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.
Restaurant establishment is a Kozlak family tradition. Back in 1943, Joseph and Gertrude Kozlak purchased what would eventually become the well-known Jax Café. In 1977, their son Jax Kozlak and family embarked on a massive restoration project to beautify and expand a new large space that would become Kozlak's Royal Oak Restaurant, which has since been voted Best Ambiance, Best Service, and Neighborhood Gem by OpenTable diners.
Well known for its steaks, Kozlak's serves top-shelf cuts such as bone-in tenderloin, roasted prime rib, and tenderloin filet crowned with add-ons of rich blue cheese, Cajun spices, or fresh sauteed mushrooms. Single tails of steamed African lobster recline on plates with drawn butter, and Australian sea bass receives a stuffing of spinach and crab before being topped with a butter-tarragon sauce. Kozlak's Royal Oak Restaurant boasts a screened-in patio with a canopy.
Behind the sushi bar at Suishin Restaurant, chefs prepare hand rolls from a menu of more than 50 different kinds of sushi for onlookers, positioning each piece of sushi and sashimi in artistic displays inside a glass case. At dark-wood tables with leather chairs, sprays of steam blossom from pots of broth, in which crab meat, beef, and vegetables cook. The communal style of eating fuels chatter, which floats past a full bar with purple lighting and sand-hued brick walls. The modern decor complements sleek bento boxes, whose compartments brim with sushi and shrimp tempura. On an outdoor patio, chopsticks click together with the sound of a tap dancer having a pleasant dream, pulling noodles from bowls of ramen-noodle soup.
New Casa Lupita's menu boasts a bounty of authentic south-of-the-border dishes prepared using recipes from the owners' hometown of Guadalajara. Inside the deli-style restaurant, slurp up homemade tortilla soup ($3.50) or plunge into 12 ounces of guacamole dip ($5.49). Patio diners let the breeze sweep through their tresses as they gobble down mammoth tortillas bursting at the flour seams with tender carne asada steak, rice, beans, salsa, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, and onions ($6.19).