer-voices1) is an LGBTQ reading series hosted by Intermedia Arts (2822 Lyndale Ave S, 612-871-4444), a multidisciplinary arts organization. Held every other month, the event is the longest running series of its kind in the U.S. Eclectic Intermedia also presents Queertopia (intermediaarts.org/queertopia), an annual showcase of queer performance, with Bedlam (213 4th St E, St Paul, 651-209-0597, bedlamtheatre.org), a theater company based in St. Paul’s booming Lowertown neighborhood. It’s one of the hottest tickets during Pride season, selling out every year.
All kinds of performance incubates in the theater at Bryant Lake Bowl (810 W Lake St, 612-825-3737, bryantlakebowl.com), a lesbian-owned old-school bowling alley and restaurant. But the highlight is undoubtedly Dykes Do Drag (dykesdodrag.com), a queer variety show that’s been running for 17 years. Burlesque and boi-lesque, lipsynch and live music, dance and visual art, comedy and drama are all on the menu—along with a yummy burrito.
For a dose of LGBTQ history, check out the Quatrefoil Library (1220 E Lake St, 612-729-2543, qlibrary.org), a lending library with origins in a literal closet. Two men launched it in the 1970s, storing their gay-themed collection of books in a linen closet and eventually moving it to its own dedicated space. Today, it’s home to more than 10,000 books.
Minneapolis has a storied music scene, one that suffered a terrible loss this year when the legendary Prince died in his Minnesota home and recording studio, Paisley Park (7801 Audubon Rd, Chanhassen). The complex in Chanhassen, south of the city, is rumored to open for public tours later this year, but until then, Prince fans have been flocking to its gates to leave offerings and pay their respects. Meanwhile, his star glistens in gold on the wall of First Avenue (701 First Ave N, 612-338-8388, first-avenue.com) the downtown rock club he made famous in “Purple Rain.”
GRAB A BITE
Saveur Magazine recently called Minneapolis America’s “next great food city.” After toiling in New York City’s cramped kitchens, star chefs are moving here to open up places of their own, racking up James Beard nominations. The food scene in Minneapolis is on fire, and that’s in no small part to the entrepreneurs who have invested in building the scene for years.
One of those entrepreneurs in particular is Kim Bartmann, owner of aforementioned Bryant Lake Bowl and half a dozen more happening eateries. One must-go is Red Stag Supperclub (509 First Ave NE, 612-767-7766, redstagsupperclub.com). Inspired by age-old rural Midwestern social halls, it even serves up a Friday night fish fry year round.
Next door to Red Stag is pure vegan heaven: the Herbivorous Butcher (507 First Ave NE, 612-208-0992, theherbivorousbutcher.com). No animals were harmed at a place that bills itself a “vegan butcher shop.” Instead, find all manner of alternative proteins including nutmilk cheeses, gluten-based short ribs and a variety of soysages.
For something with more of a European flair, head to Barbette (1600 W Lake St, 612-827-5710, barbette.com) for steak frites and bubbly.
Food trucks are having a moment, and the best food truck of them all just happens to be run by two women. Chef Shack, which has brick and mortar outposts in Minneapolis and on the shore of dazzling Lake Pepin, about an hour outside of the city, is run by partners in business and life Carrier Summer and Lisa Carlson, aka the “godmothers of food trucking in the North.” If you spot their familiar red wagon at farmers markets, be sure to grab a decadent bison burger. Or for more menu options, head to Chef Shack Ranch (3025 E Franklin Ave, 612-354-2575, chefshackranch.com).
For a snack, the coffee, pastries and sammies are everything at Cafe Southside (3405 Chicago Ave S, 612-354-2158, cafe-southside.com), a cozy South Minneapolis gathering space owned by queer and trans people of color. Don’t miss the diverse lineup of readings and artist receptions.
There’s nothing specifically queer about Spoon and Stable (211 N 1st St, 612-224-9850, spoonandstable.com), but the buzziest restaurant in town also happens to make the sickest brunch. You probably won’t get a reservation, but no need. Steal a seat at the bar, then walk straight back to the counter near the open kitchen to browse the pastries of the day. Check off what you want on the order form with a golf pencil, then enjoy your treats from a vintage tin, alongside a gazpacho-like bloody mary. It’s a simple, magical morning.