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.
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.
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.
Grumpy's Bar & Grill sates patrons with a menu of hearty burgers and sandwiches and quenches quaffers with 34 beers on tap. Friends, couples, or bitter, bitter rivals put bitter, bitter rivalries aside over two Fatty Melts—culinary colossi weighed down with a half-pound, black Angus burger peppered with sautéed onions and wedged between two grilled-cheese sandwiches. Both melts come with fries and a Surly Furious ale, a hoppy explosion with hints of citrus, pine, and caramel toffee.
Café Zia stocks its locally sourced menu with fresh fodder from the surrounding area's food crafters and baking artisans. Choose from a bevy of sammy stuffers to build your own sandwich ($6.50), or pretend to be a Roman statesman by noshing on the caesar salad—sprinkled with rosemary focaccia croutons ($7)—or commissioning a marble bust of yourself. During breakfast, patrons can watch the rising photosynthesis synthesizer while chowing down on an inside-out english muffin with black forest ham, eggs, and fontina cheese ($3.50) or the french toast sandwich with eggs, cheddar, and sausage ($3.75).
There isn't anything fancy about the sandwiches at Maverick's Real Roast Beef Restaurant—and that's the way they're supposed to be. Mpls. St.Paul Magazine praised the deceptive simplicity of the eatery's signature sandwich, saying that it "will ruin you for any other roast beef sandwich." In addition to creating open-faced sandwiches loaded with mashed potatoes and gravy, the kitchen also assembles more traditional options with pulled pork, turkey, or tuna salad. Milkshakes come in 14 flavors and various side dishes—including potato salad and cole slaw—round out the menu's selection of classic, down-home comfort foods that are great for eating on a plate and not catching with your mouth.