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Category : Eats

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Phatphood Eating Twin Cities: Tamarack Tap Room

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Phatphood Eating Twin Cities: Tamarack Tap Room – We decided to do a special Christmas segment of #FOODPORN since we will be taking vacation next week. Don’t you worry; I’ll still be eating that good good, just not for TV. We are dressed for the occasion and keeping the theme going by coming here to Tamarack Tap Room. Tamarack as you may know is an American Larch, which is a tree in the pine family, hence a Christmas tree, er…well, close enough right? Snuggled in the 10-year-old Tamarack Village here in Woodbury and what use to be a Champps Americana for 20 years is now home of the finest craft beers, eats, and libations. I’m ready for some strong whiskeys and scrumptious dishes for my holly jolly belly. This will be airing TONIGHT at 11PM on ‘On The Fly’ only on MY29.

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Starting off with some small plates, and what I have presented in front of me is a Sausage Board – Jalapeno elk, Spanish chorizo, Andouille, local cheese, nuts, pickled red onion, beer mustard, sauerkraut and ciabatta. I’m diggin’ every single element on this board. The beer mustard is wonderful and pairs with everything shown and each sausage has its own unique taste that I enjoyed.

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Now if there are cheese curds on the menu, you best try them. These just happen to be Beer Battered Cheese Curds – with Wisconsin white cheddar and served with smoked blueberry ketchup. This dipping sauce is downright awesome! Not to put down the cheese curds at all, but this was truly the star of this dish. I want it on my pancakes.

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Raspberry Lemondrop – A twist on a classic made with Prairie organic vodka, French Chambord, an all-natural black raspberry liqueur, Cointreau, lemon juice and simple syrup served in a martini glass with a lemon peel.
 It’s a great tasting drink, but it’s also a foo-foo drink, so that’s going to Producer Doug back there.

 Bourbon Amaretto Sour – 100% real almond Gozio amaretto, buffalo trace bourbon (a relatively dry, nutty bourbon), house sour mix, fresh egg white (for foam and texture) and Peychaud’s (creole) bitters. I was a bit skeptical of the raw egg whites, but I’ll try anything. This was good and much stronger than I had anticipated. Egg white is the new froth; take that Starbucks. Maple Bacon Glaze – bourbon soaked bacon boiled down with pure maple syrup. Buffalo trace bourbon and Aperol, a bitter orange liqueur for balance. Mr. @tonyflizzle hogged the bacon outta this one, but he did let me get a small sip, and I want another one. Bold flavors here. We’re drankinnn!!

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The Big 24 – 24oz triple decker, 6-slices of applewood smoked bacon, 3-slices of American, 3-slices of Swiss, lettuce, tomato, red onion, house pickles and house sauce, all stacked in between a brioche bun. Each patty is a half-pound special blend of hand ground Midwest beef from Minneapolis butcher W.W. Johnson. This burger is offered as a challenge with having to consume the entire meal (fries included) within 8 minutes. @TonyFlizzle and I were wondering if we cut it in half that maybe we could just do it in 4 minutes. I don’t think they were having it. These seasoned meat patties were superb in flavor alone. Damn big, and very good tasting burger here. Quite impressive, but what’s next?

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Time for another round, on me…for me! 
Whiskey Flight: Knappogue 12 – Irish, pot-distilled whiskey made with barley. Light, grassy, earthy. Yamazaki 12 – Japanese whiskey that is both pot and column distilled and then blended together, aged in Japanese oak barrels that gives the whiskey a unique cherry flavor. Very complex, this whiskey hits a lot of notes. Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel – From Buffalo Trace Distillery, a single barrel, hand-picked by the master distiller. Very aromatic, rich and full of vanilla, caramel, and lactone notes from the wood aging. 
I’m pretty sure I can blow fire out of my mouth at this point.

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Locavore – Local Strauss free range grass fed beef, duck bacon, Wisconsin-aged cheddar, fried egg and pretzel bun. As if one 24oz burger wasn’t enough, we absolutely had to try this just because of the magic words; duck bacon. Just as I expected, the bacon did justice. These aren’t your skimpy slices of bacon here either, and who doesn’t like an over easy egg with #yolkporn on their burger? Pretzel bun again, this one actually has the salt on top unlike others we have devoured in this segment. Always get a side of tots.

