Typically, the only time a public bar is lit like a cozy living room is when patrons bring chandeliers with them. But at Jake's City Grille's Plymouth location, homey lamps illuminate a wooden bar, which competes with the elegance of the fireplace inside Eden Prairie’s dining room. Red umbrellas, meanwhile, keep the sun in check on Maplewood’s outdoor patio. Each location cultivates its own one-of-a-kind ambience, such as the warmly lit interior of Eagan’s space and the rustic feel of Gull Lake’s confines. These finely tuned atmospheres create a welcoming place to enjoy seared Ahi tuna, marinated chicken breast sandwiches, and cowboy ribeye steaks so fresh they still have the lasso on them.
Sushi of Tokyo may actually be located in Plymouth, but nobody is doubting where the restaurant finds its inspiration. Japanese chefs masterfully incorporate raw ingredients such as surf clam, smelt roe, and squid into their nigiri and sashimi. It doesn’t matter that their kitchen is conspicuously lacking in smoke and flames—not when their California rolls taste so good with crunchy cucumbers, imitation crab meat, and sides of salty Pacific Ocean water. Though much of the food is uncooked, the chefs supply ample heat with their spicy lobster salad and udon noodle soups brimming with chicken, veggies, or seafood.
After immigrating to the United States at age 20, Greece native Dino Adamidis cut his teeth in the restaurant industry as an employee at his sister’s steakhouse. He enjoyed the work, but still aspired to own his own business, a dream he carried with him from Greece. In 1982, he and his wife Vona decided to pursue that dream by opening a small white and blue stand at a local art fair where they sold gyros to spectators, often cinching a sale with free meat samples, saying, “We knew if the people would try it they would love it.” Love it they did, but it wasn’t until 1986—four years and several food stands down the road—that the couple opened the first freestanding Dino’s Gyros with only eight booths and a single particle accelerator.
Today, Dino’s is run by the two oldest children and serves quick Greek and Mediterranean cuisine from six locations. The menu still highlights the classic gyro, often with innovative twists, such as the Greek Philly, a gyro-meat mound sautéed with onions, green peppers, and swiss cheese. Catering services offer the same delicious fare as box lunches, family-style buffets, or busts carved from gyro meat.
Presiding over table-side hibachi grills, the chefs at Kobe Japanese Restaurant flip eggs into the air and catch them on the edge of their spatulas. Dramatic culinary displays are performed throughout the restaurant: at the sushi bar, diners watch as cuts of fresh seafood are rolled and arranged into sushi and sashimi. Out of sight, the kitchen staff artistically plates each dish atop bowls and platters nearly as beautiful as the fish and steak they support.
Bartenders shake and stir cocktails that draw their power from fresh juices, or pour Japanese beer, wines, and sake. Even in its quietest moments, Kobe dazzles diners with its booths upholstered with genuine Godzilla leather and whimsical glass lamps, delicate upside-down umbrellas, and giant paper koi that all dangle from the ceiling.
Peru's heritage of Spanish, indigenous, and Asian culinary traditions shines through at Uchu Peruvian Cuisine. The menu lists four different types of Peru's most famous dish, ceviche, made from raw fish marinated in lime juice, cilantro, and onions and served with yams and corn. The restaurant’s seafood comes in many forms, from mussels covered in tangy tomato sauce to fish filet atop seasoned rice and beans. Peru’s style of grilled cuisine, called criolla is represented in dishes such as shredded chicken in parmesan, and short ribs cooked in cilantro sauce. Uchu's chefs prepare each dish in full view of the expansive dining room, which is decorated with traditional Peruvian art.
When Travis Dickey opened the first Dickey’s Barbecue Pit in 1941, the menu offered beef brisket, pit hams, barbecue beans, potato chips, drinks, and that’s all. By focusing on perfecting the flavors of a few dishes, Travis was able to increase quality, and, ultimately, customers. Patrons were so enamored of the food that the restaurant eventually expanded into a nationwide franchise, allowing Americans all over to wear badges made of barbecue sauce. Over the past 70 years, Dickey’s has been passed on to Travis’s sons, but not much else has changed—the quality meats are still seasoned and smoked on site, and except for the addition of spicy cheddar sausage in 2011, the menu remains the same. Regional meats ensure that the most succulent Texas-style chopped beef brisket, old-recipe polish sausage, and fall-off-the-bone pork ribs make it to tabletops. Sides such as mac 'n' cheese and green beans with bacon continue to enhance feasts with an extra punch of homestyle tastiness. Each meal comes complete with complimentary ice cream, soft rolls, and dill pickles.
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.