The culinary team at Common Roots Cafe believes that the best way to create a welcoming restaurant is to fully embrace local flavor in every sense of the word. Even the interior speaks to this mission?reclaimed barn wood makes up the dining room's floorboards and tabletops, the counter is composed of recycled cardboard, and the air is one-hundred percent Minnesotan. The overall effect is one of casual warmth, an atmosphere that makes the cafe an ideal spot for guests to chew on eclectic, yet accessible, cuisine and relax with a choice of 10 local craft beers.
The menu itself also bursts with hometown pride, highlighting local organic and sustainable ingredients. As much as half of the restaurant's food comes from farms located within 250 miles of Minneapolis, while some produce is picked right outside the door at the cafe's urban garden. And since the selection of ingredients alters with the seasons, the chefs adapt their dishes each month to showcase their fresh flavors. Previous offerings have included redfish tacos with jicama slaw, mac 'n' cheese with local cheddar, and house-made tagliatelle pasta topped with a hearty bison bolognese sauce. Bites are complemented with sips from a drink list featuring wines?many made from organic grapes?and local beers. And, in the unlikely event that diners leave any food on their plates, the scraps are carefully composted to continue the cafe's green production cycle.
Chorizo, chihuahua cheese, lemongrass, and bamboo shoots are equally at home in Se?or Wong?s kitchen, where the executive chef fills the menu with Asian Mexican fusion plates. Tacos topped with barbacoa or smoky black beans join entrees such as szechwan steak stir-fry served with jasmine rice. Se?or Wong also pairs more traditional bar bites, such as what the Star Tribune thinks ?might be the best sweet potato fries in town,? with 18 draft craft beers from breweries such as Surly Brewing Co. and Summit Brewing Company. Vegan and vegetarian options are also available. Weekly special events such as trivia and karaoke further foster the laid-back pub vibe, as patrons can sample sakes or sing lullabies to the Paloma En Fuego cocktail, which mixes Hornitos Reposado tequila, serrano pepper, grapefruit soda, hopped grapefruit bitters, limeade, and smoked salt rim. Friday and Saturday nights also feature live music from various local musicians.
From its humble origins as a soda fountain in 1930s Saint Paul, Green Mill Restaurant and Bar has grown into a franchise with more than 28 locations all over Minnesota and the Midwest. As TV screens blast sports news in the background, patrons at each eatery dine on a menu of classic American and pizzeria fare. Thick, hand-pressed burgers form bunned towers with hefty toppings such as smoked bacon, haystack onions, and chipotle mayo. Families looking to bond can practice fractions on regular, deep-dish, or thin and crispy pizzas or group juggling acts with samplers of 27 juicy wings. In addition to pastas and salads, each location's bar carries a varied drink menu that includes draft beers such as Blue Moon and Samuel Adams alongside wine, martinis, and margaritas.
A tile on the floor inside Dubh Linh points the way to Dublin, warning that the journey is a long 4,657 miles. Despite that distance, locals needn’t travel at all to experience the energy of a real Irish pub. With house-brewed beers and tons of live entertainment, it’s not so hard imagine that just outside Dubh Linh’s doors lies its namesake city.
When creating the house’s beers, the brewmaster works in small batches, each of which makes about four to eight kegs’ worth of brew. To get your hands on a pint, you need only look to the wooden bar where each one resides. Spanning a variety of styles, the beers at any given time may include a citrusy double hop IPA, maple ale, a light peach radler, and a potato stout made from Idaho potatoes.
Alongside that labor of love, the kitchen plates a full menu of pub fare spiked with both Irish and local flavors. Fresh-smoked Lake Superior trout opens meals before diners move on to plates of tender corned beef and cabbage. Six unique wings platters require a choice between sauces such as Wexford buffalo and spicy garlic. Once stomachs are full, regular events keep the festivities going. Whether coming for trivia, free pool on game nights, or comedy shows, there’s something here for every taste.
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.
Since 1956, Dick's Bar & Grill's welcoming waitstaff and suds-wielding barkeeps have filled bellies with classic American fare and frosty on-tap brews while its patrons socialize over bingo and other activities. Dick's menu brims with savory pub fare, from house-made pizzas ($9.25+) to a breaded pork tenderloin ($6.95+). Wild Turkey bourbon buffalo wings ($7.50) strum twangy tones accompanied by a percussion section of cool blue cheese. Chefs sizzle half-pound beef patties, melt monterey jack and cheddar, and stack crisp bacon slices for the Real Billy burger, sweetened with smoky barbecue sauce ($9.25). Reminisce about the days of barrel-transportation and 30-piece-choir telegrams with a cold draft beer such as local brewer Schell's dark beer ($4.50), Leinenkugel's Honey Weiss ($3.95), or Killian's Irish Red ale ($3.95).