Young, ambitious, and passionate about Japanese cuisine, Chef Alexander Chong takes to sushi the way an artist takes to canvas. He lords over his open bar, nimbly slicing up rolls with ultra-fresh fish and innovative ingredients such as jalapeños, deep-fried yam, and barbecue sauce, arranging pieces to complement the ingredients’ colors and flavors. Behind him, deep in the kitchen, chefs fillet fresh seafood for sushi dinners and labor over stoves, stirring pots of udon noodles and sizzling up poultry, pork, and steak teriyaki dishes for those who shy away from seafood since they were raised by fish. Out in the chic dining room, diners clink glasses of sake amid clouds of conversation and red walls adorned with angled accent pieces.
Crazy for Yogurt lives up to its name by offering 10 flavors of self-serve yogurt that customers jazz up with more than 80 fruit, candy, and nut toppings. They also have a selection of fresh-fruit smoothies and shakes that chefs whip up onsite, rather than outsourcing the task to a generic food-production factory or unreliable polar bears.
This British-inspired gastropub serves up equal parts well-crafted food and casual atmosphere. Basking in the glow of the stone fireplace—or one of 11 flat screens—patrons dine on the likes of bangers and mash, brick-oven pizza, and Wexford steak. Many opt to lounge on the outdoor patio, or in colder weather, in a nice, warm vat of the restaurant's signature mac and cheese. More than 60 beers, hailing from around the world, pour from taps and bottles at the 50-foot bar, while dartboards and pool tables invite bets to be placed on who's picking up the check.
Dairy Queen offers a cool respite for shoppers tired of fitting-room lines and surly sales clerks. The signature Blizzard Treat's chunky charms are as inescapable as ever, with classic candies and other flavor options blended to unmatched thickness with creamy soft serve (medium, $3.59). The waffle-bowl sundae slathers vanilla ice cream in fudge for an appealingly layered delight ($2.99), and the milkshake puts spoons to shame with its refreshing strawability (medium, $2.99). Alternatively, sizzle-starved denizens can gnash on a mushroom-swiss burger ($3.79) or the crispy-chicken sandwich ($3.89). With a variety of meal options, the Edina location's grilled delectables offer appetites savory samplings worthy of being referred to as the dessert that comes before dessert.
Willie's classic diner-style menus serve up hot, fresh-cooked meatiness without compromise. Dig into one of its signature Slammer chiliburgers, such as the Slammer TCC ($5.35), boasting triple patties with cheese, Slammer chili sauce, thick-cut tomato, mustard, pickles, and onions, or bang on the anvil of your appetite with a Hammer 1 ($2.90), a single-patty burger bedecked with thousand-island dressing, lettuce, tomato, and fresh or grilled onions. A side of fries or garlic fries complement any menu item ($1.90–$2.50), while a spiced-up order of chili rings ($4.85) aptly accompanies a grilled chili dog ($4.40). Willie's also serves up malt-shop-style desserts, with classic hand-scooped ice-cream milkshakes ($3.45) available in mocha, coffee, strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate flavors to soothe inner fury arising from rain-ruined backyard ballet recitals.
When Jim Knudson bit into his first taco during dinner at a friend's house in 1949, he knew he had tasted something special. He added the item?which many diners were pronouncing "tay-co"?to the menu at his restaurant in Grass Valley, California. Determined to introduce the food to as many people as possible, Jim and his wife, Margaret, converted a 16-foot trailer into a kitchen on wheels. They adopted the nickname Jim had earned from one of his longtime customers and drove up to Lake Tahoe, where Jimboy's Tacos found its first permanent home.
Locals, tourists, and even members of the Rat Pack flocked to the tiny taco stand for the uniquely seasoned, parmesan-dusted ground-beef taco, the anchor of a growing menu. The family eventually relocated to Roseville, California, where they set up a small taco stand and began branching out to other locations in and around Sacramento.
Today, Jim Knudson?s daughter Karen, the current president of the company, carries on the legacy of taco obsession at more than 40 locations in northern California and Nevada. Guests who arrive early for breakfast might glimpse the cooks slowly simmering beans, mashing avocados into guacamole, and preparing their signature ground beef with trans-fat-free oil. In addition to classic corn-tortilla tacos, the menu holds the mega-size flour-tortilla El Gordo, golden-fried taquitos, and even a taco burger that fuses Mexican and American culinary traditions.