RailsConf 2019 is here! No, really - here in Minneapolis, Minnesota! The local Ruby community is thrilled to welcome you to our hometown.
Visiting the Twin Cities for the first time? Wondering what to wear? Where’s the good food and what’s a “Jucy Lucy”? Beer lover? I present to you the RailsConf 2019 Visitor’s Guide to Minneapolis, created with love by myself, Charles Nutter, and others at RubyMN!
- For up-to-date info on logistics concerning the conference itself (schedule, hotel, childcare, policies, etc) the RailsConf website is the definitive resource that you should reference.
- This page will likely continue to be updated throughout the conference with additional things as they come to mind or are contributed. Check back!
Wait, ‘Twin Cities’?
RailsConf 2019 is in Minnesota’s largest city, Minneapolis (pictured left). Minnesota’s capital city, Saint Paul (pictured right), lies a mere 8 miles away (downtown to downtown). Together, the two cities collectively create a single metro area - hence, the Twin Cities.
Both cities have their own flavor and charm, and there’s plenty to see and do in both! This post focuses more on Minneapolis, where you’ll be staying - but remember that St. Paul is connected via the Green Line or it’s a short rideshare trip away.
I know, I know - you’re worried about the weather. It does get very cold here, but the summers are quite lovely. Before we get to those summers, however, Minnesota goes through what we like to call ‘2nd Winter’ (aka ‘spring’). It is currently ‘spring’.
After a week of beautiful sunny skies and ~75º (24ºC), we’re regrettably going to experience a temperature drop and rain during the conference. But don’t worry! I’m told the weather in the Convention Center is actually quite temperate.
Are you worried about the previous weekend’s forecast of…snow? Don’t. It’ll be gone or plowed (yes, we have plows!) before you get here. Really! It’s ok.
“Soooo do I need to bring a jacket?”
Yup. But you don’t need the world’s heaviest winter jacket. The single easiest way to be comfortably warm in cooler weather than you’re used to is by wearing a hat and gloves. So bring a light jacket and, if you think weather in the 40s sounds super cold, a hat and some gloves for when the sun goes down and you happen to be outside longer than just a few minutes.
It gets pretty cold here in the winter time. As such, Minnneapolis and St. Paul both have extensive skyway systems: a giant string of enclosed pedestrian foot bridges connecting downtown buildings, above street level. In fact, the Minneapolis skyway system - which cover 80 city blocks spanning 11 miles (18 km) - is the longest contiguous system in the world.
The skyway conveniently connects the conference hotel to the conference venue. However, if you’re going for a longer stroll through downtown I recommend to just go outside while you’re visiting; it’s much more enjoyable and faster in most cases. It’s definitely an option if you’re feeling extra chilly, though!
Places to eat/drink
You’re in the middle of the continent, as Midwest as you can get. The food has to be terrible here, right?
Wrong. The Twin Cities has some really great food. You’ll find plenty of local delicacies here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, whether it’s Jucy Lucies (where we unabashedly take credit for Wisconsin’s cheese) or some walleye from our 11,842 lakes (see what I did there?). You won’t find just Midwestern comfort food here, either: the Twin Cities has a great variety of culture for some amazing spots you’d never think were possible up here in the North.
A true list of all the great places to eat would be impossible to fit on here, but I’ll throw in some convenient places by the conference hotel and some favorites all around.
Around the conference hotel (Downtown)
There are tons of places to eat within walking distance of the conference hotel. This list is far from exhaustive.
Hen House Eatery
114 S 8th St, Minneapolis, MN 55402
Six blocks from the hotel. Cafe, great for breakfast/lunch.
80 South 9th St. Minneapolis, MN 55402
Four blocks from the hotel. Also solid for breakfast.
1110 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55403
Two blocks from the hotel. Large UK-inspired pub/restaurant with a huge rooftop lawn bowling area (which regrettably probably isn’t very useful while you’re here in a Minnesotan April)
Butcher & The Boar
1121 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55403
Popular American steak house, very meat-focused; excellent cocktails and bourbons, if that’s your thing.
