I used to wonder why so many parents brought their babies to breweries.

Now I get it.

Everyone knew this was maybe, possibly, the last nice weekend of the year. We have a knack for that in Minnesota.

Last weekend I visited the new food hall Malcolm Yards. When we arrived upon opening, it was fairly busy but bearable enough to grab lunch with the baby and sit on the patio. The parking lot is a big, gravel lot. Kind of an obstacle course if it rained recently and you’re pushing a stroller. But still, not far from our neighborhood and easy for city parking.

You have to check in at the front kiosk where they collect your credit card and start a tab. They issue a plastic card that you scan at each vendor as payment. Then, you drop it in a bucket when you leave. Kind of weird, maybe efficient? You still have to wait in line at the front kiosk.

Instead of tipping, they add an 18% fee to your purchases.

I got a fancy shrimp tempura sushi roll and a big box of warm edamame sprinkled with sea salt from Bagu Sushi. 

A little spendy at $28 – but I enjoyed the freshness, textures, and sauces.

One of the vendors sold giant T-Rex cookies which I thought was just ok. I have a preference for baked goods made with real butter and can sniff out alternate shortenings in a heartbeat. If you enjoy Sweet Martha cookies a lot, you’ll like their chocolate chip cookie.

Anyway, when I tried to take the family back Saturday, I steered us right into the Gopher’s game madness. By the time we realized what was happening it was too late to turn around.

Slow motion “Noooooooo” as we headed into a slow stream of traffic stuck on University.

We pivoted to Lake Monster Brewing. We hadn’t visited for a long time but remembered their spacious Vandalia Tower courtyard. It’s tucked away in a warehousy area along Vandalia. The courtyard  is a really peaceful, pleasant place with a lot of seating.

Now there’s a coffee roaster and shop called SK Coffee and a Northmade clothing location in the courtyard too. Northmade sells my favorite St. Paul sweatshirt. 

The patio was full of people chilling, playing games, and drinking beer. Some started fires in the little fire pits.

Like many breweries, Lake Monster features a daily food trucks. Today, Iron Range-themed food truck called Deep Roots Concessions sold polishes, wild rice brats, vegetarian wild rice sloppy joes, porketta sandwiches. and porketta nachos. The menu features meats from Fraboni’s Sausage Company of Hibbing, MN.

Baskets come with a pickle spear and bag of Old Dutch chips of course.

Lake Monster played 90’s hits over the loud speaker from Aaliyah to Purple Rain. It all felt perfectly content and Minnesotan AF.

Maybe the weather will prove us all wrong, but at least we know we didn’t miss out.