Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Oh, the places I should have visited in Lake City July 19, 2012

A side street in the downtown business district of Lake City Minnesota.

SO…YOU DRIVE into a town you’ve never been to and you and your traveling companion wonder where to eat, what to do, which places to visit.

How do you decide?

Trust the locals? Trust your instincts? Just start walking and see where the sidewalk leads you?

I suppose those thoughts run through any visitor’s mind upon arrival in an unfamiliar community. To my list I add the decision of what to photograph, made easier by ownership of a DSLR camera. As long as I have space on my CF cards, and a patient husband, I keep shooting.

Then back home, upon review of those images, I can see the places I missed because of time constraints or another restaurant chosen or a business closed for the day and I have visible reasons to return.

Here is photographic evidence for returning to Lake City, a southeastern Minnesota Mississippi River town my spouse and I recently visited on a way too hot summer afternoon in early July.

I’m not a boater, nor a swimmer. But the water still draws me close to gaze upon, to appreciate, its mesmerizing beauty. Next trip back to Lake City, my husband and I need to find a park along Lake Pepin where we can simply sit and enjoy the water or perhaps stroll along a beach. That treeline across the lake/river is Wisconsin.

The Lake Pepin Pearl Button Co. antique shop features a little nook of a room off the spacious main shop area, exterior pictured here, in which I need to spend more time poking around. Poke, poke, poke.

The entry to Bronk’s Bar and Grill angled into a downtown Lake City street corner caught my attention. Was this once a movie theater? No matter, Bronk’s claims “the best hamburgers in Lake City” made from only local fresh meat. Anyone eaten here?

Unfortunately, Rabbit’s Bakery was closed on the Tuesday I was in Lake City or I surely would have stopped in here. Any business with “Rabbit” as part of its name naturally draws me to it given I graduated from Wabasso High School, home of the white rabbit. This photo was also encouraged by my husband who once (and still occasionally) called one of my sisters Rabbit. Love the graphic.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


16 Responses to “Oh, the places I should have visited in Lake City”

  1. Jeanelle Stepan Says:

    Audrey…we just had a morning snack at the Rabbit Bakery in Lake City, recently. A daughter of old friends of ours from St. Cloud works there and we met up with her parents for coffee and a fabulous frosted cinnamon roll. We sat outside on the little antique table and took in the sights of the lake, while catching up with old friends. Jeanelle Henriksen Stepan

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Jeanelle, thanks for the tip on the cinnamon rolls. Next time… I saw your brother Dan the last time I was back home. He was dining at the Vesta Community Cafe, too.

  2. treadlemusic Says:

    Will definitely check Rabbits Bakery out tomorrow, along with some of the other spots you mentioned! So many interesting places/so little time (or is it $$??).

  3. Nancy Says:

    Bronks used to be the Blue Moon Cafe for many years.Bronks has daily specials and lots of good food. Lake City Pearl Button factory used to be the place where pearl buttons were punched out of clam shells and was in the last few years renovated and turned into the antique shop. There is a tiny museum within the building showing the history of pearl buttons. There are many good places to eat. One of the newest restaurants isn’t in downtown but located on Lyon Ave Hwy 63 near the railroad tracks. It is called Railhouse Grill and has some wonderful wood fired pizza as well as a lot of other great food.Even thought I no longer live in Lake City, I was born and raised on a farm near Lake City so I’m partial to this particular small town.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Nancy, you have a wonderful hometown in Lake City.

      Thanks for the additional info on Bronk’s. My husband and I actually dined at the Railhouse Grill on the recommendation of a local woman whom I stopped on the sidewalk and asked for a good home-grown restaurant at which to dine. I had the mango chicken sandwich and really enjoyed the mix of flavors. My husband had a BBQed pork sandwich and said the sauce had a unique flavor which he liked. The one thing this restaurant needs, though, is additional signage along the main road into town. We saw the liquor store sign fronting the major roadway, but had no idea Railhouse Grill was part of the same complex with entry from the side street. When we saw the aforementioned woman later downtown, we told her this and she said, “Oh, all the locals know where it is.” But that wasn’t our point. Railhouse Grill is missing the non-locals because of a lack of signage along the main road into town.

      Anyway, sounds like we’ll need to try Bronk’s the next time we’re in Lake City.

      Also, if you check back to my July 16 post, you’ll see that I visited the Lake Pepin Pearl Button Co and learned all about Lake City’s button making background. Love that antique shop.

      Thanks for stopping by to tell us more about Lake City, Nancy.

  4. John Says:

    Watch for Bronk’s on “Restaurant Impossible” in Dec. on Food Network

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      So…, John, I don’t get cable. What’s “Restaurant Impossible?”

      • John Says:

        Restaurant: Impossible is an American reality television program aired by the Food Network. It stars British chef and restaurateur Robert Irvine, and premiered on January 19, 2011.

        In each episode, Chef Robert Irvine is given the “mission” of making the impossible possible by renovating a failing restaurant in two days on a $10,000 budget. After assessing the problems with the restaurant, Robert Irvine typically creates a plan for the new decor, oversees the cleaning of the restaurant, reduces the size of the menu and improves the food, develops a promotional activity, educates the restaurant’s owners, or trains the staff as needed by each restaurant


      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        Thanks for the explanation, John. I had heard recently on a Rochester radio station that Bronk’s was reopening with a new menu and look. But I had no idea it was due to a professional makeover.

  5. John Says:

    Above is from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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