Intersection near Lake Nokomis is a glimpse of a bygone era.

I dabble in nostalgic feelings from time to time. I’m not somebody who believes that “everything was better when we were kids”, but I do like to visit places that conjure up old memories now and again.

One of the great things about bike-riding is that you can cover a lot of territory in an hour or two and explore places that you might not otherwise see. Recently, I’ve been biking through the neighborhoods east of Lake Nokomis in south Minneapolis. It’s a quiet, unnoticed (by many) corner of the city where you can find areas that seem stuck in a time period that I do miss sometimes.

The neighborhood around East 50th St. and 34th Ave. South has become particularly interesting to me. I’ve eaten at al Vento, a great Italian restaurant, several times over the years, but hadn’t really taken the time to look around at some of the other buildings until I pedaled through there a couple of times this week.

Al Vento is a great neighborhood Italian Restaurant. It's in one of those classic brick early 20th-century buildings that was built as a stop on the streetcar line.

The area around this intersection has more than the usual share of homey, family-named, non-chain businesses — McDonald’s Liquor Store, Oxendales Market, a cake and pastry shop called 3 Tiers, and a couple of small dental offices. My favorite building is the office of Dwight C. DeMaine, D.D.S. It’s a tiny, art deco gem, so beautiful that it makes me want to have a tooth drilled. I love this building and wish I could live in it.

Dr. DeMaine's office at 3319 E. 50th St.

I think I like this guy.

After your root canal, how about a little bowling? Around the corner and half a block down is Skylane Bowl, an unpretentious, unchanged, small bowling alley that would be a great movie set. I haven’t been inside yet, but you can be sure I’ll be lacing up some shoes one of these days.

Skylane Bowl, 5019 34th Ave. So.

In the mood for some Mexican food? You can’t miss this place. Say hi to this guy and his trusty burro on your way in.

Dominguez Family Restaurant at 3313 E. 50th St.

Of course, there are some NON-examples of nostalgia-inducing architecture, too.

Sorry, Dr. Shand, but Dr. DeMaine has you beat in the dental office architecture contest. 1973 just isn't a good look.

I didn’t grow up in this neighborhood, but in some ways I feels as if I did — and wish I had. It has the sand dunes of Blaine beat, hands down (sorry Blaine), for character.

A quiet, urban neighborhood where you can buy groceries, a bottle of booze, eat Italian or Mexican food, go bowling, get a cavity filled and revisit the 50’s and 60’s all in one afternoon — what more do you need?

Buy local. Nokomis, USA

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3 thoughts on “Intersection near Lake Nokomis is a glimpse of a bygone era.

  1. i love my neighborhood too. it is a gem! there is something so small town on those blocks – so small town in the middle of the big city. and i think dominguez has al vento beat in the food department – the best mexican food in the twin cities. let’s go there sometime ok?

  2. I moved to Philadelphia 30 years ago and I miss my home neighborhood so much. What a treat to find this beautiful page of photographs, especially Skylanes. My father was on a league there for many years and on Sunday mornings he would drop us off at Lake Nokomis Lutheran Church for Sunday School and wait for us at the bowling Alley. I would tease him and say I wanted to grow up and be a missionary to Skylanes!

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