When it comes to grilling meat, The Prairie Tap House's executive chef, Phil Dvorak, draws upon the traditions of Baltimore to craft pit meats, which he marinates for three days with a secret housemade spice recipe. Afterward, he slow-cooks each cut over an oak-fired grill, thinly slices it, and serves it on a locally baked Kaiser roll.
With this meticulous method, Dvorak sears 10 meats, including pork served with buttermilk slaw and beef served with crisp white onions and house made creamy horseradish sauce. The rest of The Prairie Tap House's menu sticks to more traditional pub food, albeit with an upscale twist, from Korean beef lettuce wraps to handmade pastas tossed with lobster, bacon, and creamy toasted-fennel sauce. Along with 30 wines, bartenders complement feasts with 35 draft beers and more than 50 brews doled out in bottles, cans, or a server's gloved hands cupped together.
When Maynard's Restaurant opened its first location on the shores of Lake Minnetonka in 1998, it was a melding of the nostalgic and the modern. Sure, it was an old-fashioned diner, but one that added a gourmet flair to its American casual cuisine done right. It features an approachable menu with generous portions and plenty of variety for those repeat visits, from a pot-roast French dip to a butternut squash ravioli swimming in cranberry cream sauce. In 2005, a second branch opened in Rogers with equally comforting ambience, swapping out the lakeside locale for a cabin-esque dining room lit by a roaring fireplace.
Hopkins Tavern gives customers plenty of reasons to stop in, offering 32 local, regional, and craft beers on tap and pub fare ranging from wings to cheese curds. But the staff knows how to keep patrons entertained as well as satiated. Along with daily happy hours, the tavern hosts birthday beer bash Fridays and bar bingo nights. Twins fans can look forward to watching each game live on the bar?s TVs alongside the affordable drink specials that flow during each live game.
Conversation at Mainstreet Bar & Grill moves in buzzing orbits around pool tables, live musicians, and big-screen and projection TVs broadcasting Minnesota Viking games. Banter slows to a halt as half-pound burgers and chicken sandwiches arrive with occasional adventurous twists, such as sliced pineapple or Cajun spices. Button-tufted red leather booths line one wall, where patrons chow down under railroad crossing signs and vintage soda signs. Thursday nights acoustic open mic shows let songwriters try out new songs when cover bands aren’t performing past hits or reading aloud from Elvis’s partially completed crossword puzzles.
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.