Thursday, September 27, 2012

Grand Forks, ND - The Kegs, Widman's Candy Store

We took a quick trip up to Grand Forks, ND to visit John's sister and his nephew last weekend. There are not a lot on non-chain places to eat in Grand Forks, but I've been trying to find a few gems. It's a difficult task to say the least.

We had a very fun afternoon with John's nephew. We played a round of golf on a kid's course in a park near the Red River, went swimming at our hotel's pool and went shopping for some Fighting Sioux gear at Ralph Engelstadt arena.

For lunch we stopped by a drive-in called The Kegs. It is called that due to the giant root beer kegs that are part of the building. Too funny!

The menu is mainly burgers, sloppy joe's and hot dogs. They also have 1919 root beer, which is really good and one of my favorites.
The exterior. They still have the original drive inn menu and ordering stands.
It is off the beaten path in a residential neighborhood on the north side of Grand Forks.
The french fires were nothing special, just standard frozen fries, but David thought they were pretty good and ate most of one boat himself.
John and I both had the bacon cheese burger. I thought it was a decent burger. Better than McDonald's or Burger King at least. I'm not sure the food was the highlight here. I liked the root beer and seeing the unique building exterior. They are only open in the warmer months, so going back might be a bit of a challenge as we are not up here in the summer too often.
We also stopped at Widman's candy store. David was excited to pick out a few types of candy from the case. He went with their version of peanut butter cups and said they were better than a Reese's peanut butter cup.

Widman's specialty is something called chippers. They are chocolate covered potato chips. These were amazingly good! The chocolate had a very creamy and rich flavor. I should have gotten a bigger bag! We will absolutely be going back again to get more chippers! 

Since we usually go to Grand Forks to visit family we don't usually have much down time. But when we do we like to play a little $1 blackjack. Some bars in Grand Forks have pull tabs and blackjack and sometimes a wheel of fortune. The blackjack is usually $1 minimum bets and 3-2 payouts. Any of the gambling profits always go toward charity, so if you lose, at least your money is going to a good cause! We have been unable to find a comprehensive list of bars that offer blackjack. If anyone comes across such a list, be sure to let me know! On this trip we visited Joe Black's and Playmaker's at the CanadInn for blackjack. 

The Kegs
901 N 5TH St
Grand Forks, ND 58203
Fall Hours: M-F 11 am - 7:30 pm, Sa 11 am - 4 pm, Su/Holidays Closed. (Call to verify)
Phone: 701-775-4993

Widman's Candy Store
106 South 3rd Street  
Grand Forks, ND 58201
(701) 775-3480

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Taco John's

Yes, I'm really writing a post about Taco John's. Why? Well, it is an old favorite growing up in Mankato for me. I was very excited to learn that there were two Taco John's locations in downtown Minneapolis too. I honestly think it is a good lunch option if you are looking for inexpensive food that tastes good. And I may be addicted to it or something.

The soft shell tacos are pretty basic and standard with meat, cheese, salsa and lettuce. I think they are good for a light lunch anyway. They sort of remind me of tacos you might make at home though.

One of my current favorites is the mini super nachos. They are just the perfect size for a light lunch. I feel way too guilty if I order the regular sized super nachos! Anyway, there is ground beef, refried beans, nacho cheese, shredded cheese, tomatoes, guacamole, sour cream and a couple black olives. You have to eat them right away or else the chips get soggy from the nacho cheese.

Taco John's also has a variety of specials throughout the week. If you go on the right day it can make for a very cheap lunch. But beware! The lines on Taco Tuesday can be quite long!

Daily Specials:
Monday: Free churros with any combo (Six Quebec location at least)
Tuesday: Taco Tuesday hard shell tacos $0.69
Wednesday: $1 off Meat and Potato burrito
Thursday: $1 off Taco Bravo
Friday: soft shells $0.99 each

Taco John's
Downtown locations: TCF Tower and Six Quebec building

Taco John's #8034
(612) 339-2396
121 S 8th Street
Minneapolis, MN 55402

Taco John's #8045
(612) 332-7000
607 Marquette Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55402

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Get Sauced Food Truck

Very quick post today on a food truck visit last week. I finally tried the Get Sauced truck. I ordered the chicken satay rice bowl which had curry chicken, coconut rice, pickled cucumbers, peanut sauce and a sweet chili sauce on it. The portion was huge and I could not finish it. The chicken was very juicy and flavorful and I liked the different sauces too. I did not really think the two different worked together very well, but separately they were good.

Next time I visit I need to try their Mexican corn dish. I saw someone ahead of me get it and it looks great. It was basically corn, with cheese and chili powder, but removed from the corn cob for easier consumption.

Get Sauced Food Truck
Twitter: @ChefDrivenCo

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Galaxy Drive In

We decided to stop in to Galaxy Drive In the other day. It was a really nice day and we probably don't have too many of those left. I don't think we've visited in a long time as I tend to forget about it. I think we stopped awhile after the re-opening with the new concept and new name, but I think that was a couple years ago now.

