Tag Archives: best burger twin cities

Super Bowl 52 in Minneapolis

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As a football fan, I watch the Super Bowl every year.

But I have never lived in a metropolis where the Super Bowl is being hosted.

I come to find out…

It’s a pretty big deal.

The National Guard comes to town.

At cross walks, they block vehicles from plowing over pedestrians.

We all know that whenever a city decides to build a new stadium, they often get help from the NFL by allowing them to host a Super Bowl in the near future, with the expectation that such an event will boost the economy to help pay for the damn thing.

Now, I am a Packer fan living in Viking Country; but I have plenty of MN Vikings fan friends. (Some are die-hards; most are fair-weather. They came out of the woodworks this year!) I was happy for my die-hard fans to get a new stadium. It was long overdue. You can read this fun article about the 12,000-year-old history here.

I haven’t been to US Bank Stadium yet; but I can’t say I haven’t benefited from it’s construction! Perhaps indirectly, but from my paycheck to the Lefse Nachos at Erik the Red {Try them! You’ll be surprised!}, I’ve got to tell you, my life has been enhanced by its fabrication and the trickle-down effect.

But did I know that when a Super Bowl happens, there are festivities All. Week. Long.?

I feel bad for our visitors this weekend. It is a cold, cold weekend… When even the majority of us locals don’t want to be outside. In fact, here are a few things you shouldn’t do in this cold weather.

I was lucky enough to experience some of the festivities last weekend, when it was a balmy 35 degrees in the evening. This is not bad weather when there is no wind, you are shielded by downtown buildings and you are wearing the right clothing. I couldn’t believe I saw people in ski masks. I was just fine in my parka, scarf and mittens!

We were invited by friends on a Friday night and opted to Uber because it was cheaper (and less annoying) than $50 they were charging for parking. We never pay that much for parking here in our Twin Cities. Usually, it’ll be anywhere from $6 to $12. The most I think of paid was $20 for an event. This is crazy!

While downtown, we explored Nicollet Mall… enjoying some of our favorite haunts. But we also got up close and personal with the kitties performing in Hallmark Channel’s Kitten Bowl, watched people ski and tube down the makeshift American Birkebeiner International Bridge and finished the night listening to some free outdoor music.

The following morning, we hit up Hell’s Kitchen for some brunch with some more friends. You. Guys. I didn’t try it, but they have a killer bloody mary bar! I prefer someone to mix up a bloody for me; but this one is impressive and worth at least checking out. {And visitors, that little beer you get alongside is called a chaser or sometimes a beerback. Don’t knock it!}

And for those of you Philly fans needing your cheesesteak fix, our fave Devil’s Advocate has just reopened as a pop-up on Nicollet Mall. But they aren’t quite ready with a full menu yet. Still they are serving that perfect cheesesteak we’ve come to adore {no peppers/onions and cheese sauce, not provolone!} over at Dan Kelly’s Irish Pub where Devil’s has been hiding while they await their new digs. But if you are near the stadium, check out Erik the Red, a sister resto to Devil’s that I mentioned earlier – great beer selection and get those Lefse Nachos! They might be one of the most underrated MN foods that no one is talking about.

The other weird thing about being in Super Bowl country is how everyone seems to want a piece of pie. Some restaurants have been shown to change up their menus and increase prices. $36 Guac and Chips? I think not.

While I can’t vouch that all of our favorite dishes will be available this weekend or that crowds won’t be crazy, here are some of our past reviews and favorites:

Rob’s best burgers and fries lists have not been updated in ages… but I can tell you that the top two burgers go to Parlour (Mpls) and St. Dinette (St. Paul), our top Juicy Lucy is still found at Buffalo Tap in Savage and that the only bar/restaurant missing on our Top 10 Best Beer Selections in the Twin Cities is Ansari’s Mediterranean Grill in Eagan. In fact, you’ll find beers there you won’t find any where else in the Twin Cities.

Want some other, uhem… more professional opinions? Try these:

And if you are really, really cold (and you should be), learn how to Dress Minnesotan. I know I’m seeing a concert at the Turf Club in St. Paul when the majority of attendees are wearing North Face fleeces. Oh yah. You betcha.

If you’ve got anything to add to this list, feel free to let us know!

Oh… and although they aren’t playing in the Super Bowl this year, I’ll end this post in the words of Justin Timberlake, “Go Pack Go.”

Happy Super Bowl weekend!!!

