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.
Scott Hansen's Comedy Gallery splits sides with stand-up comedy performances served up alongside full dinners. Take a seat at Welsch’s Big Ten Tavern at 8 p.m. to enjoy a quarter-chicken dinner, served with soup or salad, and the choice of a baked potato, au gratins, garlic mashed potatoes, wild rice, steamed vegetables, or a side of already-primed smiles. At 9 p.m., the laughs begin as that evening’s comic takes the stage. On September 9 and 10, veteran Minneapolis comic Jodie Maruska relates hilarious hijinks about life, family, and body acceptance. On September 16 and 17, Eugene Meaux presents a menagerie of relatable characters from daily life in a fun, friendly, and real performance. On September 24, laugh along with comedian Jim Wiggins, who has tickled audiences on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, in a performance that harkens back to the witty styles of comedians like George Carlin and Thomas Edison.
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.
In 1971, brothers Bill, Jim, and Tony Nicklow opened their first restaurant, naming it the Shorewood Inn. The eatery prospered for decades thanks to a clear view of Moore Lake and a collection of Greek recipes handed down through the family. In 2005, though, Jim Nicklow retired, leasing the lakeside property to another restaurant. When the building became available again in 2009, Jim came out of retirement to revitalize the old family business.
At the revamped location, chefs roast gyro meat on a vertical spit for tzatziki-sauced sandwiches or mediterranean pizzas decorated with feta cheese and sun-dried tomatoes. Traditional American favorites, such as barbecue ribs, offer edible comfort to diners on strict teddy-bear-free diets. On Sunday, diners put together custom feasts at a brunch buffet with an omelet station and a bloody-mary bar. Shorewood Bar & Grill dispenses culture in addition to cuisine with a schedule of live music, and an outdoor patio is available for al fresco dining.