It’s hard to remember, but there was a time when finding a good burger in the Twin Cities was not that easy. Nowadays, there’s something of a burger renaissance going on. Out last week with my two picky eaters, I found two new places with satisfying burgers, and more.
The Hole Sports Lounge in Dinkytown is in the former Leaning Tower of Pizza space. Chef Ian Pierce, formerly of 128 Cafe, is bringing upscale touches to traditional sports-bar fare. My six and eight-year-old boys loved their kid burgers at least as much as they did the excellent, hand-cut fries. (I did manage to save a few for breakfast the next day.) I had the taco burger, with fresh-ground spices, jalapenos, black olives, cheddar cheese, and chipotle aioli. Its layers of flavor and texture were satisfying in a grown-up way. The Hole also has Izzy’s ice cream for dessert. We will definitely be going back to sample the rest of the menu.
A few days later, we checked out Eli’s East, sister to the popular downtown restaurant. Their half-pound burger was no impediment to my eight-year-old, who polished it off handily. My other son tried the penne and cheese. He couldn’t finish it, but gave it a big thumbs up before my husband and I fought over his leavings. I also had the pork belly sliders with pickled vegetables and sriracha sauce. These hit the high points of hot/sour/salty/sweet, and before I even finished them I was wondering when I could have them again. I’m still thinking about them days later. Eli’s fries were forgettable, but the other things we tried so impressed us that it won’t be long before we visit again.
Both The Hole and Eli’s East have solid basics, executed well, with some sophisticated flavors and options. For a casual family dinner, these places managed to please both kids and parents, and that’s not an easy task.