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What (and where!) to Eat in Minneapolis, MN

August 3, 2017
What and Where to Eat in Minneapolis

Hello all! If you didn’t notice, I was away last week in Minneapolis, MN seeing sights and participating in the best wedding ever attended. Seriously, these people know how to get married!

Since we were already going to Minneapolis for a wedding, The Hubs and I decided to make a whole trip out of it. Minneapolis wasn’t on either of our short lists for cities to visit, but now that I’ve been there, I’d totally go back! We had so much fun checking out the beautiful landscape, the Mall of America, and stuffing our faces. They have some good food up there in Minneapolis! If you find yourself in the areas, here is my food guide:

The Ju(i)cy Lucy Debate

What and Where to Eat in Minneapolis - Matt's

Californians have tacos, Texans have BBQ, and up in Minnesota they have the Jucy Lucy! While it goes by different names at just about every restaurant, the main concept is the same. It’s a hamburger patty stuffed with melted cheese. The most common cheese is american, but some restaurants allow customization like pepper jack and bleu cheese.

What and Where to Eat in Minneapolis - 5-8 Club

 

 

There is some debate about the origin of the Jucy Lucy, which two different bars claiming to have invented it. Matt’s Bar calls it the Jucy Lucy, while the 5-8 Club claims the Juicy Lucy. Because I love you, we tried both.

What and Where to Eat in Minneapolis - Matt's

 

Matt’s Bar is about as dive bar as they come(in a good way). Their simple menu consists of the Jucy Lucy, fries and beer. (Okay, you can get a regular burger too, but why would you??) You seat yourself (if there’s not a line) and you pay with cash (they have an ATM in the bar). Personally, I preferred the Jucy Lucy at Matt’s Bar. It had a great flavor that was just a liiittle more nuanced than 5-8 Club. That being said, I also spilled molten cheese on my thumb and that was not fun. Definitely let this burger sit for a minute before you eat.

What and Where to Eat in Minneapolis - 5-8 Club

Where the 5-8 club stands out is with it’s options. You can customize your Lucy with different cheese and fixings. It’s still a bar, but has a little bit more of restaurant feel to it. My favorite part of the meal at The 5-8 Club was the sweet potato fries. Not only were they a lovely combo of crispy and soft, but they came with this amazing marshmallow bleu cheese dipping sauce. Amazing! Go just for the fries! Honestly, just go to both Matt’s and 5-8 Club. They’re both excellent greasy bar food.

If you’re not looking for American gastropub food, don’t worry! I have a slew of other suggestions.

What and Where to Eat in Minneapolis - Holy Land 1

Holy Land

Holy Land is both a restaurant and a small ethnic grocery. (Side note: The grocery is a great Whole 30 option for meats!) They’ve been featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, which is how we heard about them. They’re a Middle Eastern deli with a huge array of options. I got the gyro, and a side of hummus and pita, and The Hubs got a chicken and lamb gyro meat combo platter.

What and Where to Eat in Minneapolis - Holy Land

First of all, let me say that the portion sizes are HUGE. Like massive. I felt bad because we didn’t even make a dent in our meals. I made 2 gyros out of the one they brought me and still had a ton  of meat left! Second, I will say that everything was delicious. Their gyro meat was already delicious, and the added cucumber sauce knocked it out of the park! The hummus was great and their desserts opened up a whole new realm of food options. The Hubs is obsessed with honey cakes now!

What and Where to Eat in Minneapolis - Holy Land

If you’re in the area, I definitely recommend Holy Land. Bring a friend and an extra stomach!

What and Where to Eat in Minneapolis - Kramarczuks

 

Kramarczuk’s Deli

Kramarczuk’s came highly recommended by some of The Hub’s coworkers who used to live in the area. They touted it as having the best sauerkraut anywhere. Now, I don’t really eat sauerkraut much(ever), but I have to agree. Kramarczuk’s knows what they’re doing! We got bratwurst, pastrami, perogis and of course, lots of sauerkraut. It’s also a deli, so you go down the line cafeteria style with a tray and find your own seating. We went for lunch and it wasn’t terribly crowded. You will probably have to pay to park near Kramarczuk’s, since it’s semi-downtown. We parked in a nearby underground lot and I think we paid about $3. It’s well worth the experience. 