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The chef came by and asked if we wanted any dipping sauce for the tots. He mentions Ghost Aioli and it was music to my ears with a slight burn to my esophagus. This sauce needs to be jarred up and taken everywhere. Oh My WOW!

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Short Rib Mac N Cheese – Four-cheeses, wild mushrooms, penne and ciabatta. I almost didn’t get to try this dish, but sure in the hell glad I did. Aside from burning my tongue because I couldn’t wait to dive in, with my remaining taste buds, this was spectacular. This dish had an ample amount of tender shredded short rib in a perfect mixture of cheese. Give me a glass of red with this dish and I’m good.

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Not that dessert isn’t (double negative) my favorite part of dinner…okay, maybe it is. Anyway, it’s about damn time I get some Peanut Butter and Chocolate served up as a shake. The peanut butter was dominant here, and I loved it. I’m kind of full, but I really don’t want to stop. @tonyflizzle and I shared this Lady and the Tramp style. Check out that kinky mess when this segment of #foodporn airs tonight at 11pm on ‘On The Fly’

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The staff said; “you guys cannot leave without trying our in-house bakery chefs Bread Pudding.” Fine, you don’t have to threaten me with stretch marks. It is incredible and it’s served warm even, yum. I think we officially did some damage here. I feel warm and fuzzy. What a great place to come anytime of the day. An awesome staff with a sexy lumberjack like vibe going. I can certainly dig that. I still want to try their bologna sandwich and their chicken and waffles. Next visit. Benjamin is the crafty alcohol wizard here. He can whip ya up something fancy or break down every element in a whiskey so come check this place out. The word is already getting out; it gets pretty packed.

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Tamarack Tap Room, 8418 Tamarack Village, Woodbury, MN 55125

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Phatphood Eating Twin Cities: The Local

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Phatphood Eating Twin Cities: The Local: The Local – If there is an award for pouring the most Jameson Irish whiskey in the world, The Local is a four year straight champ.  Surrounded by hand-carved wood and original chandeliers, this local watering hole has been around for two decades, not just serving up some stellar drinks, but are you aware about the food?  Yea, let’s get into that.

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Starting this evening of #FOODPORN off with two Big Gingers with my weekly gluttony man-date @tonyflizzle. This is their signature drink made with 2 Gingers Irish Whiskey. This drink and the whiskey in it were born here at The Local. 2 Gingers is made at Killbeggan Distillery, the oldest working distillery (1759) in Ireland. They just happen to be on special tonight, and we were told to definitely squeeze the lemon and lime for the ultimate flavor mix.  I love this drink and I love 2 Gingers, keep pouring.

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Mushroom Caps – Wild rice from northern Minnesota stuffed into champ potatoes (champ is a simple Irish side dish made of scallions, potatoes and butter, with the addition of spinach and ground mushrooms) and combined with cream cheese and seasoning. They are then topped with roasted garlic Panko and finish it with a dab of truffle oil and some porcini sea salt.  Crispy and tasty, those two qualities are a beautiful thing. The truffle oil made the whole dining area smell grand. Anything served in a cast iron gets bonus points from me, just let them cool and don’t burn your tongue from eagerness.

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Chicken Shots – Their signature appetizer; they brine and marinate chicken breasts. Then they bread them in their seasonal flour and fry them to order. They are then tossed with their whiskey honey glaze – reduced honey, molasses, vinegar and spices with almost 8 liters of booze to bring this lovely sauce together.
These are amazing. I imagine these being just as good the next day, easily.  Sweet and crisp on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside.  I would imagine these being great with noodles. I foresee endless possibilities and combinations with these. A staple here at The Local if you weren’t aware already.

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Fish and Chips – Their fish is caught and frozen on the boat and shipped directly to them without going through any extra processing until one of their prestige cooks cuts it down. Because of that, they have the advantage of avoiding the soggy water-logged fish that places try to pass off.  They use Finnagins in their beer batter and it comes with a pile of fries, their house tartar, and finished with course sea salt and fresh dill.
A lightly, yet crisp battered, lovely, fresh, and HUGE portion of fish. Perfectly paired with an ice cold Heineken.

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Guinness Nitro IPA – A perfect beer to pair with our next dish, curry. Seriously this is my first time trying this, and I’m highly impressed. Smooth, delicate, with a nice head, and three heads are better than one. Very well balanced and not what I expected from an IPA. Did you know this place was the first to have it on tap about two months ago?  Now you do.  Bring on that curry!

