When the amusement value of people-watching starts to wear off, shoppers at the Mall of America can ascend to the fourth floor to Rick Bronson's House of Comedy for professionally dispensed laughs. In front of walls painted with off-kilter murals of the city skyline, nationally renowned comedians riff and banter on a thrust stage that makes it easy for audience members to offer hearty handshakes after each good joke. Meanwhile, guests munch pizza, burgers, and northern treats such as poutine and cheese curds. Past standup superstars include Norm MacDonald, Steve-O, Tom Green, and a who's-who of comics seen on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and The Late Show with David Letterman.
Poor Richard's Commonhouse whips up hearty platters of classic American pub grub and intrepid tumblers of signature cocktails against a cozy backdrop of exposed brick walls and hardwood floors. Oil rusty jaw hinges with starters such as the Samuel Adams lager mussels ($9.99), which bathes Prince Edward Island mussels in Sam Adams dijon-cream sauce, or the bison chili ($5.25/bowl), which couples locally raised, slow-roasted bison with fresh chilies, tomatoes, and spices, blanketed with pepper jack cheese and sour cream. The Colonial meatloaf ($13.99), dressed in a suit of bacon and anointed with an East Coast red glaze, blends Hereford beef and Compart Family Farms Premium Duroc ground pork with fresh herbs in a meal hearty enough to survive New England winters and tender enough to journal about it.
At Sam’s Grill, formerly known as Oak City, the menu's bounty of sizzling and hearty dishes reflects the best of American cuisine by incorporating a variety of our country's ever-present international influences. Though stir-fries and pastas abound, the Mediterranean is clearly the restaurant's greatest inspiration—dishes such as filet mignon kebobs and pizzas topped with gyro meat create a fusion of local and overseas flavors, and more traditional American dishes, such as the Cajun burger or baby back ribs keep palates firmly at home. Meanwhile, wine-savvy waiters educate clients on the wines available by the glass. Sam's Grill also adds a splash of nightlife to the mix by bringing in DJs with Thursday nights dedicated to Latin music and Friday and Saturday nights focusing on Top 40.
Since greasing its first lane in 1958, Lariat Lanes has spent the past half century serving its community with family-friendly bowling and entertainment. Located just a short distance from downtown Minneapolis, the pin-punishing emporium touts a lineup of 12 ultrasleek lanes that lend their surfaces to leagues, parties, and daily sessions of open bowling. Memorabilia adorns the alley's walls to create a timeline of storied collectibles, including keepsakes signed by the Rolling Stones, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, and the Beastie Boys. In between evading gutters and matchbox cars using the lanes as a drag strip, guests can refuel with hot dogs, wings, and nachos at the restaurant or sip sodas and beers in the bar, where local sports games illuminate TV screens.
On any given night, the crowd at McKracken’s might be gobbling up appetizers and pizza from the late-night menu, available until 1 a.m., and hanging out until the bar’s lights go dim an hour later. As regulars often stay late playing pool or watching sports on the room’s many flat-screen TVs, the pub’s proprietors team up with Last Call Car Service on Friday and Saturday nights to bring customers and their vehicles home safely for free within 10 miles of the pub.
On afternoons and evenings, bartenders pour top-shelf spirits, cocktails, and draft and bottled beers that complement McKracken’s regular menu of pub classics. Smoked pig wings come from the kitchen tossed in sauces such as habanero or mahogany, the tasty alternative to licking a coffee table, and six burgers offer protein options from veggie to pork shoulder. As groups chat during McKracken’s weekend breakfast or into the night, the remodeled space keeps them entertained with flat-screen TVs, pool tables, darts, and live music every Friday and Saturday night.
The shelves of Burnsville Ale House's kitchen are lined with secrets. Hand-formed Angus beef patties mixed with Guinness and a special blend of seasonings sizzle alongside meatloaf and pizza made from carefully guarded recipes, each allowing chefs to surprise and delight diners with every meal. Housemade cheese sauce canoodles with pasta in adult mac 'n' cheese, and subtly spiced mayo plays off the asian cucumbers in the chicken bahn mi sandwich. Less secret are the Ale House's other perks: karaoke, poker, and live-music nights entice guests for reasons other than the gourmet burgers, and an outdoor deck encourages the time-honored tradition of eating an entire pound of wings al fresco.