What do you like best about Minneapolis?
It reminds me a little of growing up in Mauldin, and also of Chicago, where I went to high school. They're like two totally different cities - small and big. Minneapolis is a nice cross between the two of them. It's got aspects of both a small town and a big city. A lot of Fortune 500 companies and top-rate entertainers - like Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, and people like Prince - live near Minneapolis. But it still has the feel, the pace, of a small city.
Where do you usually take friends visiting from out of town?
There are certain places people want to see. Like Lake Minnetonka, because it's a beautiful landmark area. Once they're there, they often get fascinated by the huge homes on the lake. It's very scenic. But they also want to see the area because of Prince's movie Purple Rain - you know, there's that scene in the movie where Prince, as The Kid, makes his girl [skinny-dip] in the lake.
Visitors also always want to go see the Mall of America. They say it's like the country's largest retail and entertainment complex. It's got everything for out-of-towners to check out. Or they want to see the Metrodome, where the Vikings and Twins play. There are a lot of sports teams here. It's very rich that way, so you've got a wide selection. As much as I can, I like to take my friends to other local pro sporting events. I'm a huge NFL fan, and I'm friends with Vikings receiver Randy Moss. But I also like checking out the Twins and even the hockey team, the Minnesota Wild [at press time, the NHL's 2004-'05 season had yet to begin due to a work stoppage]. They've got a real intense atmosphere and great fans.
What hotels do you recommend?
Well, the one I know really well personally is Le Meridien, on First Avenue North downtown. It's very nice. A very hip, top-of-the-line hotel. They treat you well. I've checked out a couple of the rooms, and they've got a combination of high fashion and high technology, stuff like plasma screens and video games. Since the hotel is right in the center of the business, entertainment, and theater areas, the rooms have some cool views. It's the one I recommend, as I know it best.
You play at the Target Center. What is there to do around the arena? Any good nightclubs or bars you might hit after a game?
The whole of First Avenue is full of bars, from hole in the walls to regular bars to trendy ones. One bar I've always liked is Rosens, with hot Top-40 music. Overall, First Avenue is always packed for lots of people-watching. Fahrenheit is a trendy dance club, also on First Avenue, just north of the Target Center. They're very diverse musically. They play some good hip-hop, and it's a comfortable atmosphere. Because I have a very broad taste in music - from rockers Nickelback to hip-hop to Prince - I like a club with variety. Another good club is Escape Ultra Lounge on First Avenue North. It's upscale and has like four bars and a couple of VIP areas. If I'm going out, I like to call both clubs ahead of time and tell them I'm coming by with some friends.
What's your favorite restaurant?
My personal favorite, and I eat there a lot, is Redstone American Grill. They have really good ribs. There's a big selection, and everything on the menu is great. You can go in there and just grab a whole bunch of appetizers. Or if you're really hungry, get a rack of lamb. I might go for a steak and salad, or for the ribs with mashed potatoes. The corn bread is to die for. The buffalo shrimp are spicy. As I said, I eat there a lot.
What about for a romantic night out?
Morton's, The Steakhouse, is always good.
Great atmosphere, a good vibe, and they have that special tableside menu presentation. They also have private dining areas. Try their house specialty, their 24-ounce porterhouse, or their 20-ounce New York sirloin and double-cut filet mignon. They've also got stuff like Maine lobster, fresh fish, veal, chicken. Their portions are always good. But the atmosphere creates a nice romantic mood. Afterward, if you want to go for a walk, go down to the riverfront district, to St. Anthony Main. It's scenic and historical. It's got a movie theater and other good eating places.
Are there any restaurants that come close to the home cooking you had growing up in South Carolina?
We don't really have any, like, soul food restaurants. But if I need some good home cooking, I just go knock on my sister's door.