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Curry Dinner – Curry is a pub staple in Ireland. Theirs is a mild yellow curry with a bit of toasted coriander and cumin to round it out. They prepare the chicken in vinegar and coconut “brine” and simmer it in curry sauce with bell peppers and yellow onions to order. It is served with basmati rice and sides of popadom, chili paste, scratch cucumber riatta, and onion chutney.  What a pleasant and hearty curry. I’d come here just for this if there weren’t so many other amazing dishes to choose from. I’ve never in my curry-eating life had sides to add, and you know what, all of them worked. So go ahead and dump them in and enjoy.

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Trio of DessertsBread Pudding; A denser version of Grandmas favorite, topped with hazelnut struessle. Chiboust; Vanilla flavored pastry cream and merengue folded together and frozen. They then brûlée it and serve it with fresh berries. Guiness Mousse – Two types of beer infused mousse layered to look like a pint.

All three are wonderful and I’m not sure what to write to convince you otherwise. How adorable is that mousse? Also, perfect portions to share this trio of sugar. Paired with The Local Irish Cream…

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The Local Irish Cream – Made fresh in house with 2 Gingers Whiskey, and the rest is a big giant secret.  Just know that you will beg for the secret recipe to this dessert-inspired drink, because it is that good.  Move over RumChata & Hot Chocolate, there is a new after dinner drink in town.  I will get this recipe, give me time.

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I’ve had a few drinks and a few beers tonight, but the final drink to end the night was the strongest and gave me the biggest buzz. Ooooohweeeee! Pictured on the right is Irish Coffee – Sweetened with a little bit of stout and topped with a unique whipped cream.  Aside from the Big Ginger, this is their best winter seller and was named as one of the five best in the US by Imbibe Magazine. I can’t feel my face, and I like it…From a coffee drink? Yup.

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Like a game of clue, there are unique rooms such as the Boardroom, Kissing Room and private event rooms; The Hollow, The Sanctuary and The Choir.  Phatphood got Tony Fly wasted in The Hollow with the boulevardier, I win!  The view looking down from upstairs is like a wide-open old bank or a library, but with a party going on.  Great place to hold an event or meet just about everyone from Target after work… let me get that discount card.  But if mingling and throwing back Irish whiskey is not your thing, the food is magnificent and every plate should be left overturned.  Seriously, keep coming back until you’ve had it all, including the weekly specials.

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The Local, 931 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55402

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Phatphood Eating Twin Cities: B-52 Pop Up Dinner

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Phatphood Eating Twin Cities: B-52 Pop Up Dinner – B-52 decided to do their first ever pop-up dinner led by Chef Jason at a secret location on Saturday December 12th, 2015 at 6pm with a text just two hours before from sought out event planner Traci Czech.  The location happened to be at 11 Wells, a distillery located in the historic Hamm’s Brewery on Minnehaha Avenue in St. Paul.

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We were greeted by Tim Egbert, a mad scientist of spirits whom educated each and every of the fifteen guests that attended this secret feast on what they make as well as the process.  Due to cancelations they decided to seat everyone on one long table which was good for presentational purposes but not so good with getting to know your neighbors.  I have to admit, it was nice to sit in a distillery and admirer all of the equipment and machinery while drinking their product and enjoying some grub.

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Here is what I had for the five course meal paired with drinks:

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Bone Marrow with Toast Points – The beef marrow bone is roasted with herbs and spices. The marrow was sourced from Hometown Meats in Inver Grove Heights. The toast points come from a local bakery, Denny’s 5th Avenue in Bloomington, MN.  Paired with a Christmas Cocktail.   I do not believe there was alcohol involved in this drink, but the bone marrow is a meaty jam to this toast, that is a for sure.  Great taste with a good amount of garlic, bravo!

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Chorizo and Wild Rice Stuffed Mushroom Caps – Chorizo is provided by a local mix company. This is a spicy pork blend, mixed with the mushroom stems, shallots, and local wild rice. They are baked and smothered with parmesan cream sauce. Paired with a Planterns Punch.   Both good, I enjoyed the punch and the Chorizo wasn’t overbearing the mushrooms.  It also worked well with the parmesan.   I would order these frequently as an app if they were available at a favorite spot.  Jason, make this happen.

