I drove from the airport to an area that I would describe as the northern area of Minneapolis, but it's probably not all that far north. I arrived at the "Smack Shack" which is in what seemed like an area of the city that used to house a number of industrial businesses, a large brick building with very high ceilings.
|The Smack Shack in Minneapolis|
|Open and airy seating area|
|Large Bar area|
The Smack Shack specializes in Seafood and bar/pub food. I took a seat at the bar and looked over the menu. They feature seafood, specializing in shell fish and I decided to try the "Connecticut" style Lobster Roll, celebrating my state of birth. Connecticut Style, according to the Smack Shack is the meat of the lobster sautéed in butter and spices and served on a New England style roll. The roll was very good, the butter was not too over powering and the spices added very nicely. The roll came with Bay Fries but were really nothing special but made better by adding some Old Bay spice. You got to love a place that has cans of Old Bay on the table!
|My "Connecticut" Style Lobster Roll|
|Gotta love a place that as Old Bay on the table|
The place was not too busy and pretty quiet, my server who was also the bar tender was efficient but not all that friendly, I would recommend this place for the food and maybe if it was busier it would have been more fun.
I headed out to my next stop. It took about 20 minutes to get to. "Gandhi Mahal Restaurant" is exactly what you think it was an Indian based restaurant. I was there for lunch and they only serve a buffet for lunch, I would have rather tried something off the menu but that's what they do then that's what I do!
|Gandhi Mahal Restaurant in Minneapolis, MN|
|My Gandhi lunch plate|
|Indian desert - Gelatin on the left Tapioca on the right|
As I left I tried a small handful of roots and seeds offered as a breathe cleanser, it was interesting as it tasted like eating anise flavored bird seed. The mea was pretty good and I was proud of myself that I didn't eat too much, which is a temptation at any buffet!
I headed out and headed off to the next stop a few miles away called "Northbound Smokehouse and Brew Pub". The small restaurant had a a huge bar and a small outdoor patio seating area. From the name I had assumed that it was a barbecue place and they did have some barbecue on the menu but their specialty is smoked fish and when I saw the Smoked Appetizer platter on the menu, I knew what I needed to try!
|Northbound Smokehouse and Brew Pub in Minneapolis|
The platter came out with a scoop of Smoked Pike, Smoked Salmon and Smoked Trout along with some very sharp white cheddar cheese and Manchango cheese along with a garlic spread, toast points and some salted pine nuts. Manchango is like a Parmesan style hard chees and the Cheddar was very sharp. The spread was very tasty and the smoked fish was awesome! Pike is a white fish and very mild but the smoky taste was very good. the Trout was very good with a great smoky taste. I must admit that usually I am not a huge fan of Salmon but this was awesome, the best I have ever had!
|My Smoked Fish Platter at Northbound Smokehouse|
This place has to be very popular as they specialize in Minnesota based small batch beers and also feature a number of their own specialty cocktails which along with the great smoked fish makes for a great place. They also do a lot of business refilling Growlers of beer.
After a break to recharge after a busy day I headed out for dinner to a place that I had been looking forward to trying for a ling time. I dove about 40 minute east to the town of Stillwater, MN which is on the St. Croix River the border between Minnesota and Wisconsin. "Smalley's Caribbean Barbecue" is known amongst Triple D fans a he place where Guy ate the hottest chicken wings ever tried on the show (called the 666 wings, priced at $6.66 for 4) and literally drank bleu cheese dressing to try and kill the burn and from what I saw he failed! Smalley's is located in a brick building next to the docks where you can go on river dinner cruises.
