In her native Lebanon, Zakia mastered traditional Mediterranean recipes by preparing meals for her husband and seven children. After further refining her skills in another Minneapolis deli for more than 15 years, she finally opened her own shop in 2007.
Here, her pita sandwiches pack such tasty fixings as lentil and rice spreads or baked kibbe meat, both of which come crowned with Lebanese salad. Patrons can assemble their own sandwiches, too, with ingredients such as honey-wheat bread, pastrami, and chipotle spread. Zakia also showcases Lebanese specialties, including meatballs made from ground beef, parsley, and onion, not to mention plenty of vegan and gluten-free dishes. Everyday specialty entrees include favorites such as gyros and falafel plates, baked chicken, and kibbi, or baked meat squares culled from lean ground beef, cracked wheat, and savory onions.
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.
In the 1950s, Sam Perrella owned a small cafe in Minnesota's Iron Range, offering up the usual cafe fare of coffee and baked goods. But after hearing WWII soldiers' stories of Italian pizza and traveling to Chicago to taste the Windy City's version of the Italian pie, he and his wife created their own version. They morphed the cafe with Sammy's Pizza, moved it to a larger location, and watched the loyal customers roll in.
The iconic restaurant now boasts 16 locations in three states and the Five Four Lounge in Coon Rapids. But though it's a household name, it remains a family-run eatery with menu items culled from family recipes. Among them are chicken tetrazzini, three-cheese bacon caballero, and specialty pizzas. Favorites include Sammy's Special with Italian sausage, green pepper, and onions, or the Iron Ranger with kosher beef salami, pepperoni, and mozzarella cheese.
At Osaka Sushi and Hibachi Steakhouse, teppanyaki chefs preside over sweltering tableside hibachi grills, entertaining diners as they slice and dice succulent cuts of filet mignon, chicken, and swordfish. A customer can wrap a partner's lips around the hibachi lover's dinner for two, which lets scallops, shrimp, lobster, and filet mignon rendezvous on a romantically arranged platter that is perpetually serenaded by a thumb-size accordion player. Alternatively, a slate of dishes that comes to life away from the hibachi grill includes proteins slathered in teriyaki sauce, hidden in tempura batter, or mixed with stir-fried noodles. Special sushi rolls—such as the Dancing roll with tuna, salmon, and yellowtail—also cha-cha from table to mouth.
Owner Matt Scott was so proud of his preferred method of baking pizzas that he decided to include it in the name of his eatery: JR'S Stonebaked Pizza. He bakes each crust on a heated natural stone slab, following traditions from Italy. Breaking from tradition, however, he created a number of specialty crusts with barbecue and buffalo chicken, and happily customizes pizzas to customers? specifications. The build-your-own pizza menu, meanwhile, offers a thin or classic crust base, tomato, alfredo, and barbecue sauces, and 18 toppings ranging from hickory-smoked bacon to jalapenos. Patrons can pick up their baked pies or have them delivered to their doorstep.
Edible art—that’s how New Osaka views its cuisine. The restaurant’s chefs meticulously plate elegant sushi dishes, occasionally adding fun touches, such as using sauce to draw a palm tree on a white plate or a picture of Warren G. Harding bare-knuckle boxing Calvin Coolidge.
New Osaka’s design reflects this artistic mindset, too, with its modern décor and elevated dining area. Guests can sit there or, if they want to watch the chefs assemble their elegant creations, at the sushi bar. Nearby, a full-service bar dishes out imported and domestic beers, cocktails, and plum wine.