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Parmesan Crusted Tilapia – Most of the items from this dish are supplied from Urban Organics directly next door to 11 Wells here in St. Paul, MN. The tilapia is the freshest fish you can get here. Harvested this morning in fact. It is lightly crusted with parmesan and served on a bed of watercress they also grow next door. The watercress adds a vibrant spice to the dish. Shareable Brussel Sprouts are on the side and is paired with Rye Whiskey Old Fashioned.  My least favorite dish of the evening; parmesan is easy to burn, an in this case it tasted as so in some spots.  I really get turned off when I find bones while eating fish, I found several, so did my neighbors.  After that I was pretty much done with this dish.   The brussel sprouts with bacon were tasty and so was the Old Fashioned.

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Pork Tenderloin with Cajun Honey Crisp Apples – A match made in heaven. These pork tenderloins medallions have been slowly roasted for extra juicy tenderness. Minnesota’s very own local honey crisp apples are balanced with cayenne, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  A side of roasted red potatoes and paired with what was supposed to be a Cider with a twist, but it was a rum and ginger instead, which I believe was to go with the dessert.  The apples were thinly shaved which I liked so they weren’t the star of the dish.  The pork was cooked near perfectly and the spices worked very well.  Shame though that the cider wasn’t served with this dish because I think it really would have accompanied it well.

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Panna Cotta with Cherry Liquor – Paired with a Rum and Ginger from the last dish, but also with the Cider with a twist now.  Terrific with the cherry liquor addition, and an ample amount of Panna Cotta satisfied me for this finale.

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Overall, a great experience.  I would love to enjoy some other dishes by Chef Jason and his team.  Cool location for this pop-up, very intimate and felt like a secret diners club of some sort.  Can’t wait to give the next operative a try.

B-52 Burgers and Beer, 5639 Bishop Ave. Inver Grove Heights, MN 55076

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Phatphood Eating Twin Cities: The Pint Public House

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Phatphood Eating Twin Cities: The Pint Public House – Newly opened in downtown Minneapolis (3 weeks old) center stage on 1st Ave, The Pint Public House is where we are at. #FOODPORN is why we are here, and under the wing of Canadian Chef Len LeBlanc, Sous Chef Edward is serving up some good-good 40-ways, which seems to be a theme here. With 40 draft beers, 40 different ways to order the wings as well as the rice bowls, you should have no problem finding a favorite here.  With having five locations already in Canada, this is the first one to pop up in the states.  The first location out of the six to have this many draft beers as well.  We Minnesotans like our variety of beer.  It’s a very large space with ample room providing different dining areas, so they also have DJ’s providing the soundtrack every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday, so come and get your dance on.

Kicking it off (literally) with some boot cocktails.

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I had the Rocket Pop and @tonyflizzle went ahead with the Pint Punch.  Both tasty cocktails with snow cone-like ice served in a mini boot.  Let Minneabrolis date night commence…NOW!

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Bring on the heat!! Death Wish Wings pictured here. This is just one of their 40-way flavors; only 39 other ways to go.  These definitely had a slight burn with a dry crushed habanero involved, along with a sweet BBQ.  They leave you chasing the heat with an addicting flavor.  I am a huge fan of these already.  Move over BWW, there’s a new wing joint in town with options galore.

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Pint Perogies – 8 deep fried perogies topped with cheese, bacon bits, green onion and a side of sour cream.  Different than I am use to, and I think we’ve already established that I dig different. I grew up eating pierogies (how we spell it) and I’m used to them being more in a pasta/dough form lathered in butter. Canadians have a different take that I don’t mind, and the potato filling was familiar.  Good bar apps!

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Prairie Panko Pickles – Breaded, deep-fried and unforgettable.  Served with tzatziki on the side.
Great seasoned breading with a crunchy pickle spear, and the tzatziki is a nice addition that I’m not use to having with these; typically ranch dressing. I would order a burger and put a minimum of two of these on it if I were you.

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Rocky Mountain Club – Grilled chicken, bacon, tomatoes, cheddar cheese, lettuce and maple mayo on fresh pretzel bread.   This is great for lunch, not hearty enough for a dinner in my opinion, but it is great with a side of poutine as shown here.  Really digging the soft pretzel bread loaf, and the maple mayo was a nice touch.  I’d like a side of that just to try alone with some fries.

