Drive south from St. Paul on Highway 52, and the city skyline and suburban strip malls are replaced with rolling cornfields and towering transmission lines. Most exit signs list the usual freeway dining options: McDonald’s, Subway, an occasional Chinese buffet. But exit 96, by Cannon Falls, touts a complex called Artisan Plaza.
Opened last year, Artisan Plaza pays homage to the rural highway creameries of northern Wisconsin and southeastern Minnesota. Its old-fashioned focus on quality local food pairs with today’s tastes and sensibilities. A market stocks everything from stuffed pork chops and potato chips to gluten-free waffles and organic zucchini, and a pub serves up craft beers and brick-oven pizzas. But what truly sets Artisan Plaza apart from other highway dining is Falls Landing, a supper club helmed by J.D. Fratzke.