Daily Day Guide: Dawdle around Dinkytown

The Daily Day Guide plans your perfect day in a Twin Cities neighborhood so that you don’t have to.

Nina Raemont, Arts and Entertainment Reporter

Dinkytown is full of character. Proudly a University of Minnesota neighborhood, it is an ever-changing neighborhood with businesses old and new to patronize.

Caffeinate

Gray’s Dinkytown: In December, Loring Bar and Restaurant revamped itself as a coffee shop and casual dining spot now known as Gray’s. Stop by for a quick cup of coffee — Gray’s offers Bootstrap Coffee Roaster’s Blue Collar Blend, a local medium roast that is nutty and smooth — or cozy up with a mug of tea in one of their plush sofa chairs and stay awhile.

Shop

The Book House: There’s something incredibly special about being among old books in a bookstore: the smell, the silence of a quaint shop, the welcoming smile of a bookshop clerk (or presumed smile under a mask). This used bookstore in Dinkytown has been a neighborhood institution since 1976, offering a vast collection of used books and a not-so-vast, yet still worthy of perusing, collection of vinyl. The Book House is currently offering scheduled browsing appointments instead of drop-ins, and you can reserve your spot online through their website.

Eat

Al’s Breakfast: This Dinkytown staple is currently running a takeout-only operation out of their 14th Avenue diner. While we wait for them to reopen for in-person dining, order their José for brunch — one or two jammy poached eggs and housemade salsa blanketed with melty cheddar atop a delightful bed of crispy hashbrowns. The diner delivers warmth and a hearty meal, whether that be through their classic pancakes, scrambles or coffee.

Umami Fries: If it were up to me, I’d eat fries with every meal. At Umami Fries, that’s the name of the game. With 10 signature fry options and four signature burgers, the mix and match options for some much-needed carb-loading are endless. Maybe you’re looking to kick your taste buds with some spice; if that’s the case, try their wasabi fries. For a crunchy and spicy addition to your lunch, try their kimchi burger. Don’t skimp on their Asian-inspired taco options either.

Wally’s: Wally’s specializes in warm pita, rich chicken shawarma and enough falafel to last you a lifetime. Tuck into their creamy hummus and don’t forget to take some baklava for the road.

Sip

Kung Fu Tea: Stop at Kung Fu to curb your afternoon boba craving. The tea shop is tucked away behind the Dinkytown Target and offers a wide variety of reliable teas and toppings.

Relax

The Knoll: Situated between University Avenue, East River Road, Pleasant Street and Pillsbury Drive, you’ll find students and locals setting up hammocks, studying or playing a friendly game of Spikeball. On the warmer days, it’s a go-to spot for high-quality people-watching and socially distant socializing. Take your lunch and a good book and enjoy the green space on campus.