Location: 1265 Snelling Avenue N, St. Paul When: Thursday, August 24th- Monday, September 4th (Memorial Day)
The Minnesota State Fair is right around the corner, this year’s offerings of live entertainment and new foods will not disappoint. Among the many smaller stages throughout the fairgrounds, the Grandstand will feature headliners like Nickelback, Stevie Nicks, Usher, Jim Gaffigan, Phantogram, and Toby Keith on any given night. Sure there will be the classics like Sweet Martha’s cookies, turkey legs, and just about everything on a stick, but you’d be a fool to overlook the newcomers. Some of which include, Dino’s Gyro’s “Honey Puffs,” balls of fried dough dipped in sweet syrup and tossed in cinnamon and sugar, Giggles’ Campfire Grill’s “Duck Bacon Wontons,” or Snack House’s “Memphis Totchos,” sliced banana and sautéed bacon over tater tots, topped with peanut sauce. Grandstand tickets are sold separately, but you can buy general admission tickets in advance for $11 ($14 @ gate). If you’re serious about trying as many new foods as possible, click the link below for a complete list of 2017’s new eats and a map marking their locations.
Location: 3258 N Sheffield Avenue, Chicago Hours: Mon-Fri: 11AM-2AM, Sat: 11AM-3AM, Sun: 11AM-Midnight
The bar scene in Chicago’s Wrigleyville neighborhood is known for being rowdy, a little pretentious, and at times, feeling like the bro capital of the world. Most of the bars on the Clark Street strip will be packed to capacity on Friday and Saturday nights and if there’s a game, you can count on 2-3 times the crowd on the streets. Sheffield’s is like an oasis. In the midst of so much drunken debauchery, lies a cool, laid back bar with great food and an even better beer menu. They have what feels like 4 separate bars, each of which is fitted with multiple big screen TVs; and a huge outdoor area with it’s own bar. This place can get pretty wild from time to time, but the bros and yuppies tend to stay away; leaving an atmosphere filled with peace and girls that aren’t being harassed at every turn.
Location: 500 E Lake Street, Minneapolis Hours: Sun-Thurs: 11AM-11PM, Fri-Sat: 11AM-Midnight
Located in Minneapolis’ Phillips West neighborhood, A&Js is far from new to any southsider with a craving for fried chicken. As a loyal customer I may be biased, but I’ve grown to appreciate this place for it’s consistency. They offer the gamut of “southern cooking” including fried chicken, tilapia, catfish, collard greens, mac & cheese, perch, and even fried okra. This isn’t your crowd funded, yuppie hangout where “world class” chefs find their roots, it’s simply good ass street food that fills a much needed greasy void in our new, ritzy surroundings. You wont be paying $9 for 4 wings here, and you wont have 8 sauce selections, but you can rest assured that your wings will be good! Their menu is expansive and they have a surprisingly large delivery range, your best bet is the wings or the catfish, but there are definitely a few hidden gems. Phillips West & East are often overlooked, but A&J’s is worth a visit for anyone in the area looking for a quick bite. Click the link below for a peek at their menu.
Location: 907 W Belmont Ave, Chicago P: 773-525-7900 Hours: Mon-Fri: 11AM-Midnight, Sat-Sun: 11AM-2AM
Philly’s Best is hands down one of the best restaurants that offer the Philly style cheese steak in the Chicago area. There are 3 locations, but our go to is the one on Belmont avenue; situated between Sheffield avenue & Clark street in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood. Once inside, any true philly steak enthusiast will quickly notice the authenticity of this place’s attitude; in comparison to OG steak places in Philly (Pat’s & Geno’s). The sandwiches themselves stack right up to the originals and they serve some pretty good pizza as well, if you’re on a budget don’t worry; you’ll leave full for about $10. If you’re ever near Wrigleyville or the Lincoln Park area i’d highly recommend a visit, you definitely wont be disappointed.
When people living in Minneapolis think of where to get a good cup of coffee in a comfortable setting, most would probably name one of the numerous shops in Uptown or the Northeast neighborhoods. Nestled in the Stevens Square neighborhood sits one of the city’s best kept secrets, the Boiler Room. Situated on 3rd Avenue near 19th street, the Boiler Room is slowly establishing itself as the areas “go to” coffee shop. Providing 3 house blends along with a plethora of other drinks including mochas, espressos and a variety of teas; I’ve found the Boiler Room to be much better than your average Starbucks or Caribou. They also serve up some awesome waffles, rice crispy treats, brownies, cookies and amazing muffins; the chocolate chip banana nut being a favorite. Free Wi-Fi (of course) and a homey atmosphere like your best friend’s basement will have you wondering where the last 4 hours went. If you’re ever near 3rd ave or the Stevens Square neighborhood make sure to stop in for a cup of Joe, you wont be disappointed.
