The year 1927 saw Babe Ruth’s Yankees dominate pro baseball and the precursor to Big Louie's Bar and Grill—Main Street Tavern—open in Minneapolis. In addition to depicting athletes from that bygone era, the Big Louie’s menu catalogs an array of traditional American bar and grill fare. From boneless wings to fish ‘n’ chips, the cuisine roster has even more depth than the famed Yankees lineup of ’27. The restaurant further establishes its entertainment value by hosting karaoke and bingo and by not allowing recitations of real-estate-law books.
In 1960, James Welsch's grandfather purchased a then 56-year-old tavern, breathing new life to an old establishment and kicking off what would be a longstanding staple in the Arden Hills community, Three Welsch generations later, the eatery—now more than a century old—still dishes up a menu of comfort food ranging from housemade pizzas to open-faced meatloaf sandwiches. In addition to serving up drinks at the bar, the establishment regularly hosts live comedy events, including improv-style readings of the daily specials.
Mirage Bar and Grill divides its confines to house a restaurant, bar, and club for nights out on the town. Even the kitchen splits its menu between American, Mexican, and Vietnamese cuisines, with such dishes as tacos topped with mango salsa and burgers smothered in cheese. On select nights, the bar and club entertain guests with a live DJ spinning tunes,dancing, karaoke, and games of bingo so guests don't spend their evenings playing monotonous rounds of I Spy.
Wayfarers recline among plush furnishings and soothing décor while inhaling the pleasant vapors of The Hookah Hideout's 50 shisha flavors. Pack pipes with exotic tastes including strawberry, coconut, or chocolate mint before turning attention to action unfolding across the lounge’s myriad in-house board games. Split a single flavor between two people ($20), or call in a second hookah for a tasty combination ($25) and admire the room’s tastefully dimmed lighting or debate the etymological origins of the word “Yahtzee.” As patrons puff, the lounge’s wait staff ventures from table to table with menus of bottomless gourmet coffee ($4), and vending machines dispense hunger-busting snacks.
Steel Toe Brewery's founder was a home brewer, fermenting beer in his bedroom overnight, until the gurgling sounds of the carboy began to disturb his wife's sleep. Origin stories like these are just one of the attractions of Taproom Tours' brewery tours, which also explore the Belgian yeast of Boom Island Brewing, celebrate session ales at 612 Brew, and enable sud savoring in the wood-paneled taproom at Indeed Brewing Company. Visitors taste sample brews at each location, and, helped along by a knowledgeable guide, explore the breweries' inner workings until they have learned every yeast strain's first name and favorite sports team.
“Jedzcie pijcie i popuszczajcie pas.” For those who don’t speak Polish, the motto at Nye’s Polonaise Room may seem complex, but its translation is simple: “Eat, drink, and loosen your belt.” In fact, expansion has been the running theme at Nye’s since it set its roots back in the '40s. By 1964 Nye's original form, a bar, provided owner Al Nye with the funds necessary to purchase the space next door. Though he added a dining room, the bar's original features—gold-flecked booths, dark paneling, a curved piano bar, and a portrait of Chopin—remain, creating a vintage and homey feel.
Nye’s lengthy menu dishes up Polish classics, such as cabbage rolls and pierogi, as well as hearty 14-ounce new york strip steaks, cold-water lobster tail, and aged, bone-in, slow-roasted prime rib. Specialty martinis and the eatery’s inherent ambience make it a cozy place to talk, much like a candlelit phone booth. Nye’s also curates a full wine menu with pours from California, Spain, and Australia. All these ingredients come together to create a restaurant that's distinct and locally lauded, earning it a feature on Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.