Cheers~
Carrie

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Revival – Reviving My Trust in The People

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Over the holidays, Rob and I spent more time than usual indulging in the wonderful restaurants that cover our Twin Cities. One of these visits was spur-of-the-moment, right after work on a Wednesday. Rob just wanted to have The Burger at Revival, a new-ish southern-style restaurant known for its fried chicken.

I had already tried out Revival with the girls since Rob can’t do chicken. Despite the accolades, impressed I was not. However, Rob’s and my visit was notably different.

Let’s compare…

The girls and I arrived early at Revival one early summer evening. We checked in and the small room was already packed. There wasn’t even room at the small bar.

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We put our name on the waiting list by giving my cell phone number. I would be texted as soon as a table was ready. This means, you could get a drink and pop outside or go across the street to The Lowbrow for a pint, if you’d like!

While the restaurant itself is not that big, the ceilings are high and provide some of the worst acoustics. You can barely hear the people sitting across from you. And while they may be trying to go retro with this wallpaper, it’s just not my style.

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The menu is pretty simplistic and the prices very reasonable. The girls and I were there for the newly famed fried chicken.

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Since my friends don’t tend to like things to spicy, we went with the Southern Fried Chicken. The Poultrygeist is made with ghost peppers are were told that even if we like very spicy foods, we should heed with caution! We also ordered a few southern sides to share.

We also ordered an appetizer to start. Here was my portion. I know it doesn’t look as appetizing as a freshly plated dish!

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fried green tomatoes, pickle sauce – $7

It was fine, but nothing I needed to have again. Then we waited. We waited for a good 30 – 40 minutes. I tried to be understanding because I know fried chicken can take some time and you need to have it prepared in advance, having worked at KFC in high school. Still, other tables were getting their food, some seated after us.

And for whatever reason, I only took one other photo that evening:

hush puppies 4.5

hush puppies – $4.50

Of the three of us, Jen loves hush puppies the most. However, none of us were particularly impressed with them. I like mine lightly battered with chunks of corn here and there. Is that traditional? I don’t know. But these were also overcooked. In fact, our chicken seemed to be, too!

We couldn’t understand all of the hype. It’s almost like this chicken had been sitting around awhile. Maybe all of our food had been? The thing is, the restaurant is so small that our waiter could not have forgotten about us. I guess I just need to be more assertive and ask more questions when waiting for that length of time.

In any case, these two homemade sauces are offered and helped the chicken:

Carolina Vinegar BBQ & Sweet Potato-Habanero Sauce

Carolina Vinegar BBQ & Sweet Potato-Habanero Sauce

Overall, the girls and I went away underwhelmed. Still, I noticed a burger while we were waiting near the bar that looked scrumptious…

When it showed up on this list of Best Burgers, I knew that I would be willing to give Revival another chance if Rob asked. Then, after some research, I learned what people were most raving about at Revival was the Tennessee Hot Fried Chicken.

So when  Rob suggested we hurry off to Revival split a burger that Wednesday before the New Year, I countered with him to eat his own Damn Burger while I tried a 2-piece of the Tennessee Hot chicken! {Okay, so I didn’t really say that. But he didn’t argue when I suggested it!}

That is just what we did. Rob ordered his burger. I ordered the chicken; and we picked a couple of sides. Our server told us that there was an up charge for the Mac + Cheese. Later, we concluded that she was substituting whatever comes with the burger with the Mac & Cheese rather than delivering it as an extra side. No matter. It was plenty of food!

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revival burgerdouble patty, american, mayo, b+b’s and mac + cheese

Rob allowed me first bite of his burger and I have to say that the meat was juicy and the full of flavor! However, I thought the bun tasted too “bready” overall. It could have been seared a bit longer, perhaps. Rob loved the burger, but it didn’t couldn’t push the burgers at Parlour or Saint Dinette out of the running for his best burgers.

As for the Mac + Cheese – I loved it. I found it creamy and flavorful, two things that many restaurants seem to forget are what makes any mac and cheese stand out from another. But Rob wasn’t as much in love as I was.

For our second side, I was debating between the White Cheddar Grits and the Collard Greens. Rob made a good point that we’d only be comparing the grits to the mac and one would be enough. I went with the Collard Greens since I learned at Brasa how much I love them!

collard greens 4.5

collard greens – $4.50

They were probably traditional, but boring.

