Smashburger isn't just the name?it's the way chefs, otherwise known as Burger Smashers, cook every burger. First, they form never-frozen, 100% Certified Angus Beef into a giant meatball. Then they season it, place it on a butter-glazed grill, and smash it into a patty. The process caramelizes the beef, locking in flavor while keeping the meat juicy and tender. Each slab is then sandwiched in an artisan bun and is turned into one of an array of standard burgers or locally inspired specialties unique to each market.
This handcrafting approach typifies everything else the restaurant does, from blending handspun shakes to hand painting Smashburger's logo onto every beverage cup. Letting its food stand for itself and relying mostly on word of mouth for advertising, the Smashburger franchise expanded from one restaurant in 2007 to 220 today, with its swift growth from zero to 100 stores making it one of the nation's fastest-growing restaurant companies. This rapid development even caught the attention of Forbes and Inc. along the way.
Successful restaurateur Supenn Harrison made her first foray into the restaurant business more than 30 years ago, when she bought a burger joint in the Twin Cities. For Supenn, slinging patties wasn't enough to satisfy her love of the culinary arts; the Thailand native and former teacher quickly traded deep fryers for woks and opened her first Thai restaurant.
She eventually launched the first Sawatdee in 1983 in an abandoned warehouse, transforming the unlikely setting into something you might see in the heart of Bangkok, with gold-leaf ceilings and traditional artwork. Now, Supenn owns seven Sawatdee restaurants throughout Minnesota and has expanded the menu to include sushi dishes. Besides sharing her culinary skills through hands-on cooking classes, Supenn has disseminated her authentic Thai fare by catering birthday celebrations, family reunions, and the Rolling Stones' anti-retirement party.
Pasta Zola is a locally owned business to its core. Founders Mitch and Kris Thayer have lived, worked, and dined in the western suburbs of Minneapolis for decades. They decided to put their experiences to the test by building a business from the ground up, and in the process, they've established a place where visitors can do some building of their own, too.
Pasta Zola, found inside the Eden Prairie Center food court, lets diners customize their pasta dishes. They choose from six different types of pasta, such as rigatoni and whole-wheat penne, before picking from 10 kinds of sauce, such as creamy alfredo or roasted red pepper. Then, instead of shipping uncooked dishes across the globe through an outsourcing program, Pasta Zola has its chefs prepare creations right on the spot. They'll even add extra goodies, including veggies and meats, upon request.
Sever’s Corn Maze isn’t just a cornfield with some paths cut into it. It’s a full-scale celebration of the autumn season, combining traditional harvest activities and treats with bounce pillows, petting zoos, and magic shows. The farm welcomes in guests from mid-September through the end of October, inviting them to share in the fun of picking their own pumpkin, biting into a crisp caramel apple, or finding all of the checkpoints in a themed maze without running into the centaur scarecrow. The Severs offer enough activities to keep families busy all day, including seeing which little piglet will win the derby race. Knowing that guests can work up an appetite between all their activities, the Severs offer a range of autumn goodies including brats, kettle corn, cheese curds, and steaming mugs of hot cocoa and cider.
Crumb Gourmet Deli—like a kindergarten chemist stirring together wheat flour, linseed oil, and red ink to make his own finger paint—uses only the freshest ingredients. The deli's culinary constructors use top-notch fixings to create the restaurant's soups, salad dressings, and sauces, with all cuts of meat slow-roasted and slow-danced without nitrates or artificial additives. Customers can order from Crumb Gourmet Deli's selection of hot and cold sandwiches ($5.95–$6.95) or build their own bread-bookended creation ($6.95) and give it a wacky, creative name such as "The Oven-Roasted Turkey with Light Mayo, Dijon Mustard, American Cheese, and Romaine on Multi-Grain Bread" or the "The Burton Gilliam." Crumb Gourmet Deli also wields wraps, slings salads, serves soups, and confers combinations of sandwiches, soups, and salads. Adults who have accidentally swapped bodies with kindergartners and vice versa can opt for a healthy item from Crumb Gourmet Deli's kids' menu, which offers milk or a fountain drink and fresh fruit or chips with each order.
When Travis Dickey opened the first Dickey’s Barbecue Pit in 1941, the menu offered beef brisket, pit hams, barbecue beans, potato chips, drinks, and that’s all. By focusing on perfecting the flavors of a few dishes, Travis was able to increase quality, and, ultimately, customers. Patrons were so enamored of the food that the restaurant eventually expanded into a nationwide franchise, allowing Americans all over to wear badges made of barbecue sauce. Over the past 70 years, Dickey’s has been passed on to Travis’s sons, but not much else has changed—the quality meats are still seasoned and smoked on site, and except for the addition of spicy cheddar sausage in 2011, the menu remains the same. Regional meats ensure that the most succulent Texas-style chopped beef brisket, old-recipe polish sausage, and fall-off-the-bone pork ribs make it to tabletops. Sides such as mac 'n' cheese and green beans with bacon continue to enhance feasts with an extra punch of homestyle tastiness. Each meal comes complete with complimentary ice cream, soft rolls, and dill pickles.