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Pint Poutine – Pint fries topped with cheese curds and Pint gravy.

Finally, a true Canadian Poutine right here in Minnesota.  Not your typical deep-fried cheese curds that most places here think that they are part of this dish, and a very great tasting and hearty gravy over some crisp golden fries.  Finally 🙌 someone is doing it right.  🍁 Thanks!

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Just like the wings, you can get their Rice Bowls 40 ways here.  This way is Tandoori, one of thirteen dry rubs they offer.  Get your choice of chicken, beef or prawns with stir-fry vegetables and topped with green onions and sesame seeds.

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I want to try so many creations!!  Guess I will be a resident here until I’ve tried all possibilities.  Great flavors in this dish with the Tandoori.

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With only one dessert on the entire menu, you really can’t go wrong. Deep-fried Oreos.  It’s like The Minnesota State Fair year-round up in here!  All I know is that I was told that there was Not Your Fathers Root Beer involved and sweet beer batter, hell yeah!  A grand-finale at its finest, and definitely leaving with a smile on my face.

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We came, we ate, we conquered.  Unfortunately we did not have their burgers this time around.  They use Hereford beef in all of them and even go a step above with the Hereford 1881 in their sliders.  It took place of the old Rosen’s Bar & Grill, and I really love what they did with the place and the see-through drop ceilings are stylish.  A great, fun welcoming staff is always good to see as well.  I’ll probably see you here from time to time, so wave, why dontcha!

The Pint Public House, 430 1st Ave N, Minneapolis, MN 55401

White Chicken Chili Recipe

White Chicken Chili Recipe

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White Chicken Chili Recipe: We are BIG fans of all soups and stews. Hard to believe that this is the first time I have made white chicken chili. My house smells amazing!

Generally I search out many recipes and take a little from each one. Most recipes called for 1-pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed, I prefer to use rotisserie chickens for my soups, they just seem tenderer and have better flavor.

White chicken chili ingredients


1 tablespoon olive oil

1 rotisserie chicken shredded

1 tablespoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

2 teaspoons minced garlic

4 cups chicken broth

3 15 oz. cans white beans rinsed and drained

1 small can diced green chilies

1 11 oz. can whole kernel corn

Monterey Jack cheese for garnish

Fresh cilantro, chopped

Heat olive oil in medium sized soup pot. Add shredded chicken, minced garlic, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. Cook for 5-7 minutes. Stirring to get all the spices mixed into your chicken.


Add 4 cups of chicken broth, 3 cans of beans, 1 can of sweet corn and 1 small can of green chilies. Bring soup to a boil and then simmer for 30-45 minutes.

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Sprinkle with cilantro and Monterey Jack cheese.  I have seen many recipes that added slices of avocado to finish off. Enjoy!

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Phatphood Eating Twin Cities: Taste of Thailand

Taste of Thailand MN

Phatphood Eating Twin Cities: Taste of Thailand – With many strip malls along the stretch of University Avenue in Fridley, there is a stand-alone restaurant that has been around for 15-years now, but only owned by the Thanane family for the past five years.  Taste of Thailand Fridley serves authentic Thai cuisine in the most delicious manner.  It may not look like the fanciest place to dine at, but I’m not here to eat the décor, and lets face it, some of the best places to get amazing food are hole-in-the-wall gems.  Throw in the fact that a family is back in the kitchen preparing some secret recipes of their own for us to devour and you have that gem right here at ToT.  Let’s eat!

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No alcohol served here so we are starting off with some cool-cool refreshing beverages. Thai Ice Coffee and Thai Ice Tea with condensed milk, that’s a sugar rush for sure, and who doesn’t like a good tasting sugar rush?  Cheers!

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Fresh Spring Rolls – The best Spring Roll in the Twin Cities! Fresh vegetables, noodles, shrimp and pork, wrapped in rice paper and served with a delicious tangy sauce.

You can taste how fresh these are in every bite.  Along with the fresh shrimp and pork, this is a perfect refreshing appetizer that is just a step above the others.  Huge!

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Goong Hom Pha (Shrimp Rolls) – Marinated shrimp wrapped in egg roll skin and deep-fried until golden brown. Served with a spicy sauce and fresh vegetables.

