Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Evening Stroll Around Lake Harriet

Having just recently moved to my new neighborhood, one of the things I love most is the convenient access to Lake Harriet. At 2.99 miles, it's the perfect distance for walking/running/biking, and it's easily my favorite of the MSP lakes. Tonight, my roommate and I took advantage of the beautiful weather and set off around the lake.
We also made our first visit to the Lyndale Park Rose Garden this season. The roses smelled and looked fantastic. Unfortunately, the bugs seemed to think so, too. We high-tailed it out of there before swallowing any gnats.

We also made a stop at the bandshell to listen to some of the live music. The female singer's mom had just turned 87. She was in the audience, so there was a lovely rendition of "Happy birthday, Nana." If you look closely below, you'll just barely make out an older gentleman dressed like a hula dancer. He seemed to really dig the music. Starting in September, Lake Harriet will host a free Autumn Music and Movies series at the bandshell. Just one more reason to look forward to fall.
By the way, did you know that the current Lake Harriet Bandshell is the fifth physical structure (according to Wikipedia)? The first two buildings burned down, the third was ruined by a storm and the fourth was torn down to make way for the current building.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


It seems only appropriate that my first entry highlight my much-anticipated first experience at Barrio. I've been trying to get in at the MSP hot spot since the opening of the first location on Nicollet Mall. My first attempt was unsuccessful when a friend and I showed up without reservations, and I was also shot down on my second attempt to make reservations for my birthday dinner earlier this summer. I was starting to feel terribly uncool.

Fortunately, my girlfriends and I were able to get reservations at the Lowertown location for dinner tonight. Given Saint Paul's sleepier downtown feel after say...5 p.m. every workday, I was surprised to see the restaurant filled with people and bustling. Lowertown's dining resurgence may be just what the doctor ordered.

The only downside to the ambiance was the noise. Between the music and all the loud chatter, I had a hard time keeping up with the conversation at my table.

For drinks, I opted for sangria, which seems to be my new summer drink of choice. I'm drawn to its low price point on all the menus. The sangria at Barrio didn't disappoint. A perfect mix of wine and fresh fruit. I couldn't resist picking the grapes and strawberries out with my fingers. Thankfully, nobody seemed to notice (or at least acknowledge) my poor manners.

For dinner, I went with the pork carnitas taco and the chicken enchilada. Both were fantastic, although I'd rate the taco slightly higher. Must have been the dash of lime juice I added on top.

I liked the range of prices on the menu: tacos and enchiladas between $3.50 and $4 each, followed by small plates at $7.50 and larger plates from $16 to $22. The only thing I'd do differently next time is maybe add in an order of chips and guac or a quesadilla to share - general consensus seemed to be that while three tacos/enchiladas would have been too much, two didn't quite seem to be enough.

In other news: apparently a tornado touched down near downtown Minneapolis today. Check out the photos on WCCO's Web site.