Instead, I focused on my chicken:

2-piece Tennessee Hot Chicken

2-piece Tennessee Hot Chicken

Yes, this is spicy. No, my friend Jen would not have liked it. But I loved it. Yes! Yes! This is what they were all talking about! Flavor, crispy, juicy – everything I wanted. {And I still believe the regular chicken we had on the first visit was either over cooked or sitting out too long.}

My second trip to Revival revived my faith in not only their restaurant, but my trust in The People’s opinion. I now have a go-to meal when I go next dine there: Tennessee Hot Chicken and Mac & Cheese. Now, if only I can get Rob there over St. Dinette or Parlour…

What’s the best fried chicken you’ve ever had?

Cheers~
Carrie

Underrated LynLake & Irving

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Happy Thirsty Thursday!

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Thirsty Thursday post and we have way too many breweries to talk about! In any case, there are few things I’ve combined together in this post. There is a reason why. It’ll all come together.

Promise.

Last Sunday, Rob suggested that we go for a 5k walk around Lake Calhoun. There are few other lakes that I enjoy better, if only because they are a little less busy. However, he suggested getting a bite of take-out from Tin Fish (which is right on Lake Calhoun) followed by a walk.

However, when we arrived around noon, parking was difficult to be had! I came up with an idea. I suggested that instead, we dine at Lake & Irving for a little lunch and then go for a walk. There was easy parking near there, too, and I thought Rob would like to try it.

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What I didn’t think about was the fact that it was Sunday and brunch would be happening. Doh! Rob isn’t a huge fan of brunch. Luckily, the brunch menu offered both breakfast and lunch items.

I went with a breakfast item with a grapefruit mimosa:

OPEN FACED KALUA PORK TORTA 11.5 duroc kalua pork, sourdough, guacamole, poached egg, chile japones, mixed green salad

OPEN FACED KALUA PORK TORTA – duroc kalua pork, sourdough, guacamole, poached egg, chile japones, mixed green salad – $11.50

How on earth I thought that photo would be a good representation of that dish, I have no idea. I will tell you that the kalua pork was juicy and flavorful and that I ate everything on my plate. This was a much healthier dish than I had expected, too!

Rob – you guessed it – went with a burger:

CHEESEBURGER 12 Pat La Frieda beef, secret sauce, Wisconsin cheddar, Patisserie 46 brioche add Duroc bacon 2

CHEESEBURGER – Pat La Frieda beef, secret sauce, Wisconsin cheddar, Patisserie 46 brioche – $12

Sounds simple, right?!

Well, this may have just jumped up to Rob’s #1 (or #2?) burger in the Twin Cities {a list which he needs to update!}.

He’s been talking about this burger ever since our visit. He said that the meat was not seasoned in any special way; but that flavor combination was just perfect, which includes that incredibly decadent brioche bun. This is like no brioche bun Rob has ever had before. He even liked the fries which our friend Jen recommended he skip when I visited with her. Still, this is perhaps one of the most underrated burgers in the Twin Cities.

We were both content with our lunches, but decided it was time to walk around the lake if we were going to indulge like that!

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One of the best things about walking around the lakes in Minneapolis is that once you get half-way, you can’t just quit and go home, you have to finish the loop {or turn around, but then it’d be the same distance with the same view}. It was a hot one on Sunday. So I think we might have opted to quit early if we had the option!

We counted about 37 pupper dawgs. I think on our last walk we counted 92. However this day was much hotter, so it’s good that most dogs are kept at home.

Despite the heat, we decided to do a little further walking around uptown, perhaps to find a new hotspot for a cool beverage and to “check a box”, as Rob puts it.

Then I recalled a brewery that just had to be nearby – the LynLake Brewery. Man, I was coming up with all of the ideas that day! At this point, we had walking for about an hour and a half total, so we hiked back to our car set out to find this new-to-us brew spot.

And we are so glad we did, because this is where we spent a bit of our afternoon. We didn’t have high expectations {and I’m not sure why}, but we were pleasantly surprised!

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We’ve never seen LynLake brews served in restaurants nor noticed them in stores. So we are thinking that they don’t distribute (at least not currently) like Dangerous Man. I love that concept because it generally means smaller, more handcrafted beverages and requires consumers to visit in order to drink them!

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The interior is spacious and I love the large square bar setup. There is also seating on the rooftop with fire pits, we are told. I’m not sure that fire pits were or needed to be in use on that hot Sunday, however. There was a larger selection of beers, too, than I had expected.

