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 1986, 7th Street Tavern, formerly known as Champps Americana, has served up burgers and classic American dishes, satiating sports fans and families with a comfortable, welcoming atmosphere. Amid the sunlit dining room, diners at wooden tabletops have views of 25 TVs broadcasting sports games, competing with a cluster of arcade games for eyes' attention. Chefs cater to taste buds by plumping up pastas with chicken, shrimp, and vegetables and piling rolls with beef patties, barbecued pulled pork, and spicy buffalo chicken. Behind the bar, bartenders whip up specialty cocktails and margaritas and fill goblets with an expansive selection of draft beers and wine. The bar and grill draws guests with regular specials and events throughout the week, including daily happy hours, Thursday-night trivia, and Sunday brunch. Every Tuesday, the restaurant serves up free meals to children, as a magician saunters table to table, entertaining kids with tricks and balloon art, crafting replacement siblings on request.
A silvery wand dips into a carafe of fresh milk, which will be used to form the foam that tops a steamy cappuccino. The smell of freshly brewed Arabica beans wafts through the air, countered by the buttery aroma of a crepe cooking on a circular griddle. Serving up sandwiches at lunch as well as sweet and savory crepes for breakfast, the staffers at Brix Coffee offer visitors a taste of Europe without the unpleasant aftertaste caused by chewing on a map. After meals, the café's daily-made custard can be blended into shakes and smoothies or scooped into sundaes or waffle cones.
Chefs at New Woodbury Cafe add inventive twists to classic breakfast and lunch dishes such as topping the caprese benedict with fresh mozzarella, tomato, and basil-pesto hollandaise or scooping portions of signature cashew chicken salad on crunchy beds of greens. Their house specialties include the walleye breakfast of blackened or panko-crusted filet, farm-fresh eggs, and side of house-made hash browns. Servers flit about the warm atmosphere, delivering fresh-baked corn bread and chocolate shakes to diners seated in cozy booths.
The Giapponese menu offers Minnesotans the chance to taste delicious fish that are rarely served elsewhere in the United States, such as imported fish from the world-renowned Tsujiki fish market in Tokyo. Begin with an order of Kobe sliders ($6.95) while you take in the welcoming yet surprisingly cosmopolitan ambience, which often features live music. Giapponese's lineup of nigiri and sashimi includes a variety of signature rolls, such as the samurai crunch with salmon, yellowtail, tuna, and avocado ($15), and the Louisiana with spicy crawfish and avocado topped with walu and unagi sauce ($18). Less raw entrees include Kobe beef New York strip ($40) and mango chicken ($8). Giapponese also offer $6 bottles of wine and an extensive sake list (starts at $6) with evocative names (Wandering Poet, Dreamy Clouds, Snow Maiden) that might inspire you to scribble haikus on the nearest napkin or face. Giapponese uses sustainable fish and is working toward a menu that is 100% sustainable (the first sushi restaurant in the state to do so). Groupons are good for one per table, so treat all seven of the samurai who saved your village from bandits to some rare sushi at Giapponese.