Tag Archives: Minneapolis

Surly Brewing Company (Minneapolis, MN)

When I lived in Minneapolis, one of my major activities was playing Ultimate (aka “Ultimate Frisbee”) in the Twin Cities Ultimate League, and I met a lot of interesting people playing in that league (including a future mayor of Minneapolis). One of the people I’d regularly encounter in league play was a pretty talented player named Omar, who really liked beer and brewing. He’d occasionally brought some rather good homebrew, and even commented, somewhat jokingly it seemed, that one day he was going to open a brewery. Fast forward a few years to a visit of mine in 2006, we were visiting Gluek’s (a former brewery that still runs a nice tap room and restaurant), and the bartender urged me to try this new, extra-hoppy (this was 2006, before the great IPA explosion) beer from an upstart brewery called Surly, run by a local guy called Omar Ansari. Yup. He did start. First in Brooklyn Center, growing like crazy, and then in late 2014 opened a $20M flagship brewery in Minneapolis’ Prospect Park, in a former industrial area that, in the 1990s, I would have never in a million years thought would become a “beer destination”.

Continue Reading ...

The Wienery (Minneapolis, MN)

Another former haunt of mine of Minneapolis that I wanted to visit was a little restaurant over on the West Bank in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood: The Wienery. Originally opened in the early 1980s in the location of the former “Edna’s Diner”, sitting in the shadow of the large Riverside Plaza apartment complex (those not from Minneapolis may recognize them from the opening of The Mary Tyler Moore Show), The Wienery continues to serve up a variety of hot dog. Started by a pair of transplanted Chicagoans who wanted to offer up Chicago-style hot dogs to the locals, The Wienery has had several changes of owners over the years (I know it changed hands at least twice while I lived in Minneapolis, and at least once since then), but even as the neighborhood has slowly changed from the 1960s hippie neighborhood adjoining the University of Minnesota’s West Bank, to the current mix of “Little Mogadishu” and slightly seedy bars, the Wienery is basically unchanged.

Continue Reading ...

Shuang Cheng (Minneapolis, MN)

Like my review of Al’s Breakfast, several of my dining choices in Minneapolis were picked to revisit old favorites and see how they are doing. While Al’s Breakfast is one of my most-frequented restaurants (having eaten there pretty much once a week for 6.5 years), around the corner in Dinkytown is a pretty close second place: Shuang Cheng. AS a long-time tradition when I was at the University of Minnesota, my IT coworkers, led by my boss Bob, would go out for a group lunch every Friday. Most Friday’s that would mean rounding up a posse and heading over to Shuang Cheng (the name means “Twin Cities”), grab a large table, and have a big lunch. Indeed, we went so often that my boss Bob had his own special, the “Bob Special” (Sesame chicken, an egg roll, and a large wonton soup), that those in the know could order off-menu even if they didn’t know “Bob”. Indeed, Bob wasn’t available on this particular Friday, but we managed to round up a number of my former coworkers and make a lunch posse.

Continue Reading ...

Health Check: Al’s Breakfast (Minneapolis, MN)

Every once in a while it’s nice for me to do a followup on old favorites, revisiting them and make sure that they are staying in form. In this case, my trip to Minneapolis gave me a good chance to stop by and check in on what remains as perhaps my favorite breakfast place ever, Al’s Breakfast. It’s best if you read over my older review, but it’s basically a small, 14-stool diner wedged in what’s literally a roofed over alleyway in Minneapolis’s “Dinkytown” neighborhood. “Narrow” is an understatement, since a limber person literally can touch both walls at points, and as you sit enjoying your breakfast (aside from special events, it is a breakfast-only joint), if it’s at all busy there’s someone hovering mere inches away waiting for your seat. And the food? The breakfasts at Al’s are fantastic, ranging from egg dishes and omelets to pancakes to house-made CBH, and it’s the ultimate in the short order experience: your order belted out by the staff, echoed back by the person running the grill (back in the days, it was almost always one of the two owners, Doug or Jim).

Continue Reading ...

Surdyk’s Flights (Minneapolis/St Paul International Airport)

One of our vacations this year was a trip to Oahu, and, quite frankly, coming from New Hampshire, there’s no easy way to do the trip. Most every option either involves multiple hops, a very long layover, or a red-eye flight. Indeed, our trip this time was BOS-MSP-SEA-HNL, with moderate layovers at MSP and SEA. And that means airport dining. There are good and bad airports for layovers, and I’ll have to say Terminal 1 (the Lindbergh Terminal) at MSP is one of the better places to have a layover. The terminal is huge, and has more than a few good options for food and drink. Previously, I’ve enjoyed sandwiches and beer at Ike’s (including indulging in a rare pint of Surly Furious), and just about every coffee company in Minnesota (Starbucks, Dunn Bros, Caribou, …). There’s even a reasonably good burger place (TwinBurger) and a good sushi place (Shoyu). But a fairly recent addition has been an old Minneapolis favorite of mine: Surdyk’s.

