Snuffy's Malt Shop is like stepping into the 1950s: there's a red-and-white candy stripe motif, and the chocolate malts get poured into tall glasses. The sweet scoops of nostalgia come courtesy of founder Mike Mueller. In the early eighties, he found himself pining for the evenings of his youth spent at drive-ins and diners, a malt in one hand and cheeseburger in the other. In 1983, he opened Snuffy's Malt Shop in tribute. Cooks here grill up cheeseburgers and hotdogs and serve them up alongside classic treats: floats, phosphates, sundaes and, of course, malts.
With 2013 marking their 30th anniversary, Snuffy's has added a few updated menu items. They now make their famed burgers with bison or veggie patties, and malts come in inventive flavors such as Snuffy Colada. These particular takes on the good old days are now found at four locations, spread evenly across Twin Cities neighborhoods like chili over cheese fries.
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.
Aji Japanese Restaurant has garnered praise from the local Hopkins Patch and Lakeshore Weekly News for its menu of colorful sushi rolls and hibachi-seared meats. Artful presentation underscores each concoction—rolls proudly bearing ruby-colored crowns of tobiko or sweet drizzles of eel sauce and hefty steaks and pan-seared seafood sizzling beneath bouquets of leafy garnishes. Imported Japanese beer and sake unite sushi with the flavors for which it was meant, much in the way milk complements cookies or peanut butter complements its secret soulmate, actual butter.
Inside the dining room, white dinnerware contrasts against rich wooden tables. Overhead, carved crimson lanterns dangle from the tin ceiling and golden bulbs illuminate delectable morsels and the gold-plated chopsticks of diners looking to impress their dates. During the warmer months, an outdoor patio mixes meals with fresh breezes.
Lone Spur’s menu offers a massive selection of tasty eats known to spark spontaneous “Yeehaws” and unprintable Deadwood quotes from dining city slickers. Master cooks harness a slow-cooking heat to ensure that each brisket emerges from the pit 14 hours later in a delicious smoky cloud that won't try to kill you like the monster from your favorite island program. After a lunch of sandwiches and ol’ Mexico bites such as the buffalo burger ($9.50), brisket melt ($7.95), and lunch taco burrito ($7.75), you can ride back through town for some dinner barbecue (any two meats, $12.95; any three meats, $15.95), which includes Texas toast; a choice of cole slaw, potato salad, or soup; and a choice of seasoned steak fries, ranch house beans, cornbread, or baked potato with your beef, pork, or poultry order. If you still miss the danger of high noon shoot-outs, Lone Spur offers a chili so hot it requires a signed release before consumption. And if you can't take the heat, try the smoked sautéed pork barbecue ($11.45, Texas size $13.95) or three pounds of turkey leg ($12.95) instead. For dessert, dive into a hot fudge brownie stampede ($4.99) or Texas saucy banana ($4.99), just like real cowboys did before they settled in for a night of pillow fights and painting each other's nails.