931 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55402
Multi-roomed Irish pub/restaurant, a long-time downtown staple.
Zen Box Izakaya
602 S Washington Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55415
Japanese comfort food - ramen, small plates. A great lunch spot. It’s a long walk from the hotel but a short bus ride/rideshare. Brings you right by the river with Stone Arch Bridge and Mill City ruins for great views of the city while you’re here.
~10 minutes away via rideshare
Uptown (at Hennepin and Lake), which is actually south of downtown, is one of the more well-known hang-out spots in the city. I wouldn’t call it a tourist trip - it does have some good spots in it - but note that a lot of locals would consider it synonymous with Times Square in New York (many locals scoff and avoid it). It’s right next to Lyn-Lake (at - you guessed it, Lyndale and Lake), which is great, and so although the most pedantic locals would argue against it I’ve just grouped them in to one area here for you.
Some things I’d specifically like to call out:
2940 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55408
The sole “craft sake” brewery in Minnesota.
World Street Kitchen
2743 Lyndale Ave S #5, Minneapolis, MN 55408
Brick-and-mortar version of a local food truck that makes “street foods from around the world.” The Korean BBQ Bangkok burrito is life changing. And some of the Cities’ best ice cream is right next door at Milkjam Creamery.
Blue Door, Lyn-Lake
3006 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55408
A local pub favorite originally started in St. Paul with multiple locations. Lots of amazing burgers, including their own take on a Jucy Lucy: the ‘Blucy’.
2916 Hennepin Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55408
“Street food from hot zones around the equator is how this restaurant describes its unique cuisine, served family-style. There’s also a sushi bar and imaginative drink list, including the Chinopolitan, a cosmo garnished with dry ice.” (Fodor travel review) Don’t forget your outdoor voice if you go here.
The National Prohibition Act, known informally as the Volstead Act, was enacted to carry out the intent of the 18th Amendment (ratified January 1919), which established prohibition in the United States. Its author? Andrew Volstead, a member of Congress from Minnesota. Sorry about that. We corrected it with the rest of y’all in 1933 and then named an old speakeasy after him out of spite.
The address literally is secret (sort of). You’ll find it in an alleyway near 711 W Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55408. There’s no sign. It’s literally just a random door. Shhh! Don’t tell anyone, I’m only letting you know as one of the very few ~1,200 friends visiting this week.
North Loop (Warehouse District)
< 10 minutes away via rideshare or a long walk
Here’s a great list of picks in the North Loop. There’s a ton of great picks here, but I’ll share a few favorites.
112 N 3rd St, Minneapolis, MN 55401
James Beard Award-winning chef Isaac Becker has one of the best restaurants in the city, in my opinion.
Bar La Grassa
800 N Washington Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55401
An amazing Italian eatery.
Black Sheep Pizza
600 N Washington Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55401
Note: there are multiple locations in both cities.
Borough (& Parlour)
730 N Washington Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55401
“Upstairs, Borough is a modern small-plates restaurant that puts up creative but satisfying dishes. Downstairs in the basement, Parlour is a plush, swank cocktail den with a legendary burger.”
208 N 1st Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55401
Really great burgers. There’s a location in Uptown and in St. Paul, too.
603 N Washington Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55401
I’d normally not recommend seafood in the Cities - the sea is very far away from here - but this is one of the exceptions.
~10-15 minutes away via rideshare
The Northeast neighborhood right across the river has a huge number of taprooms (some mentioned in Craft Beer) and some solid food.
165 13th Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413
Be prepared to wait if you want some of this woodfire pizza by James Beard Award-nominated Chef/Owner Ann Kim.
215 E Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55414
This place is as quintessential Northeast as it gets. Kramarczuk’s has been serving up smoked sausages and other Eastern European foods in Minneapolis for over 60 years. Walk across the river to this gem of a Polish deli and combine the trip with checking out the St. Anthony Falls area (mentioned in Things to Do)
Brasa Premium Rotisserie
600 E Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55414
Cooking inspired by the traditions of the southern US, Caribbean, and Mexico. The Yuca fries and magic green sauce (very technical term) are amazingly delicious here. Vegetarian and gluten-free options, too!
