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.
The "Thunder" in Thunder Valley Bar & Grill is a reference to the sound of roaring engines just outside the bar's door, where bikers park their hogs before heading inside for a platter of homemade fried chicken or a whopping half-pound juicy lucy. These guys can't be satisfied with just a hamburger patty stuffed with cheese, so Thunder Valley fills its famed Ninja Lucy with jalapeños before topping it off with a spicy inferno sauce. The only thing that can distract them from the delicious food and cold beers is the bar's live entertainment, which ranges from trivia nights to broadcasts of the local moto-rugby team, the Minnesota Motorboyz.
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.