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.
Though Little Venetian opened in 2002, the family behind the operation has been treating locals to Italian flavors since 1928, when Mama and Papa Vitale opened a modest vegetable stand. Now, decades later, diners can enjoy their fresh produce whipped up into hearty meals, made in accordance with Vitale family recipes. Pastas and pizzas come coated in slow-cooked marinara or alfredo sauces, and plates of chicken parmigiano and Italian sausage warm forks and souls with homemade flavor.
A sports fan’s paradise, The Hole Sports Lounge is filled with opportunities to enjoy classic American bar fare in the light of flat-screen TVs. There’s a barbecue pulled-pork pizza—topped with piquillo peppers, banana peppers, jalapeños, and pineapple—over at a corner booth, sizing up the clientele, looking for the right person to share a slice with. A cheeseburger’s hunkered down at the bar, mumbling something about black Angus beef. It’s surrounded by 20 different draft beers from breweries such as Brau Brothers and Flying Dog, more than 20 bottled domestic and imported brews, and a few cocktails. If you find the chicken wings and offer them some mango-honey mustard, they might tell you about how happy hour happens every day from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. It crams one hour of happiness into two, slowing time as patrons head down Golden Gopher Avenue to catch the latest game, rack up balls on the pool table, toss around darts, or remove errant darts from a nearby video-game machine.