|Smalley's Caribbean Barbecue a true Pirate Bar in Stillwater, Minnesota|
I took a seat at the bar as they were having all day Happy Hour prices and the bar was pretty busy and seemed like the patrons were having a great time! As I arrived I saw a young woman who had just tried the infamous hot 666 wings and was being caressed by her friends to help her recover from the wings that are sauced by CONCENTRATED Ghost Peppers, the hottest on earth! Other patrons told me that they were very tasty but it took a day to recover from them! I chose the Pork Taco (also featured on their episode), Coconut Shrimp and the Bam-Bam drink, which was a Ginger Beer drink with Lime. The Taco was pretty spicy but very good. The Shrimp came with a spicy coconut based sauce, I enjoyed them and the drink was very refreshing. It was very cool because there was very good and friendly comradery amongst all of us at the bar and the bar tender was very engaging.
|Fun signage in the bar area of Smalley's|
|Smalley's Pork Taco, spicy good!|
I really enjoyed my visit to Smalley's and would go back any time I return to the area.
My last stop of the day was a brew pub in Minneapolis in the area around the University of Minnesota . "Surly Brewing Company" is a real working brewery that has a very lively beer hall restaurant. The place was packed! You are seated at communal tables and I saw very few empty seats at the tables. They make a dozen different types of beers. It's almost like you sit among the large copper and steel tanks here al the beers are created.
|Surly Brewing Company in Minneapolis|
|Surly Brewing Company's Beer Hall|
|The big beer vats|
I chose a 4 ounce pour of a strong beer called "Fission". They likened it to a champagne or wine due to it's fizziness and style. I found it to be very strong and a bit bitter to my palate. I also got a huge soft pretzel which came with a horseradish based mustard sauce and spicy pimento cheese spread. The pretzel was very good and a good accompaniment to the spicy sides!
|4 oz. pour if Surly's Fission 10.4 APV beer|
|Soft Pretzel with Spicy Mustard and Pimento Cheese on the side|
I headed back to my hotel for the night after a fun first day in the Twin Cities. In the morning I headed back out for another day of Triple D fun. My first stop was in a very diverse area of Minneapolis, there were flags of all nations along the road as well and restaurants and shops representing many nations but mostly Latin and Middle East. "Holy Land Bakery and Deli" is in a huge international market in downtown Minneapolis called the Midtown Global Market and is located in the historic and huge Sears Roebuck and Co. building.
|The Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis in the historic Sears and Roebuck Building|
Holy Land is tucked into the corner of the place and is a bakery, small restaurant and market with a Mid East theme. The restaurant area had yet to open on my visit so I decided to get a coupe slices of Baklava to go.
|Holy Land Bakery and Deli, a Market Café and Bakery in the Midtown Global Market|
|My Holy Land Baklava|
After making my purchase I decided to walk around and check this place out There were food stands and small markets for laces from all over the globe. American places share space with Ethiopian, Somali, Latin and European places. The market is a true representation of the Minneapolis area where there are several large ethnic groups that call the Twin Cites their home. Did you know that the pirates from the movie Captain Phillips were taxi drivers from Minneapolis before making the movie from the large Somali neighborhood of Minneapolis.
|Some of the interesting sites of the Midtown Global Market|
From the market I headed a few miles to my next stop, probably one of the most unique places that I have ever been to in all of my travel, not just Triple D travels but all of my travels! "The Herbivorous Butcher" looks like your normal butcher shop as you enter, but it is totally vegan! The display cases are filled with what looks like meat products but all are made from non-meat and non-dairy products.
|The Herbivorous Butcher - A totally Vegan Butcher shop in Minneapolis|
The place was very interesting specializing in all things vegan. Cookbooks, sauces and ice creams and non-meat meat products are all featured. Their bathroom was also marked as gender neutral and inclusive to all, taken right from the recent news stories! I looked over the product and decided to get a Korean-style rib to go. The thing looked exactly like what you'd get from a Korean restaurant but was made form a flour base. When I got back to the hotel and tried the rib I was amazed, not only did the rib look real, but cut like a rib and tasted like the real thing! If I hadn't known it was not meat I would have thought it was the real thing! Very tasty! I would like to try some of the steaks and meats that they make thee, all done on site. It's almost like a lab and the prices are a bit high but there is a lot of work that goes to produce their products.
