Best Of Secrets of the City Awards

Secrets of the City Award: Best Surprise Bar Tater Tot Hotdish

Bulldog NE

Some publications save up their awards for special once a year blowout packages—but not us! We’re giving out awards whenever we want to, in whatever categories we want to.

We’re a big fan of limited food menus, thanks to our inability to make decisions, especially when we’re hangry. So menus like at The Bulldog NE—that has brunch and different hot dogs and burgers and sandwiches and entrees and a bunch of other stuff—stops us cold in our tracks (or high top table seat, as it were). Thankfully someone recommended the Tater Tot Hot Dish, and it was outstanding. Beer-braised brisket, caramelized brussel sprouts, roasted mushroom béchamel, truffled tots—the dish is hearty and filling, but not greasy or gluttonous, which is great for lunch. We even threw a little Cholula on there! MPLS + STPL are tot towns, to be sure, but we haven’t had a totdish this good in a long time, we’ll definitely be making it a regular staple of our lunch fare.

The Bulldog NE, 401 East Hennepin, MPLS; thebulldognortheast.com


Secrets of the City Award: Best Summer Afternoon Coffee Drink

cafe horchata

Some publications save up their awards for special once a year blowout packages—but not us! We’re giving out awards whenever we want to, in whatever categories we want to.

Man alive, it’s been humid out, just brutal. And since we’re over caffeinated, we need something that will cool us down while it perks us up. Now, of course we’ve turned in the past to cold press—too much straight coffee, especially in the afternoon. We’ve also had a few crafty iced drinks, like Dogwood’s Cafe Miel, which are good, but just a little too sweet. Our best summer afternoon pick-us-up? The Café Horchata from Peace Coffee. The mix of Yeti cold brewed coffee with rice, almond, and cashew milks hits smack in the sweet spot of summer fun and our café needs without being too saccharine.

Peace Coffee Shop—Wonderland Park, 3262 Minnehaha Ave, MPLS; peacecoffee.com


Secrets of the City Award: Best Pre-Movie Brunch at West End

cooper

Some publications save up their awards for special once a year blowout packages—but not us! We’re giving out awards whenever we want to, in whatever categories we want to.

Brunch is risky business. You’ve not at 100%, you’re hungry and need coffee, other people are cranky—it’s the last time you want to be waiting in a line to sit down and get food. But when done right, brunch kicks butt, and that’s why it’s such a big, big deal. Since we’re fans of pre-movie activities, when in need of seeing a new movie before it trickles down to the second run theaters, we hit Sunday brunch at Cooper at West End before heading across the street to our pre-assigned seats. Since the Irish pub is suburban-sized, getting a table happens right when you walk in. Their brunch menu has a bunch options for filling you up, like a classic Irish breakfast (Eggs, bacon and sausage, black and white pudding, beans, mushrooms and tomato) or our favorite the Benedict Hash. There’s also a bacon flight to split—or just eat yourself, you know what you’re about. And since Cooper has that size, they’re well staffed so you’ll be in and out before catching your movie.

Cooper Pub & Restaurant, 1607 Park Place Blvd, SLP; cooperpub.com


SotC Award: The Rat Hole

Some publications save up their awards for special once a year blowout packages—but not us! We’re giving out awards whenever we want to, in whatever categories we want to. 

The Best of List from City Pages came out yesterday—and this might surprise some to hear us say— there’s a lot of good stuff in it, especially some of the A&E highlights like Piñata Records as Best Local Record Label and LOTT as Best Acoustic Performer. Underground venue Shit Biscuit won the award for best venue name, and we agree that it’s good. But we also wanted to recognize the off-the-radar crusty metal venue that’s had a bunch of awesome shows lately, including the Bloodgeon tour kickoff—The Rat Hole. You can basically have two reactions to that name, either you’re really excited to go, get wasted on cheap beer that you brought, bang around and have your ears bleed . . . or you scrunch your face up and say “nope”. And that’s how a good name should work.


SotC Lifetime Achievement Award: The TV in Nye’s Polka Lounge

Nye's

Some publications save up their awards for special once a year blowout packages—but not us! We’re giving out awards whenever we want to, in whatever categories we want to. 

We stopped into Nye’s on Saturday night to either pay our respects or say good riddance, depending on your opinion of the iconic venue. For us it was a little of both. Maybe it’s that the end of Nye’s as we know it is approaching, with upcoming sale and hilarious (and somewhat sad) high rise development, but the place was packed during our visit. Through it all—the server’s uniforms, the terrible singing at the piano bar, the three dining rooms of birthday parties, the World’s Most Dangerous Polka Band—the one thing that stood out to us was the television hanging in the corner of the Polka Lounge. The sagging, 18 inch screen looked like no one had changed the channel for the last 15 years, the moving image mostly an abstract mess of different colored horizontal lines over what might have been a basketball game. That TV has shown a lot of games and seen a lot of crazy stuff in that bar, and that’s why it’s getting an award.


SOTC Award: Best Restaurant Location Change

Himalayan

Some publications save up their awards for special once a year blowout packages—but not us! We’re giving out awards whenever we want to, in whatever categories we want to. 

Himalayan Restaurant and their excellent Nepalese/Indian/Tibetan food has long been a standard of Franklin Ave in Seward, as well as a staple of our takeout diet. (We’re big fans of the palak paneer and Kathmandu curry, and Pro Tip: Add on a half order of veggie momos.) So when we heard from them that they were upgrading their space to the old Kong’s building on East Lake street we got pretty jazzed. Not only can they accommodate a table of more than four without have to shift around the whole restaurant, Himalayan hasn’t changed a thing about their tastey food or familiar service.


SOTC Award: Best Place to Power Lunch—Secretly

zenbox

You work downtown in MPLS. Your bosses and coworkers work downtown in MPLS. But you need to meet up with a new prospective employer or client or boyfriend on the down low. Most spots you normally lunch are out, but you need somewhere with a good lunch to show you know what’s going on. Enter Zenbox Izakaya on Washington and 6th. Just out of the reach of prying eyes and ears, Zenbox fills up with young professionals at lunch because they’ve got a great menu (we recommend their bento boxes or veggie curry and tofu skewers), quick service, and you can stay in the loop on any big time events they have, like Ramen Massive Attack. And you can get your private business done without bumping into anyone . . . for now.