The year 1927 saw Babe Ruth’s Yankees dominate pro baseball and the precursor to Big Louie's Bar and Grill—Main Street Tavern—open in Minneapolis. In addition to depicting athletes from that bygone era, the Big Louie’s menu catalogs an array of traditional American bar and grill fare. From boneless wings to fish ‘n’ chips, the cuisine roster has even more depth than the famed Yankees lineup of ’27. The restaurant further establishes its entertainment value by hosting karaoke and bingo and by not allowing recitations of real-estate-law books.
More than 50 years go, Mike Ilitch was poised for major-league glory. An up-and-coming shortstop for the Detroit Tigers, his baseball finesse was blossoming when an injury derailed his sports career. But although the wound stunted his athletic aspirations, it steered him toward a new path, and on May 8, 1959, he and his wife opened the first Little Caesars location, a then-unheard-of carry-out-only joint. The career shift and novel technique eventually proved triumphant. Today, the pizzeria's iconic, toga-clad mascot adorns storefronts on five continents. In each shop, staffers forge the signature Hot-N-Ready pizza, a freshly baked pizza designed for instant pickup, and warm, garlicky Crazy bread. With a storied half-century under their belt, Mike Ilitch and his family strive to give back, supporting local organizations and creating their own charitable programs.
At Sweet Taste of Italy, the secret’s not just in the sauce—although the restaurant has a specialty homemade red sauce—because everything is made from scratch each day. The chefs whip butter, grind cheese, bake fresh, sweet italian bread, and hand slice meats to create Italian favorites with an American twist. Customers can dine in or take out heaping helpings of pasta and Toyota-sized pizzas, and catering services are also available.
In 1944, Reino Wuollet opened a small bakery where he prepared fresh bread each day. More than 65 years later, his humble shop has grown into six locations where 30 or so family members tinker over cakes, pastries, and pies. Wedding and other occasion cakes are one of their specialties; flavors such as chocolate mousse and Lady Baltimore can be coated with marzipan, buttercream frosting, or fondant in an impressive array of custom designs. Of course, they still bake breads: an international selection of loaves includes baguettes, challah, Swedish lympa, Irish soda bread, and buns shaped into busts of United Nations delegates.
Family owned since 1961, Broadway Pizza and its accompanying sports bar, the Eagle's Nest Lounge, serve fresh slices and their cool-brew counterparts in an atmosphere perfect for a family meal or a night out. Called the Best Pizza in Town by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Broadway's dough discs are topped with fresh ingredients that create such cheesy masterpieces as the Broadway Special ($10.49 for personal size) smattered with sausage, veggies, and shrimp. Scoffing at pizza's flat pool of lazily floating toppings, the house-baked lasagna ($9.99) reaches to the sky, buttressed by two pieces of crisp garlic toast, and the caesar salad ($8.99) provides a textural playground for vegivores.
Athens Cafe is old-school, and that's not just in reference to the counter service. No, in this sense "old-school" means one of the most ancient civilizations in the world. The chefs at this casual fast-food stop prepare traditional Greek food, slowly roasting and slicing lamb before piling it into warm pita bread. Don't fret about choosing from the list of chicken, lamb, and seasoned beef kebabs—they're all good, and they're all served with a side of creamy hummus and a house salad.