Holiday shopping is an endurance test, so it’s important to keep your strength up. We’ve created a master plan to help you pick up those special gifts without skipping your day’s nourishment. Keep your shopping momentum rolling with our guide to quick, small bites you can savor between purchases. Whether you need to energize, take a break, enjoy a libation or satisfy a sweet tooth, we’ve found some excellent places to regroup.
Stop One: Energize!
The first stop should be invigorating. Here are some local favorites for a kick of caffeine to send you speeding ahead of the crowds.
Stop in at Dunn Brothers for a perfectly made espresso and a made-from-scratch muffin while you make a game plan. Pick up a few bags of coffee or order a coffee-of-the-month subscription for the caffeine enthusiast on your holiday shopping list. Dunn Brothers stocks beans from around the world, with selections from South America, Africa, Indonesia and India. After your world tour in a cup, navigating Maple Grove’s shops will be a cinch (opens 6 a.m. M-F, 7 a.m. Sat.-Sun.). Dunn Brothers, 7899 Main St., 763.424.3866.
Order a frothy latte from Great Harvest Bread Company and pick a muffin or pastry from their rotating selections, which are freshly baked in house each morning. Finnish cardamom bread, chocolate babka bread, or a savory bacon cheddar muffin will nourish you for the long day ahead. Pick up a loaf of cranberry sage sourdough to take as a holiday hostess gift while you’re there. See? You’re getting things done already (opens 6:30 a.m. M-F, 7 a.m. Sat.). Great Harvest Bread Co, 13714 Grove Drive, 763.416.1911.
Main Street and The Shoppes at Arbor Lake are all within a stone’s throw of either of these beginning locations.
Stop Two: Break for Comfort
Now that you’ve crossed a few items off your gift list, head up Hwy. 94 and take a break to snack on some stick-to-your-ribs comfort food. You’ll be ready for more shopping in no time.
Hit Z’s Smokin’ Bonez for one of their mini signature sliders: brisket, pork, chicken or sausage. Other small bites include deviled eggs prepared with special-order smoked salmon lox filling. You’ll have a chance to do a little more holiday shopping while you’re there too. Ready-made smoked snack mixes and a variety of inventive barbeque sauces like peanut butter barbeque and peach chipotle make crowd pleasing gifts. Z’s Smokin’ Bonez, 16362 Co. Rd. 30, 763.400.7979.
Pop into Minne’s Diner for an order of deep fried pickles, hand battered, and piping hot, served with made-from-scratch ranch dressing. The real star, of course, is the minneapple pie. Perfect for a mid afternoon pick me up, these miniature deep fried apple pies have become famous at the Minnesota State Fair and Target Field, thanks to the not-too-sweet apple filling and flaky crust dusted with a sparkly coat of cinnamon sugar. Grab a six pack to-go and surprise your family after dinner. Minne’s Diner, 13105 Main St., Rogers, 763.428.4176.
The Antique Mall of Rogers is a unique place for that special find before you grab a quick refreshment.
Stop Three: Liquid Refreshment
All of that gift hunting has earned you a drink. Take a break for a happy hour libation and something to nosh on. Only a few stops left!
Maynard’s long running, weeklong happy hour begins at 11 a.m. and goes all the way to 6 p.m., which means you can stop for a break the moment the need arises. Order a few appetizers to get you back on your feet; fried onions and tomato basil flatbread anyone? A peppermint martini will refresh your palate and put you back in the holiday mood as you continue your shopping marathon. Maynard’s, 21415 136th Ave. N., Rogers, 763.428.0700.
Swing down Hwy. 81 to Maple Tavern which boasts a generous happy hour, Monday through Saturday from 3 to 6 p.m. Try their Asian tacos filled with barbecued chicken, sweet and sour coleslaw and drizzled with wasabi vinaigrette—sure to wake up your taste buds and help you find your second wind. Maple Tavern hosts live music most nights too, with acts ranging from country to pop to classic rock. Sets and times vary, so check their website for details. Maple Tavern, 9375 Deerwood Ln. N., 763.425.2700.
Back south, near the Shoppes, you can catch an early movie after hitting Malone’s happy hour which runs from 3-6 p.m. every day of the week. For a little protein, try the steak bites to get you back in action. They come in several flavors including buffalo, Szechuan, cajun and Kung Pao. We happen to like Cajun best. Wash them down with a tap beer or a rail drink. At less than $3 each, and you’ll still have plenty of money in your wallet to finish up your holiday shopping. Malone’s Bar and Grill, 12635 Elm Creek Blvd. N., 763.447.6500.
After the movie, finish your shopping at The Fountains at Arbor Lakes or head further down the road, to the Wedgewood Center at Hwy. 494 and Bass Lake Rd. Either location holds a sweet surprise.
Stop Four: Reward Yourself
Whether you’ve finished off your list or not, it’s time for a sweet reward. Here are the bakeries we’re sweet on.
Nadia’s Cakes became famous on TLC’s Cupcake Wars, but the creative flavor combinations and stunning presentation have made this bakery a cult favorite in Maple Grove. Flavors change daily, but there are always plenty of seasonal flavors on hand. Try a sugar & spice cupcake. The cake is made with cardamom and cinnamon and topped with plenty of frosting and buttered and sugared graham crackers. Take home a bouquet of cake pops for the last sweet tooth on your gift list, and pat yourself on the back. Nadia’s Cakes, 11650 Fountains Drive, 763.575.8885.
The hardest part is choosing from the display case at Chez Arnaud. Each of these French pastries is like a little work of art, almost too pretty to eat. Almost. Macarons are available in a variety of wintry flavors, including peppermint, cayenne pepper with dark chocolate ganache, cranberry and salted caramel. Since they’re made with meringue—little more than sugar and egg whites—they’re also gluten-free. If you’re feeling very French indeed, consider ordering a bûche de Noël for your holiday party. Why not cross some holiday baking off that to-do list while you’re at it? We won’t tell. Chez Arnaud, 13332 Bass Lake Road, 763.568.7756.