Tag Archives: burgers

King’s Place


One Sunday afternoon, Rob I were in search of a late lunch South of the River. Originally, Rob had chosen White Castle in Apple Valley; but I objected! Instead, I suggested Vivo since he hadn’t been there yet.

We pulled up to the bar (our favorite place to sit) and ordered a drink. This is where I had that wonderful Pomelo Margarita!

Pomelo Margarita - sauza blanco tequla, fresh grapefruit, st. germain, agave

Pomelo Margarita – sauza blanco tequla, fresh grapefruit, st. germain, agave

I inquired about their menu. Unfortunately, they were serving only the brunch buffet until 4pm. So we brainstormed where to go instead. Rob was trying to recall a good burger joint that he knew was further south. He couldn’t remember exactly where it was or what it was called. He texted his co-worker and we asked the bartender, as well.

We finally discovered it was King’s Place in Miesville.

I had no idea where Miesville was; so we plugged the address into KITT (as our GPS is affectionately named) and drove the 25 minutes further south in search of these burgers.

You can’t miss King’s Place as you pull into Miesville, population 105. And the place was packed… at 2:30 in the afternoon! People were waiting outside with beers in hand. Luckily, we were able to grab two seats at the bar. Most of the people seated at the bar were waiting for tables. But they handed us a couple of menus.

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I was overwhelmed by the number of burger choices! Here are just a few:

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The prices are very reasonable. Burgers come à la carte.

You can add an appetizer as a side, if you’d like.

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More burger choices!

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There are hot dogs, too…

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After we ordered, we saw this on the wall. Rob decided to give it a try…

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No, not the Fireball! The Cabin Fever Maple Whiskey. I took a whiff and it smelled incredible! We may have to find it and bring it back for my dad come Christmastime…

So what did we ultimately choose?


Shortstop Burger - bacon sauerkraut, cheddar cheese, sour cream

Shortstop Burger – bacon, sauerkraut, cheddar cheese, sour cream


Slugger - American cheese, lettuce, tomato green pepper and homemade horseradish sauce.

Slugger – American cheese, lettuce, tomato green pepper and homemade horseradish sauce.

The burgers were very, very good. I’ve never had a burger with raw green pepper on it like this. And I always forget how much I love horseradish sauce until I have it again!

We both were happy that we went. We agreed that we probably wouldn’t make the trek out there purposely again. But if we were in the neighborhood, maybe on the way back into town or golfing nearby, it’d be worth a stop.

What’s your favorite small town joint?


Chili & Burgers at The Loon Café


About a month ago, Rob and I were off to a concert in downtown Minneapolis and were looking for a place to dine pre-show that was within walking distance of the venue.

Enter The Loon Café

I’d been there probably ten years back, but only stopped for drinks. I don’t even think I lived in Minnesota quite yet. Perhaps I was visiting a friend? I didn’t really remember much about it, except that it was one of those really packed bars you go to… like when you’re in college.

I believe this place has been around since the 80s. By the looks of the interior, I don’t think much has changed. But that shouldn’t keep you from going there. In fact, one of the reasons Rob and I chose The Loon {which it is affectionately called here in Mpls} was that it has earned awards for its chili and burgers!

We decided to be the judge of that.

I checked out the menu online prior to our visit. If we had the Internet in the 80s, then this is probably what the website would look like! No, that’s not quite right. An 80s website would be all DOS and dot matrix, right?! But their website (like my blog) does need a bit of an overhaul. {Any takers!?} I don’t think it’s a priority for them, though. Based on their downtown Minneapolis location, within easy walking distance of the Target Center and Target Field, they’ll get traffic whether they updat their website or not.

Still, there was no online beer or drink menu.

We arrived pretty early before our show, but the place was already pretty busy due to the NCHC Frozen Faceoff taking place at the Target Center that evening. {That’s the National Collegiate Hockey Conference Tournament, for those of you who are wondering.} Many of those sporting their University of North Dakota apparel were already half in the bag having a good time. Despite the fact that The Loon is by no means tiny, the crowd made me feel kind of like we were at a small town bar. Good people watching, for sure.

Luckily, we were able to pull up two seats to the bar.



The first thing we had to figure out was what to order to drink. There are no lists of beer selection online, so we weren’t sure what to expect. Due to the growing American craft beer movement in Minnesota, many bars and restaurants in Minneapolis have a  pretty decent selection. Such is not the case at The Loon. If you are visiting Minnesota or Minneapolis for that reason and only have a bit of time, this is not the place to stop. Here, you will find the local Summit EPA and Grainbelt Nordeast, which are proper, somewhat-historic local representations in their own right. They just really aren’t my style, nor what I would consider “craft” brews.

