Best of the Southwest Metro

25 reader picks for the people, places and businesses that make us happy to live here.

Best new restaurant
Prairie Ale House

Even before it opened, this restaurant was generating a lot of buzz among local foodies eager to sample its decadent gastro-pub menu, and since it opened, it hasn’t disappointed. With happy hour deals and propensity for throwing over-the-top parties (Remember St. Patrick’s Day?), Prairie Ale House has quickly become the destination for shirking off the daily grind with great food and a lively atmosphere. 16396 Wagner Way, Eden Prairie; 952.949.9700
2. Cuzzy’s Brick House
3. (tie) Terra Waconia & Smashburger

Editor’s Pick: Best new restaurant
The good news: lots of new restaurants opened in the past year or so. The bad news: some of them are bound to get lost in the shuffle. Don’t forget The Herb Box! It opened in December in the Life Time Fitness in Eden Prairie, and it serves everyone—even if they’re not Life Time Fitness members.

Best place to take out-of-town visitors
Wildfire
Since it opened in 2001, the Wildfire restaurant in Eden Prairie has been serving up a solid menu of steaks, seafood and crisp salads. With brunch on weekends, a delightful variety of mixed drinks, a children’s menu and plenty of gluten-free options, the restaurant offers something for just about every diner. Eden Prairie Center, 8251 Flying Cloud Dr., Ste. 3020, Eden Prairie; 952.914.9100
2. Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
3. Redstone American Grill

Editor’s Pick: Best plact to take out-of-town visitors

When I need to remind myself why I live in Minnesota, I trek on over to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum (arboretum.umn.edu). So when I need to show off our community to an out-of-towner who’s under the impression that snow—or an over-sized shopping mall—is pretty much all Minnesota has to offer, I bring them to the arboretum as well. From afternoon teas to a weekend events for children, the arboretum is accessible to any age group, and whether we’re exploring a trail or cruising on Three Mile Drive, I know we can expect lovely scenery as we catch up on each other’s life.

Best festival
Victoria Volksfest & Art Fair
From the live bands to the bed races at Volksfest and the art vendors to the belly dancers at the Art Fair, this small town festival offers something for everyone. This year the festival will be spread over two days, with the Volksfest activities on the evening of Friday, August 26, and the Art Fair during the day on Saturday, August 27.
2. Eden Prairie Lions Club’s Schooner Days
3. Foundation for Eden Prairie Schools’ Taste of Eden Prairie

Best second-hand/thrift store
The PROP Shop
With an inventory that includes pretty much everything but the kitchen sink, the PROP Shop in Eden Prairie is a bargain-lover’s heaven. But it’s not just about the shopping at the popular second-hand store, it’s also about the community. PROP stands for People Reaching Out to other People, and the non-profit organization collects donations of clothing and household items, which are sold in the store and given to local families in need. The store runs with help from 350 volunteers and four staff members. Over the past four years, the shop has helped 1,037 families in need, and since opening four years ago, it has given $50,000 to other non-profits in the community. “It’s just a whole crowd of neighbors helping each other,” says Cindy Eddy, the executive director of the PROP shop. Serious shoppers should stop by on a Tuesday or Thursday when new items are added to the shop. 15195 Martin Dr., Eden Prairie; 952.934.2323
2. The Hanger
3. Turn Style Consignment Store

Best grocery store
Kowalski’s
With its local flair and emphasis on freshness, Kowalski’s is not your typical grocery store. Sustainability is front and center at this store that has been serving Eden Prairie since 2004. They stock their shelves with local produce and offer up unique brands, such as Holy Land, French Meadow Bakery, and Ames Farm. 16500 W. 78th St., Eden Prairie; 952.937.9585 —CP
2. Fresh Seasons Market
3. Jerry’s Foods

Best salon
GiVan’s Salon & Spa
For more than four years, GiVan’s Salon & Spa has been pampering its customers with an array of beautifying treatments and services. From hair and nails to massage and skin care, GiVan’s has you covered. The stone and brick décor infused with warm yellows, and the experienced, down-to-earth staff, make for relaxation that rivals any vacation. A true retreat was never closer to home. Preserve Village Center, Hwy. 169 & Anderson Lakes Pkwy., Eden Prairie; 952.942.7981 —CP
2. The Parlour Salon & Spa
3. Flagship Salon

Best massage/massage therapist
Lisa Johnson
GiVan’s Salon & Spa’s favorite massage therapist Lisa Johnson takes pride in providing her clients with a stress-free, relaxing environment. Johnson, who became a certified massage therapist in 2005, offers a variety of different massages and tailors each one to meet her clients individual needs. Preserve Village Center, Hwy 169 & Anderson Lakes Pkwy., Eden Prairie; 952.942.7981
2. Salon SPAtoria
3. YoungQuest Fitness