Minneapolis isn’t very well known for it’s Jamaican cuisine, but a little food court stall from the Burnsville Mall has began making big waves in south Minneapolis. On a summer day you can’t miss Pimento, reggae can be heard blasting from the open store front from at least half a block away. Within that block you’ll no doubt smell the chicken & pork that’s been catching people’s attention. Formerly neighbors, Tomme Beevas linked his home recipes with Yoni Reinharz’ business savvy and a restaurant was born. After winning the Food Network’s, Food Court Wars and spending a few years in Burnville, the duo decided to open a new location in Minneapolis. The food indeed lives up to the hype. Succulent jerk rubbed chicken falls off the bone onto a bed of rice, plantains, beans and Jamaican slaw. They also offer some damn good pork and oxtails for those looking to get that truly authentic feel. The staff is helpful and the menu can be navigated with ease by just about anyone. Food for 2 will run you about $20, not bad for a fairly balanced meal with a home cooked feel; on Wednesdays they offer a solid 6 wings for $5 deal. If you live in the vicinity of 26th street & Nicollet, GET FAMILIAR! Otherwise it’s well worth the trip, click the link below for more information.
The Twin Cities’ BBQ scene has been lacking for quite some time, but things have began to change around the metro. One place that has been doing it’s thing for years is John Hardy’s down in Rochester. The small, shack style restaurant sits right off highway 52 for any wayward traveler looking to fill up while on the road. If you came here for decor and fine dining service, you came to the wrong place. Here you’ll lineup to order just like everyone else and you’ll receive the same awesomely prepared food, just like everyone else. The ribs are a crowd favorite, but the sampler is also worth tackling if you want variety. Dry rub guy/gal? Do you like a plethora of sauces? They’ve got you covered. If you happen to be in the Rochester make sure to stop by 1 of their 2 locations for some of the best BBQ in the state. Click the link below for more info.
Location: 2555 N Pulaski Rd, Chicago Hours: Mon-Sat: 7AM-5PM, Sun: 9AM-3PM
Chicago is one of those cities where you can literally eat just about any type of food under the sun. Whether it’s Swedish pastries in Andersonville (really, that’s the name), Ethiopian food in Roger’s Park or tacos in Little Village; it’s all there. One of my favorite spots in the entire city is also probably one of the smallest, in the summer the line really stretches down the block. El Cubanito cooks up Cuban style steak sandwiches that could easily stand up to the traditional Philly that’s often favored. If you’re simply looking for a snack, they also make a damn good empanada; all of which can easily be had for under $10. Cuban food is often slept on, but one stop here and that’ll all change. If you’re ever near Logan Square and need a bite to eat, check out El Cubanito; you wont regret it.
Tucked in the corner on one of Dinkytown’s busiest intersections, above the Kitty Kat Klub; lies one of Minneapolis’ best burger spots. At night the old school signs reading “Annie’s” in bright lights can’t be missed. Up the stairs and through the old parlor door, Annie’s interior looks as if it has never seen a makeover (in a good way). They have a decent variety of sandwiches, including a pretty good BLT; but everyone knows the burgers are the only way to go. No frills, no special sauces; just straight up hand/homemade burgers with lots and lots of cheese. Annie’s is a true parlor, they serve some of the city’s best malts and milkshakes to accompany any of the tasty burgers you decide to try. Overall this place is definitely the best spot for a classic “no nonsense” burger, the price is right and the service is fast; if you’re ever on campus make sure to stop in for a bite. You won’t regret it.
The city of Chicago is well known for its hot dogs, polishes & pork chop sandwiches; but only few places cook ’em like the guys at Jim’s. Indeed there are various locations on just about every side of Chicago, but the original location near Maxwell Street is the truly great one. Open 24 hours, 365 days a year; the original Jim’s is a mecca for drunken bar goers of all ages, wasted college kids and pretty much anyone looking for good food at too cheap of a price (yes too cheap). That other place down the street (Maxwell’s) might have the best dogs on the block but Jims’ polishes & pork chops blow theirs out of the water. We’ve made many a drunken stops at Jim’s and I can’t remember an occasion when anyone was unsatisfied upon leaving, if you can’t find 1 thing on their menu that you like; you might not be human (or just vegetarian). If you’re ever near U.I.C’s campus or heading south on 94 from downtown, make the stop; it’ll be worth every penny.