Pork ribs at Animales Barbeque Co.
We are a family of four distinctive eaters. Here is my 7 year old who has a specific list of four foods she will consider, but what it is changes from day to day. There is a young teenager who is open to just about anything as long as parenting hassles are kept to a minimum (they rarely are) and my husband who is basically just happy to be included. And then there is me who has opinions. One of the few meals we can all agree on is ribs. Delicate, smoky, rich and wonderful, they are the holy grail of a happy family dinner. The only problem is that I don’t know how to do them at all.
That’s where Animales Barbeque Co. comes in. The great food that pours from Chef John Wipfly’s huge smokehouse feeds the family snob (me) and all of us with spicy splendor. He recently invited a few friends and members of the media to try his new lineup at Bauhaus Brew Labs and the result was divine.
The tender ribs are simply seasoned with a mixture of peppers and then lightly drizzled with jalapeno syrup. They are not sweet, but instead take on an herbal, fruity flavor with a hint of spice. This is a wonderful interpretation of a familiar dish eaten as a picnic on a special occasion. Plus, in addition to the summer-friendly beers at the Bauhaus (like Short Pants Shandy), there’s also pineapple tapas lemonade for non-beer drinkers.
Sitting outside watching trains go by, petting all the cute dogs, and lying on a picnic bench is a little piece of barbecue heaven in the Northeast. (Joy Summers)
1315 AD Tyler Street, Mpls., animalsbarbeque.com; $33 per counter, subject to change
Stroopwafel Ice Cream Sandwich by Cardigan Donuts
For a second Cardigan Donuts restaurant in Minneapolis, a kitchen equipped with Italian ice cream machines meant only one thing to general manager Justin Bedford. Ice cream.
Of course, there are donuts too—all the varieties that have made Cardigan the Twin Cities’ favorite fried dough, including its one-of-a-kind Old Fashioned Greek yogurt fortified one. But ice cream is new to the Cardigan menu, and this glittery IDS Center venue that opened this week celebrates icy creamy sweetness in a few different ways.
There are few ice cream options on the Skyway, and Bedford wanted to offer easy ways to eat cold treats on the go. Take a ball of light and airy chocolate or a very rich vanilla ice cream on a sugar cone. (The special flavor of the month will be adding to the lineup soon.) Or go all out and make an ice cream shake with any donut in the package. Another original one? Select a donut to be cut in half and filled with a frozen ice cream ring.
I was blown away by the Stroopwafel ice cream sandwich. Chewy and maple syrup sweetened, Dutch-style waffle cookies are rolled around ice cream and topped with any amount of topping. My pick: this super creamy vanilla. (Sharin Jackson)
80 S. 8th Street, Mpls., Cardigandonuts.com
10,000 Lakes Chicken Pie by Mason Jar Kitchen & Bar
Traction does not pay attention to the weather. Just like you can dream of ice cream sundaes in sub-zero temperatures, the need for comfort food can come in the middle of summer. And if comfort food is your thing, Mason Jar Kitchen & Bar in Egan has it all.
The breakfast-lunch-dinner room offers an eclectic and extensive menu. For dinner, from salads and sandwiches to pasta and wood-fired pizzas. But the section called “Minnesota Classic,” which features hot dish Tater Tot, chili pasta, mac and cheese, and pot roast, piqued my interest. Specifically the pot pie ($15) which got a wow before we even took a bite.
A mountain of puffy homemade puff pastry tops a small skillet with fried chicken, wild rice, red potatoes, fresh mushrooms, carrots, onions, celery and corn in a rich creamy (and slightly cheesy) sauce. Delicious. The crust was just as buttery and light as it looks, which also makes it less complex than it looks. But if there’s a culinary mountain to climb, it might as well be a puff pastry mountain.
Comfort is the main theme of Mason Jar. It has a bright, cozy atmosphere with homely décor (with Mason jars, of course), a creative bar program and a lively patio. The sister restaurant, Cupcake Bakery, is under the same roof, serving macaroons and several types of cupcakes, including vegan and gluten-free. Be sure to order for dessert or take away. I’m partial to the Pride cupcake ($3.50); $1 for each sold this month goes to your local PFLAG branch. (Nicole Hvidsten)
Fried Chicken and French Fries from Official Fried Chicken
While there have been many downsides over the past couple of years, there have also been a few upsides: it’s now easier to get food from the outside world into your hands with significantly less human contact, and there are a hell of a lot of locals. fried chicken options. Which begs the question, do we need another place claiming to be the best in town? The answer is available in an automated form on the Official Fried Chicken website.
This chicken isn’t just fried, it’s fried, a term that is probably familiar to those who have taken chicken from small-town establishments. This is a patented method of pressure cooking chicken that leaves the breading crispy and the inside moist.
The official Fried Chicken menu is short: fried chicken (though there are three types) and french fries. The original seasoning is salty, peppery and has a faint garlic flavor that coats every crispy bit of the outer shell. Bursting into each bite, the seasoning finds its way into each bite.
Ordering and collection does not require human participation: order online and scan the QR code to access automatic collection. (It’s an introvert’s dream.) It’s easy to order chicken and meet up with friends for a picnic in a nearby park or a bite to eat on your way out of town—no way to dine at home. Available in four, eight, 12, and 16 pieces for $8.99 to $29.99; french fries for an additional fee. (I’M WITH)
4010 E. 46th Street, Mpls., officialfriedchicken.com
Rum Cake by Milton’s Vittles, Vino and Beer
I accidentally got a piece of rum cake and it was happy.
A mess with my takeaway order at a nearby restaurant in Crystal, on the threshold of the Golden Valley, left me waiting on a leather sofa in a charming dining room a little longer than anyone expected. To smooth things over, the waiter put a piece of Bundt cake in the bag with my order.
Honestly, I forgot about it until late at night. The cake is so unassuming (and my photo is not in favor, sorry). But what looks like a biscuit sale turned out to be much more than that.
Owner Francine Weber, whose family often vacations in Jamaica, brings a few island influences to nearly 10-year-old Milton’s menu. Dried chicken is a signature dish. And the $5.75 rum cake, inspired by those boxed brownies sold at airport duty-free shops, fits in perfectly.
“When we opened the restaurant, we were based on my children’s favorite dishes,” Weber said. “The rum cake was one of my family favorites that I baked for Christmas and it was one of those cakes that was always on the counter. the pieces are gone.”
The rum is made into icing and baked right in the cake, and Weber sometimes uses different flavors to spice it up. Also: “There’s a lot of butter,” she said. Weber uses vintage Bundt molds given to her by people, each offering something unique to the ever-changing cake. What doesn’t change? A cloud-like celestial crumble that’s as moist as possible, with a smooth hint of rum and a touch of the tropics that feels and has a nice homely taste. (SJ)
3545 Douglas Drive N., Crystal, miltonsvvb.com