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After living in LA, Sydney, and Liverpool, I expected the food scene in Minneapolis to be, well, bland. Truthfully, I didn’t give it much of a chance at first. However, eight years later and much wiser, I continue to be amazed at the number of unique and fun places to eat in Minneapolis.
Just when I thought I’d try all of the delicious things this city is serving, a friend told me about pizza farms. Surely, I had heard her wrong. Is it possible that two of my favorite things, nature and pizza, were genius-ly mashed together? It turns out that’s exactly what happened and Two Pony Gardens, located in Long Lake Minnesota, has mastered the pizza farm experience.
What the Heck is a Pizza Farm?
The short answer, is that it’s a farm that welcomes (ticket purchasing) members of the public onto their property to enjoy delicious farm-to-table pizzas. The long answer, is that it’s so much more. During my visit to Two Pony Pizza Farm, I got to pet Shire horses, purchase fresh produce and local goods, go hiking throughout the property, photograph the flower garden, and stuff my face with pizza.
Planning Your Visit to Two Pony Gardens
Unlike a restaurant, Two Pony Gardens isn’t open for business every day or even every week. So, start by checking the event schedule and purchasing tickets on their website. Each event is cleverly named with a theme. I opted for a Saturday evening in the fall called “A Walk in the Woods” which included guided hikes through the woods and along the nearby lake. The autumn colors were absolutely stunning!
The Two Pony Gardens and Pizza Farm experience is outdoors in Minnesota, so plan accordingly. In the warmer months, bring bug spray and in the Fall, bring extra layers to stay warm. Unless particularly dangerous weather like lightning creates a risk, the events go on rain or shine. Should it rain during an event, expect the festivities to move inside the owner Lisa’s home.
What to Expect at Two Pony Gardens and Pizza Farm
Two Pony Gardens is located in Long Lake, about a 25 minute drive from downtown Minneapolis. The last mile or so is a dirt road, ending at a grassy parking area. Cell phone reception can be limited, so taking a taxi or ride share has some risk.
In the parking area, you’ll find a few vintage Radio Flyer wagons that can be used to transport your coolers and other goods to the outdoor eating area. Two Pony asks its guest to practice Leave No Trace by packing out whatever they bring with them (more on what to bring below). Load up a wagon and follow the signs (and smells) to the outdoor eating area.
On your way to the eating area, you’ll pass the port-o-potty toilets on the right and the Shire horse pen on the left. Straight ahead is a wagon full of produce and local products like honey, soap and lotion for sale. Bring cash though if you want to make a purchase!
Strings of white lights strung from tree to tree twinkle above the vintage dining tables. Grab a table for you and your friends or join another table and make new friends. Set down your things and go explore the property before the sun sets.
I most enjoyed hiking down to the water and around the lake, taking in the Autumn colors and enjoying the crisp cool air. My friend and I sipped wine and talked as we explored the property on our own. Somewhere along the way, the owner’s dog joined us and led us back to the energetic crowd.
By this time, I couldn’t resist the pizza any longer. First we tried the seasonal pizza along with a salad we brought with us. And, after more wine and many laughs as we played the Catch Flights And Feelings card game, we tried the margherita pizza too. I mean, it’d be rude not to try both. Don’t worry, there’s no need to rush as the staff will keep making pizzas until everyone is full.
Pro Tip: Gluten free crusts can be brought from home, but will be cooked in proximity to crusts containing gluten.
As the night progress, I was struck by the smell of chocolate. I don’t particularly like sweets, but this smell was delicious. That’s when I realized the staff was now making s’mores pizza for dessert. It was SO yummy!
Suddenly, my friend and I realized we were the only two still sitting outside under the twinkling lights as the staff cleaned up. They hadn’t rushed us or urged us along in any way, just left us to enjoy the fall evening with our full bellies. We packed up our things and made our way back to the car.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I arrived at Two Pony Gardens and Pizza Farm, but it was somehow exactly what I needed.
What to Bring to Two Pony Gardens and Pizza Farm
In keeping with their mission to be a waste-free operation, they ask that visitors pack out anything that they bring with them. Here’s what I recommend you bring with you to a pizza farm:
- Trash bag
- Bug spray
- Headlamp – Helpful to free up hands when carrying things to the car or using the toilet after dark.
- Silverware – We only used ours for the salad.
- Cups – I love these portable wine glasses.
- Anything you’d like to eat other than pizza – We brought salad.
- Drinks – If you’re me, this means wine and a water bottle.
- Games/ cards – Catch Flights & Feelings is a fun travel card game to play!
- Walking shoes
There are plenty of chairs and tables, but if you have a large group that wants to sit together it’s worth bringing some to ensure you can sit together since seating is first come, first serve.
Pizza Farms in Minnesota
How is it possible that I misjudged the Minneapolis food scene so wrongly when I first moved here?! Pizza farms are just one example of the fun places to eat in Minneapolis. The farm-to-table movement is very much alive and real here. Although my pizza farm experience was at Two Pony Gardens, there are several to choose from in the area. Trust me, I plan to try all of them but Two Pony has definitely set the bar high.