Lil Miss Foodie Tours Downtown Mankato
December 2018: Mankato
By Kim Ly Curry, Lil Miss Foodie
I’m always trying to satisfy my cravings and need to explore new places to share. Little did I realize that within an hour and a half drive south of the Twin Cities (great scenery), located midway between Minneapolis and the Iowa border (where the Minnesota and Blue Earth Rivers meet), is the cute little town of Mankato.
Known mostly for its extensive bike trails, parks, outdoor art spaces and river, this southern Minnesota town makes nature accessible for everyone. It also has great food and a downtown well worth exploring.
We started our weekend by fueling up with some handcrafted cold-pressed juices at the WYSIWYG Juice Co. They’ve been here for over 6 years and are known for their local organic, vegan and vegetarian food and beverages (including gluten-free)! They did not disappoint.
For Italian fare, I recommend walking directly out of WYSIWYG across Front Street to Pagliai’s Pizza, a local favorite for almost 50 years where you can try everything from their pizza pie to poorboy’s.
All you need to do in order to satisfy your sweet tooth is walk back across the street and you’ll find Bluebird’s Cakery located right on the corner across from WYSIWYG brimming with freshly homemade baked goods, cupcakes, pastries, and desserts.
If you need a hangout spot and beer’s your thing, Flask is the perfect high energy spot for friends and fun. Everything pairs well with their wide selection of cocktails, ice cold beer and legendary appetizers.
Later for dinner, just walk next door to Flask and you’ll discover Number 4 American Bar and Kitchen. If you’d like to taste the freshest scallops in town, I suggest their Pescatore entree and for dessert don’t miss out in their Nutella Praline Crepe Cake and Molten Butterscotch Cake! It’s a great take on chocolate lava cake.
At some point everyone needs a breakfast or brunch buffet, so just a stone’s throw from Flask look no further than Olives for upscale Mediterranean conveniently located directly inside the Hilton Garden Inn. For classic, old fashioned cafe decor along with an extensive breakfast and lunch menu try the locally owned Wagon Wheel, a fixture in town for over 70 years! This cafe is perfect for grabbing breakfast or lunch and right next door to Bluebird’s Cakery!
If you can tear yourself away from the food and are looking for a caffeine jolt walk from Number 4 (across Walnut Street) and you’ll run into Tandem Bagels, one of the dozens of cute and cozy boutiques and cafes downtown. Craving a more unique atmosphere? (imagine hipster/college/café au lait vibe), hunker down with your laptop in a living room style couch at the Coffee Hag. For the more indecisive, grab a seat at the counter of Neutral Groundz which doubles as both a cafe and boutique.
I’ve left the best views in town this time of year for last and they can only be found after sunset, so we headed to the Sibley Park to enjoy the Kiwanis Lights! This light show is attended by thousands each year! Plus, event goers can enjoy live reindeer, “no-ice” skating, visit Santa’s workshop and more! We walked around the park enjoying our tea and hot cocoa, people watching, listening to the Kiwanis music playlist, and a quick stop by the warming house!
We had a weekend of family fun visiting Mankato, and I have to say the Kiwanis Lights was our favorite part. I’m sure you’ll have a great time in Mankato, but whatever you do take the time to explore the murals, sculpture, and art dedicated to the First Americans throughout this city. It’s a great destination for a weekend (or longer) of family fun! If you get a chance, make a stop at Chankaska Creek Winery just outside of town. Their wines are amazing and I just had to pick some up to take home with me. My favorites were the Kasota Rosé and their Coeur de Colline dessert wine. In addition to the wines, their food is excellent. I loved their Charcuterie Board, Burrata, and Pancetta E Salame Pizza. Everything was so flavorful and tasty. And I haven’t even mentioned Mom and Pop’s ice cream or the River Hills Mall! There are so many great things to do in Mankato and I wish I had more time to explore and experience the delights of the town and it’s many offerings. So until next time… Thank you Mankato!
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