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.
Even on a cold wintry day, the staff at FreeStyle Yogurt will always choose frozen yogurt for dessert or a snack. That's because their yogurt is made with live and active cultures and may help boost the immune system, unlike some other frozen yogurts made from a powdered mix. To add to the health benefits, FreeStyle's 14 flavors include no-sugar-added varieties and non-dairy sorbets. A self-service set-up lets customers pick and choose from 50 toppings such as fresh fruit, granola, and boba.
From its humble origins as a soda fountain in 1930s Saint Paul, Green Mill Restaurant and Bar has grown into a franchise with more than 28 locations all over Minnesota and the Midwest. As TV screens blast sports news in the background, patrons at each eatery dine on a menu of classic American and pizzeria fare. Thick, hand-pressed burgers form bunned towers with hefty toppings such as smoked bacon, haystack onions, and chipotle mayo. Families looking to bond can practice fractions on regular, deep-dish, or thin and crispy pizzas or group juggling acts with samplers of 27 juicy wings. In addition to pastas and salads, each location's bar carries a varied drink menu that includes draft beers such as Blue Moon and Samuel Adams alongside wine, martinis, and margaritas.
After spending seven seasons with the North Stars, Tom McCarthy finished his NHL career in Boston, but still he couldn't shake his Minnesota roots. In 1991, he transformed an old St. Paul gas station into a full-fledged fish shack. Since taking over the operation, Dan and Tom Flanagan have grown Mac's—the namesake remains—into a restaurant named one of the five best locales for fish and chips by CBS Minnesota, serving hand-battered cuts of fried cod, walleye, and halibut with baskets of hand-cut fries. As plastic lights shaped like walleye hang over the outdoor patio, cooks accompany the meals with sides such as coleslaw, cheese curds, and homemade bites of salt-water taffy, Poseidon's favorite adhesive.
Since opening the doors of St. Paul Bagelry & Deli in 2007, sisters and co-owners Dodie Green and Peggy Teed have aspired to improve the lives of their customers with New York–style bagels, frothy smoothies, and freshly roasted coffee. Staffers also dole out stacked sandwiches during breakfast and lunch with piping hot cups of coffee and foamy lattes. For morning meetings and group get-togethers, catering trays can be delivered to your door piled high with scones, bagels, and an audio tape of a rooster crowing.
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.