Crowds gather on the dance floor as a rotating disco ball and colored spotlights fill the room with confetti-shaped rays of light. The Lodge of Robbinsdale keep its regulars entertained all week long with a diverse spread of events ranging from live music to trivia nights to wrestling matches hosted in the game room. The clack of billiards divides up the litany of play-by-play announcers calling games on high-definition TVs throughout the space and on an enormous projector screen that doubles as a sail in case the bar needs to move.
Servers weave through high-top tables, their arms lined with 10-ounce sirloin steaks and half-pound, charbroiled burgers made with both buffalo and all-beef patties. Sandwiches pack thin-sliced corned beef and hickory-smoked ham in heaping portions, and wings come coated in a variety of sauces, including buffalo bourbon and teriyaki.
At Sweet Taste of Italy, the secret’s not just in the sauce—although the restaurant has a specialty homemade red sauce—because everything is made from scratch each day. The chefs whip butter, grind cheese, bake fresh, sweet italian bread, and hand slice meats to create Italian favorites with an American twist. Customers can dine in or take out heaping helpings of pasta and Toyota-sized pizzas, and catering services are also available.
Chef Nong's culinary journey began in Bangkok at age 12, when she would procure supplies from the corner market and cook for her family. She spent her adolescence perfecting her mother and grandmother's recipes, and then gained extra practice when she started a family of her own.
At age 35, Nong decided it was time to share her culinary flair with members of other families. She progressed through restaurant jobs in Thailand and Malaysia before landing a gig in Minneapolis, where she earned her sriracha-soaked stripes by cooking at a number of area restaurants before opening her own eatery, Nong's Thai Cuisine.
In her own kitchen, Nong relies on her stockpile of inherited recipes to create a menu of authentic, homestyle Thai fare, which earned the eatery the distinction of Best Thai Restaurant 2010 from City Pages. Featured in Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, the "perfectly timed noodles" of the pad thai carry al dente firmness, and the "high quality" curries stimulate taste buds in a more refined manner than chili pepper stimulates the eye. Flavors of tamarind and papaya infuse salads and stir-fries, and crisp veggies top noodle dishes, all calibrated to customer-chosen levels of heat.
Granite City Food & Brewery, a casual family restaurant founded by hospitality experts, has an on-site brewery and a menu stuffed with more steak, seafood, pasta, flatbread pizza, burger, and sandwich options than Abe Lincoln had dollar bills stuffed in his top hat. Gourmet pub-grub appetizers and many other generously portioned dishes are listed alongside the beers that bring out their flavors. The intoxicating taste of the inebriated vodka mussels ($12.99) is suggested alongside Northern Light––a light creamy beer––and the juicy, tender meatiness of a 14-ounce New York strip ($25.99) is advised along with Brother Benedict’s bock––a brownish German-style lager. Others among Granite City Food & Brewery's six specialty brews are the Irish-style Broad Axe stout, known for its nose of roasted chocolate and coffee notes, and Duke Of Wellington, an IPA with muscle-bound malt character and a deep-seated dislike of Napoleon.
Cinema Grill captures all angles of entertainment in its three show rooms, from newer movie releases and live sporting events blasting on giant screens to a rotating cast of comedians lobbing laugh bombs as crowds feast on fare from the full-service restaurant and bar. While actors work their best angles on the screen, patrons can translate their dialogue into Esperanto or order from the menu, which is laden with entrees and suds from the local brewmasters at Surly. The theater converts into a satellite stadium when it broadcasts live sporting events, which gain lifelike clarity on its giant 30-foot high-definition screen.
The first IHOP?the dream of founders Al and Jerry Lapin?opened in 1958 in Toluca Lake, California, and was originally dubbed the International House of Pancakes. Since then, rapid expansion has led to myriad milestones across the company's colorful history, from introducing its modern IHOP acronym in 1973 to its 1,000th restaurant opening in Layton, Utah, in 2001.
Today, the company stands strong with around 1,500 locations across North and Central America, each one an enthusiastic dispenser of pancakes, french toast, and tables constructed entirely out of bacon. Though IHOP is known as a bastion of breakfast, it also stays open during the day and into the evening, delivering lunch and dinner as well.