At the eatery's belly, a behemoth stone fireplace lavishes tables with a warm glow that illuminates all the eclectic decor nearby. Eyes can scan diverse adornments ranging from mounted portraits and sports paraphernalia to several flat-screen TVs broadcasting the latest game. Atop glistening tabletops, forks globetrot across international fare such as Italian pizzas and thai wraps. If pairing wine's not your bag, a neighboring blackboard lists all the night's available draft and bottled brews.
Fireside also enthusiastically hosts private banquets within a full-size log cabin dubbed The Warming House. With its spacious interior and high ceilings, The Warming House can accommodate up to 52 guests for sit-down service, 70 for a mingling reception, or 150 for a contortionist convention.
“Pit beef is Baltimore's version of barbecue: beef grilled crusty on the outside, rare and juicy inside and heaped high on a sandwich,” food writer Steven Raichlen explained in the New York Times. “Several things make it distinctive in the realm of American barbecue.” At The Valley Tap House, chefs create the unique delicacy by rubbing pork or beef with a special mix of spices, letting the flavors absorb for three days before grilling the slabs in a custom pit to achieve a charred outside and a tender interior. The meat is thinly sliced and served on kaiser rolls, as is traditional in the neighborhoods of East Baltimore. Additions such as peanut sauce, cilantro, or avocado apply exotic appeal like a lawyer using a fake Swedish accent to win over a jury.
Vegetarians can get in on the grilling action with black-bean-mushroom veggie burgers, made in-house and slathered with charred-jalapeño aioli. Toasting pint glasses make a jangling chorus as they spill rivulets of 30 draft brews, which have included Deschutes organic red ale. On weekends, servers carry out dishes of biscuits and chopped pit-beef hash with eggs, sirloin gravy, and toast.
Legend has it Deano and Eddie Panino worked for a family in the Bronx that may have been connected to the mob. Wanting to transition into a business where the only danger of sleeping with the fishes was falling asleep next to a tuna melt, the two opened a sandwich shop. Inspired by pizza and traditional Italian sandwiches, the brothers combined the two into their version of a panino—a sandwich made on flatbread that is baked and then rolled up. The fillings are endless, ranging from hot dogs and chili in the Chicago Overcoat to chicken, three cheeses, and dressing in the Caesar Cardini. Panino Brothers also serves burgers, pizza, wings, and steak.
But diners don't just congregate at the restaurant for the food; the welcoming atmosphere also draws them in. An electronics showroom worth of flat-screen TVs hang on the walls, and there are several Golden Tee machines. Guests can even push a few tables together to play poker. And happy-hour specials run for much of the day and late night, including 2 to 6 p.m. and 9 to close.
Located inside the Apple Place Bowl entertainment center, the casual Bogart's Place pub also offers entertainment of its own. The bar's cheery environs host weekly events ranging from Thursday-night team pub trivia to Double Ditty's, a live dueling piano show where the competitors must walk their pianos 10 paces before playing. To keep visitors fueled, the pub's menu spans from casual plates such as chicken wings and cheese curds to signature sandwiches such as the Look Out burger—a half-pound beef patty topped with ham and cheese. Bartenders pair these dishes with a range of beers and top-shelf liquors. And in warmer weather, the aromas of cooking and the sounds of revelry waft onto a newly-remodeled outdoor patio.
After years in the restaurant business, Ramon and Armando Ruiz were ready for a change. Tired of the gimmicky marketing that characterizes many Italian franchises, they joined with Ramon’s son Enrique to open Andiamo Italian Ristorante—an intimate, neighborhood joint that emphasizes the family orientation of Italian culture. “We don’t want to say this is who we are, deal," Enrique told Eagan Patch. "We want to build relationships with our customers and encourage and welcome feedback.” To that end, their menu of mostly Italian entrees, pastas, and pizzas also includes nontraditional cuisine such as walleye fillets and burgers. The dining room’s decor remains 100% Italian. A mural of rustic wine barrels sweeps across warm orange walls, and a tricolor sign glows above its outdoor patio. Ruiz and his staff also venture beyond the restaurant’s confines to cater various events.
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.