Lewis Walter "Lindey" Lindemer spent years trying to find a Minnesota restaurateur who would serve his steaks. And when he finally found one who said yes in 1958, he was only allowed to set up shop in the St. Paul restaurant's basement. It was no matter, because even from that subterranean dining room, word about his delicious steaks spread quickly, and within a few years he was putting a deposit down on his very own restaurant.
Lindey's Prime Steak House opened in the spring of 1961 in Arden Hills, with their menu that, to this day, remains refreshingly simple. At dinner, there are only four options: Lindey's special sirloin, prime sirloin, broiled shrimp, or prime chopped sirloin. Though Lindey's sons now prepare each steak, they use the exact same recipe their father crafted more than a half-century ago. The decor is similarly vintage?the dining room resembles a mid-century cabin with knotted-cedar paneling, and a stone fireplace.
Along with the end of Prohibition, 1933 brought sweeping changes across the country. It definitely changed the building at 1928 University Avenue NE in Minneapolis, which had been functioning as a hardware and furniture store for nearly a quarter-century. Proprietor Stanley Kozlak immediately went out and obtained a liquor license, transforming his retail shop into a bar and restaurant.
It would prove to be a smart decision?more than 80 years and two generations of Kozlaks later, Jax Cafe stands as a Minneapolis institution whose reputation has spread throughout the Midwest. This is thanks in part to singular touches such as reserved tables set with personalized matchbooks for expected guests and a stream on the lush covered patio from which diners can net their own rainbow trout for dinner. It?s no wonder Travel Channel foodie Andrew Zimmern has gushed that this restaurant is ?dripping with character.?
Part of that character comes from a certain adherence to traditions. Jax is furnished with patterned carpet, white linens, a grand piano, and a phone booth?yes, a phone booth?and the menu has the classic supper-club meals to match. Fresh Maine lobsters are kept in a saltwater tank said to be the first of its kind in the state, and the selection of award-winning Angus beef includes an 8-ounce filet the restaurant calls ?the steak that made Jax famous.? That?s not to say Jax is stuffy or old-fashioned?the menu also includes beer-can chicken, kids' meals, and craft beers served fresh from the tap, bottle, or keg-sized water balloon.
Presiding over table-side hibachi grills, the chefs at Kobe Restaurant flip eggs into the air and catch them on the edge of their spatulas. Dramatic culinary displays are performed throughout the restaurant: at the sushi bar, diners watch as cuts of fresh seafood are rolled and arranged into sushi and sashimi. Out of sight, the kitchen staff artistically plates each dish atop bowls and platters nearly as beautiful as the fish and steak they support.
Bartenders shake and stir cocktails that draw their power from fresh juices, or pour Japanese beer, wines, and sake. Even in its quietest moments, Kobe dazzles diners with its booths upholstered with genuine Godzilla leather and whimsical glass lamps, delicate upside-down umbrellas, and giant paper koi that all dangle from the ceiling.
The Monster Club Crawl unites costumed carousers for seven hours of food and drink specials, costume contests, and spirits sampling, providing VIP access to revelry at 10 of the spookiest bars and nightclubs in Minneapolis. With the Monster Crawl pass, patrons can begin the eerie evening with specialty starting-point events including the Monster Poker Tournament at Whisky Park (starting at 6 p.m.), or Roller Crawlers at Gay 90's. Elixir Lounge primes partygoers with $3 Michelob Golden Lite bottles in anticipation for the open crawl (starting at 10 p.m.) to bars including Ugly Mug, known for spine tingles of the sporting variety, and Aqua, which hosts a dance floor bathed in incandescent lighting and surrounded by pillars that never seem to blink. Nightclubs Bar Fly and Seven corral paranormal partiers during the closing crawl (12 a.m.), inviting patrons to unwind at a candlelit table or strut their stuff until 2 a.m., when all dance floors turn back into shuffleboard courts.
Harry's Food and Cocktails recently coronated Ryan Stechschulte as its new chef after he proved the only applicant capable of pulling the chef's knife from its enchanted cutlery block (in accordance with the prophecy). Ryan's updated menu features an eclectic selection of steaks, chops, seafood, burgers, and more. Start with an order of poutine (house-cut french fries topped with cheese curds, pickles, and onion gravy, $9.95) or opt for a more continental beginning with an order of mussels sautéed in white wine ($10.95) or grilled asparagus ($8.95) drizzled with truffle oil, crowned with parmesan, and served with a soft-boiled egg. Lunchtimers can savor the gooey barbecue pork, pepper-jack cheese, and jalapeño-relish-covered cowboy burger ($14.95) made from Angus chuck or impress the Bavarian polka virtuoso of their dreams by ordering a liverwurst sandwich ($9.95). The beef stroganoff with roasted mushrooms and crème fraîche ($15.95) and the seared duck breast ($22.95) with potato dumplings and wilted greens will quell carnivorous cravings, and aquaphiles will find much to love in the red snapper with grits and sweet-pepper sausage ($17.95). Finally, impress your date with a dignified dessert by alternately slamming your face into a toasted fluffer-nutter sandwich, with house-made marshmallow and redskin peanut butter topped with malted vanilla ice cream ($6.95), and a caramelized banana split, with vanilla ice cream, salted caramel, and Chantilly cream ($7.95).
In 1934, Don Gulden opened a tavern next to a golf course. Over the next 40 years, this tavern saw a forced relocation, several name changes, and even a disastrous fire. Yet the undaunted Gulden's always reopened and forged on, buoyed by the reputation of its mixed drinks and much-discussed holiday parties. Long after Mr. Gulden sold the building in 1974, it fell into the hands of Mike and Brenda Gengler, who paid tribute to its creator by renaming it Gulden's Restaurant & Bar.
In keeping with the spirit of the original, the new and improved Gulden's still hosts special dinners for holidays such as Mother's Day and Thanksgiving. A downstairs banquet hall offers catering for special events and a private place for the building's ghosts to convene at night, but it's the restaurant's everyday menu that continues to attract regulars. Chefs grill tender sirloin steaks, slow-cook hickory pork ribs, bake lasagna from scratch, and coat frog legs in crunchy beer batter, so there's truly something to satisfy everyone.