For those of you looking for that online beer or drink menu, here is what was offered on March 21, 2014:

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The Loon Drink Menu – March 2014

I see now that they had Fulton {an excellent Minneapolis craft brewery} on tap! It must have been the Lonely Blonde, because if it were the Sweet Child of Vine IPA, Rob would have ordered it. {Besides, there is no way Rob is going to order a “Lonely Blonde” at a bar with me sitting right next to him! Tee hee.}

As an aside, The Loon is the home of The Grape Ape, a shot made with vodka and a Minnesota grape soda. As much as Rob loves grape soda, he refused to order one. I mean, as a Packer fan, who would drink that purple stuff? 😉 I love that man.



I knew that I’d be getting the chili that night. {And it was the perfect night for it.} But my biggest question was which one to get! Decisions, decisions. Really, when you offer five different chilies on a menu, there should be something else you offer:

A Chili Flight!

Am I right?!

Because that is what I would have ordered! I love that there are so many different, regional styles of chili in the U.S. and that everyone is so passionate about how chili is supposed to made. To be honest, I’ve never really found a chili that I didn’t like. In Northeast Wisconsin, I grew up with spaghetti noodles in my chili. I didn’t know that noodles weren’t always in chili until I moved just a few hours west to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, to go to college. My Minnesota friends laughed at me that this was the trend that I knew!

I believe the chili that won the most awards for The Loon is the Pecos River Red Chili. They even serve it over at Target Field now. I’m going to have to remember that if I ever end up at a game there on a chilly {get it!?} or rainy day. I felt like that’s the chili I should have ordered at The Loon that night. But I wasn’t feeling it. I know that traditional Texas-style chili calls for it, but there’s something about cubed steak in my chili that turns me off. Maybe it’s the chance that the meat can be tough?

So here were my chili options:

Pecos River Red (Served at Target Field) Their only chili that can be ordered mild, medium or hot. “Lean cubed sirloin steak and onions along with Tex-Mex spices and chile peppers. A classic Texas-style chili.”

Dirty Pork Stew A green chili pork stew loaded with onions, chiles, tomatoes, lean hand-cut chunks of pork in a delicious spicy garlic sauce. As served at the LaTolteca Tortelleria in Azusa, California for over forty years. We top it with cheese, green onions and sour cream. Served with flour tortillas.”

Pinto’s Diablo ChiliA Minnesota-born chili, created by Pinto, “this is a ground beef, kidney bean and veggie chili that is very hearty and pleasantly spiced.”

Veggie Chili A wonderful medley of veggies and beans simmered in a sweet-hot tomato base. Topped with green onions. Served with jalapeño corn bread & tortilla chips.”

Chicken Chili ala Ski-Dad A thick, rich, spicy blend of chicken, peppers, onions and green chiles served with jalapeño cream cheese, green onions and fresh warm tortillas.”

All chilis are $5.75 for a cup and $8.95 for a bowl.

I was having one of those days when I couldn’t make up my mind {aka most days}. I requested the advice of the bartender. He raved about all of them; but the one that stuck out when he was describing them was the Chicken Chili. And I’m so glad I ordered it!

chicken chili

Chicken Chili ala Ski-Dad

This chili hit the spot for me, especially with the yummy jalapeno cream cheese. I would get it again in a heartbeat! But I still wish I could have tried them all. Should we start a petition for a chili flight? Who’s in with me?

Rob’s mission was to judge the Loon Burger – “Our unique, large, lean ground beef patty served on either a Sourdough or Black Russian Rye bun. Specify add-ons of mayonnaise, tomato, onion, lettuce and cheese (American, Swiss, cheddar or hot pepper). Great with cajun spices!”

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Burger Loon on sourdough with cheddar, onion, mayo and cajun spices.

I was surprised when Rob chose to have his burger served on sourdough, as much as he loves rye. But it was like a sourdough baguette! The burger was pretty darn good. Not Top 10 good, but very good enough that either of us would order them again. Rob said that the meat quality was excellent and obviously shaped to the baguette. But overall, he found the flavor pretty bland. I didn’t realize this until I remembered that he ordered Cajun spices. I didn’t taste those at all. And fries? Just average, according to the fry-master.

