July 30, 2018

Hungry Vikings Fans?

This is going to be tough to say, but the Minnesota Vikings are in full training camp mode along with the rest of the league. Go Pack Go! With all the visitors making their way to camp headquarters and the all new T.C.O Training Facility, visitors need some food to hold them over while they watch their (hard swallow) favorite team practice.

A fellow foodie who is for more or less, exclusive to neighboring community to the TCO, Inver Grove Heights, has provided their top 5 places to eat at near the training complex. Unfortunately, it’s not truly the top 5 places within a 5-10 minute drive without dealing with a whole lot of traffic either. It’s just restaurants from Inver Grove Heights. So, I would like to shed some light on that and provide you Vikings fans with 5 of the best restaurants to grab some grub at.

Burgers and Bottles – Eagan 
Easily some of the best burgers you’ll consume in the Twin Cities. Their burgers are on my top 10 list of Twin Cities Best Burgers and you can’t go wrong with any of their selections. Want something a little messier? Check out their juicy rendition and currently the #1 juicy on my top 10 Juicy Lucy Challenge list. They have plenty of cold beverages to enjoy as well to wash your burgers down and get you back to the action.                                        
Located at: 1278 Lone Oak Rd, Eagan, MN 55121

Las Tortillas - Rosemount
I love a solid authentic Mexican meal, especially some insanely made street tacos. And, Las Tortillas is that place that you should be checking out if you’re craving some delicious Mexican during your visit to training camp. Doesn’t matter what you order off the menu, you’ll be getting some outstanding food to consume and satisfy those hunger pains. And, to wash those tacos down, you can never go wrong with a cold cerveza or margarita.
Located at: 15051 Crestone Ave, Rosemount, MN 55068

Buon Giorno – Lilydale/Mendota
Looking for some excellent pasta? And by excellent, I mean some of the most amazing Italian cuisine you’ll ever enjoy? Look no further than Buon Giorno’s. Seriously, this place is serving up some crazy good pasta dishes and if you’re lucky, you might just spot former NFL great Matt Birk or maybe even a Mauer siting. Shoot, now I’m hungry for some Buon Giorno’s grub. Heck, you might just find yourself going back for dinner and checking out their dinner restaurant, iNonni which is right next door.
Located at: 981 Sibley Memorial Hwy, St Paul, MN 55118

ZZQ – Eagan
Maybe it’s some delicious BBQ that you’re craving while you’re watching your favorite team. If it’s BBQ that you’re craving, check out ZZQ BBQ. Very reasonably priced goodness and I recommend getting their sampler platter where you get to pick 3 of their offerings with a side as well. I personally think you can even skip the sauces and just enjoy the meat! Still want a beer to wash that brisket down, don’t worry, they have that too. Definitely get the chicken, easily the most moist and tender smoked chicken we’ve come across in the Twin Cities.
Located at:  3390 Coachman Rd, 204, Eagan, MN 55121

Old World Pizza – Inver Grove Heights
There are a lot of things that make America great and one of those just happens to be pizza, football and beer. And, Old World just happens to be the best pizza option close to the action. While I think there are some other options out there, this place is the easiest to get into, has a sit-down option (while others are just take out or delivery) and a buffet. Yes, a buffet and it’s all-you-can-eat for just $8 bucks! Definitely a place we like to visit as a family and we know you’ll enjoy it as well.
Located at: 5660 Bishop Ave, Inver Grove Heights, MN 55076

There you have it folks, truly 5 of the best restaurants around the (still hard to say) Vikings Training Camp and their new facilities. There is something for everyone on the list and you can’t go wrong with your selection. Really, it’s just deciding what you’re in the mood for besides hoping for a super bowl ring. What? I had to throw another last dig in there, at least the Packers have them to show off! 😊

#knowbeforeyougo

July 26, 2018

You’ve Got Me On My Knees Lela

If you’re looking for a place that will satisfy your hunger pains and worried mind, I may just have a place for you. If you’re looking for a place that will have you feeling like a fool and falling in love with the food, I may just have a place for you. And, if you’re looking for a place that might just have you on your knees and begging for more, I may just have a place for you.

