Our Advisory Board Picks Their Best of the Southwest Metro

Pink text reads "Board Approved" on the cover image of the Southwest Metro Magazine Advisory Board's picks for Best of Southwest Metro
Southwest Metro Magazine Advisory Board members weigh in with their favorites.

Southwest Metro Magazine is creatively supported throughout the year by its Advisory Board members with article ideas and input related to the publication. Our board members are talented and creative, but most importantly, dedicated to the Southwest Metro area—its residents, business owners and quality of life. In reviewing this issue of Best of the Southwest Metro, I knew I’d be remiss if I didn’t include some of  the members’ thoughts about what they deem to be their favorites.  

COURTNEY MILLER BELLAIRS
Artist

Favorite place to volunteer
My favorite part about volunteering for Feed My Starving Children is that the whole family can be involved. This is such a great experience for young children and teens. Teens can invite friends, and the love is shared. Groups like churches can participate as a team. Communities are strengthened within communities while doing something small that helps others in ways we can only imagine.

Favorite exercise class
Nikki White Nielsen leads a devoted [following] at Chanhassen’s Lifetime during Dance Jam, growing from a traditional Zumba class into a mix of hip hop and shake-yer-bootie. This class is multigenerational. And I meant that. There are 17-77 year olds! When the lights are low, it’s easy to dance without worrying what others will think. If you don’t feel that energetic, you don’t have to be high impact. If you feel like being a jumping bean, you can. Nikki’s enthusiasm and care for her peeps give everyone extra energy and the spirit that [remains] after the class is over and lasts well into the day.

Favorite jazz event
The annual Community Jazz Festival, held at Chanhassen High School, featured Grace Kelly, a young, accomplished and Instagram-savvy saxophonist from New York City. Chanhassen High School and, perhaps, the music educators, students and parents will never be the same. She danced on stage and wore gold platform trainers. She was fabulous, and it was fabulous. Chaska High School hosts next year. This is a really fun thing; so good for students, teachers, parents and jazz educations. I cannot be more enthusiastic about this one.

LANE PATTEN, M.D. 
With Two Spoons, food blogger

Favorite place to refocus
When I need to work but am distracted by the things to do in my home, I head straight to Smith in Eden Prairie. Although Smith has been several things over the years that I have lived in Eden Prairie, it has always retained its old world charm. Cozy and casual, I can grab a cup of coffee and a spot by the window and relax while getting things done. The coffee is great, the vibe is perfect and the Wi-Fi is strong. Need breakfast? No problem, Smith has you covered with eggs, bacon, avocados and delicious bread.

Favorite place for a celebratory night out
The vibe at Wildfire is old school steak house, and the food doesn’t disappoint. My favorite is the filet trio, which allows you to choose your sauces/crusts. As someone who hates to choose, this is the perfect solution. Paired with the Wildfire chopped salad, au gratin potatoes and a glass of sauvignon blanc, this meal is heaven. Not in the mood for steak? The oven roasted seafood platter also rises to the occasion with salmon, crab cakes and bacon wrapped scallops. And whatever you do, don’t forget dessert.

Favorite peaceful spot
No matter how crowded, the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum always feels open and free. There are always places to sit and gather my thoughts or just breathe. And no matter how many times I go, it always feels like a new place-either there are new plantings, a new installation or just new leaves on the ground. If you haven’t gone while the crabapple trees are blooming in May, it is magical. Grab your camera, grab a picnic blanket and your journal, and prepare to be amazed.

JULIE LIZAK
Chanhassen resident and volunteer

Favorite date night spot
My husband and I are obsessed with the Noble Lion in Victoria, which features delicious, creative dishes and great wine.

Favorite place for kids to burn off steam
I have been taking the kids to the Chanhassen Rec Center to shoot hoops. Last time, I brought four 10 years olds, and the nicest group of 11th grade boys from Southwest Christian High School invited them to play. They were so kind and made my boys feel like rock stars. [It’s the] best $3 entertainment on a Friday night to get them away from the video games!

Favorite place to walk with a friend
I love walking at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, especially with a friend, who is very busy. Any chance I can get with her is treasured. We can do the three-mile loop and get caught up on life in a very special way.

GWEN CAMPBELL
City of Victoria, communications and HR manager

Favorite artsy offerings
The Arts Consortium of Carver County ups the artsy buzz in the city. Rotating exhibitions give me plenty of opportunities to see artwork in a variety of media—3D visual art, sculpture, photography, glass works and more. Summer brings art outdoors at the Artstock Art, Wine & Music Festival, Art Wander and Victoria Fine Art Fair.

Favorite car show
I enjoy strolling through downtown Victoria on a Classic Car Night, admiring the meticulously maintained cars in a rainbow of colors while enjoying an ice cream cone. With more than 250 cars, local restaurants serving their specialties outside, food trucks, beer taps, and music, it’s a fun community event for the entire family.

KATIE WELCH LEN
NewsWorthy Communications, media relations consultant

Favorite new restaurant
Located in downtown Waconia, K & B Fish Co. is a locally-owned sushi and sake bar. It’s an intimate restaurant set in a beach/fish market style. The menu consists of fresh fish, salads, appetizers, sushi rolls, signature cocktails and more. Personally, I love the lobster sushi roll—a must try for the first-timer.

Favorite gluten-free breakfast or lunch
Caribou Coffee offers new gluten-free egg sandwiches and soufflés. My two personal favorites are the gluten-free chicken chorizo and Muenster cheese English muffin sandwich. For a lighter lunch alternative, I love the spinach, mushroom and Swiss soufflé. It’s served hot and is a delicious low-carb, gluten-free alternative at only 270 calories.

Favorite smoothie
With a menu full of delicious and protein-packed, healthy smoothies, The Edge in Chanhassen is a go-to staple for me and my teenage daughters. With personal favorites being the Cookie Monster, cake batter and strawberry shortcake, it’s the perfect breakfast or lunch meal-in-a-cup for busy families, who are always on the go.