Mad Jacks Sports Cafe serves a spread of eclectic eats amid rustic décor marked by high-tech accents. Diners dig into a regular or gluten-free menu of steaks, cedar-plank-grilled fish, and sandwiches under the glow of LCD screens and individual TVs stationed within every high backed booth. These flickering devices cast light across the log-cabin-themed space and tables filled with freshly spun pizzas and grill-kissed entrees. As they eat, diners can watch flames dance inside the fireplace, lament a dropped pass or an ill-purchased vowel on one of the looming TV screens, or drink in the fresh air on an outdoor patio.
For 30 years, Sweet Chocolat has been a wonderland of handmade chocolates and caramels made onsite each day. The chocolatier has been known to fill the kitchen with song as she lovingly crafts her confections, which infuses each piece with extra sweetness and the uncanny ability to harmonize. In addition to traditional caramels and unorthodox bites such as chocolate-covered potato chips, Sweet Chocolat dispenses boxes of traditional and themed truffles and chocolates and more than 10,000 custom chocolate molds.
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.
From autumnal cupcakes topped with Halloween embellishments to colorful stacks of french macarons awarded Best of the Twin Cities by Minnesota Monthly, the meticulously designed treats at Cupcake Caramel by Sweets Bakeshop come from all-natural ingredients. Bakers carefully top pumpkin spice cake with sweet cream buttercream frosting to create this month's seasonal cupcakes, or drizzle caramel atop year-round favorites. Caramel cream and chocolate ganache pour into cupcakes and macarons alike, the latter of which spring from the oven in six different flavors daily. The confectionary team tailors orders of specific events, tinting colors to fit a particular party theme or presidential concession speech.
Helmed by married couple Tomas and Maria Silva, the vibrantly embellished restaurant (formerly an 800-square-foot storefront) offers an energetic dinner menu dominated by straight-outta-Tenochtitlan tamales, tacos, nachos, and gorditas. An order of stone-ground corn chips and salsa ($2.50) kicks off Cinco de Mayo's 24-hour fiesta with a little edible confetti. You can also indulge your inner wizard with an order of queso fundido molcajete ($7.69), a bubbling stone cauldron filled with asadero cheese to drizzle atop your tacos (add chunks of chorizo, chipotle, habanero, or ham to the mix for $0.35 each). And if the burrito original (filled with your guisado choice or carne asada, beans, rice, lettuce, and cheese, $7.50) isn't big enough, the burro gigante ($13.99)—a two-foot behemoth stuffed with beans, rice, lettuce, tomato, two meat choices, and (it's rumored) a burro—will give you the mind-bending thrill of eating something larger than your own head. Vegetarians can abide by their uneasy peace treaty with chickens by dining on roasted chile poblanos stuffed with cilantro rice and white cheese ($8.79) or vegetable fajitas ($9.25) filled with cactus, onions, bell peppers, and zucchini. By this point, your piñata might be dangerously close to popping, in which case a spoonful of flan ($3.99) or refreshing gelatina ($2.99) make for safe dessert options. But if you don't want to disappoint the blindfolded birthday boys gathering around your bulging stomach with bats, go with the heavenly tres leches cake ($4.25).
Once inside Flicker Meat Company, it's easy to get lost in a daydream of backyard barbecues and summers spent around the grill. Aromas of smoked meats lead customers right up to the old-school butcher counter, where glass display cases look in on a wide selection of meat: steak, pork, chicken, and smoked-cheddar brats, just to name a few.
The butchers, too, follow an old-fashioned model of customer service. Not only do they explain the difference between various cuts, but they also recommend the best way to prepare each meat?assuming it's not already smoked, of course. To make the process even easier, the shop also stocks seasonings designed to complement its meats and knives with detailed instruction manuals.