What and Where to Eat in Minneapolis - Kramarczuks

Everything was delicious. Then there was dessert. Their cannoli was excellent, and we got a cream puff for the road, which was still delicious after riding around in the car for an hour or two! I may have a soft spot for cream puffs though…

What and Where to Eat in Minneapolis - Kramarczuks

We didn’t realized it before we went, but Kramarczuk’s has also been in Diners, Drive-ins and Dives! It’s good to know that we have good taste. I’d love to go back and try one of their GIANT meatballs or cabbage rolls, and of course, more of their desserts…

What and Where to Eat in Minneapolis - Victor's 1959

Victor’s 1959 Cafe

Victor’s 1959 is a is a Cuban cafe with some serious brunch vibes. The Hubs is half Cuban, so we couldn’t turn down a chance to try this quirky Cuban cafe. People have signed and left notes on just about every square inch of Victor’s 1959 Cafe, which makes for some interesting reading material. And it’s good to have reading material because you’re going to be waiting for a while! We got there for lunch and the place was packed! 

What and Where to Eat in Minneapolis - Victor's 1959

I ordered the ranchero cubano, which was a breakfast dish with eggs and black beans (delicious!) and The Hubs went straight for the Cuban sandwich. This is usually his litmus test for how accurate the Cuban food of a given restaurant is. Everything came out fresh and hot, but again, it took…a while. Still, the sandwich was authentic and I’d wait as long as it take to get my man some Cuban food if he wants it! 

What and Where to Eat in Minneapolis - Victor's 1959

If you’re like The Hubs and you need some Cuban fare in your life, Victor’s 1959 is a fun place to go. Bring a few friends and get ready to settle in, and look forward to that food! It’s going to be great!

I have to stop talking about food now, because I am getting hungry. Any favorite in the Minneapolis area that I missed? I’d love to hear about them, or listen if you want to weigh in on the ju(i)cy lucy debate!

Food Lifestyle Travel

One Day in Denton, TX

July 6, 2017
One Day in Denton

The past weekend, The Hubs and I traveled up to Winstar Casino in Oklahoma to see Vince Gill. We spent the night in Gainesville, TX and on the way back we stopped to hang out in Denton. Home of both the University of North Texas (where I almost went to school) and Texas Women’s University, Denton has that cool college town feel, while being totally approachable for a quick day trip. Thinking about driving up for a day yourself? Here’s what you shouldn’t miss:

One Day in Denton

Recycled Books

If you love Half Price Books, you’ll love Recycled Books. Residing in the old Opera House in Denton, It’s a used book store with a seventies vibe and serious amount of stock. It’s winding and maze like and boasts several levels. It also has a pretty sizable record section as well. The Hubs and I had fun poking around the children’s book section with my mom. Their prices are pretty darn reasonable, and their stock has a good mix of both current and classic books. They also have a super cool section up at the front that features local authors! Perfect for any traveler trying to get the feel of the place!

One Day in Denton

Mad World Records

I’ll admit, the only reason I can remember the name of Denton’s Mad World Records is because I sing the song to myself to remember. When we went to see Sierra Hull she did a great cover of “Mad World” using a Fender “Mandocaster” that sounded seriously cool! Mad World Records is seriously cool as well. They have a good mix of contemporary and older vinyl and their layout is nice and open. It’s easy to sort through records and never feels overwhelming. Some record stores get too tiring to look through, but Mad World Records doesn’t make me feel this way at all. They also sell little band pins, if you’re into that kind of thing.