Overall, The Loon offers mostly bar-style food. But I think the chili and burgers are the way to go here. If you are in from out of town and want to try a little “Minnesota Cuisine,” you might want to go with some creamy Wild Rice Soup. It’s perfect on a cold day. And if you’ve never had walleye before, give that a try, too.

What is the traditional style of chili where you live?

What is your favorite style of chili?




Mosaic Café {Closed}


A Groupon Living Social deal introduced us to Mosaic Café, a breakfast, lunch and dinner joint in the Midtown/Longfellow part of Minneapolis. I hadn’t heard of the place before. So, in my opinion, it was great advertising for them!

Whenever I consider purchasing a deal certificate, I make sure the menu looks like food I’d like to eat. There were two deal options at the time. One was for two burgers and two glasses of beer or wine. The other was just a flat $30 certificate (to purchase at $15). The burgers are what originally intrigued me, but other items on the menu looked good, too. So I purchased the latter deal.

We arrived late afternoon/early evening on a Sunday. While we did not expect it to busy, the ambiance just really wasn’t our style. It reminded me more of a breakfast joint or even a sandwich shop, which it also is. The interior was bright and sunny-like. And although they serve beer and wine, there is no bar. It was a seat-yourself kind of night and the server would be with us in a moment. 😉

We found a nice spot in a corner with some cushy pillows. I loved our festive tabletop decor and the mason jar used for napkins and flatware. I just may have to steal that.photo 3I could tell by Rob’s face that he really wasn’t excited about this place. I chose the deal so that he could try out their burgers and fries. I love that they use grass-fed beef. And it won an award from Vita.mn {a Twin Cities guide to going out} as one of the Top 10 “Best Local/Ogranic/Sustainable Restaurants” in 2013. But when Rob read that their fries were baked, he had no idea how such a place could also place as #1 in Vita.mn’s Top 10 “Best Fries” list.

He was a little skeptical.

We arrived during Happy Hour and had the option to have our drinks or any apps at the Happy Hour prices after we went over the $30 certificate.

Happy Hour!

But prices for beer aren’t too bad anyway – $5 for a pint of the local stuff on tap. And two-for-ones during Happy Hour! When I’m talking local, I’m talking LOCAL. Like, right across the street. You can see the Harriet Brewing Company building from the window.

beer selection

Beer Selection – 11/10/13

Rob and I aren’t huge fans of Harriet Brewing Company, if only because their beer isn’t our style. But I love the fact that Mosaic likes to support their community and local brewery. And with the less than exciting wine list, we decided to go with a couple of brews.

wine list

Wine List – 11/10/13

We may have ordered the Rosenblum Zinfandel by the bottle, but this list looked like they only offered by the glass here. We don’t generally order wine by the glass, if only for this reason. As I am looking more closely at Mosaic’s website for this post, it appears that they do offer wine by the bottle. This list did not make that clear. Maybe I should have asked.

Instead, I selected Harriet Brewing‘s West Side Belgian-Style IPA. It was distinctly Belgian, which I don’t mind. Rob chose the Woluptuweiss, a German-style Dunkelweizen. It wasn’t bad, but it would never be a beer Rob would order under normal circumstances. In my opinion, both beers were easy-drinking and true to style.

We put in an order for these must-try fries:

Rosemary & Garlic Fries - Baked until Crispy, served with House Made Aioli

Rosemary & Garlic Fries – Baked until Crispy, served with House Made Aioli

Oh dear, were these phenomenal! If I had a Top 10 Fries List, like Rob does, these would be on them. Rob loved them, too. I mean, really loved them. They were baked, crispy and golden, with just enough potato tenderness on the inside. The distribution of rosemary and garlic seasonings was perfect, too. I wouldn’t change a thing. We couldn’t eat them all and were going to send them away when our server asked:

“Don’t you want to take them home? You know you can just bake them.”


“Um, yes, please!”