Best tailor/alterations
Eden Tailors
Whether you need pants hemmed, a dress altered or a leather repair, Eden Tailors is the go-to place for all sorts of alterations. The shop also offers tuxedo rental. 9619 Anderson Lakes Pkwy., Eden Prairie; 952.941.4491
2. (tie) Sylvie Maly’s Tailoring and Lakeside Sewing

Best burger
Lions Tap
So simple, yet oh-so-delicious: Lions Tap burgers are the stuff of legends. This family-owned business has been a mainstay in Eden Prairie for decades, serving up French fries, craft beers and unforgettably good burgers. 16180 Flying Cloud Dr., Eden Prairie; 952.934.5299
2. Vic’s Bar & Grill
3. Redstone Grill

Best outdoor dining nobody else knows about
Lola’s Lakehouse
Diners at Lola’s Lakehouse can soak up a picturesque view overlooking a marina on Lake Waconia while enjoying brunch, lunch, dinner or drinks on the restaurant’s waterfront deck, which seats up to 100 people. 318 E. Lake St., Waconia; 952.442.4954
2. Dunn Bros. in the Smith Douglas More House
3. Redstone Grill

Editor’s Pick: Best Outdoor Dining Nobody Else Knows About
Sure you have to bring your own food, but packing a picnic to bring to Parley Lake Winery (parleylakewinery.com) in Waconia is well worth the effort. The winery and vineyard opens for the season on July 1, offering wine tastings, beautiful views of apple orchards and grape vines—and a shaded picnic area. So pack up your bread and cheese, sample some wine and luxuriate in a long summer afternoon.

Best weekend brunch
Redstone American Grill
In addition to the never-ending family style brunch (which includes French toast with fruit salad, scrambled eggs with cream cheese, bacon, sausage and hashbrowns), Redstone American Grill also serves a variety of savory and sweet breakfast items, ranging from morning flatbread to a brunch burger, with classics like steak and eggs, waffles and eggs benedict. 8000 Eden Rd., Eden Prairie; 952.903.9500
2. Santorini Taverna
3. Jake’s City Grille

Best coffee
Dunn Bros. Coffee
Since each location of Dunn Bros. Coffee in the southwest metro is independently owned, each shop has its own unique vibe and culture. But they do have one thing in common: freshly brewed coffee made from beans that are roasted in-store. 100 E. 2nd St., Ste. 100, Chaska; 952.361.3011; 561 Prairie Center Dr., Eden Prairie; 952.942.8331; 8107 Eden Prairie Rd., Eden Prairie; 952.934.0145
2. Caribou Coffee
3. Starbucks

Editor’s Pick: Best Coffee
While the wild proliferation of Caribou Coffee and Starbucks mean that there’s almost always one close at hand, sometimes its nice to get away from the grind and check out a local shop. We love JJ’s Coffee Company and Wine Bar in Eden Prairie and The Mocha Monkey in Waconia.

Best florist
Bachman’s
Whether you want to say “I love you” or “I’m sorry,” Bachman’s florists can create the perfect bouquet to fit the occasion. 770 Prairie Center Dr., Eden Prairie; 952.941.7700
2. Victoria Rose Floral
3. Belladonna Florist

Best jeweler
Aurora Jewelers
It’s not just another piece of jewelry—it’s a work of art. At least that’s the case if you bought your latest sparkler at Aurora Jewelers, where owner Ron Hansen prides himself on creating pieces that are both artistic and structurally sound. 11995 Singletree Ln., Eden Prairie, 952.943.2242
2. Von Maur
3. Wedding Day Diamonds

Best pet grooming
PetSmart
There’s nothing like completing a bunch of errands with one stop: Get your dog groomed while picking up toys, food and other supplies at the PetSmart in Eden Prairie. 11200 Prairie Lakes Dr., Eden Prairie; 952.941.4660
2. ADOGO Pet Hotel
3. Petco

Best place to work out
Life Time Fitness
With multiple locations and state-of-the-art facilities, it’s no surprise that athletes of all stripes are flocking to Life Time Fitness when they want to work up a sweat. The clubs offer programs for the entire family, personal training services, group fitness classes and more. 2901 Corporate Pl., Chanhassen; 952.380.0303; 755 Prairie Center Dr., Eden Prairie; 952.829.8400
2. YoungQuest Fitness
3. Eden Prairie Community Center

Best beach
Bryant Lake
The sandy stretch of beach in the Three Rivers Park District’s Bryant Lake Regional Park lends itself to picnics, sunbathing and swimming. 6800 Rowland Rd., Eden Prairie; 763.694.7764
2. Lake Riley
3. Lake Ann