One Day in Denton

Atomic Candy

Colorful and quirky, Atomic Candy is the type of store that your inner child will love. It’s a good, old fashioned candy store stocked with everything from gummy colas to jelly beans to salt water taffy. The also have a nice selection of obscure sodas. My dad, who is a huge root beer connoisseur, had a whole case to poke around in and was able to find some new brands he’d never seen before. It’s a seriously tempting store, so watch out! I had to pace myself because the Hubs and I had out hearts set on…

One Day in Denton

Hypnotic Donuts

Now, we have a Hypnotic Donuts in Dallas too, but it seems to attract a much larger crowd than the one in Denton. That means that the things we always want to try are sold out by the time we get there (The Hubs is not an early riser on days off.). The Hypnotic Donuts in Denton is tucked a little bit further back on the square and seems a little quieter, but specializes in the same quirky donuts. The best part? They had blueberry fritters in stock! We’ve been trying to get a blueberry fritter for The Hubs since we heard that Hypnotic made them and we finally got to try it! (Spoiler alert: It was delicious.) If you’re in the area and have a hankering for some donuts, get yourself to Hypnotic Donuts!

One Day in Denton - LSA Burger

LSA Burger Co.

LSA Burger Co. was a total instagram find, but also came highly recommended by some friend of ours. It’s right on the square in Denton and has a cool upstairs patio where you can see the sights. I mostly wanted to go because of their mini margaritas. They come with “loaders” so you can add flavors and since they’re mini, you can try a few different flavors without getting totally sauced. They even sell margarita flights with all 6 flavors! We tried the pomegranate, strawberry, white peach and prickly pear flavors and they were all delicious. The Hubs and split the Ready Freddie burger, which comes with BBQ sauce, grilled onions, bacon, cheese and pickles. I mention that we split because we also got sides of their delicious garlic herb fries and (cue the angels singing) macaroni and cheese! It was good mac too…mmm, I want to go back and eat more. The fries come in small and large sizes and the portion is generous. We easily split the large fries between 4 people. I’ve got to stop typing because I’m making myself hungry, but you’ve definitely got to stop by LSA Burger Co. if you’re in town!

Did I miss any of your favorite? Any place I need to go back and try? Let me know in the comments!
One Day in Denton

Featured Food Lifestyle Travel

Where to Find the Best BBQ in Dallas

April 27, 2017
Best BBQ in Dallas

This past weekend we had a friend in town from Arizona. The moment he arrived, The Hubs whisked him off to get some Texas BBQ. While I know that this friend was really a convenient way to satisfy the Hub’s BBQ craving, it got me thinking about the best BBQ in Dallas. During my relationship with The Hubs, I’ve gained a lot of insight into the best BBQ in Dallas. I have carefully curated that list for you. Please note that these are not all in Dallas proper, but all in the Dallas area. They’re worth the drive! Also, as a warning: you are getting crappy cell phone pictures here. Consider it Raw Footage. Live, from the field!

Tori’s Definitive List of the Best BBQ in Dallas:

Pecan Lodge

Best BBQ in Dallas

The Food:

Pecan Lodge is, hands down, my favorite BBQ place in Dallas. It’s a favorite for many other’s as well. It was also on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives (though they went to the old location in the Farmer’s Market. It has since moved.) Pecan Lodge makes my favorite brisket. Their sausage is to die for. Like, I am not a sausage person, but I can go to town on some Pecan Lodge BBQ. Their sauce, while not a traditional BBQ sauce, is another strong favorite of mine.  Pecan Lodge is also the most creative with their sides. Their mac and cheese features bacon and green chiles (I actually prefer mine plain, but The Hubs likes it this way so we roll with it.).  Pecan Lodge is also the home of the Hot Mess, which I love and discuss here.

Best BBQ in Dallas

The Hot Mess

The Location:

Pecan Lodge is located in Deep Ellum (right next to an Emporium Pies, score!), which is always an interesting place to visit. There’s a lot of cool street art around and some pretty cool concert venues (Trees, Bomb Factory).  Deep Ellum isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, however. Your hipster brother, yes. Your conservative father, maybe not. Also, you can’t really escape paying for parking in Deep Ellum, so that’s a bummer.

The Wait:

Count on at least hour wait if you arrive right when Pecan Lodge opens (worth it!). It’s generally pretty shaded in the early part of the day and half of the line is indoors, so it’s not horrid. You can always snag a seat at the bar or order The Trough($75, serves 4-5) to skip the line.