Firecrackers of shrimp.  Boom!  Can’t go wrong with these, so get a double order.

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Stuffed Chicken Wings – Deep-fried chicken wings stuffed with ground pork, silver noodles, shiitake mushrooms, onions and water chestnuts.

Magically deboned deliciousness!  @tonyflizzle said these were a first for him.  I love introducing people to new food and this crossbreed of an egg roll and chicken wing was the perfect introduction.  You’ll love these!

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Tom Yum Goong – A favorite with Twin Citians, this delicious lemon-flavored soup has shrimp, straw mushrooms, lemon grass galanga, kaffir lime leaves, and Thai chili peppers, served with white rice.

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A big bowl of Thai inspired comfort right here. Better known as a sour cure-all concoction filled with ample amounts of shrimp and secret torpedoes of Thai chili peppers. You’ve been warned.

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Chicken Pad Thai – Another Twin Cities favorite. Stir-fried rice noodles with egg, bean sprouts and green onions, served with roasted peanuts and lemon wedge.

Their number one selling dish and I know why; because it is cooked and tossed perfectly. No clumps of clingy noodles, another fresh hit here with spice levels to your liking.

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Roast Duck Curry – Skinless roast duck sliced and simmered in coconut milk with red curry paste, peas, tomato and sweet basil leaves.

If you know me personally, you know I’m the first one to invite myself over if your parents are cooking curry.  Mussel, chicken, pork, tofu, I don’t care, I simply love curry. This is the first time I’ve had duck curry. It is thinly sliced evenly so it is consistent throughout the dish.  Another Thai comfort dish at its finest.  Another bowl please!

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Whole Fried Tilapia – smothered with stir-fried sweet basil sauce (basil, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms and fresh Thai chili peppers), served with white rice.

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Look at that smile! I’m feeling the same way about this perfectly bathed whole fish.  That’s if you don’t mind it mean muggin’ ya while you chomp away at its torso.  Sweet and tender with a nice char crisp skin. Something new here so it’s not on the menu.  Ask for this special and make it a permanent addition, it’s that good.  With how it is prepared, it is very easy to eat both sides of the entire fish without even having to flip it.  What a perfect dish to end this evening of authentic Thai food.

They also serve a daily lunch buffet Monday – Friday for $8.75 from 11am until the last customer leaves, typically around 1pm.  They are only closed on Sundays and you can always get anything on their menu to go, which seems to be the popular route for most patrons.  Notable mention; they have my absolute favorite cream cheese wontons.

Taste of Thailand 7890 University Ave NE, Fridley, MN 55432 (763) 571-1188

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Phatphood Eating Twin Cities: Dark Horse

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Phatphood Eating Twin Cities: Dark Horse – We walked into this awesome open structure with dimmed globes of lights hanging from the high ceiling surrounded by brick walls accompanied by about 90 bottles of whiskey. International food is what we are about to consume over here at Dark Horse in Lowertown St. Paul, MN. #FOODPORN is what we are doing it for. Check out the details below along with the official segment on Mr. @tonyflizzle‘s show ‘On The Fly’ next week. Stay hungry my friends!

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I, myself, started this evening of adventure-of-foods off with a breakfast stout recommended by my wonderful server, Annie. This beer really goes with the name of the place, loving the vibe as I sit next to the open kitchen window watching each dish get presented as I salivate. Okay, I’m hungry, are you ready for some scrumptious #FOODPORN? Coming right up…

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Turkish Fig Balls – A vegan dish, as well as gluten free, surprisingly delicious. Black mission figs fried into ‘meat balls’, served on a slightly spiced ezme (a reduced tomato stew) and topped with a vegan coconut/cucumber sauce.

By all means, I am not the least bit vegan, but if I were, this would be my go to dish. I found it pleasantly tasteful, with a terrific tzatziki sauce. Visually appealing isn’t it?

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Baozi – Steamed dumpling with braised pork belly, kimchi, yellow pepper and coconut emulsion, ponzu and sprinkled sesame and bulls blood micro beet greens.

Generous portions of pork belly completely fill these tender cooked dumplings. Combined with all of the elements on the plate make for an appetizer that is needed on every visit here. Do these in one-bite, like me, if you can.

