Uptown Shuffle

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Pizza box art, Mesa Pizza Uptown

Why do all of my entries have to do only with buying stuff and spending money? Oh well. I have not had too many opportunities for adventure lately, finding myself running around on various errands and working on various end of the semester projects; baking treats for student workers, finishing up projects before the end of the year, that sort of thing. Meanwhile, I’ve been reading depressing, intriguing post apocalyptic novels, always fun at the end of the year, when the days are getting darker and darker and we haven’t seen the sun all month.

Making me feel particularly apathetic are the riveting protests happening at that most prominent temple of consumerism abandon, the Mall of America. While I would tend to avoid that place like the plague in general, it seems like a great place to register discontent with the state of society. Instead of figuring out a way to accommodate discussion and awareness of the issues that will continue to haunt our society in the New Year; can’t have people distracting from single minded capitalist consumerism, of course, but I hesitate to discuss politics without having three or four beers beforehand, though. I’d just feel totally obtuse neglecting to mention this as I talk about heading out to buy stuff.

Among these is the continuing quest for Christmas presents, not really my idea of adventure. A quest maybe, but not one of those awesome quests; more like one of those required side quests. It is true that one of my main memories of Christmas was being dragged around from one end of the city to another trying to locate the best gifts for friends and family. Does anyone else remember the Conservatory which used to be hidden away in downtown Minneapolis?

So let’s talk about my own consumerist obligations. I do have to admit to, in past years, having some fun checking things off of my list as I bus from one end of the metro to another, braving snow drifts and subzero temperatures to score inexpensive gifts. I would often go to Magers and Quinn, Paper Source, Penseys Spices, Cheapo Records, and the recently closed Tatters hunting for inexpensive gifts. In the pursuit of this quest, I have often found myself in that area of town that has increasingly shifted from artist to condos; but oh well, places change. People change. Uptown still has some fun places to spend your hard earned cash. Or, even better,places to treat yourself after some soul numbing shopping. Here are a few highlights;

Mesa Pizza

The other week I attended an entertaining pizza themed holiday party, so I stopped by the local favorite Mesa Pizza; a pretty solid choice for a slice of good, inexpensive, interesting pizza. Boasting over fifty varieties of meaty, vegetarian, and vegan slices, I lament the fact that it did not yet exist while I was going to the U. With a home location in Dinkytown, the Uptown location is also a great place to grab a slice. Did you know Mesa Pizza did gift cards? Neither did I, but they do, and I picked up a few to distribute at the party to go with the theme, and I couldn’t think anything better to hand out than a slice of Mesa Pizza.

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LynLake Brewery.

LynLake Brewery

The intersection of Lake Street and Lyndale Avenue has come to be a pretty active spot; Huge Theater, my favorite improv theater is right down the street, the first sake brewery in the United States, Moto-i, has its home there, and the new brewery LynLake Brewery has opened as well. Checked it out for the first time recently and sampled some of the beers on offer; they were all among the best I have had in the state. I must return soon.

Among the wide variety of beers, including a wonderful IPA Take 7 and their creamy Sideburns Milk Stout, was the recently created “No Soul Soda,” a slightly sweet, fizzy concoction of ginger, lime, and hops. I found it so delicious I asked for a growler on the spot, apparently the first to do so. What a great addition for those people who have friends and relatives who, for whatever reason, avoid beer. So I urge you to go to LynLake, drink the beers, and try the soda as well!

Fuji Ya 

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Fuji Ya, Uptown.

I had no idea that Fuji Ya, a pretty prominent and well known Japanese restaurant in Minneapolis, just down Lake from Lyndale, is over fifty years old.  I found that pretty amazing. Having never been there, we decided to eat there for my Dad’s birthday and were very impressed. A mix of kitschy decor and elegant Japanese style, it has some pretty fun atmosphere, but it was the food that really got us. Delicious kinoko (mushroom) dumplings and fresh oysters, great sushi and wonderful soba, we were completely satisfied. Though it is not the cheapest place around, I would definitely go back for one of those special occasion type things. The gin based, minty ginger beer cocktail, the Gai Gin Mule, was, I think, my new favorite mixed drink.

So, hopefully I will have some more interesting (and cheaper) things to talk about next time! Happy holidays!

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