Immediately north of the University of Minnesota's East Bank lies the small shopping district known as Dinkytown. Strictly speaking, Dinkytown is the four square blocks bounded by 5th St. to the north, 13th Avenue to the west, University Avenue to the south and 15th Avenue to the east. Some people might tack on a block on the east or west end, but these people are not to be trusted. The various houses and apartments that surround the area as well as frat row down University Avenue are considered for all intents and purposes to be in Dinkytown, though technically it isn't a neighborhood.
Dinkytown consists of a rather eclectic mix of shops and restaurants. Along with the expected convenience stores, restaurants, gin mills and marxist coffeeshops every good college campus supports, you'll also find many pleasant local shops that have existed since the beginning of time. The preponderance of high-end hair salons, gift shops and used bookstores that are always teetering on the edge of bankruptcy have been subject to any number of elaborate conspiracy theories.
Al's Breakfast is something of a local landmark -- a spiritual experience for many students and residents of the area. The place is slightly narrower than my apartment is, but can't be beat in terms of a good cheap (and fast) breakfast. Among the many dining options is the obligatory local McDonalds which is open until 3AM on the weekends, catering rather successfully to the drunken masses who get kicked out of their bars at 2AM.
In past years when a U sports team won a big game (specifically Mens Hockey winning the national championship), you'd always be assured of a good old-fashioned riot with Dinkytown at the center. Sadly, the past years have seen the police saturate the area with cops at even the slightest provocation or suggestion of a riot. Now the drunken masses are reduced to mocking the cops standing around in riot gear, which can't quite compare.