I had the bacon cheeseburger with fries. The burger was pretty good with two full strips of delicious crisp bacon on it. I really liked the toasted bun. The fries were seasoned with some sort of seasoning salt. There was way, way too much seasoning on the fries and it made them almost inedible. You also receive a pop with your combo meal order.

John had the cheeseburger with onion rings. He thought the burger was good also. He really liked the onion rings and those did not have the seasoning salt on them so they tasted fine. He thought maybe they could have been handmade onion rings, but it was hard to tell for sure.

The service was very quick and friendly, though we were there pretty early for lunch, and it was not very busy at all. They have lots of fun decorations dotting the lawn as well as a giant chess game and a fire pit. Lots of things to keep impatient kids busy. You can also pull up and order from your car if you'd like. We just sat at a picnic table in the grass on this visit. The prices are also very reasonable considering you get fries and a pop with your burger. I believe our total bill was under $20 with tip.

Galaxy Drive-In
3712 Quebec Avenue South
St. Louis Park, MN 55426
Phone: 952-277-7777
Monday - Sunday: 11:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Monday, September 10, 2012

People's Organic

I was kind of excited to see they were opening another location of People's Organic in the IDS center, though I have never been to the original location in Edina. I figured it would be a good lunch option.

I tried the Chicken and Goat Cheese Ciabatta on my first visit. It was a decent sandwich, lots of tart goat cheese, maybe too much actually, and lots of chicken, as well as two big hunks of roasted tomato and a couple pieces of spinach. I thought the ciabatta bread was just OK. Overall, the sandwich was a bit bland, though I think it was missing the tomato aoili that was supposed to be on it. The chips are just your average kettle chips, I probably should have tried the coleslaw or a side salad instead.

I stopped by another day for breakfast, first thing in the morning and ordered the People's Organic Breakfast Croissant. This was a great sandwich. It had eggs, Gruyere cheese, bacon, tomatoes and guacamole on a croissant. The croissant was very light and flaky and I liked the guacamole inside the egg and the bacon added a nice touch of salt so it all worked together well. The potatoes were a bit undercooked for my taste, but they were a nice side. It made for a very hearty meal. I was full all morning and did not need lunch!

The service is counter service, so nothing too special. They have quite a bit of seating in the Crystal Court, which is nice. It is a great spot to people watch.

I must admit, I am a bit underwhelmed with their lunch menu, but the breakfast choices are great. Maybe I need a to try a few more items from their salad choices next time.

People's Organic
IDS Crystal Court
80 South 8th Street
Minneapolis, MN

Friday, September 7, 2012

Saucy Burt's

I need to get this post finished quickly, because Saucy Burt's season is ending soon, next Friday, September 14th to be exact. Saucy Burt is a mobile food vendor, she has a cart, not a truck, and can usually be found on Nicollet Mall in Downtown Minneapolis.

I can't believe I have not tried her awesome meatball sandwich until now. She has the meat custom ground at Hackenmuller's Meats in Robbinsdale and it is a great blend. The meatballs are very tender and flavorful. It was served on a fresh bun with a bit of cheese and red sauce over the top. The sauce. Oh, that sauce was great! So fresh and delicious. I think I could eat that sauce on everything!

Saucy Burt
Twitter: @saucyburts

Thursday, September 6, 2012

State Fair 2012

My Minnesota State Fair post is terribly tardy. So very sorry about that.  At this point I guess it is just a personal recap. I've got a few cool photos to share though.

John and I went to the fair on August 25th for the day. I love, love, love the fair. I've been going since I was a kid. But the cool thing about the Minnesota State Fair is that there are new things every year, so it is never the same.

We took the bus from the Dunwoody State Fair Park and Ride this year on both trips to the fair. It was very fast and a great deal. I'd hate to drive and park at the fair. (Plus I am still traumatized from when I was a kid and my parents would wake us up at 5am to go to the fair so we could get there early and get a place to park. Um, yeah, so NOTHING much is open at the fair at 7am!!!)

We both started off with some Big Fat Bacon for breakfast. Sorry, I was starving and took a bite before I remembered to take a photo! This is a State Fair must-eat item for us. This is such good bacon. It is very thick with a hint of maple flavor. They had a couple sauces you could add too, but why mess with perfection? It is on a stick. Because everything at the fair should be on a stick. It's a rule.

Next, I tried a fudge puppy from Granny's Fudge Puppies. This was a new item for me this year. I had a Blue Ribbon Bargain book so I went with the standard fudge puppy, rather than the new one for this year with peanut butter inside and on top. This was very good, with a light and fluffy Belgian waffle on a stick covered in chocolate. The chocolate was amazing too, not overly sweet, which was unexpected, in a good way. I'd maybe get this again next year.

