From its humble origins as a soda fountain in 1930s Saint Paul, Green Mill Restaurant and Bar has grown into a franchise with more than 28 locations all over Minnesota and the Midwest. As TV screens blast sports news in the background, patrons at each eatery dine on a menu of classic American and pizzeria fare. Thick, hand-pressed burgers form bunned towers with hefty toppings such as smoked bacon, haystack onions, and chipotle mayo. Families looking to bond can practice fractions on regular, deep-dish, or thin and crispy pizzas or group juggling acts with samplers of 27 juicy wings. In addition to pastas and salads, each location's bar carries a varied drink menu that includes draft beers such as Blue Moon and Samuel Adams alongside wine, martinis, and margaritas.
bd's Mongolian Grill combines do-it-yourself dining with the communal experience of collaboratively yanking out a giant radish that’s blocking the town's water supply. Guests can create their own stir-fry meal in one bowl for lunch ($7.99 for vegetarian, $8.99 for meat and seafood, $9.99 for stir-fry with soup and salad, and $12.99 for unlimited stir-fry with soup and salad) or dinner ($10.99 for vegetarian, $12.99 for meat and seafood, and $14.99 for unlimited stir-fry; all stir-fry dinners include complimentary access to the soup and salad bar). Choose from myriad meats, a variety of vegetables, a smorgasbord of sauces, and a slew of spices. Pair chicken with bean sprouts and pineapple in a stir-fry you'll deem the "Chicken with Bean Sprouts and Pineapple," or combine calamari with egg, peppers, peanut sauce, and chili powder for a meal you'll name after yourself—the "Peter Fonda." With ingredients assembled, guests will pass their stir-fry bowls on to bd's Mongolian Grill's expert grillers, who will give the appetizing assortment a trial by fire on the restaurant's large, flat grill. After the sustenance ceases to sizzle, diners are free to take their customized cuisine back to the table, where they can determine their prowess in patchworking together palate-pleasers and inflating their own egos with compliments to themselves.
Originally opened as the Top Hat Drive-In in 1953, Sonic has grown into a burger-franchise mecca that today operates out of 3,500 locations across the country, making it the nation’s largest chain of drive-in restaurants. Sonic specializes in made-to-order American classics—including burgers, hot dogs, milk shakes, and marshmallow Ford Thunderbolts—which customers order and receive without ever having to leave their cars. Unique menu items include toaster sandwiches stacked on thick slices of texas toast, as well as the brand’s signature tots and fresh limeades.
Sonic’s numerous awards include a 2011 Zagat survey ranking it among the top five fast-food restaurants in three categories: Best Value Menu, Best Milk Shake, and Best Drive-Thru. The benevolent eatery has also donated more than $2 million to public schools throughout the country through their program Limeades for Learning, which helps to fund educational projects and retirement plans for classroom guinea pigs.
Chez Daniel executive chef Wilver Sanchez interprets the cuisine of France with an eye for artful presentation, simple and fresh ingredients, and a creative sensibility. Attentive servers welcome diners with appetizing small plates, covering nude tables with plump escargot baked in garlic butter and house-smoked salmon toast. Lobster ravioli is tossed with sautéed mushrooms before making a dazzling midmeal entrance in a mantle of roasted artichokes and lobster-tarragon sauce, while filet mignon is served with potatoes and a classic béarnaise sauce. During lunch, a more casual midday menu features sandwiches such as an open-faced beef-tenderloin sandwich with cambozola-cheese fondue, and plates heaped with chicken fettuccine. Chez Daniel also features a list of weekly specials. The dining room's exposed-brick, lofty archways, and elaborately adorned tables entice customers with an atmosphere as elegant as a tablecloth woven from Charlemagne’s beard.
Bloomington ChopHouse’s dinner menu of fresh seafoody and steaky sustenance satisfies the choosiest carnivores. Explore hors d’oeuvres with a swanky shrimp cocktail ($14) or some portobellos and shiitakes with balsamic vinegar and micro greens ($9). Post appetite whetting, intake a lobster bisque (with aged sherry and tarragon, $8) or scarf the Wedge ($7), a ChopHouse salad of iceberg lettuce with tomatoes, chives, and eggs and topped with buttermilk-roquefort dressing. Move on to meat with an 18 oz. rib-eye steak ($38), a 16 oz. Berkshire pork chop ($28), or the sautéed sea bass with sun-dried tomato and basil pesto ($32). ChopHouse also has an ample list of grapey gladness to unclog any mouth drain.
Whether it's simmered with succulent pieces of char-broiled steak, deep-fried pork chops, or perhaps even lightly seasoned lengua—Spanish for beef tongue—the meat stew known as guisado is a savory way to warm up on blustery winter night. At La Mixteca, chefs create a dozen varieties of guisado, along with more familiar Mexican favorites, such as burritos, tacos, and gorditos. The eatery is also known for its fresh fish entrees, such as shrimp soup spritzed with lime or fried tilapia.