Chef Dennis Lewis of Ursula's Wine Bar & Cafe draws from his cornucopia of seasonal produce, sourced from local farmers, to craft his monthly changing menu. It’s a menu that has earned OpenTable Diners' Choice Awards for "Best Food" and "Best Overall" experience. In the kitchen, Chef Lewis chops greens from local producers, including Twin Pine Farm, Grandmas Bakery, and Pine Tree Apple Orchard, to toss with blueberry-balsamic vinaigrettes and curried, creamy coconut dressings. His monthly updated menu has included appetizers such as goat-cheese gratin with sun-dried tomatoes and spicy red-pepper hummus with warm flatbread. The kitchen team also prepares entrees that are seasonally inspired, like reindeer lawn ornaments and air-conditioner window decorations. An example of this seasonal food is the pork loin rubbed with ancho-chipotle chili and served with pumpkin mashed potatoes and bacon brown butter. The dining area accommodates 39 guests, meaning there are more than three times as many varieties of domestic and imported wines—150 to be exact—as there are guests at any given time. There’s also an outdoor patio, where wine flights can be sipped while plane flights sip the sky overhead.
Since 1986, 7th Street Tavern, formerly known as Champps Americana, has served up burgers and classic American dishes, satiating sports fans and families with a comfortable, welcoming atmosphere. Amid the sunlit dining room, diners at wooden tabletops have views of 25 TVs broadcasting sports games, competing with a cluster of arcade games for eyes' attention. Chefs cater to taste buds by plumping up pastas with chicken, shrimp, and vegetables and piling rolls with beef patties, barbecued pulled pork, and spicy buffalo chicken. Behind the bar, bartenders whip up specialty cocktails and margaritas and fill goblets with an expansive selection of draft beers and wine. The bar and grill draws guests with regular specials and events throughout the week, including daily happy hours, Thursday-night trivia, and Sunday brunch. Every Tuesday, the restaurant serves up free meals to children, as a magician saunters table to table, entertaining kids with tricks and balloon art, crafting replacement siblings on request.
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.
In 1960, James Welsch's grandfather purchased a then 56-year-old tavern, breathing new life to an old establishment and kicking off what would be a longstanding staple in the Arden Hills community, Three Welsch generations later, the eatery—now more than a century old—still dishes up a menu of comfort food ranging from housemade pizzas to open-faced meatloaf sandwiches. In addition to serving up drinks at the bar, the establishment regularly hosts live comedy events, including improv-style readings of the daily specials.
Steel Toe Brewery's founder was a home brewer, fermenting beer in his bedroom overnight, until the gurgling sounds of the carboy began to disturb his wife's sleep. Origin stories like these are just one of the attractions of Taproom Tours' brewery tours, which also explore the Belgian yeast of Boom Island Brewing, celebrate session ales at 612 Brew, and enable sud savoring in the wood-paneled taproom at Indeed Brewing Company. Visitors taste sample brews at each location, and, helped along by a knowledgeable guide, explore the breweries' inner workings until they have learned every yeast strain's first name and favorite sports team.
Jam Hops Gymnastics, Dance and Cheer was formed when The Gymnastics Factory of Ham Lake joined forces with Jam Hops of Mound View in 1997. At first, they focused only on recreational and competitive gymnastics. As the talent, energy, and location expanded, however, so too did the program—they began to include dance. The inertia then became harder to contain, leading to Jam Hops' cheer program, the "leap-n-learn" academic preschool program, and even birthday parties and day camps that have further integrated Jam Hops into the community. In 2013 alone, Jam Hops scored the "Reader's Choice Award" from the Anoka County Shopper and the "Family Choice Award" from Macaroni Kid
Despite expansions in locations and classes, Jam Hops maintains its original mission: to turn children into champions of life. Nurturing young talent, the enthusiastic staff—many of whom are CPR and First Aid Certified—boost the confidence of students in recreational and competitive gymnastics programs. They work with boys and girls ranging from preschool age to 12th grade, and have even shepherded teams to the Junior Olympics nationals. Instructors in the dance programs, meanwhile, teach adults, teens, and tykes as young as two the ins-and-outs of jazz, tap, hip-hop, and ballet styles. It's not all about gymnastics or dance, though—the staffers in charge of academic preschool classes instill physical fitness and learning excellence in kids ages 3–5.