Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Minneapolis-St. Paul >
Aug 4, 2006 01:27 PM

[MSP] Cyclist-friendly chow?

It looks like a great weekend coming up. I think it's time for a long bike ride. What are the most cyclist-friendly spots in the Twin Cities? Places along bike paths, places with bike racks, places where you feel comfortable sitting about in your black spandex? Maybe even places that pack good picnic lunches you can pop in your daypack and take with you?

Thank you, as always, for sharing your wisdom!


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Sea Salt immediately came to mind (see recent thread ).
    Since it's located in Minnehaha Falls Park, it's right on the "Grand Rounds" bike tour, and you can park your bike along the fence right next to the outdoor tables.

    Other places that come to mind are Tin Fish on Lake Calhoun and Longfellow Grill on Lake Street at the river (and so right along the West River Parkway), Liberty (on Nicollet Avenue at Minnehaha Creek), Fat Lorenzo's and the 5-8 Club (on Cedar Avenue near Lake Nokomis).

    2 Replies
    1. re: Neitz

      Wow! We can cycle and chow the whole weekend with a list like this! Thank you.

      Sea Salt—I agree, it's must do! This might be my weekend to finally try it.

      Tin Fish is fun, too. I haven’t been there in yonks. We like to go there on days we rent canoes or row boats.

      Longfellow Grill—one of my favs. They do have seating on their lovely patio this time of year. And they’ve got some healthy’ish options on the menu, too. Not incompatible with my cycling goals.

      Liberty Frozen Custard wasn’t even on my radar! Why not?

      Fat Lorenzo’s—another one that’s escaped my chow-dar until now:

      And, the 5-8 Club:


      1. re: The Dairy Queen

        I'm not sure whether to post in this thread or the Sea Salt Eatery thread that's been bouncing about, but, we finally got to Sea Salt, mid-afternoon on a gorgeous weekend day.

        As expected the line to order was long (10-15 mins), and the wait for the food was another 10-15 mins. But, once our food arrived, we weren't disappointed. We ordered an oyster po-boy. At $9.95, we thought it a pretty good value, as it had 8-10 oysters on it.

        It was a perfect stop if you want a leisurely break in your day. The eatery is located right next to the falls and right next to the rental shed for the surries with the fringe on top ($15/hr for a two-seater) (they have a variety of bike rentals if you don't have your own bike along) so you can definitely make an afternoon of it. They have a bike rack, too, if you bring your own bike.

        We noticed the ice cream line was separate from the food line, so, if you just want ice cream, don't be deterred by the wait for the food.

        The one thing I was going to say is the menu really is almost exclusively seafood, heavy on the shellfish. This isn't surprising of course, given the Coastal Seafood connection; but I noticed only the vegetable taco and the veggie (walnut & cheese) burger as alternatives.

        I'm not familiar with this burger, but it seems to be an upper mid-west item, so, you know me, I'm intrigued by it.

        Great recommendation. Thanks to everyone who posted about it in this thread and others. I think it's going to become a favorite haunt of ours when we're feeling leisurely.

        Of course, we still have many other "bike-friendly" stops to check out.


    2. ARGH...collision of two worlds!! I just jumped off the on-line cycling forums I read. I hope I don't accidentally start talking about the benefits of CO2 over frame pumps here and where to get the best fries in Eagan over there.

      Nietz was right on. Sea Salt has to be one of the tops -- centrally located so you can get there from anywhere (I biked there from Burnsville a week and a half ago), great food, they sell Powerade and, best of all, great ice cream (Sebastian Joes)!

      On the St. Paul side, if you focus around the river, Grand Ave (easy access from Summit which has the bike lane almost all the way from downtown to the river) and then the bikeway from downtown to Lake Phalen, you're good to go. The river even gives you access to downtown MPLS via the U of M or Minnehaha Creek and up past Nokomis/Harriet/Calhoun.

      Both Longfellow Grill and Highland Grill have outdoor table seating. There's usually less wait at Highland's tables outside -- sways me because I don't have a bike lock.