Then came our burgers. Because, yes, after all, I did order a “burger.” I was debating between the Chicken Torta sandwich with guacamole, tomatoes, cilantro, pickled serranos and black bean spread on a toasted baguette served with a chili lime crema. But after discussing it with the our gal, I went with the MoonBurger instead, not because she thought it was better; but because she gave me more info and pointed out that the burger has CHEESE. 😉

Moonburger - Black Bean Patty made with Herbs, Roasted Veggies and Brown Rice. Topped with Muenster Cheese, Lettuce, Tomato, Guacamole, Cilantro, Served with Chili Lime Crema

Moonburger – Black Bean Patty made with Herbs, Roasted Veggies and Brown Rice. Topped with Muenster Cheese, Lettuce, Tomato, Guacamole, Cilantro, Served with Chili Lime Crema

You read that right. I ordered a veggie burger! The flavors just sort of sounded good to me, which is apparent when you see why I was debating between the Moonburger and the Chicken Torta. It was so good! The southwest flavors were exactly what I was looking for that evening. However, I’m not quite sure how they even made this into a patty. It was more like it was slapped onto the bun. It’s probably not pretty if someone asks to hold the bread. The chips were plain, but very crunchy. You can upgrade to fries, but Rob and I totally missed that and ordered the fries as an app before looking ahead!

Rob ordered a true burger:

Cajun Burger - Pepper Jack Cheese, Onions, Cajun Spiced Peppers, Aioli

Cajun Burger – Pepper Jack Cheese, Onions, Cajun Spiced Peppers, Aioli

The Verdict? He loved it!

Burger Deets from the menu:

Our Burgers are  1/3 lb. Certified Grass Fed Beef from 1000 Hills Cattle Company.
Served on a Multigrain Bun with Kettle Chips and Icebox Pickles.
Sub any Side Salad for Chips $2
Sub Rosemary Garlic Fries $3
Make it a  ½ lb.  Burger $3

Our only complaint is that the multigrain bun wasn’t too exciting.

What we also liked here? The music! The background music was pretty subtle / not very loud, but we were able to pick out a little Flogging Molly, Gaelic Storm and even a song I’ve heard our local Sweet Colleens play! We also heard someone say that live music would be on tap later that evening, too.

I’d like to try Mosaic Café again sometime, but maybe for breakfast, brunch or to see some live music.

Got any too-good-to-be true baked fries recipes out there?


Beverly Hills & Maison 140


Yes, our week-long vacay to Cali has been spewed at you completely out of order. So where did Beverly Hills come in? After Pasadena, but before Temecula. We spent one night in a beautiful boutique hotel called Maison 140, which I found on TripAdvisor.

What we learned is that, apparently, Beverly Hills pretty much shuts down on Sunday. That was our day there. I picked our hotel based on its (walking) distance from various restaurants. A couple that we considered were the Crustacean {for the Garlic Noodles we saw on The Best Thing I Ever Ate} and La Dolce Vita for the Italian food and the ambiance.

But both were closed on Sunday.


But we did still have a great time. Our hotel was in walking distance of Rodeo Drive. Walking down that street felt foreign to me. Not just because of all the high end shops, but because we didn’t hear any English spoken. I couldn’t pick out any celebrities, but then again none of the well-dressed shoppers were speaking any English. I am not sure why that surprised me…

Every girl from my generation remembers the scene in Pretty Woman where Vivian’s friend writes “Reg Bev Wilsh” on a pizza box with a tube of lipstick to remember where her friend is staying. Well, we were instructed by our friend to just go there… And to have an exorbitantly priced $20 glass of wine and people-watch.

So we did.

The Beverly Wilshire {Note: It is now owned by Four Seasons} is located on the corner of Rodeo Drive and Wilshire Boulevard, also walking distance from our hotel. We hoped to take a seat out on the patio, street-side, because it was a gorgeous day. However, there were no tables to be had. As we made our way toward the door to step inside, I heard Rob gasp. He saw this:

044This Batventador Lamborghini was parked on the side of the road. I find the little cones quite amusing. I wonder who owns it! Were they inside the building watching everyone gawk at it? The funny thing is that we actually ended up seeing four different Lamborghinis that day. Now, Rob is a car guy, so this was quite fun for him. In BH, Porsches, especially the Carerra, are so common that we started calling them Ford Focuses. “Oh, look! There goes another Ford Focus!” we’d say to each other – every time we saw one.

When I was finally able to pull Rob off the street, we stepped inside. There was no worry about a dress-code, really. Rob was wearing shorts and a nice shirt. I was wearing capris and a nice shirt. Maybe if we had been wearing sweats or something, it would have been different; but I didn’t feel out of place at all.