|Shelves of Vegan products|
|All inclusive bathroom - from the news of today|
|Totally Vegan Korean Rib - Tastes like the real thing|
I headed off to my next place which was about a 15 minute drive away in an area of Minneapolis that is home to the area's Jamaican and Caribbean population. "Marla's Caribbean Cuisine" is a small but very colorful family run place. The walls are adorned with colorful paintings and murals that make you feel that you are in the Caribbean. Marla's is family run and the menus points out not only the items that were made on their Triple D episode but also shows the favorites of Marla and her family.
|Marla's Caribbean Cuisine in Minneapolis specializing in food from Trinidad and the Caribbean|
|The colorful interior of Marla's|
The menu is loaded with all things Caribbean and most items are spiced to taste. I chose the a brown stewed chicken dish with black beans and rice. When the dish arrived it looked a lot like a Chinese dish but that was the only thing similarity. The dish was very tasty with a nice spice taste. While I was enjoying my meal Marla came out to check on all of the patrons and also signed my book.
|My meal at Marla's|
I headed back to the hotel to relax for the afternoon. During my break I walked over the Mall of America which was about a five minute walk away. I have been there several times but not in the last 10 years. The park in the center of the huge square mall is now run my the TV network Nickelodeon and seems to have added a few attractions. I always go to find the home plate marker in the middle of the park. The mall was built on the site of the old Metropolitan Stadium, home of the Minnesota Twins and Vikings from 1960 through 1981. There is also a stadium seat marker on the far wall from the home plate to note the longest home run hit at "The Met" by Twins slugger Harmon Killebrew.
|The famous Mall of America|
|One of the many fountains and decorations in the shopping area of the mall|
|The amusement park in the Mall of America Nickelodeon Universe|
|The Park's Central Balloon decoration|
|Many rides in a small area!|
|The exact location of Home Plate at the old Metropolitan Stadium home of the baseball Twins and football Vikings|
|Harmon Killebrew, the Twins giant slugger|
|The Red Chair is the exact location of Harmon's longest home run shot|
I left the hotel to try a coupe more places to end my second day. I had planned to meet a friend about 730p so I left the hotel to try a place before we met. It as about a 15 minute drive from the hotel to a small neighborhood place. "Buster's on 28th" is a neighborhood bar and restaurant and was packed. I was seated at the end of the bar and usually I would rather sit at a table but in this case I couldn't have been seated at a better place. It was next to the open kitchen so it was almost like being at the chef's table, I got to see all of the food being prepared. Buster's also features about 10 local beers on tap.
|Buster's on 28th a small but popular neighborhood bar|
|Huge selection of local beers on tap at the bar|
Since I had plans later I decided to try a small salad and an appetizer. All of the appetizers sounded and looked great from what I could see form my seat but I was intrigued with the house made potato chips so I chose the and a Caesar salad. I watched the chips being made and they were presented with a French Onion dip. The chips were excellent and the dip just enhanced the taste. The salad had a cold soft boiled egg to crack and add yolk to the salad. I had never had a salad like that and it was pretty good, the small salad was pretty big! I met the manager, Nick and he was reluctant to sign my book, he told me that his signature was pretty bad but he did give me the poster that Guy had signed for the place. I was honored to receive it and plan to get it framed when I got home, this is a really great gift. He told me that the show has helped but that they have been very busy form the time they opened so the show has brought the non locals in, they have been popular with the locals since they pend their doors. I was also surprised from a short visit from my friend Ilene who stopped by to say hi.
|My chips being prepared|
|House made Potato Chips|
|Small Caesar Salad with Soft Boiled Egg|
I took off for the 15minute drive to meet a friend I worked with over 20 years ago. The place I thought I was headed to was called "Prairie Hut Dogs and Handcrafted Sausage" but the place has changed owners and names ut still trades off Guys visit. The "Viking Bar" is a dark neighborhood bar in an area of small bars and restaurants. I met u with Greg who had already arrived. I worked with Greg in the late 1980s and early 1990s when he was at Dulles working for Air Wisconsin. He is from Wisconsin but has lived in the Twin Cities for about 2 years. It was great to catch up and we talked about old times and mutual friends for several hours.
