Free, Awesome, Saturday! Walleye Hot Dogs! Plus John Occhiato, Naviya’s, and Stuart Woodman News.

I’m back from vacation! And hard at work on our September issue. I know, September. It does put you in mind of the fleeting nature of the summer. My top pick for the number one thing you can do this weekend to make sure you’re getting the most out of your summer is: Go to the Dakota’s all-day free jazz festival on Saturday. It’s incredibly groovy, and goes from noon to 10 p.m. to celebrate the Dakota’s 25th anniversary. There will be multiple stages, some on Peavy Plaza, some inside the Dakota, and a whole host of kids’ activities, like puppet-making with Heart of the Beast, mask-making, jugglers to watch, and so forth. And of course the food! The food. Chef Jack Riebel won this year’s Twin Cities Food and Wine Chef Challenge as the best chef in Minnesota and he’s just brilliant. His Cobb salad burger is, in my mind, one of downtown Minneapolis’ iconic dishes, and my heart swoons when I consider past dishes of his, like a buttery local trout paté or an open-face asparagus sandwich on brioche, crowned with a perfectly poached egg. And what is this brilliant chef doing for his outdoor jazz festival? Hot dogs, of course!

I talked to Jack Riebel, who got married last weekend, and he told me that he thinks hot dogs may be the next cupcakes, inspiring just as much passion and creativity. So, for this weekend, he will have a Dakota Dog-House, and will be serving a straight-forward quarter-pound hot dogs, but also a house-made walleye and wild-rice dog, which, Riebel tells me, will be in the style of a classic boudon-blanc—but instead of being made with veal or chicken, will be made with walleye. It will be served in a French Meadow whole wheat bun with chopped lettuce and tartar sauce. Interesting! But that’s not all. There will be a riff on a Sonoran hot dog, with your choice of a classic red-hot link (all beef) or white-hot link (all pork) covered with black bean chili, cotija cheese, house-made pico de gallo, and pickled jalapenos. There will also be a New Orleans dog, made with a Kramarczuk andouille sausage and a maque choux topping made in an old-fashioned way with cabbage in the maque choux, and a real Flint Michigan-style Coney Island dog. Exciting! Gourmet hot dogs and free jazz—that’s a summer day worth getting exciting about.

In other news…

Naviya’s, Coming to Linden Hills
Well, everyone already knows that Rice Paper, the upscale, vegan-friendly Thai restaurant is moving to downtown Edina, right? And you know that the rumor mill is working triple-time, insisting that Steven Brown is heading into the former Rice Paper space? But what about people who want Thai food to remain in downtown Linden Hills? They are lucky ducks indeed: Naviya’s, once the best Thai restaurant in the Twin Cities, has bailed on the Midtown Global Market and now has signed a lease on the former Oscar & Bell shop (also known as the former Rag and Bone book shop, 2812 W. 43rd. St.) in Linden Hills. Bad news for the Midtown Global Market, good news for everyone else.

John Occhiato, Found!
Speaking of good news for everyone else: Lots of fans of chef John Occhiato were disappointed when he was booted from the D’Amico Chambers a month ago. But he has landed! Turns out he and Jeff Pierce, the longtime, stalwart employee of restaurant-supplier and importer Great Ciao! have joined forces to create their own gourmet importing and distribution company. Very interesting. We have had two notable fine and rare ingredient distributors in this town as long as I can remember, namely Great Ciao! and Classic Provisions. I can’t think that having a third player will be anything but good for all of us. Now my wish list: Can one of these fine companies, or one of you dear readers, please open a store of deluxe restaurant supplies for us common people to shop at? (Till then, the St. Paul Cheese Shop and Surdyk’s Cheese Shop are my go-to spots for beyond-deluxe ingredients. And Mill City Farmer’s Market, of course. Before I die, I vow I will get to Mill City early enough in the morning to get some of Shepherd’s Way’s ricotta cheese, which I hear is possibly the finest foodstuff available in Minnesota. I wouldn’t know, I’ve never gotten any. Sigh.)

Bounty on the Head of Stuart Woodman!
Okay, I give up. Uncle. I have been beat. I can’t get confirmation on any of the rumors I hear, so let’s crowd-source this, if possible. Anyone have verifiable intel on the new Heidi’s location? Barring that: Anyone live near Broders’ and want to keep their eyes on a couple of addresses for me?

Finally: Anybody care to pass on any great late-night dining they’ve done lately? I have my own ideas of the best after-show dining in the Twin Cities (and no, Little Tijuana does not figure prominently), but I’m looking for more. Till then, have a great weekend, everyone!