We strolled up to the bar and had a look at the menu. After all that, Rob just ordered a House Cab…

041She actually gave him a taste before she poured him a glass. He told me that it was the best House Cab that he’s ever had. Then she showed us the label – Iconoclast Stag’s Leap Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon – Napa. Seriously? Who puts a wine from Napa on their menu as a “house” wine? Let alone, who puts one on their menu from a distinct vineyard? We were quite impressed. And while we were expecting it to be overly expensive, when we got the bill, it was “only” $15/glass. If only we had a glass of wine nearly this good for some of the $12 glasses we pay for back at home…

I went a little further into the menu book for my drink. The Pretty Woman cocktail caught my eye because it was made with St. Germain, which is probably my all-time favorite liqueur. But there was a pink version of the cocktail on the menu for Breast Cancer Awareness month that I chose instead:

Meyer Pretty

Meyer Pretty – house-made Meyer limoncello, vodka, Meyer lemon juice, St. Germain, pomegranate syrup & egg white – $17

Our total bill for those two drinks, with tip, came to about $40. But we enjoyed every sip. That is when we wandered around a bit to find a place to have a quick appetizer and perhaps another drink. We finally found a place open called Roni’s, which reminded me of a little neighborhood joint you might find in Europe. We each had a mediocre beer and some horrible poutine. They were probably the worst fries of my life. But we liked the vibe of the place and got to witness some strange interactions – including a request for $500 worth of twenty-dollar bills. The funny part is that it seemed like a regular occurrence.

I spent a lot of time on TripAdvisor and Yelp trying to find an open restaurant that would suit us for our dinner that evening. However, Rob was drawn to the menu of our hotel’s sister hotel that had a restaurant inside called Hush. We both just wanted a relaxing/lazy evening. It was close to our hotel and we didn’t have to think anymore about it, so I happily obliged.

But it turned out to be just a mediocre meal. We each ordered a cocktail that ran about $14 a piece. We started with the Mosaic Fries which sounded delicious. They were pretty good, as apparent by the photo of the remaining fries below…

Mosaic Pommes Frites Parmesan, Parsley & 8 Essence of Truffles

Mosaic Pommes Frites – Parmesan, Parsley & Essence of Truffles – $8

I ordered a caprese salad because a salad just sounded soooo good. And with my love of tomatoes…

Heirloom Tomatoes, Arugula, 14 Avocado, Fresh Mozzarella, Extra Virgin Olive Oi

Caprese Salad – Heirloom Tomatoes, Arugula, Avocado, Fresh Mozzarella, Extra Virgin Olive Oil – $14

To be honest, the tomatoes weren’t that good, but I had no problem finishing this bad boy. Rob on the other hand, ordered something you’ll never believe he ordered – A BURGER! 😉

The Mosaic Burger Swiss or Cheddar Cheese with Spring Greens, Tomato, Char re d Red Onion 16 & Butter Pick le , Choi ce of Fries or House Made Chips

The Mosaic Burger – Cheddar Cheese with Spring Greens, Tomato, Chard, Red Onion & Butter Pickle {+bacon}

Again, a decent burger, but we weren’t wowed. Let’s just say that the menu looked more intriguing than the food was satisfying. And before we knew it, we spent $75 {before tip}.  At this point in the trip, we had already spent about twice as much money as we had planned. So we decided our best bet would be just to go back to the hotel room and relax.

I can’t ever remember a time when I just lounged in a hotel room and watched TV on vacation! It was so nice to do this for once! Rob was able to log some hours for work, too, because Internet was included in the room rate. The mini-bar provided us a half-bottle of wine and I sunk in to the most comfy-cozy bed and settled in for some mindless TV…

046I adored this bed so much that I didn’t want to get out of it. It was sooo much better than the one we about to sleep in for three nights at South Coast. Seriously, I still dream of this bed. The room was cute in general. The funny thing is that I did not know this when I booked the hotel, but it is French-themed! {Yeah, Carrie, it’s called the Maison 140. Duh.} Check out this sculpture in the room:

048My chip-fanatic husband wanted me to get the Doritos in the picture. He picked these up at Target in Pasadena because he’s never seen the Tapatio Hot Sauce flavored Doritos before.

I loved the adorable Frenchness of the entire place, including breakfast! Breakfast is not included with the room rate and parking is an extra 28 smackaroos. So when I saw online that I could get a package deal for parking plus breakfast for two people for just $24, I took it. The breakfast was continental, but included croissants and pain au chocolat!

054Okay, so not the best pastries I’ve had… but still… There was strong, French Press coffee!!!

053Needless to say, Carrie was a well-rested happy girl departing Beverly Hills that morning…

057What else did I like about Maison 140? I loved that we were pretty much in a little, quiet residential neighborhood but still in walking distance of what we wanted to do that we needn’t drive anywhere. That was huge in Rob’s book, too.