|The Viking Bar formerly Prairie Hot Dogs and featured on Triple D|
|Viking's Bar fare|
|Tots from the Viking|
They had some interesting live entertainment. A jazzy quartet that had an interesting sound, it sounded to me like the singer was yelling at us, oh well, to each his own!It was a great visit with a good friend and hope that it doesn't take another 23 years to see him again!
|Greg and I|
I headed back to the hotel for the night t rest for the next day of adventure. After a night of rest I headed out for the 3rd of four days in the Twin Cities. This day would be the day I did the most travelling as two of the furthest places had been closed on my first two days so I needed to get to them. My first top would be my only stop in the city of St. Paul. The "Colossal Café" has added several locations since Guy visited and the original location recently closed so I chose the location in St. Paul. It is in a quiet neighborhood with a church and school as it's neighbors and looked to me like the location that they filmed at. It's a funny name for a place that is not colossal at all but very intimate! As you enter you order from the wait stand and then take a seat anywhere in the place. I chose a seat at the bar. This area is really into local beers, the Colossal has 5 beers on tap and it's only open from 7a to 3p! They have a self serve coffee and water bar and there is both tap and sparkling water offered, that is something I haven't seen before.
|The open kitchen area|
|The not so Colossal restaurant area|
|Smoked Trout plate|
|Bathroom decorations, very interesting|
After a nice visit I headed out for the 45 minute drive to my next stop which was in the town of Bayport along the St. Croix River just a few miles from Stillwater, where I had visited Smalley's two days before. "Bayport Barbecue" is a small place and only offers buffets but in this case I was happy with it as I got to ty a little bit of everything.
|Bayport Barbecue in Bayport, MN - A Barbecue joint celebrating "Blues and 'cue"!|
The place is decorated in everything music but focuses on the Blues! You can purchase old blues LPs for about 5 bucks and find a lot of CDs here, too. The walls have concert posters and etchings of the headstones of famous blues artists and a lot of cool memorabilia.
|Bayport Barbecue's interesting wall decorations|
I met the owner and she signed my book and then showed me the buffet area which was in the kitchen. I tried a little of everything and it was all good. The beans were very spicy and had a lot of barbecued pork chunks, I was glad to have some bread to quell the heat! The chicken was good with a nice smoke flavor and the pulled pork was very good with excellent bark flavors, but the brisket was excellent with nice bark and just enough spice to be great!
|Bayport Barbecue's buffet area in the kitchen|
|My lunch plate, I guess this is a tasting platter!|
If I wasn't going to another place then I would have tried more but this was just the right aunt for me! I said good-bye to the owner and headed out for the 45 minute drive to the town of Champlin, north of Minneapolis. Along the way I drove through Coon Rapids, which may not sound familiar to many, but I've seen the Coon Rapids Little League team in the Little League World Series, so now I can put a place to the name! "Q Fanatic Barbecue" is in a small strip mall near the river that divides Champlin from Anoka. They have a very interesting menu, mostly ala carte and do a huge take-out business. There take out business is so big that when you enter you need to ring the bell to get someone to help you, most of the employees are I the back filling orders. They do have a small seating area to the side if you want to eat in, which I did.
|Q Fanatic Barbecue in Champlin, MN. where Guy ate!|
I ordered the house made bacon. I have never ordered bacon at a barbecue place and rarely see it on the menu but this was a great choice! The bacon was tender and tasty and the small portion was very just right.
|1/3 Lb. Bacon at Q Fanatic|
|Tender and Tasty!|
I finished up and headed back to the hotel to relax before heading out for an evening of meeting new friends and more Triple D fun! I headed out in a driving rainstorm and was planning to meet Rick who runs the Flavortownusa.com site that I use in all of my Triple D travel planning. My first sop before meeting Rick and his wife was a place called "The 1029 Bar" and features a small kitchen that was the forerunner to the Smack Shack that I had visited two days earlier. There wasn't time to try anything from the kitchen as the traffic had delayed me, he menu was a scaled down version of the one I had seen a few days before.