Continue Reading ...

Butcher and the Boar (Minneapolis, MN)

After an afternoon of work in Minneapolis, and a quick trip over to St Louis Park to visit The Four Firkins (one of the finest beer stores I’ve ever been to), it was time to have some dinner. I decided to meet up with my friend Andy from my MSU days, along with a former FIRST robotics student and intern of mine, Mas (and his fiancee) for dinner at Butcher and the Boar, one of Minneapolis’ newer bars located on Hennepin Avenue on the edge of the Loring Park neighborhood (looking at a Minneapolis Map, I guess technically most folks call this the “Harmon Neighborhood”). Opened by Jack Reibel, formerly the chef at the well-respected La Belle Vie in Stillwater and the Dakota Jazz Club, Butcher and the Boar is really about two things: beer and meat. First of all, the beer: one of the two centerpieces of the restaurant is their large bar (the other is the open kitchen across the dining area), with a rather impressive tap list, indeed, the beer list was one of my main reasons for coming. With a good list of American beers, with particular emphasis on regional brewers, it’s one of the best beer lists I’ve recently found in the Twin Cities. Indeed, I was able to have some local Surly, some “Goes to 11” by Bells, and some Deschute Mirror Pond. They’ve also got rather good wine and whiskey lists, although I wasn’t in the mood for indulging those that particular night.

Continue Reading ...

Kramarczuk Sausage Co (Minneapolis, MN)

This trip to Minneapolis also allowed me to indulge in another of my favorite Twin Cities culinary treasures: Kramarczuk Sausage Company on East Hennepin in Minneapolis, right where Marcy-Holmes and Nordeast meet up. When I first moved to Minneapolis, Kramarczuk’s and the nearby Surdyk’s liquor store were the only major attractions in an otherwise tired out neighborhood of old furniture stores and former car dealers. In the years since then, Surdyk’s moved from a storefront to their own giant building up the road, the neighborhood has been almost completely rebuilt (the old IGA and strip mall are now a Whole Foods, etc). I barely recognize the neighborhood, but Kramarczuk Sausage Co is still alive and well, dishing all sausages and all varieties of eastern European food…

Continue Reading ...

Highland Grill and Longfellow Grill (Twin Cities, MN)

On my recent trip to Minnesota, we had several opportunities to dine out by ourselves, or with our hosts. As a result, we had several fine breakfasts at local establishments, many of which (Maria’s Cafe, for example, or better yet, the venerable Al’s Breakfast) I’ve already reviewed on this blog. However, this time we dined at several new establishments as well. Two of them I’ll review today, and I can combine the reviews since both places (Longfellow Grill in Minneapolis, and Highland Grill in St Paul) are sister restaurants operated by the same company, and indeed, have approximately 90% overlap in their menus.

Continue Reading ...

Hell’s Kitchen (Minneapolis, MN)

It’s not often that people recommend a place to me; I’m usually the one dispensing the recommendations, especially when it’s someplace that I’m more familiar with than the person giving me the recommendation (I used to live in Minneapolis). But after a trip last summer, my friends Jon and Nicki strongly recommended Hell’s Kitchen. And the recommendation was basically “Try the peanut butter. No, really. Try the peanut butter.”

Continue Reading ...

Maria’s Cafe (Minneapolis, MN)

During my recent visit to Minneapolis, I needed to take my hosts Bob and Kath out for breakfast. Our long-time standard for a weekend breakfast (Big Olaf’s) closed a few years back, so I asked them where we should go. They suggested Maria’s Cafe on East Franklin, which features Colombian and Venezualan food, as well as some more typical American favorites. While it was strongly recommended that I try the corn pancakes, I left those for Carol while I tried the daily special breakfast platter (shown), which included beans, sausage, fried yucca, scrambled eggs, and an arepa (basically a small masa pancake). This was an excellent breakfast on all levels: the beans were nicely seasoned with cumin, the yucca was crisp on the outside and tender inside, and the eggs nicely scrambled. The arepa was nicely done as well, but it paled compared to Carol’s corn pancake (which isn’t cornmeal, it’s a regular pancake with corn in it, topped with a dry cheese), which was also very delicious…

Continue Reading ...