How do you choose a hotel when you go on vacation?


Best Twin Cities Restaurants to Take Out-of-Town Guests


This post was inspired by a friend who has family in town this weekend. She wanted ideas for where to take them. And while she came up with her own answer, it did get us to thinking where we’ve taken our out-of-town guests.

I feel a little guilty writing this one.

Why? Because I know that there will be some opinions out there. I may sound like I’m dogging some Mpls-St. Paul institutions. Let’s just say that these are not necessarily the best restaurants in the Twin Cities to take your out-of-town guests. Of course, that all depends on you and your guests. Your tastes might be completely different from ours.

So, instead, let’s label this list as our favorite places to take guests who come in from out of town. We want them to experience restaurants that we not only love, but that are also either unique, capture a piece of Minnesota or offer a bit of fun. They are listed in no particular order. At the time of this writing, Restaurant Impressions might not be written on all restaurants listed yet. But you can always hop over there to check!


Cossetta’s – St. Paul

I have to admit that Rob has never been to Cossetta’s {the original eatery} and I haven’t eaten there in years. However, after a trip to the newly renovated/expanded Alimentari, including the eatery/pizzeria, Pasticceria, Italian grocery and restaurant with my parents this past May, it’s worth a trip… if only for the pastry/gelato/supermarket experience. Most would notice how grand the paticceria and rest of the building looks. But instead, my dad noticed what kind of light bulbs were used. He’s cute like that.

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Buffalo Tap – Savage

Forget Matt’s.

Forget the 5-8 Club.

Get your Juicy Lucy here – the Parmesan Patty Melt to be exact. Matt’s Lucy is a good dive bar burger that is worth trying, but our burgers at the 5-8 Club were absolutely horrible. On the other hand, the Parmesan Patty Melt Juicy Lucy at the Buffalo Tap is heaven. For those of you who don’t know what a Juicy Lucy is, think of an inside-out burger. It’s one with the yummy, gooey cheese right in the middle. This one is served on Parmesan Encrusted Bread. Need I say more? You just need a little patience because you don’t want to bite into it right away, that cheese will squirt out and burn you. Give it some time to set. Then cut it in half. Drag the chips through any melty cheese that oozes out.

This photo doesn't do this perfect Juicy Lucy justice!

This photo doesn’t do this perfect Juicy Lucy justice!

If that’s not enough of a reason, the bar has a rustic, Minnesota northwoods cabin feel that makes the perfect setting for out-of-town guests. The menu is large with something for everyone. They also serve buffalo, hence the name. And fried cheese curds. As a cheesehead myself, I like to show guests from back home where I watch Packer games when they aren’t on regular TV here in Viking Country. Yep, it’s right here at “The Tap.”

A plus: There are some excellent beers on tap!
A minus: Said beers are often way overpriced.
A plus: You can still get a bottle of Mondavi Cab for $11.95. Not kidding. As my husband would say, “Cheap at the price.”
A plus: They make some of the best Bloody Marys – perfect for game day.

Three pluses over one minus? We’ll take it.


The Happy Gnome – St. Paul

This is an easy pick for your guests who may have an affinity for beer like we do. Rob stole my brother away on one visit, leaving his other half behind with the kids. They sipped fresh brews and devoured poutine. Oh yeah, this was all just a few days after my back surgery. Maybe he needed to get out, too. 😉

If you’ve had a late night, I’d say get the delectable breakfast sammy the next morning. Best in the Twin Cities! But the folks at this gourmet gastropub change the menu often, so who knows if it’ll be available when you read this. No matter what you order, you should always wash it down with a beer or two that you’ve never had and perhaps may never have again.

Jared's Beer Flight


Forepaugh’s – St. Paul

Rob likes to describe this experience as “taking someone to your rich uncle’s house.Forepaugh’s is housed in a 19th century Victorian Mansion. You can make it an expensive, fancy evening out, if you’d like. {A lot of special occasion events are held here.} Or you can do what we do: Drop by during happy hour in the bar area and let Joey or Victor wait on you. The bar menu is less expensive and quite good. In fact, we voted them as having best “Toast” in the Twin Cities. You’ll just need to go to find out what that means. And The Double Double Bacon Cheeseburger is on Rob’s Top 10 list. Furthermore, the Deconstructed Banana Cream Pie is a dessert for which you’ll return. It’s an impressive place. Have your guests take a walk around the mansion and check out all levels. Ask the staff about the ghosts.