|The 1029 Bar with the kitchen run by the Smack Shack|
|Inside the 1029 Bar|
I decided to try a Hard Cider and they had a choice of two on tap, I chose the sweeter one called Training Wheels. It was a cloudy cider with a nice dry apple taste. This is a local brewed cider and they make it n=only a few blocks from the bar.
|Training Wheel Cider|
|Psycho Suzi's Motor Lounge a Minneapolis Legendary Triple D joint!|
|Tiki Entrance area at Psycho Suzi's Motor Lounge|
|Bar and Seating area at Psycho Suzi's|
Rick enjoyed a Tiki drink called the Beachcomber and Jen got the Polynesian wings and Poutine Tots topped with Cheese Curds and served with a slightly spicy sauce. I got the solo Surly Sausage and Mushroom pizza and Rick tried the solo Suzi's special pizza. Everyone enjoyed their meals and we ended the night with Warm Chocolate Chip cookies and Milk.
|Poutine Tater Tots|
|My Surly Sausage and Mushroom Pizza|
|Enjoying my meal with Rick's Tiki glass on front|
|Our Warm cookies and milk dessert|
|Jen and I standing in front of the back decks Tiki Statue|
My last day in the Twin Cities started out early. One of the places on the list opened at 7am and I decided to go over and try something for breakfast. "Andale Taqueria y Mercado is a Mexican restaurant, bakery and market. The building looks a lot like one of he art deco buildings from the 50s and 60s. One side of the place is a restaurant where authentic Mexican fare is served, the other is a market and bakery and does a huge early morning business selling hot drinks and pastries.
|Andale Taqueria y Mercado in the Richfield area of Minneapolis|
|The restaurant side|
|The hot bar in the market|
|Racks of fresh baked pastries|
|The sweet case in the market|
I chose a Chicken Tamale since I am not a huge breakfast or egg fan. The restaurant was pretty quiet with the other patrons doing the carry-out so I decided to take it to go and eat it back a the hotel. Before leaving I went to the market and go a Mexican Apple soda to keep it in the theme. The place is only about 5 minutes from the hotel so it was very convenient. The Tamale was very good with a light green sauce along with the very tasty and authentic Masa shell, all cooked in a corn husk. The soda made this a total Mexican experience.
|My Mexican breakfast, Chicken tamale along with a Mexican Apple soda|
After a short break at the hotel I headed out to try a few more places. My first stop was in an industrial area not too far from where I was staying. "United Noodles and Oriental Grocery" is known to many DDD fans as "Uni Deli" which is actually a full Asian Market with a small café inside where Rice and Noodle dishes are served. I arrived at 11a when they opened but the café area was not ready to open and I wasn't really in the mood to try any of their fare so I decided to stroll through the store an purchase a few Asian treat to take with me and maybe eat on the flight home.
|United Noodles and Oriental Grocery aka Uni Deli in Minneapolis|
|Huge store in a warehouse complex|
They had some really interesting food items, many I had never seen before. They had a frozen section that had items that looked like balls of ice cream but they actually were balls of fish, shrimp and meats. I also found the chips, snacks and the drinks described as "sweat" interesting. I decided on two items to purchase; dried oranges and strawberry cookie sticks in the "Hello Kitty" line of products.
|Interesting frozen items that are not desserts but balls of Fish, Shrimp, and Meat!|
|Samples of very spicy Barbecue crunchy peanuts|
|Asian version of Pop Rocks|
|My purchase "Hello Kitty" strawberry cookie sticks|
|My second purchase of dried Orange slices|
I headed out of United Noodles to my next stop which was not very far away. "George and the Dragon Pub" is a neighborhood place with the feel of an English Pub with a twist. One of the chefs is Asian so they feature some Asian dished, most prominent is there Vietnamese BahnMie sandwich. The place has a cool English Pub feel with wood booths and tables and English decorations on the walls. I was seated at a table near the center of the dining area. In the center is a large bar area and like most of the places I had been to on this trip there was a large selection of local beers on tap.