El Taco Riendo
2412 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418
2851 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418
Delicious Ecuadorian and Andean food.
Did I mention there’s an entire separate city in the Twin Cities? Down the river from Minneapolis lies St. Paul with all it’s own picks. The Mpls/St Paul magazine list here is also pretty good. Some highlights/additions:
410 St Peter St, St Paul, MN 55102
Probably the best French dining in the Cities, located in one of the more historic buildings in St. Paul. Note this is nearing fine dining and getting a reservation ahead of time is advised.
161 Victoria St, St Paul, MN 55104
This cozy little spot specializes in pork-free ramen.
525 Selby Ave, St Paul, MN 55102
James Beard-nominated chef Thomas Boemer brings you amazing Southern comfort right here in the “Bold North”.
The Buttered Tin
237 7th St E, St Paul, MN 55101
Go here for breakfast.
The Bulldog, Lowertown
237 6th St E, St Paul, MN 55101
A local pub staple.
Mickey’s Dining Car
36 7th St W, St Paul, MN 55102
This is NOT a foodie place, but I’d be remiss not to mention the iconic establishment which has basically stayed the same since the 1940s and has seen filming on-location of all three Mighty Ducks movies. It’s open 24 hours day everyday, so could be a late night stop for the adventurous (you know, after watching all the Mighty Ducks movies late in to the evening, as one does).
Some of the closest and best vegetarian options are in Uptown/Lyn-Lake, including:
2917 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55408
Not strictly vegetarian, but locally sourced pizza with vegetarian and vegan versions of every speciality pizza, and many of the speciality pizzas are already vegetarian. Gluten-free crusts available, too.
610 W Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55408
fig + farro
3001 Hennepin Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55408
“This vegetarian restaurant serves seasonal small plates and entrees influenced by global cuisines including Mediterranean, Mexican, Italian, and Korean. The brunch menu offers items like biscuits with mushroom-based gravy, breakfast ramen, and a blueberry cinnamon roll sized to share.” (Eater Twin Cities)
In St. Paul:
- J. Selby’s
169 Victoria St, St Paul, MN 55104
Vegan-friendly, plant-based eatery with familiar favorites re-imagined as plant-based fare and new, exciting dishes.
Beer lover? The Twin Cities’ craft beer game is strong. Here’s a very small selection of some of our favorites, sorted by distance from the conference hotel/venue:
Close to the conference hotel:
Lakes and Legends Brewing Company
1368 Lasalle Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55403
A single block away from the conference hotel.
Finnegan’s Brewery and Taproom
817 S 5th Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55404
Less than a mile from the conference hotel.
712 Ontario Ave W #100, Minneapolis, MN 55403
Also less than a mile away, a 17-minute walk through nearby Loring Park and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden from the conference hotel will get you here.
North Loop (< 10 rideshare or a long walk)
701 N 5th St, Minneapolis, MN 55401
505 N 3rd St, Minneapolis, MN 55401
Pryres Brewing Company
1401 West River Rd N, Minneapolis, MN 55411
Northeast (10-15 min rideshare)
Dangerous Man Brewing
1300 NE 2nd St, Minneapolis, MN 55413
Indeed Brewing Company
711 NE 15th Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55413
Fair State Brewing Cooperative
2506 Central Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418
Bauhaus Brew Labs
1315 Tyler St NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413
Midway (~15 min rideshare)
Midway refers to the area between Minneapolis and St. Paul (which is mostly just a part of St. Paul)
Surly Brewing Co.
520 Malcolm Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414
Huge beer hall/taproom by one of the more known and distributed breweries outside of the area. Fantastic food here, too.
Lake Monster Brewing Company
550 Vandalia St #160, St Paul, MN 55114
Bang Brewing Company
2320 Capp Rd, St Paul, MN 55114
755 Prior Ave N, St Paul, MN 55104
Adventure Time (20 minutes or longer via rideshare)
These are well out of your way, but have to be mentioned as they are the certified Favorite Breweries™ of one of our resident JRubyists and founding members of RubyMN.