      On a weekend morning, you may look out of place at Birchwood Cafe if you DIDN'T have bike gear on. The Birchwood has a bike team/club -- on Father's Day I was there and was mobbed by sleek, powder blue clad cyclists about to depart for a ride to Stillwater. That might be your picnic lunch source.

      If you really want to get fancy about it, Campiello in Uptown valet parks bikes. Seriously. But can you imagine sauntering through there in your lycra with helmet head?? I might make that bold statement there some day to hork down some of their short ribs.

      On Grand you could probably hit Coffee News Cafe, Khyber Pass, Everest on Grand, Barbary Fig, D'amico -- whatever you're in the mood for. I think they all have outdoor seating.

      Really, the beauty of MSP is that you can get pretty much anywhere on your bike and you're never far from a bike rack (or at least a light pole or tree or whatever you need to lock your bike to). You don't have to worry much about the attire either -- you'll usually have similarly-clad company.

      Addendum: Not in MSP, but a GREAT day of cycling/chowing is possible down on the Cannon Valley Trail from Cannon Falls to Red Wing. There are three places to start -- Cannon Falls, the west end of Red Wing or the tiny village of Welch. The trail is 20 miles (each way) with only 200 feet of elevation (uphill from Welch to CF). There's a great little ice cream shop in Welch. Ride to Red Wing, have lunch at the Stag Head or any of the other little eateries, ride back to Welch and finish it off with some ice cream. Great cycling friendly chow afternoon.

      3 Replies
      1. re: MSPD

        And, of course, MSPD remembers my St. Paul bias.

        Highland Grill, one of my favorites already. They do have lots of little tables on the sidewalk there.

        Birchwood Café—another one that has been on my list of places to try for awhile. I wonder if I'm buff enough?

        Campiello—didn’t someone mention their chocolate truffle cake in the one-dish wonder thread? That could be fun, indeed. Although, I wonder if I'm pretty enough? Could be intimidating!

        All of those Grand Avenue spots sound fun.

        I especially like the look of the patio at Barbary Fig. And, oh look, it’s listed in the Pioneer Press’ summer guide to outdoor eating!

        And thank you for those tips in Red Wing. I’ve done that ride, or part of it anyway, and had NO IDEA where to eat. I should have thought to ask.

        Good calls, thank you.


        1. re: MSPD

          So, we finally made it to Birchwood Cafe. And true to MSPD's word, it is definitely-cyclist friendly. Lots of people wearing bike jerseys in the cafe. It looks like they even sell "Birchwood Cafe" bike jerseys.

          I like that lots of their menu items (eggs, bacon, etc.) were "free range" and that they serve Peace Coffee and local (Izzy's) ice cream and locally-grown heirloom tomatoes. The baked goods looked yummy. (We were especially tempted by the peanut butter brownie, but decided against it as we had plenty to eat otherwise.)

          I ordered one of the two quiches of the day: zucchini, mozzarella and red pepper, made, of course, with eggs from free-range chickens. It was huge--maybe 1/5 a pie--and the crust was thick and flaky and, I'm pretty sure, homemade. The quiche was comparatively creamy in texture (rather than rubbery like you find it in most restaurants) and had a nice kick to it. It came with a side of sliced tropical fruit (not local, which surprised me given other earth-friendly choices they've made with their menu) and sliced grilled potatoes. The potatoes were my only complaint about the chow: they were really too salty.

          My dining companion had the oatmeal waffles (the waffles of the day), topped with rhubarb-raspberry compote and real maple syrup, which also came with slices tropical fruit. Also, we asked for an order of the free-range bacon, which was nice: very thick cut.

          We liked this place and it is perfect as a cycling destination. Next time we would probably eat at one of the tables outside as we found it to be a bit loud. It's a nice airy, open restaurant and it's rather echo-y.

          The counter staff were among the most cheery and pleasant folks I've ever encountered.

          Oh, and they print this little newspaper that they keep in a pile next to the cash register. Lots of funny little notes in their--an interview with their tomato supplier and another with an employee (where one of the questions was asking him to choose between having peas and carrots randomly shoot out of his fingertips, having to begin and end all of his sentences with "woah" and "dude," respectively, and chronic paper cuts, but bleeding in rainbow colors. Very sweet. It definitely adds to this café’s reputation as a nice, neighborhood joint with a lot of charm.