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Dark Horse Burger – Ground bacon & smoked Gouda patty, house made thousand island, muenster, pickle and onion. Basically it’s the Dark Horse version of the Big Mac, and a damn good one at that. Served on a house made pretzel bun, this seems to be a crowd favorite, as it is always seen up in the kitchen window. I love this burger.

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JOJO’s – Yukon potatoes and garlic/onion/dill with house roasted garlic ranch. Now you know I couldn’t have had that burger without some fries. Well, I’ve been hearing this rumor around town that Dark Horse has the best Jojo’s around. Guess what? They do. Crisp, flavorful and served with a dipping sauce you’ll want bottled up to take home.

Ready for another drink, and I’m already seeing double.

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Brooklyn – While the Manhattan gets all the love, we are all in favor of the scrappy underdog. This drink is still steeped in tradition, but does it its own way. Bulleit Rye Whiskey with dry vermouth, Luxardo maraschino cherry liqueur, and a dash of Angostura bitters. Good and strong, Brooklyn strong.

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Sweet Corn Gnocchi – Corn and potato dumplings with veal ragu. I knew I brought Tony along for a reason, language lessons. Yes, I know how to pronounce YaNoKey! These were pan fried, adding a crisp outside with the unforgettable soft pillow inside. Great bed of sauce they laid on as well. Yummy stuff!

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Devil In White – Corona beans (giant sweet runner beans), calabrian chile, smoked mozzarella and provolone cheese mix and smoked cream sauce.

Why of course Dark Horse does pizza, its international comfort food remember! They do pizza well. Great crust and ingredients with wow factors. Don’t skip out on the pizza. I may even have to get another style of theirs to take home.

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Red Dragon Rice – Thai red curry, seasonal vegetables, cashews and black sesame sprinkled with lime wedge and cilantro, on top of jasmine rice with optional shrimp.

Definitely added that shrimp, what a good choice that was! Cannot tell you enough about the level of comfort food here, amazing options to choose from and this one is hitting the spot for the local season. It is bursting with rich flavors leaving your tummy warm with just the right spice level.

I had to order another one of their handcrafted cocktails since I’m almost finishing up this food adventure.

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The Last Word – An homage to the prohibition era history of our capital city, this one is old school. Bombay Sapphire Gin shaken and served up with lime, Luxardo maraschino cherry liqueur, and green chartreuse. Clean, citrusy, and slightly herbaceous.

Reminds me of Christmas, word.

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Hangar Steak – Cooked to temp (medium rare), seasonal roasted vegetable medley tossed in a vinegar rosemary pan sauce.

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Perfect portions that were precut (the correct way), made this easy to eat and it was well above par. That buttery pan sauce was killer. What a nice delicate and chewable hangar steak this is.

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Raspberry Jalapeño Cheesecake – with house vanilla bean whipped cream.

I’m not an ‘erry’ fan (anything ending with ‘erry’, at all), but this was a perfect serving for me with just the right amount of ‘erry.’ Not overbearing at all. Their house made whipped cream is oh-so-buttery. Can’t get enough of it!

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Cast Iron Apple Pie – With sharp cheddar cheese and vanilla bean whipped cream.

This is different. If you know me, then you know that I think different is good. More comfort in every which way. The cheese addition is brilliant! That whipped cream again, yes!

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After all of that comfort food, along with crafty cocktails, I need myself a pick-me-up. An espresso should do just that. Ending my night here at Dark Horse, going home to dream about the brunch menu I was just handed.

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Two hours later…

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The Dark Horse – Italian sausage, roasted wild mushrooms, roasted peppers and fresh herbs.

I told you I was going to bring home a pizza, and I did. I lean towards this one as my favorite over their Devil in White. The Italian sausage and roasted mushrooms did it for me. I just can’t stop eating it! Are you on your way to Dark Horse yet?

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A couple of things you may or may not know about Dark Horse: The business partners also own Muddy Waters in Minneapolis. They serve brunch on the weekends, and although I have yet to attend, I am only hearing amazing things about the dishes as well as some of the portions.  Also, they have an in-house baker by the name of Hans that has no experience what-so-ever, and you would never be able to tell from his wonderful creations such as the pretzel roll bun on the Dark Horse Burger and the desserts both mentioned above. Can’t wait to come and try what he serves up for the weekend brunch. Looking ahead; come March next year they will have a stunning patio with iron gates, more than a few dozen tap beers and fire pits to mingle around. Hurry up springtime!

