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.
Since 1986, Champps Americana's kitchen has sizzled with 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.
Like all world-class competitors, the chefs at Pizza Champions know that you get back what you give. That’s why they craft each of their pizzas using dough and sauce that is made each day entirely from scratch. After a generous sprinkling of 100% real mozzarella cheese, they top each golden ring with fresh toppings ranging from traditional sausage and pepperoni to spicy banana peppers or sweet chunks of pineapple. For those who have trouble choosing, a list of six specialty pizzas offers up preapproved flavor combinations, including an alfredo pizza with grilled chicken and white sauce, and the Champion’s Special, which arrives with three kinds of meat, five types of veggies, extra cheese, and a commemorative Wheaties box.
On Memorial Day weekend, the Laff Boat casts off from its dock in Hudson, carrying a full cargo of passengers down the St. Croix River as they warm up their chuckle muscles for national headlining comedian Scott Hansen. The five-time Minnesota Comedian of the Year has appeared on HBO, Showtime, and A&E, and in concert with Jay Leno and Jerry Seinfeld, inciting laughter and lifting audience spirits without spiking their drinks with helium. On the stage, he casually shares his often politically incorrect views and hatred for cats, at times slipping into a full Minnesotan accent for effect. A portion of the night's proceeds will be donated to a charity that aids disabled Minnesotan veterans.
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.
Taj Indian Grill’s menu is brimming with classic Indian dishes, but it leaves room for Pan-Asian favorites such as Thai green curry ($8 with chicken) and sweet-and-sour chicken ($7). Start with an appetizer such as samosa, triangles of crust stuffed with spiced veggies or chicken (two pieces, $4), before selecting a main mouthful such as tender lamb rogan josh ($11). For a romantic or gigantic meal, there’s the tandoori platter for two ($27), a plate piled high with chicken tikka, tandoori chicken, lamb tikka, steak tikka, shrimp, rice, and cilantro naan bread. Complement your plate with a potable pairing of beer, wine, or Indian tea or coffee.