6031 Pillsbury Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55419
In South Minneapolis; about 20 minutes away.
HammerHeart Brewing Co.
7785 Lake Dr, Lino Lakes, MN 55014
Far to the north, right outside the metro area. About 30ish minutes to get there.
Things to do
As has become tradition, Mike Perham has once again posted a listing of official and unofficial RailsConf related events and parties on his website, and I’ll leave that as a canonical source to reference. Check it out!
I will note here that sadly the RubyMN meetup is already full and we can’t really take on any more RSVPs, purely due to the amount of space we have at the venue. As it turns out, a venue that can support 60ish people fills up pretty quickly with 1200+ Rubyists in town!
On your own
There’s so much to do and see around the Twin Cities - remember, the conference is in Minneapolis but there’s a whole other city just eight miles away (contrary to what some Minneapolitans might purport).
As always, remember that this list is far from exhaustive and undoubtedly will get added to as more things come to mind/are suggested by others.
- Head to the north side of downtown and walk across the iconic Stone Arch Bridge to stretch your legs and check out one of the most quintessential views of Minneapolis overlooking St. Anthony Falls. See all the mill buildings along the riverside? ‘The Mill City’ developed around these falls. Ever heard of General Mills and Pillsbury?
- Only a block or two away from the conference hotel is the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden with its famed, quirky Spoonbridge and Cherry, as well as the Walker Art Center right next to it. If you’re joining us for the unofficial RailsConf 5k, we’ll be running right around this area already!
- Home to over 45 businesses spanning over 22 cultures, the Midtown Global Market - located in the historic Midtown Exchange (listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the old Sears, Roebuck and Company building) - is a vibrant cultural center full of food, locally made art, and goods from around the world. “We exist to promote the economic, social and cultural assets of Minnesota and celebrate the healthy foods, arts, crafts and other aspects of our diverse heritage.”
- In the same vein as Midtown Global Market above, get a taste of St. Paul and head over to Keg and Case, a brand new culinary and retail marketplace that opened last year on the grounds of another historic location, the old Schmidt Brewery.
- Check out First Avenue, the historic music venue that Prince frequented and recorded Purple Rain at. If you don’t want to see a show, the 531 stars on the exterior of the building commemorating past venue performers are worth the visit alone.
- Axe throwing has become a thing in the past few years here. It’s like darts, but…with axes. Check out Bad Axe Throwing in Minnneapolis or FlannelJax’s in St. Paul.
- Enjoy arcade games? The Minneapolis Up/Down in Lyn-Lake is a blast, featuring classic arcade games, ski-ball, etc. Right next door to Blue Door pub, mentioned earlier.
- The Minnesota Wild are out of the NHL playoffs (as usual) and the Minnesota United FC are sadly not at home in their brand new St. Paul stadium this week. But if you’re in to baseball, the Minnesota Twins will be in a homestand at Target Field with the Astros.
- See a show at the Gutherie Theater
- The Minnesota Orchestra is one of the top symphony orchestras in the United States. If you’re still around Friday night after the conference , there’s a concert at Orchestra Hall (near the conference venue) featuring some Haydn, Bernstein, and Mozart.
These are a trip, but should be mentioned anyway:
- Paisley Park was Prince’s private estate and recording studio (as well as the name of his record label, as well as a song on his 1985 album). It’s in Chanhassen, a distant suburb of Minneapolis, around a 30+ minute drive from the conference hotel.
- The Mall of America - near the airport you flew in at - is the largest mall in the United States. It’s large enough that there’s an entire amusement park (like, with rides) in the middle of it. It’s worn a certain marketing for some time, but if you ask a local of a certain age it’ll be forever remembered as Camp Snoopy. Really though, it is just a mall - so unless you’re really in to shopping, there’s a ton of way more interesting things to see and do to experience the Twin Cities. Had to mention it, though!
I’m so stoked you’re here; enjoy your time in the Twin Cities! Do come say hi during the conference! I have a lot of RubyMN stickers to give away.