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You can’t read all of the descriptions above, but I still think you can probably guess which beer I chose. 🙂

EL TRADESMAN CHIPOTLE PORTER

El Tradesman Chipotle Porter

Rob was surprised by how much I enjoyed this beer because it was quite smoky on the front end. Still, it had the perfect spice on the finish that sort of reminded me of the New Belgium Lips of Faith Cocoa Molé.

Rob dug a bit deeper into the menu and tried multiple beers:

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The Sideburns Oat Raisin Milk Stout on Nitro should not be missed. His other fave was the Swordsmith Baltic Porter, also on Nitro. This brewery is solid, perhaps the most underrated brewery in Minneapolis.

Due to its location, you probably won’t find a food truck parked outside LynLake Brewery. However, they do have a list of five different restaurants who will be happy to deliver!

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And, yes, I had the Spicy Merguez from Prairie Dogs. It brought me back to the South of France, when I studied there in college.

All in all, I’d call this a perfect Sunday Funday.

And now that I’ve been to them all, I finally can differentiate them:

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Lake & Irving
LynLake

What’s the most underrated restaurant or brewery near you?

Cheers~
Carrie

Parlour

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I can’t believe it took at least two years for us to make it to Parlour! After my visit to Borough with some friends in January of 2013, I vowed to get back so that Rob and I could try the burger. If you are confused, let me explain:

Parlour is Borough’s downstairs bar…

offering a small menu of bar snacks.

Lately, we’ve seen that burger that I once eyed at Borough as one of the Twin Cities’ best on several lists. However, while we’ve seen both Borough and Parlour listed with this best burger, it’s now only listed on Parlour’s menu online.

Still, it was only by chance that we made it to Parlour. We just happened to be in Minneapolis’ warehouse district on a beautiful – yes beautiful! – April evening last Saturday. Rob mapped Parlour from our location. It was only a 15-minute walk. Did I mention the weather was beautiful?

There was no reason not to go for a walk…

When I saw the sign for Borough in the distance, I thought we would be entering there, from which we’d take the stairs to the basement. But before we approached the entrance, I saw some stairs leading down from the outside. I instinctively took them.

The Parlour was packed! We did a walk-through and there were absolutely no spots to be had. On our walk back to the door, I saw two empty seats at the bar; but a man was standing in front of them. I took a chance..

“Are these seats taken?”

He kindly motioned for us to sit. He was just standing with the group seated next to us. Score!

Parlour is a craft cocktail bar. So we just had to give one a try.

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I am still such a novice when it comes to craft cocktails. I can rarely even imagine what any will taste like because I often don’t know or understand all of the ingredients. Sometimes I’ll ask the bartender for a recommendation. This time, I just took a shot in the dark!

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Pistol Pedro – green tea infused correlejo blanco, pistachio syrup, birch extract – $12

“What’s correlejo blanco?” Rob asked when I pointed to my choice.

“I’m not sure, but I’m assuming tequila.” It only made sense.

It was a cocktail that tasted like no other. It was a bit boozy, but I could taste the subtle pistachio flavor!

Rob’s drink was entirely different:

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Age Before Beauty – silver rum, 5-year rum, falernum, grapefruit, lime, jamaican bitters – $12

You really can be whisked away to different parts of the world with different cocktails! This one: The Tropics.

Then came the fries:

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hand-cut fries – $5

I love hand cut fries and these were satisfying. Rob enjoyed them more than I did, though. I thought that they needed a little aioli or something.

And then THE burger:

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burger – ground sirloin, ribeye, brisket, american cheese – $13

That photo will never do this burger justice. The burger wasn’t as big as I had remembered; but it was plenty of food for us to split it with the fries! Can you believe that this burger is made of all of those delectable cuts of meat?!

Everything was perfect about this simple double-patty burger:

  • The meat had that nice little seared crust on it that I love.
  • The cheese was melty, ooey, gooey and everything you’d want a cheeseburger to have. The thing is, after you eat this burger, you realize most don’t.
  • The bun was nicely buttered and toasted not only on the top and bottom buns, but also the outside of the bottom bun!

In retrospect, there was absolutely no sauce on this burger that either of us recall. But it didn’t need it. The burger was perfect as is – no sauce and no toppings. Simple. Perfect.

There is a reason this burger is on so many top Twin Cities burger lists. It definitely made Rob’s, although he hasn’t updated that one in the last year.

What about a burger makes it stand out as a top one for you?

Cheers~
Carrie