Hard Eight

Best BBQ in Dallas

The Food:

This is my husband’s absolute favorite place to get BBQ. Hard Eight catered our wedding(even though I was too preoccupied to eat), so we may be a little biased here. Their brisket is solid and their sausage is fine, but not as flavorful as Pecan Lodge. Their sauce comes in traditional and spicy and it’s what you would expect for a Texas style BBQ sauce(sweet, spicy, and tomato based). Hard Eight has some pretty good poppers as well.  As for sides, I like the mac and cheese at Hard Eight better than Pecan Lodge. They also offer free beans, which is good if you’re trying to save your money for, well, the BBQ.

The Location:

Hard Eight has two locations, one in Coppell and one in The Colony. The one in Coppell feels like the middle of nowhere (At least it does to me. I have no sense of direction.). The location in The Colony is right in front of Nebraska Furniture Mart near Stonebriar Centre so there are lots of other things to do in the area. Parking isn’t too bad, and they have a golf cart that drives around and shuttles people (though I’ve never been offered a shuttle).

The Wait:

Depending on when you go, the wait time is about 30 to 40 minutes. The unfortunate factor about Hard Eight is that the line where you winds through the area filled with the meat smokers, so you WILL smell like a campfire by the time you are done. Your clothes, your hair, it’s all going to smell like smoke by the time you order. The area is shaded, but it gets pretty hot and muggy from all the smokers, so it’s not my favorite.

Hutchins BBQ

Best BBQ in Dallas

The Food:

Hutchins BBQ was a new place for The Hubs and I. I really enjoyed everything that I had there. Hutchins the only place on this list that has an all you can eat option (for around $21) and it was totally worth it. I normally don’t eat a lot of meat, so I didn’t order it. It would have been way to much for me. But for any red-blooded male out there, it’s perfect. The Hubs liked it because it allowed him to sample a larger variety of meat. The sides were pretty awesome too. They were all piping hot and fresh and the mac and cheese was excellent. (I hope you’re starting to get an idea of my priorities by now.) They also offer a free dessert, which is a major score! When we went, they had soft serve ice cream, cobbler and banana pudding.

The Location:

Hutchins also has two locations. One is in McKinney and one is in Frisco. We initially tried to go to the McKinney location but it was closed for remodeling. This was reflected absolutely NOWHERE on their website or google page, which was frustrating.  From there we drove to the Frisco location, which was blessedly open, despite not answering my call to verify. That location was pretty accessible, with lots of parking. It’s a little further back from the road, but we still found it easily.

The Wait:

We waited in line for about an hour or so. The line stretches both inside and outside and honestly clogs up the exit a little bit. Still, it wasn’t terrible unpleasant. They were on their last thing(I don’t know the unit of measurement here) of brisket by the time we got to the front (maybe around 7:00 PM?) but had plenty of burnt ends left.

Lockhart BBQ

The Food:

Lockhart BBQ is good, but doesn’t really stand out to me. Perhaps that’s why I never actually took a picture of my food at Lockhart BBQ. The Hubs likes their smoked turkey and their brisket is pretty standard. Whatever you do, do NOT get their spicy mac and cheese if you want to taste the rest of your meal. It is SPICY. Like nothing else tasted right afterwards. I would not recommend the spicy mac…unless you’re into that sort of thing.

Best BBQ in Dallas

Shameless Engagement Spam! Also, pretend you can’t see my nasty bra: Old Faithful.

The Location:

Lockhart BBQ also has two locations. One is in Bishop Arts District, the other in Downtown Plano. Both are really cool areas. We did our engagement pictures at Bishop Arts District, so naturally I love that place. It’s a super cool place to just go and walk around. Good luck with parking though. Be prepared to walk. Downtown Plano is the closest to where we live, and it’s really easy to access. It’s also right by the DART rail, which is nice.

The Wait:

I’ve rarely seen a wait at the Plano location. It’s really easy to get in and out. The upstairs seating is pretty cool too,  The Bishop Arts location had maybe a 20 minute wait, but it was all indoors, so it barely counts.

So there you have my humble assessment of  the best BBQ in Dallas. There are other places besides these four, but these are the ones that stand out as the best in my book. They all have different strengths depending on what vibe you’re looking for and how much time you want to spend. Do you have any favorites that I’ve missed? Let me know and I’ll add them to my taste test list!