Sul Lago – Prior Lake

Perron’s Sul Lago is a no brainer for us, being one of our favorite restaurants and all. Forget Manny’s. Forget Murray’s. {And, yes, we’ve had both.} If you want a steak, come here instead. That being said, let me preface that statement with this: I like filet mignons. The best I’ve ever had in Minnesota is here. My mom said it was the best steak of her life. But I tried a friend’s sirloin and wasn’t as pleased. Maybe that’s because I know how much more I love the filet. Still, the steak sandwich gives Murray’s a run for its money.

It’s a place where the service is great because they leave you alone to linger for hours if you wish, just like they would in Italy. Rob’s favorite pasta – the Sausage and White Truffle Oil – is back on the menu! The food is fantastic, as is the ambiance. And, you’ll find our favorite Bartender, Billy, there, too. He makes the best French Pear.

French Pear Martini: Elderflower liqueur, pear vodka, sparkling wine, lime juice

French Pear Martini: Elderflower liqueur, pear vodka, sparkling wine, lime juice


Nicollet Mall – Minneapolis

While this technically isn’t a restaurant, it’s a great area in downtown Minneapolis where you can stroll and hop from place to place to try a little bits of what Minneapolis has to offer. We recommend going on a Saturday afternoon when it’s not crazy-busy. Just be sure that there isn’t a Twins game or a big event when you go or that whole lazy-Saturday-afternoon plan will be blown out of the water. We do this because we aim to get a seat for our guests.

Our favorite stops? The Local Irish Pub (duh!), the News Room (especially for the brie cheese curds), Devil’s Advocate (tap beer selection) and Brit’s Pub (rooftop lawn bowling). My husband also found this great map of the Mall and printed out menus for each location for his parents when they were in town. In the evening, The Dakota Jazz Club is recommended for something swanky. We often pop in when they open for a cocktail and some frites before venturing somewhere else down The Mall. Other evening faves include Vincent (French) and Zelo (Italian).


Brie Curds – The News Room


So those are our current picks. And after yesterday’s post, I realize that I should be taking peeps to The Bulldog NE more often. I think we’ve only done that once. Whether they are beer and burger lovers or just like sweets, I’m sure they’ll love it as much as we do.

What are your favorite places to take out-of-town guests where you live?


Red Cow – Minneapolis


Last night, my husband and I dined at the Red Cow. He just arrived back in town from a weekend up north and I was craving a burger. {What’s with this burger craving lately?} We’ve been wanting to go there for a while after hearing about it on Heavy Table, via Thrillist and through friends. And it’s in South Minneapolis near Edina, which means it’s a closer drive for us than say, Downtown, Uptown or Nordeast Minneapolis.

Arriving at about 7 or 7:30 p.m. on a Sunday, we walked right in and found a seat at the bar. I noticed on a promotional ad sitting atop the bar that there is a wine glass cleverly inserted into the Red Cow logo. Underneath the logo read:

Red Cow *Fine Burgers & Wine*

I’m wondering now if this was the original concept because everything else now reads:

Red Cow *Fine Burgers, Beer & Wine*

My thought is that with the growing craft beer industry in the Twin Cities metro, there is no way to leave the brews out. And most people associate beer with a good burger, after all.

Side note: There are some great burger and wine pairings that are sensational, but I’ll save that for a Wine Wednesday.

Nevertheless, the list of beer and wines available here is a long one. Our bartender, Grant, was knowledgeable about the beers. When the Nitro beer we were curious about was out, he told us that the replacement wasn’t pouring quite properly. I love an honest bartender! There are more than just a few beers on tap and several in a bottle, too.

As for the wine, there are 35 different ones offered by the glass. And after perusing the menu, I was happy to find that they aren’t your “usual suspects”. I find that sooooo incredibly boring. I’d rather try new wines when I’m out. Red Cow uses the same style wine dispenser system as Scusi.

Also, the menu also offered a Burger and Champagne special – Two Burgers and a bottle of Bollinger for something like $125. {I don’t see it online.} I love that! It reminded me of our favorite steakhouse in Pensacola, Florida, McGuire’s Irish Pub:

‘Tis Grand. Our Grand Filet Mignon, custom ground and Chargrilled, served
with a side of Caviar, chopped Red Onions and a Grand Magnum of imported Moët Impérial Champagne. …………

I’ve always wanted to try it… just once.

