Chef Shack Ranch

it’s not as though Chef Shack Ranch is trying to downplay its food-truck roots:Those familiar red favorites are parked right in front of the joint. And it’s not like things are suddenly hoity-toity in this brick-and-mortar—there’s a pressed-tin ceiling, but it’s affixed to the wall, and that’s indeed a wagon wheel decorating the ordering line. Tucked away into its homely Seward digs, Chef Shack’s second restaurant concept (the first is in Bay City, Wisconsin) proclaims its down-hominess the moment you walk in the door (the décor is Urban Picker, the ordering done lunch-counter style, and reservations are not accepted).

The signature Big Boy Ranch Plate (in half or whole portions) is a taster’s journey through picnic basics such as moist pulled pork, hearty baked beans, a crisp potato salad, and a flaky, buttery biscuit. It’s like a memorable Fourth of July on the urban range, save for the bland brisket. The carnitas trucker fries are an irresistible take on high-end bar food, topped with pulled pork and a zesty, chili-spiced salsa. If these two dishes sound heavy, it’s because they are. But the Shack’s propensity for strong flavors also extends to pescatarian options: walleye tacos, and a Caesar salad with baked kale chips and black quinoa both trend on the lighter side while still packing a satisfying kick.

Dessert options include the signature Chef Shack mini-donuts and a lovely pot de crème. One thing you won’t find on the mobile Shack fleet: a selection of wine, affordably priced at $18 a bottle. Back at the Ranch, the consistency of down-home cooking with a knowing edge garners easy praise.

Chef Shack Ranch
3025 E. Franklin Ave., Mpls.,