          They also say in this newsletter that their chef of one year, Phil, will be leaving sometime in August to go back to school. They don't say who will step in next. I hope it's someone who continues with the vision. It's a great little spot.

          Thanks for the recommendation, MSPD. We'll be back again with our bikes.


          1. re: The Dairy Queen


            Check out the results page. It seems that the food at the Birchwood, plus a lot of hard training results in some exceptional race results....

            The owner, Tracy Singleton, is an avid cyclist.

            Free range bacon? I see it on the menu and I scratch my head. Fisher Farm Pork is probably pastured, not penned and definitely not housed in a concrete factory. This enables the pig to ground forage for some interesting "inputs". The best pork I've ever had is from piglets which were in fact "free range" while momma sow was kept in a pen (gaps large enough for the piglets only). The barn was next to a grove of oak trees and the piglets gorged on acorns and other tastey things. Could you taste it? Yes. They came back every now and then for a suckle, and eventually their demise. The same rancher would slop his larger stock in the back of a trailer, thus conditioning them to the idea. When the day arrived it was simply a matter of swinging the gate, with no need for a stressful roundup or loading procedure. What a digression....

        2. The original comment has been removed
          1. Wow no one's mentioned the Midtown Global Market yet. I bike by it all the time and plan on making my first visit this weekend on the bike trailing the Burley.

            One On One Bike Studio down in the warehouse district has good coffee and sandwiches. It also has art showings and one huge basement of bikes and parts. It's a very interesting place to say the

            Also, MSPD CO2 is way better. It's smaller, faster and if you buy them at a place like Home Depot not that expensive.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Paz

              Well, Paz beat me to recommending the Midtown Global Market. That our first stop a few weeks ago with the bike. The only 'bad' part is there is no good way up from the greenway to the street. You have to carry your bike up the stairs behind it. Who designed that idea? Anyhow, Dara had a great write up yesterday on her rec's at the MGM as she calls it. We've fallen in love with Manny's Tortas, but we'll branch out the next time we go.

              I've gotta say that SeaSalt was near empty at 4:30-5pm on a BEAUTIFUL Saturday 2 weeks ago. If only we were hungry then.

              The ride from the MGM, through uptown, around the lakes, by the Minnehaha, and up the West River Road was great. It will be even better when they link up the River Road to the Greenway. (took some bad detours to get back to it)

              Happy trails!!

              1. re: Paz

                You know, with all of the Lake Street construction right now, bicycling to Midtown Global Market would be a nice way to go, I think.

                I'll have to check out One on One bike studio. :) That's one I hadn't heard of before. Thank you!


              2. How could I have forgotten Bon Gionaro? It's right off the cycling path that runs along 35E.


                4 Replies
                1. re: Paz

                  Great thought. From the cycling perspective a word of warning -- unless you're on a road bike, that's one hell of a climb (9/10 of a mile at significant grade) up 35E from Shepard Road to the top of the overpass. Leave your knobby mountain bike tires at home. Great place for hill intervals though.

                  1. re: MSPD

                    Just to be nit-picky (and in case of searches later), this deli is Buon Giorno.


                    And a note for bikers: The deli is fine for someone in biking spandex, and they have a lovely patio in case you're really "glowing", but I think the restaurant (Osteria I Nonni) is rather dressy.

                    1. re: AnneInMpls

                      I figured Buon Giorno to bike friendly because of how casual it is. Also you can sit on the patio and make sure no one steals your bike.

                    2. re: MSPD

                      The knobbies aren't as much of an impediment as the cumulative effect of too many delicious sandwiches at Buon Giorno. They use a high grade of extra virgin olive oil which makes up for the size/price incongruity (in this large is better part of the world the sandos are relatively small). The olive oil should also help keep the arteries running clear for the max VO2 climbs.

                      If you are the cleat wearing type of cyclist you'll find Buon Giorno's floors to be slick so invest in some cleat covers (aka coffee shop caps in the world of Speedplay cleats).