This year, we tried the french fries from the World's Greatest French Fries stand (On southwest corner of Dan Patch Ave. and Underwood St.) instead of the other Fresh French Fries stands. I believe we had a Blue Ribbon Bargain book coupon for these as well. We thought these were really good fries. Obviously fresh cut, handmade fries. Very crispy, not greasy. Not much of a line either. I wonder if they should try to put french fries on a stick somehow. May not be feasible. You would need a lot of sticks.

Check out our Minnesota craft beer from the MN Brewers Association hall. I think this new addition to the fair was a big hit as it was super crowded in there! I'm definitely saving the brochure listing all of the craft brewers in the state. Might make for a nice road trip sometime.

We watched the parade while we enjoyed our craft beers. Check out the giant steer.
And a giant cow for good measure. Moo. I guess I love giant fiberglass animals. 
Andrew Zimmern premiered his new food truck at the fair. 
Oooh, look, there's Andrew Zimmern himself! So exciting! They were filming something too. Not sure what.
John got a free sample of some sort of a sausage on a bun form the AZ food truck.  I'm not sure if this truck is for Bizarre Foods promotions or if it will be a regular fixture around town. 
Next, we tried the Minneapple Pie. This was a new item at the fair in 2011 and a new item for us in 2012. This was a great! The crust was very light and flaky with lots of apple pieces inside and tons of sugar and cinnamon inside and outside. I'd certainly order this again. Might have to add it into the regular fair rotation.

Butter heads. A MN State Fair must do. So strange though.

We rode the Skyride, you know, the enclosed gondolas. I don't think I have ever ridden the Skyride before in my entire life.  If I have, I have forgotten it. There was a nice view from up there. It was a bit rainy, but we just went in and out of assorted buildings durning the rain. 

John tried the Ragin' Ankles from Famous Dave's. These were a new item this year at the fair. I believe they were pig legs actually. Weird name though. The ankles were great because the meat was very tender and the sauce was sweet and spicy, but not too spicy. They were kind of like wings, because of the bone, which also made them easy to pick up. We both liked them a lot and would get them again. Oh yeah, Wally the beer man was there too, selling beer. If you've ever been to any sporting event around town you will understand why this is notable. He's a major celebrity of sorts.

Speaking of celebrities, why do we treat our news anchors in Minnesota like celebrities during the fair? I've been told by people form other states this is a strange and unusual practice. I guess I've never gone to the fair to watch the news or be on TV, so I don't really get it. I must admit, I do watch the news coverage on TV of the fair. So maybe I have kinda of been sucked in. I blame it on brainwashing!
We took a ride on the ferris wheel in the Midway. Here's the view from the top. 
View in the other direction. 

We wandered around the Midway a bit and played a couple games as well. We did not win any giant stuffed animals. Which is not disappointing, as I would not want to carry them around all day. Too bad they don't have a giant stuffed animal check somewhere, kind of like a coat check. I guess you are supposed to proudly carry it around all day though. Shoot, thought I had a great fair idea there for a second. 

I had my annual pronto pup. Pronto pups are better than corn dogs in my personal opinion. I prefer the flour batter as opposed to the cornmeal batter.

We made a second visit to the fair on August 31st after work. I like to go after work because you can just go and eat dinner and head home before it gets too late. Then you don't have to fit all of your fair food eating into one day! Moeration is the key my friends!
John loves the Turkey to Go sandwiches. I think they have turned into an annual tradition for him. I passed since I can go to the location downtown in the skyway any time now.

We both had the corn on the cob from the Corn Roast. Another important annual fair food tradition. The corn always tastes so good when consumed at the fair. Must be the vat of butter they dip it in or something.

I tried the Blarney Beans from O'Gara's too. I had a coupon for this too. They were surprisingly good, lightly battered, deep fried green beans with a slightly zippy dipping sauce. I'd order these again.

I also got a bucket of Sweet Martha's cookies. Forgot to take a photo though. It was a true hardship to eat them down enough so that we could close the lid. I brought the leftovers over to a friend's the next day. My friend Megan who used to live in Minnesota and could not attend the fair enjoyed the cookies immensely even though they were a day old. I do think Sweet Martha's cookie are best when served warm.

After watching Hookers and Blow at the International Bazaar for an hour we went to see Wilson Philips at the Leinie Lodge Bandshell since it was free. Where else can you see 90's hitmakers sing their greatest hits for free?! Only at the fair. Of course.

They were better than I was expecting. We ended up sticking around till the very end! 
Had to see them sing Hold On!


Deals & Discounts: I recommend buying your fair admission tickets in advance at Cub Foods and other local outlets. This year we saved $3 per ticket by buying admission tickets ahead of time. I also bought the Blue Ribbon Bargain book for $4 at Cub; it costs $5 if you buy it at the fair. You can even buy discount Metro Transit State Fair bus vouchers from Metro Transit's website for $4. The cost for the fair shuttle bus is $5 normally.

Minnesota State Fair
Located at 1265 North Snelling Ave. N. in St. Paul, MN
2012 dates: August 23 - September 3
2013 dates: August 22 - September 2