Sports Commentator Jenny Taft Misses the Minneapolis Winter

“The whole ‘Minnesota nice’ thing is very real. It might take a little longer for your coffee to come out, but that’s because locals are just checking in.”

Jenny Taft
Image by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist
Jenny Taft is a sports journalist and moderator on Fox Sports’ “Skip and Shannon: Undisputed.” She regularly covers college football and both women’s and men’s World Cups, and has hosted the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. As told to Liam Pierce.

When you think of Minneapolis, you probably think of the freezing cold weather— which is accurate—but I like to think of it as a city of water. Minnesota earns its nickname “Land of 10,000 Lakes” and its residents know how to take advantage of that.

Minneapolis is surrounded by the Mississippi River, Lake Harriet, Lake Calhoun, Lake of the Isles, and so many other bodies of water. Appropriately, there’s a big outdoor community in both summer and winter. People are really active: walking, running, skating—I grew up playing hockey. It’s a very healthy place, with so many good restaurants, and you don’t really assume so unless you’ve gone and experienced it yourself.

Yes, we are home to the Minnesota Vikings, who play right in the middle of downtown Minneapolis, but Minnesota is also hockey land. It’s almost a professional sport when you’re in high school. Edina High School (where I attended) plays at Braemar Arena, which has three hockey rinks dedicated to just their hockey community alone!

My dad used to work at an old sports store, General Sports (50th and France/Lake Harriet), when he was growing up in Minneapolis, sharpening skates. And the family-run store is still around—since 1962. They have since relocated to Braemar Arena to be closer to all the hockey action. They have every sport and team gear you need. I used to love going there to get new hockey gear, always such fun memories.

And the whole ‘Minnesota nice’ thing is very real. I’ll never forget when I took my husband to Minneapolis for the first time, we went to a coffee shop and they were asking us how our day was. Matt—Gilroy, a former NHL player from New York—was like, “So that’s for real? They were just really curious how we’re doing?” They are 100 percent wondering how your day was. And the coffee may take a little longer to come out, but that’s because they’re checking in. (Did you hear my Minnesota accent saying “out” just then?)

Nowadays I have to wake up at 4:30 a.m. to host Fox Sports’ “Undisputed,” so you could say coffee is my best friend. One of my favorite coffee shops in Minneapolis is Caribou Coffee. It’s a chain, but I’d take it over Starbucks any day. Yum! Kitchen and Bakery would probably be next on my list. They have an amazing bakery. And if you’re looking for a Vikings game-day situation, this is a great place for take-out. Whether it’s a Sunday mid-day game or night game. Because their sandwiches, salads, and mac and cheese are also to die for.

When it comes to brunch, there’s a place that’s near and dear to my heart: Zumbro in Linden Hills. It’s the cutest breakfast / lunch cafe and always has a bit of a wait. They have this homemade granola that I’ve never been able to replicate, which I dream about to this day. I recommend doing a two-meal situation there with the granola and an omelette. Minneapolis is known for the “Juicy Lucy” (or “Jucy [no “i”] Lucy”) burger, which has cheese inside of it. Two bars debate over who made it, but I’ll let you decide for yourself.

I used to go back to Minneapolis often but with COVID, things are obviously different. I can’t wait to be able to go back to it.  I have so many good memories of growing and skating outside. It’s just a really healthy way to grow up.

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