Now, before you go insane, that place I am speaking of is a place called Lela and it’s located inside the Bloomington Sheraton off Hwy 100. I was invited to Lela’s for a special event to recognize those of us who have been Yelp Elite Members for 5 years or more thanks to our awesome Community Manager, Kara. The culinary team at Lela provided us with a 4-course meal where they showcased their talents from the kitchen as well as their talents from the bar. And, while our pairings are not yet on their regular lunch/dinner menu, I personally think they should be!
Let’s start this thing off with a fantastic appetizer. Blackened Shrimp Skewers, that were seasoned perfectly and sitting atop a delicious chipotle aioli. Hints of light smoke from the chipotle aioli combined with the perfectly seasoned and cooked shrimp had me wanting more. Alongside that was the La Fleur – a hibiscus wild flower infused champagne that was perfect for this first dish.
Course number one followed shortly after with a showcase of their house made pasta that is prepared and cooked on a daily basis. Pasta Primavera was our first course that was prepared with a light, yet full of flavor, buttery and creamy sauce. This dish was made with artichokes and while I’m not a huge fan of this veggie, It worked for this dish. To help was it down, we enjoyed a sampling of The Greenway – a gin, cucumber, lime and mint refresher drink. Again, not a big fan of this veggie, until now.
Conversations had started about our favorite spots around town when course number two arrived. A braised Bison Short Rib over Garlic Potato Puree. WOW, just WOW! Fall off the bone, perfectly prepared and seasoned bison with some of the most amazing potato puree one can enjoy. I was even lucky enough to get a little marrow out of my bone – bonus for me! This dish was paired with the Smokey Rouge – a sage, watermelon, Mezcal, tequila and agave martini that was delish. A nice smoky hit at first sip with a refreshing finish on the backside.
Finally, after an enjoyable night of culinary expertise, fun conversations and meeting new Yelpers, our dessert arrived to the table. Salted Caramel Tiramisu with a house made whipping. I tend to go for other desserts not being a coffee guy, but this might have been the only Tiramisu I’ll eat again. And, to tap off the night, some Tawney 10yr Port. Sweet with just a hint of dryness for this VERY occasional wine drinker.
This truly was a wonderful culinary experience and I tip my chef hat to the team at Lela, Kara our awesome Community Manager and all of the great company around me. This is definitely a place I would love to listen to Clapton acoustically at while I enjoy some culinary perfection!

Lela
5601 W 78th St
Bloomington MN 55439

#knowbeforeyougo

July 17, 2018

A Revival In Need Of Spreading

There is definitely a Revival in the Twin Cities, a Revival that needs to spread like a wildfire to cure everyone’s hunger pains and cravings for delicious food. It’s the type of food that will leave a lasting impression all week long on your taste buds after consumption. There definitely is a Revival and you can find it in Minneapolis on Nicollet Ave. or in St. Paul on Selby Ave.

Revival, A southern infused, small, quaint restaurant, providing their patrons with a culinary experience that will indeed leave a lasting impression and having you wanting more. I’ve had a number of friends say it’s a must that I check this place out and that I try their Revival burger. While it’s not necessarily a “burger place”, Revival is serving the best burger you can find in the Twin Cities, period! As simple is this burger is, it’s prepared perfectly! Full of seasoning with salty bites from start to finish. Melty, gooey American cheese covering the whole thing. Just the right touch of mayo, two HUGE, thick cuts of bacon on a perfectly grilled bun and morsels of this deliciousness falling off. After one bite, you will try catching those little morsels… Get it single, double or triple stacked - I guess it just depends on how hungry you are. You will want to go back for another and another and another…
The Revival Burger!
What I did learn about Revival and what they’re more known for, is their fried chicken. Doesn’t matter what review site you read, local newspaper outlets, magazines, etc., Revival’s fried chicken comes out on top. I have yet to find anything better and I’m doubtful that I will. Every single bite is full of flavor and moist – even the white meat which ALWAYS dry’s out. You can fry it up southern style, Tennessee hot, poultrygeist or (cough) gluten free and for our first visit, we went with southern style with their house made sauces on the side and it was insane! I want more now from just sitting here writing about it…

Lots of other great items on the menu that I need to go back to try; dry rubbed wings, pimento cheese and meat plate, johnnycakes appetizer, Chicken and waffles, more southern fried chicken and another Revival burger. They also have plenty of sides to choose from and I encourage you to order the mac n’ cheese, hush puppies or sorghum glazed carrots. Mac n’ cheese is some of the best you’ll eat. The puppies, while simple, are served with an amazing dip. And, the carrots, well, they’re easily the best carrots I’ve ever consumed and my sister would be proud. She’s always harping on me to eat more veggies…

Revival definitely needs to spread like a wildfire and I personally would love to see a location in the south metro, Apple Valley/Rosemount area, maybe even my backyard. Seriously though, we need something like this all across the metro for ALL to enjoy, it’s simply that good.

Revival (2 Locations)
Minneapolis & St. Paul

#knowbeforeyougo



July 10, 2018

Smoking In The Back Room!

Smoking in the back room? Well, yeah, because everyone knows that smoking aint allowed in school especially the boys room. So where are they smoking? The back room of a restaurant of course, well to be more specific, a kitchen. And this type of smoking inside of restaurants is legal in the state of Minnesota.

The smoking that I'm referring to is a large structure that houses delicious meats that are cooked for several hours until it decides to fall off the bone. These structures, known scientifically as a smoker are found all over Kansas City, St. Louis, across the south and now right here in Minnesota. I'm positive that Vince, Nikki, Mick and Tommy, yeah that's right, The Crue (Motley Crue people) have even enjoyed some delicious smoked goodies (And I'm referring to food folks!). These boys would even appreciate the outstanding smoked goods found throughout Minnesota.

