(page 5 of 5)
August Schell Brewing Company
1860 Schell Rd., New Ulm, 507-354-5528
The Schell brewery is now the second-oldest family-owned and managed brewery in the United States, so they must be doing something right. (The company’s longevity may be due to the pilsner, one of the best anywhere.) Tours run every day throughout the summer, and if you’ve never visited, the best way to describe the place is thus: It’s pretty much what most people imagine heaven is like. But with beer.
221 N. Minnesota St., New Ulm, 507-359-2071
In a town that has plenty of odd, if endearing, institutions—e.g., Hermann the German—the Kaiserhoff may be the most odd and endearing New Ulm institution of all. Known for its kitschy décor (think of the Hofbrau House designed by your crazy aunt) and its traditional Teutonic fare—from strudel to bratwurst to “German” ribs—the dish to get at the ’Hoff has always been the sauerkraut balls, a tasty, breaded, and deep-fried homage to German cooking—and a testament to our faith in Lipitor.
Peppermint Twist Drive In
115 Babcock Blvd., Delano, 763-972-2572
An old-school drive-in (the site was once home to an A&W), the Twist is best known for its Delano Burger, an enormous pile of beef, onion, and bun that will satisfy even the most discerning carnivores. Still, if anything is worth the price of the gas you’ll burn to get to there, it’s the fresh raspberry shake, so thick you may need to borrow an additional lung to get it through a straw.
The Sausage Shop
301 Broadway ave. n., New ulm, 507-354-3300
True, brats are often considered a Wisconsin thing, right up there with cheese and chronic-wasting disease. But the reason they’re so big with the neighbors also applies to us. Germans have always been Minnesota’s largest immigrant group, so it stands to reason that you’d be able to find some great brats on this side of the St. Croix River. The place to find those brats is, not surprisingly, in New Ulm, which sometimes seems more German than Deutschland itself. Still, it would be hard to imagine that the fatherland could produce anything better than what you find at the Sausage Shop, whose Nurnberger brats are big, juicy and subtly spiced—so good they may obviate the need to ever go to Wisconsin again.
Photo by David J. Turner
Photo by David J. Turner
572 Bench St., Taylors Falls, 651-465-7931
There are few sorrows you can’t drown in a root-beer float. At this throwback to the era of poodle-skirted carhops, enjoy floats, malts, and “slush puppies” flavored like cotton candy. The only concession to modern life is the “healthy choice club sandwich,” a recent add-on to the sign-board menu. Everything tastes better when it’s delivered to your car.
The Eichten Bistro
16440 Lake Blvd., Center City, 651-257-1566
What do you do at a place that claims the best beer selection in the state—more than 50 brews in stock, many made by Belgian monks and some that are extremely difficult to find in America? You plan to stay awhile, hit the patio, dig the French café music, and dive into a burger made from the herd of buffalo roaming within a ketchup’s squirt of your table.
236 Railway St. N., Dundas, 507-645-8345
With its refined and regularly changing menu—think duck breast one month, ostrich the next—its extensive offering of wine flights, and its unlikely location (Dundas’s population: 547), Fermentations is no longer much of a secret to local foodies. And though the intimate, laid-back bistro switched owners last year, with chefs Paul Paquette and Joan Haley buying the operation from original proprietor Ed Lundstrom—it remains among the state’s most unlikely, if welcome, outposts for ambitious and creative cooking.
Old Towne Emporium
29346 Old Towne Rd., Chisago City, 651-257-4130
What’s the difference between a Chicago dog and a Chisago dog? Both are swaddled in banana peppers, tomatoes, onions, and mustard—but the only place you can chow the Chisago is an antique shop turned family-run café in Chisago City. Go ahead—pair the dog with a fine homemade ice cream (good enough that Kowalski’s is looking into carrying it) and call it whatever you want. We’re calling it da best.
Off Hwy. 8, Lindstrom, 651-257-4202
In one particular harbor, as Jimmy Buffet would say, tiki torches lead down to the shore of South Lindstrom Lake, where a double-decker pontoon awaits. It’s the one with the whirlpool, the half-moon bar, and no plans for shoving off anytime soon (save for the occasional birthday, bachelorette bash, or other chartered meandering)—a humble summer hangout where sailboats tie up to the ’toon, a bonfire always burns, and locals down margaritas like there’s no mañana. And facilitating all this low-key revelry—flipping burgers, pouring beer, rotating the Buffet CDs—is a youthful man with blond braids and a mellow mien: the titular Tiki Steve.
Tangled Up in Blue
425 Bench St., Taylors Falls, 651-465-1000
With four owners in as many years, this charming storefront restaurant (named for a Bob Dylan tune) had been feeling blue indeed. This winter, however, one of the cooks (a former sous chef at Palomino) bought the place and is emphasizing service to win back diners. It doesn’t hurt that the signature walleye cakes—fish blended with bread crumbs and pan-fried—would put a smile even on Dylan’s sour puss.
124 S. Main St., Braham, 320-396-3630
You expect great apple pie from a town whose mayor posed for his official photo in an American flag tie. But it’s hard to go wrong with walnut cream, banana cream, pumpkin, rhubarb, or any other pie in this zero-stoplight slice of Americana, officially named the state’s pie capital by Governor Rudy Perpich in 1990.