But back to the burgers at Red Cow. They make some interesting burgers with more elevated toppings. I had a hard time to deciding. When I asked Grant about whether I should order the Barcelona or the Royale, he hesitated, stating both were very, very good. Rob cut us off, though and said, “Well, I’d like the Barcelona.” {Of course, he told me he was going to order something else before our order was taken.} That made my decision easy. I could always have a bite of Rob’s burger, right?

Barcelona 11.50    angus burger, manchego, prosciutto, piquillo pepper & smoked aioli [GF]

Barcelona – 11.50
angus burger, manchego, prosciutto, piquillo pepper & smoked aioli

Rob loved his burger and he isn’t generally a Manchego fan. I took a bite and enjoyed it to. However, I did like mine a wee bit better… 😉

Royale 11.00 angus burger, pork belly, brie, arugula & tomato jam [GF]

Royale – 11.00
angus burger, pork belly, brie, arugula & tomato jam

It’s gotta be the brie with the combination of arugula and tomato “jam”. {They were more like big chunks of roasted tomato, which I loved!} I didn’t think it really needed the pork belly though. Although I’m not really a bacon-on-my-burger fan, that wasn’t why I didn’t need it on the burger. It just added a bit of weird, unneeded texture.

We realized after ordering that they never asked how we wanted the burgers. That seemed strange to me at a burger joint. With all of those toppings, it was really hard to tell if there was any pink inside, which is how we prefer our burgers. But the burger was so juicy, that it didn’t even matter to me how they cooked it!

Each burger came with a side of fries. We had a choice of the original or the Truffle-Parmesan. DUH! You know what we chose. And actually, the fries by themselves, really weren’t good at all. While at Burger Jones, we like to order a side of fries because they don’t come with the burger, I wouldn’t order them if that were the case here. The Truffle-Parmesan fries are sprinkled with a little shredded parmesan and served with a side of truffle aioli. The truffle aioli was what made the fries!

But the burgers here are pretty darn good. I’d have to put them ahead of Burger Jones. {Now if we could combine Red Cow’s burgers with Burger Jone’s fries…} It hit the spot for me that night. And while I don’t think they’ll make Rob’s Top 10 Burger List {which I still need to update!}, I have a feeling, we’ll be back.

What do you like to drink with your burger?


Back to the Cafeteria {Now Closed}


A Groupon {or other daily deal} brought us back to the Uptown Cafeteria. I bought it because I knew I wanted to go back and get the Tuna Melt of Tuna Melts. It’s on my Best of the Twin Cities list!

However, I completely forgot how good this entire menu looks. I found myself torn because what I Really Wanted that day was a burger. The Turkey Burger sounded sooooo good to me. But whenever I order a turkey burger at a restaurant, I am always disappointed. Then, after said disappointment, Rob likes to ask when I have ever liked a turkey burger while dining out. Point.

But the description of this one kept speaking to me – it was a Green Chile Turkey Burger. So I asked our bartender/server for advice. “I really love the Tuna Melt here, but I’m torn tonight. That Turkey Burger looks so good! What do you think?”

Nine times out of ten your server will a) give you an honest answer and b) have good taste. This bartender, without hesitation, told me to go for the Turkey Burger.

And I’m so happy I did!

reen Chile Turkey Burger11.00 muenster cheese, avocado, green chilies

Green Chile Turkey Burger – $11.00
muenster cheese, avocado, green chilies

I chose cottage cheese as my side for a little extra added protein. {I ate a few tots off of Rob’s plate, too!} I used about half of the onion. After the first messy bite, I discarded half of the bun and ended up eating the rest with a fork and knife. This was soooo good! Look closely at the meat – it was well-seasoned with herbs. And those green chiles were just what I wanted.

Rob, took the challenge and tried the Best F#@!-ing Burger EVER. {They call it the “F Burger” when they bring it to your table.} And although he enjoyed the burger, it wasn’t good enough to make his Top 10 Twin Cities Burgers list.

Best F#@!-ing Burger EVER15.00 velveeta stuffed and topped with pepperjack cheese, bacon, short-rib, fried egg and horseradish sauce

Best F#@!-ing Burger EVER – $15.00
velveeta stuffed and topped with pepperjack cheese, bacon, short-rib, fried egg and horseradish sauce

I need to remember that when Uptown that this is a place to return. I haven’t been disappointed with the food and am anxious to try other menu items. It’s comfort food with flavor. No brainer for me!

Tip: Happy Hour in the bar area lasts one hour longer than Happy Hour on the rooftop!

It’s burger season. What are your favorite burger toppings?