We're out to find the best smokehouses and BBQ joints the Twin Cities has to offer and below are the places we've been to thus far. Unlike some of our other lists, this list is truly a mix of straightforward BBQ and smokehouses putting a twist on their menu with pit creations.

1. Northbound Smokehouse and Brewpub
A friend of ours told us he just had some amazing wings and porchetta sandwich and he was recently at Northbound. His next comment was, "when you stopping by?" We ended up going that same day we chatted. And, we ordered their 18-hour Porchetta Sandwich and an order of wings. Yeah, it's a must try! Porchetta is bar far one of my all-time favorite meals and anytime I get a chance to have it, I most certainly will. The full description is; The "Iron Range" classic, house-smoked shredded porchetta topped with Swiss cheese and sauteed onions on an egg bun, then served with with their house-made BBQ sauce. We also added a side of their hand-cut fries to our order and I've said this time and time again... We need more places serving hand-cut fries. They're simply better! Is your mouth watering yet? As for those timely smoked wings... An amazing smoked chicken wing with the meat just falling off the bone. 

2. Roosters BBQ
This little hole-in-the-wall is serving up some straight forward BBQ and all of their cuts of meat were absolutely delicious. Fall off the bone ribs, super moist and flavorful chicken, smokey delicious brisket and pork. Rooster's BBQ sauces were also very tasty as well and definitely get both mild and hot to compare the differences in flavor with each type of meat and we encourage ordering more than just one meat option. It's definitely a no non-sense type of place, just the way we like it!

3. Bourbon Butcher
This smokehouse/BBQ/burger joint is one of our favorite places to eat because it's so close to us. We've had tons of things off their menu and have never left the restaurant unsatisfied and our belly's happily full. The BBQ and all their smoked goods are exceptional and if that's not your immediate craving, you'll never go wrong with a solid made burger. I prefer to eat like a dying carnivore, so I would suggest someone gets the Butcher's Plate to try all of their smoked goodness or have the table go for the Butcher's Feast that can serve 2-3 people. I also love the deviled eggs, duck wantons, bacon bourbon burger and their mac n' cheese.

4. ZZQ BBQ
Another straight forward, no frills BBQ joint serving up some of the most delicious BBQ. We got their sampler to try all of their meats, except for the ribs and definitely left happy. Easily the most moist chicken that we've come across and the smoked flavor was all you needed to enjoy this place. They have a few different sauces to choose from, but in my own personal opinion, a tad too heavy on the vinegar side for my liking. But that's fine, The meat is perfect without the added sauce. However, if you get fries, you have to get the house made mustard. Completely different than any mustard you'll ever have and very delicious. A solid place for your BBQ cravings!

5. Rack Shack BBQ
Another great BBQ addition to the Twin Cities area. Straight forward BBQ with some simple and straight forward, great tasting sauces to enjoy as well. Doesn't matter which cut of meat you get, it's all delicious. Plus, they offer some outstanding turkey as well, something other's aren't offering. You really will enjoy the BBQ at Rack Shack.

6. Lone Oak Grill / Junction 70
These two sister restaurants are pretty straight forward sports bars that just happens to be serving up a few pit offerings for patrons to try enjoying. Not our go to places and as we check out some more places that we haven't been to yet, these two will get lower on the list. Certainly not terrible food, just not our favorite places for anything BBQ, Smoked or even some of their standard menu items. You may like either of these place even better than the places above it,  just not the most enjoyable.

7. Old Southern BBQ
A creation by Famous Dave himself, Dave Anderson with 4 locations in the area to choose from. Was never a fan of Famous Dave's Restaurants and this is far off from that. Basically, a Famous Dave's - Take 2. Meat was pretty smokeless tasting and lacking flavor in general. The sauces were much too similar to the original sauces Dave created for his first restaurant.

8. Baldy's BBQ
Our first visit to Baldy's wasn't the best. We thought the meat offerings were a bit on the dry side and the sauces weren't much to brag about either. However, a trusted friend of ours swears by this place and we are certainly willing to go back for seconds to see if just experienced an off night for some reason. Stay tuned for this place to possibly surprise us or stay where they're at on the list.

Other places that we have yet to try, but continue to hear solid things about from those who have checked them out;

- Handsome Hog in St. Paul.
- Big Daddy's BBQ in St. Paul.
- Firebox Deli in Minneapolis.
- Smoke In The Pit in St. Paul.
- Ted Cook's 19th hole BBQ in Minneapolis.
- Q Fanatics BBQ in Minneapolis

If you think there is another BBQ or Smokehouse joint we should be checking out, please let us know and we'll get there as soon as we can.

#KNOWBEFOREYOUGO