Best kids birthday party spot
Pump It Up
The kids get to jump, slide and play in Pump It Up’s indoor arena with bounce houses, inflatable slides and obstacle courses, while their parents can rest easy knowing that all the decorations, party supplies and printable invitations have been taken care of. 7406 Washington Ave. S., Eden Prairie, 952.943.0052
2. (Tie) Brunswick Zone XL and Kidscreate Studio

Best landscaper
Mom’s Landscaping & Design and The Mustard Seed Landscaping & Garden Center
Two locally-owned companies tied for top honors in this hotly contested category. Mom’s Landscaping & Design based in Shakopee specializes in both hardscapes and softscapes, creating beautiful outdoor rooms to help homeowners make the most of their entire property. “We really work hard to take care of our customers,” says Jim Sweeney, who founded Mom’s Landscaping and Design 18 years ago. “We take a holistic approach to the design.” 12276 Johnson Memorial Dr., Shakopee; 952.277.6667

The Mustard Seed Landscaping & Garden Center, which Mark and Kay Halla founded in 2003, offers garden design and some maintenance service, along with a garden center full of plants for do-it-yourselfers. The company recently won an award from the Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Association for its commitment to the environment, and this spring the Hallas installed a wind turbine that will generate all of the energy for their garden center. Mark Halla says that staying true to his faith is an important part of the way he runs his business. “Ultimately, the most important thing is relationships,” Halla says, noting that he strives to build healthy relationships with his employees and customers. 6055 Hwy. 212, Chaska; 952.361.9954
2. Bachman’s

Best place to hike
Staring Lake Park
With miles of hiking trails in the summer, and cross-country ski trails in the winter, Eden Prairie’s Staring Lake Park offers activities for all seasons. Other park amenities include an ice skating rink and sledding hill in the winter, a sand volleyball court, tennis courts, boat ramp and grills. 14800 Pioneer Trail, Eden Prairie
2. Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
3. Carver Park Reserve

Best kid-friendly restaurant
Perkins
With a special kids’ menu, and plenty of child-friendly food—chocolate chip pancakes, chicken tenders and cheese pizza abound—Perkins offers up a casual atmosphere for a night out with the family. 951 W. 78th St., Chanhassen; 952.474.9460; 184 Pioneer Tr., Chaska; 952.448.6039
2. Jason’s Deli
3. Houlihan’s

Best interior designer
Devane Design
Perfecting the designs for her clients’ homes keeps Chantal Devane of Devane Design up at night—literally. The interior designer has been known to tinker with designs in the middle of the night. Devane founded her business in 2003 and has been in the design and remodeling industry since 1999. She takes pride in offering her clients good value for all of the items selected for their home. “I work really hard to get to know my clients on a personal level, and I strive to make each design unique and specific to my client and their home—and the way they live in it,” Devane says. “I am always my client's first point of contact, especially on my remodeling projects, and I provide project management services, as a standard, for all my clients. I take the project from design conception to completion.” 10561 Lake Fall Dr., Eden Prairie; 612.280.2783
2. M. Gilbertson Design
3. Embellishments Design Studio

Best builder/remodeler
mackmiller design+build
Whether you’re remodeling your kitchen or building an addition, Mackmiller Design + Build helps make your vision a reality. Since 2003 this family-owned remodeling firm has been making home improvements a snap—tackling everything from the initial design to the finished product. The pros at Mackmiller also assist with interior design needs. 15694 Village Woods Drive, Eden Prairie; 952.949.8600 —CP
2. Westside Home Improvements
3. C.R.E. Construction

Best bar food
Floyd’s Bar
This casual, unassuming bar in Victoria offers $5 lunches from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, along with a large menu of bar food favorites, including burgers, pizzas, spaghetti, sandwiches, hot dogs, tacos, French fries, onion petals and more. With Friday night fish fries, a weekly meat raffle, the weekend breakfast Bloody Mary (aka Floyd’s happy meal), Tacos and taps on Monday and all-you-can-eat spaghetti Wednesday nights, there’s almost always a good excuse to swing on in to Floyd’s. 1758 Arboretum Blvd., Victoria; 952.443.9944
2. Kona Grill
3. Santorini Taverna

Best Big Night Out, adults only
Redstone American Grill
The place you’d most like to bring the family for brunch (see Best weekend brunch, page xx) also happens to be the perfect place for the grown-ups to let loose on date night. Redstone’s steak and seafood-heavy menu makes it a great destination for a nice dinner out, and a pretty happening bar with live music on weekends makes it the perfect spot for those who really want to cut loose.
2. Floyd’s Bar
3. Santorini Taverna