Downtown Fargo appeal: On and off Broadway, downtown offers plenty to doFARGO — In the last decade, downtown Fargo has become something worth visiting.
By: Sam Benshoof, Forum Communications, The Jamestown Sun
FARGO — In the last decade, downtown Fargo has become something worth visiting.
New bars, restaurants and modern apartments have attracted more people to live in and frequent the area. As a result, downtown has become the undeniable heartbeat of this growing city.
So not surprisingly, there are plenty of things to do downtown. Dining possibilities alone range from Italian, Greek, Mexican, pizza, burgers, fast food and, during warmer months, hot dog carts and other food trucks.
And, depending on the time of the year, there’s likely to be some event or festival that brings the rest of the city downtown too, including the Fargo Marathon, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the Fargo Street Fair and many more.
For Mike Hahn, director of the Downtown Community Partnership in Fargo, what makes downtown so unique is the artistic characteristics the area has taken on through development, especially recently.
“Take a look at the historical buildings we have,” he said. “Then, if you look at other resources, like the Red River, along with the museums we have — those are things that kind of reinforce the artistic flair of the downtown community.”
Most examples of such artistic flair and attractions are found along the main seven to eight-block stretch of Broadway, the main north-south downtown thoroughfare starting at the north end of scenic Island Park.
There, visitors can find food and dining, art galleries and plenty of shopping, with a wide array of small boutique and special interest shops.
That artistic flair can be found in downtown Broadway lodging, too — the Hotel Donaldson (referred to by locals as “the HoDo “), on the corner of Broadway and NP Avenue, offers an upscale, modern option, with artwork adorning the walls of every room.
The HoDo also has a restaurant and a bar, which has become a popular nightlife spot with locals. Additionally, between Memorial Day and Labor Day it offers one of two rooftop drinking and dining options in all of downtown ( Rhombus Guys pizza place on Main Avenue is the other).
The HoDo frequently hosts live music in its bar, but it’s just one of many entertainment options along Broadway. Alternative, independent acts play several times a week at The Aquarium, a small, intimate venue located above Dempsey’s Irish Pub.
A block further north, the historic Fargo Theatre offers one of the more recognizable images of all of Fargo, let alone downtown, with its large, blinking “Fargo” marquee sign.
Depending on when you visit, there’s likely to be something going on at the theatre, ranging from community events to independent film showings to concerts.
The Fargo Theatre also hosts the Fargo Film Festival in March. Complete with film screenings, seminars and appearances by film industry professionals, the festival is one of downtown’s many annual events worth attending.
With all those options just on Broadway, one might think there’s no reason to go anywhere else.
Indeed, Hahn said that’s an easy trap to fall into, but recommends that people try and get off Broadway to explore the side streets (perhaps not coincidentally, another good food and drink destination off of Broadway is called Sidestreet Grill & Pub , on 301 3rd Ave. N.).
Because, Hahn said, there’s much more to downtown Fargo than the obvious choices along busy Broadway.
“That’s one thing I love about downtown Fargo,” he said. “You have Broadway, and that’s wonderful, it’s magical. But, venture off. There are some really neat shops. You can find some really fascinating places to eat and to shop off of Broadway.”
Take, for example, JL Beers, located at 518 1st Ave. N. The small hole-in-the-wall restaurant that has since expanded to other locations in the metro has a pretty simple premise of only selling burgers and beer.
While that might seem limiting, the burgers are inexpensive and tasty, and the beer selection is one of the best downtown, making JL Beers a definite spot for lunch or dinner.
West off Broadway is the Plains Art Museum, located at 704 1st Ave. N. With a rotating collection of permanent and temporary exhibits, the museum hosts artist receptions, demonstrations and other events that help connect people with the arts community, making it a major part of Fargo’s downtown culture.
Or, to satisfy your sweet tooth, south of Main Avenue is Nichole’s Fine Pastry , at 13 8th St. S. There, the pastries have developed quite the reputation with locals.
Big, decadent and delicious, some are almost too much to handle in one sitting — which means that you’ll have plenty left over for later.
Also serving coffee drinks and lunch in a friendly, welcoming atmosphere, Nichole’s is probably one stop where, like downtown Fargo in general, you might not want to leave.
Sam Benshoof is a reporter at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.