Let’s be clear: North Mankato and Mankato are in different counties. I learned this from fine Kato-ins on my first weekend trip there several years ago. And with each subsequent trip since, I learn something else. But mainly I’ve gathered that every time I head down from Minneapolis for a weekend, I come back happy. There’s something unassuming and comfortable about it. The people of Mankato like to hang out with low pretentions. I wish I could bottle that perfect mix of small town and big city, where everyone knows each other but new things are popping up each month. With so many cult-status eating and drinking establishments serving up fast Mexican, pizza, and practically free diner breakfast, along with a bevy of sweets and treats, it’s always quite the caloric affair. Upon each visit, a new place has opened its doors.
And let’s talk about the interesting music thing happening for a second: I like that I can be outside at an amphitheater with a rack of ribs among people from farms one night, to a small underground (but on the second floor) venue or the back room of a classic bar and restaurant across town the next. There’s a big brewery and nearby gorgeous winery/distillery, a tattoo shop in an old mansion, and a city sculpture art crawl, and while I wouldn’t dare insult residents by calling it cosmopolitan, it has its moments. The city blends hipness and familiarity, and that needs to be experienced. Until next time Mankato! You’ve got me, two counties and all.
Cheers to all my favorite haunts, some I never miss, and others I got to check off my list this time around: Olives, Bluebird Cakery, Friesen’s, The Coffee Hag, The What’s Up Lounge, The Oleander, Pagliai’s, Zanz, Nakato, Chankaska Creek, Mankato Brewery, Wine Café, Jake’s Stadium Pizza, The Wagon Wheel, Tandem Bagels, WYSIWYG. Also, the Visit Greater Mankato site is super helpful so check it out before you go.