WhereTheLocalsEat.com’s Twincy Recommendations

One of the biggest problems I see with nationally run restaurant recommendations websites is, while they have a ton of listings, their recommendations tend to suck when you actually try to get local. I don’t care how many listings or traffic you have. All I’m looking for are good restaurant recommendations that will lead to an enjoyable meal.

Which is why I’m impressed with WhereTheLocalsEat.com. The results for the Twin Cities (or, Twincy as the kids these days refer to the area) are very good. Here’s a sample from their top-100 in locally, filtered for “Best Of” restaurants so only the best restaurant by category is shown:

WhereTheLocalsEat Minneapolis-St Paul

The site isn’t perfect. For example, it lists some restaurants that have gone under, such as Babalu.

But it’s good enough to use as a starting point for new places to try. And since it is a national site, it may be worth trying when traveling so you don’t end up at TGI Friday’s.

Birchwood Cafe’s Bacon Salad

Birchwood Cafe is one of the Kohler household’s favorite restaurants because it’s close to our house and serves great food from local sources. What’s not to love?

They currently have a salad on their menu with the following online description:

Birchwood Cafe Bacon Salad

A Spinach, Arugula, and Black Bean salad. Sounds pretty healthy and veggie. Here’s what it looks like:

Birchwood Cafe Spinach, Arugula, and Black Bean Salad

Holy crap. It comes with think cut chunks of bacon on top! Now I know what they mean by Bacon Lardons in the description.

Birchwood being Birchwood, that is locally raised bacon from Fischer Family Hog Farms. In fact, you can order heavy gift baskets of pig parts through Birchwood. How cool is that?

The lesson: Don’t, currently, order a salad at Birchwood Cafe if you’re on a strict diet. One comes covered in thick chunks of bacon and the other with Blue Cheese. (Yum & Yum)

Underappreciated Minneapolis Cuisine: Mayslack’s Original

Election night, 2008. Obama takes Ohio. Polls start closing out West. McCain gracefully concedes. Time to celebrate. But how?

Mayslack's Original
(I had to have a few bites before snapping the picture.)

With The Original roast beef sandwich from Mayslacks:

THE ORIGINAL ……$9.25
The storied sandwich that only Stan Mayslack could make popular. A sandwich piled
so high with roast beef. Slow roasted for 8 hours in garlic & other juices so the beef
just melts in your mouth. Served with onions, banana peppers, coleslaw & some of that
awesome au jus.

Sure, you’ll eat around 1000 more calories than you probably need and wreak of garlic for a day and a half. But while eating this fine sandwich you’ll have a moment.

Try it. Go hungry.

Bulldog Lowertown First Impressions

Bulldog Lowertown St Paul Beer Flights

I’ve had a chance to check out the Bulldog Lowertown St Paul three times so far. Here’s what I’ve learned.

1. It’s easy to get to. If you’re coming from Minneapolis, take I-94 East around downtown St Paul to the 7th Street exit. After exiting, you’ll be at 7th & Wall St. Go straight 1-block (you’ll be on Wall St) then right one block. You’re there.

2. Parking is easy and free. St Paul shuts down early. Some of the meters on 6th are free after 4:30pm.

3. It’s big. Like the other locations, it has a center bar. Unlike other locations, it has much more space and quite a few booths.

4. Need to work out some kinks. The service is a bit underwhelming right now. They don’t seem to know the beers they serve. Sure there are a lot, but if that’s your thing, act like it. Also, when the above flight of beer was delivered to our table, the waitress wasn’t sure which order they were in. She blamed that on the bartenders, who, according to the waitress, are pretty sloppy with their flight presentations. They need to show more pride in this.

5. Tots. So far, I’ve had their cajun, chipotle, and cheese tots. The cajuns are my favorite. The cheese tots had shredded cheese half-melted on top of them, which was pretty disappointing. The chipotle ones were really hot.

6. Jukebox. Having a jukebox can be cool, but the wisdom of the crowds isn’t always wise.

Bulldog Lowertown St Paul Beer Flights

Sheryl shared her experience in the comments of a previous Bulldog post:

Blew into Bulldog tonight for a Chicago dog. Tons of wait staff, to bad for us they did not wait on us. We had to beg for a cocktail, then a menu, then another cocktail…..I’d say DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME! And to top it off the hotdog was yuck.

That sounds pretty similar to my experiences (I can’t speak to the hotdog issue), leaving me to believe that this has the potential to be a great addition to Lowertown but it’s not quite there yet.

A Mugging Outside Merlin’s Rest

This sucks.

Casey Selix, a news editor for MinnPost, was mugged after leaving Merlin’s Rest (3601 E Lake St) on Sunday Nov. 2nd. She recalls what she remembers of the incident at the above link.

This is unfortunate, surprising, and out of character for the neighborhood.

I’m sure the good people who hang out at Merlin’s will take proper precautions to prevent something like this happening in the future. And I really look forward to hearing about some arrests.

Thanks for Oliver for passing this along.

Bulldog Lowertown St Paul: For Realz

This just in from Olive in the comments of the previous Bulldog St Paul post:

Bulldog Lowertown is a sure thing! You can expect an opening sometime in the last week of Sept -first week of Oct. 40 tap beers, shuffel board, and of course vienna beef dogs and hamburgers, plus a few new menu items. Oh and lets not forget the tots!!!!

Excellent!

Free Cheese Balls

If you’re into Nascar, pull tabs, beer, and puffed cheese balls, I’m sure you’d like the Cedar Inn at Cedar & 42nd in South Minneapolis.

Cheese Puff Balls

The cheese balls are free. And, after a few beers, are they’re good enough to eat even after being dropped on the floor by people who aren’t good at catching them in their mouth. Although the thrower should share some of the blame.

I haven’t tried their burgers yet, but I get the impression that they’re pretty good (and Weezie’s meatloaf sounds good too).

Lake Inn Burgers at Cedar Inn

The Lake Inn was where Buster’s on 28th is located. I never made it there pre-Buster’s, but the burger must have been worth saving since it has found a new home a few blocks West at the Cedar Inn.

Birchwood Cafe Now Has Free Coffee Refills

One of Minneapolis’ top breakfast spots, Birchwood Cafe, has long caused one minor (some would say major) gripe among coffee junkie breakfast enthusiasts: they charged for coffee refills.

Their coffee is delicious and is bike delivered from Peace Coffee, so it’s probably not the cheapest thing to brew. However, the complaint isn’t as much about the price as the pain of getting up, waiting, and ordering extra caffeine hits.

But all that recently changed, as Camacho Watcho reports:

We hadn’t been to the Birchwood for a while, but we could feel something was different as we sat down. Looking around us, we discovered that people had small, silver carafes of coffee at their tables and they were pouring their own refills while they ate. That was it; that was the difference. Kyle and I were just glancing down into our mugs of disappearing coffee, wishing we had known about this when we ordered, when a waitress appeared with a carafe of coffee and poured us refills. Fantastic!

That pretty much locks them in as the #1 breakfast spot among my coffee-junkie breakfast-loving friends.