|George and the Dragon, an English Style Pub in a quaint neighborhood of Minneapolis|
|Large Bar in the center of the dining area|
|Like most Twin City bars a large selection of local Minnesota beers are offered on tap|
I ordered the Hot Bacon and Onion Dip which was featured on their Triple D episode. While I waited, the Chef and Owner, Stacy came over and introduced herself and signed my book. We talked for several minutes about their episode and Triple D in general. The Dip came out and was presented with toast points. My meal/appetizer came out the hot dip was topped with cheese and mixed with bacon and onion pieces and was really tasty and the bread which was think cu but chewy really made the dish! I know why they chose to present that dish to Guy!
|My Hot Bacon and Onion Dip at George and the Dragon|
When I entered the place it was about 1/4 full by the time I left the place was packed and everyone seemed to enjoy the place and their food. I headed out to my next stop which was about 15 minutes drive away to meet with an of friend who I hadn't seen in over 25 years! "Pizzeria Lola's" is a Triple D fa favorite because they made good brick oven pizzas and on their episode Guy brought Andrew Zimmern, the host of "Bizarre Foods" and Minneapolis resident with him. Andrew was probably the only person that was able to get Guy to eat eggs! Pizzeria Lola features a list of interesting and unique pizzas baked in their copper laden brick oven that s prominent in the center of the dining room in the open kitchen.
|Pizzeria Lola, a Triple D fan favorite in Minneapolis|
I met with my friend Dawn, who I worked with in the late 80s and early 90s at Dulles when she worked for Air Wisconsin and I worked the ramp for United. Dawn still lives in Appleton, Wisconsin but is in the Twin Cities working in the medical field for a 3 month temporary assignment, so it was great to able to catch up with her and talk about old times. We decided to try and share two different pizzas. We chose the Lola's Sausage Pizza and the Korean Barbecue Pizza. Our pizzas came out very quickly, must be the 700 degree brick pizza oven! We tried the Lola Sausage first and it was really good. The house made sausage was mixed with fennel with sweet and tangy tomato sauce and very good!. Then we tried the Korean pizza which had Korean Barbecue meat and topped with Arugula. This pizza was tasty but very spicy! We were able to quell the heat with water. The crust on both pizza's was phenomenal, chewy and tasty!
|Dawn and I catching up after too long!|
|Lola's Sausage Pizza|
|Korean Barbecue Pizza topped with Arugula and very spicy|
|Pizzeria Lola's manager Emily, that the T-shirt she gave me|
|Orange Sorbet with Vanilla Gelato mixed in|
|It was a fun visit with Dawn|
The time went by so fast, it felt like 15 minutes, we vowed not to wait another 25 plus years before seeing each other again! After a short time back at the hotel I headed out to my last stop on the trip. "Broders Cucina Italiana and Pasta Bar" are two different places. They did the cooking at the Cucina Italiana which is an Italian Deli, but I met my friend Ilene at the intimate Pasta Bar across the street.
|Broders Cucina Italiana in Minneapolis|
|Broders Pasta Bar restaurant|
Ilene and I sat at the big pasta bar in the center of the room. This was one of the few places on this visit which didn't have a huge selection of beer on tap but had a wine tap, which made sense. I chose the pasta with Boar meat. The sauce was very meaty with a taste of braised beef with flat, thick, wide noodles that were house made. One of the few pasta's I have ever had that I needed to cut! It was really good and I enjoyed catching up with Ilene who I don't get to visit with very often.
|Broders Wine Tap|
|My pasta at Broders - Boar met with wide thick pasta strands|
I ended the trip on a high note. I was able to get to a lot of places but the highlights were reconnecting with old friends ad making new ones! I have loved this journey because I have been able to meet and reconnect with some many people! I headed home with my Triple D total at 554!