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5 burgers 1 night

2015 Hudson WI Burger Battle We’ve Tried It

5 burgers

Hudson Burger Battle

2015 Hudson WI Burger Battle We’ve Tried It: This is the 5th year of the Hudson Burger Battle. For a donation of $25, participants receive a Burger Battle Punch Card and visit each of the five restaurants with this card during regular lunch or dinner hours between Nov. 1st and Dec. 31st to receive a free Burger Battle featured burger. After participants have enjoyed all five burgers, they simply visit the Burger Battle voting site (click here to vote) and choose your favorite burger. You do realize that you have two months to eat five burgers, but why not make it exciting and have them all in one evening? Let’s go!

Big Guys BBQ Burger

Big Guys Burger

First up is Big Guys BBQ Roadhouse with their Smokin Blues Burger – 8oz CAB burger patty, blackening spice, lettuce, tomato, breaded onion strings, jalapeño chips, bacon and warm blue cheese cream dressing. 
First thoughts: That seasoning on their CAB (Certified Angus Beef) burger really highlights this featured 8-napkin beauty. I love blue cheese and this sauce was awesome! After thoughts: This was the biggest bite of all the burgers, with the most add-ons. Was offered how I liked it cooked, medium.

Season's Tavern Burger

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Second stop down the road on this Hudson Burger Battle is Seasons Tavern with The Frenchie – A 1/2 pound patty stuffed with sautéed onions and Swiss cheese, topped with sautéed mushrooms and Swiss cheese. Served with a side of au-jus. 
 First thoughts: A French onion soup burger or a French Dip basically. There is a perfect char on both sides of the patty. After thoughts: It didn’t leave me craving for another one. Swiss isn’t much of an oozer when it comes to a Juicy Lucy style burger. No option given as to how I wanted it cooked.

Stone Tap Burger 2

Stone Tap Burger 3

Third spot, feeling a little slow, a bit heavier in my walk, but must keep up the momentum. Luckily I can walk to all the remaining burger spots after this. But for now, I am at Stone Tap and giving something with a simple name a try. The Burger – House ground brisket, short rib and sirloin, 10oz double stacked with 3 slices of melted American cheese. 
First thoughts: Lovely, juicy, bloody, simple. Perfectly seasoned leaning more to the peppery side, which I like. After thoughts: Need to mention buttery, as well as my crave for another one. Was offered how I liked it cooked, medium.

Postmark Grille Burger 2

Postmark Grill

Okay, onto the fourth location on this Hudson Burger Battle. I walked up the street to the Postmark Grille to have their Chili Cheddar Cheese Burger – Topped with a cilantro cream sauce. 
 First thoughts: Although it’s not mentioned in the description, it definitely has horseradish in the cream sauce. Different. Another messy one so keep the napkins close. After thoughts: The cilantro was lost and masked by the horseradish. The chili was lacking something. Came well done by default.

Dick's Bar and Grill Burger

Dick's Burger 2

Woo! Finally made it to the fifth and final burger. Finishing all five in 3.5 hours. Dessert?? Maybe. Last spot is Dick’s Bar & Grill and they are serving up the Sicilian Burger – 1/3 lb. burger with chopped jalapeños and bacon, marinara, mozzarella and cheddar cheese. 
 First thoughts: A little bit of everything that works. I’ll just call it a pizza burger served on a crisp toasted bun. I’m full now. After thoughts: The jalapeños and bacon got lost in the marinara. Love the two cheesy melt combo. A garlic butter sauce on that perfectly toasted bun would have been a nice touch. Ordered mine medium, but had to ask.

The winning restaurant and burger will be officially announced in early January. But you can get my winner right here, right now. Final thoughts: Although all burgers had their own uniqueness, it came down to two burgers for me to choose from. The Smokin Blues Burger from Big Guys BBQ Roadhouse and The Burger from Stone Tap, two outstanding burgers that were both cooked perfectly medium. I am a sauce type of guy that loves a burger with flare. That’s why I really love the Smokin Blues Burger. I love a burger that is seasoned perfectly and stands on it’s own as far as flavor.  That’s why I love The Burger, and a winner for me in this Burger Battle for that purpose alone. Also had the best bun out of all of the nominees. Congratulations, that’s a good burger!

Punch Cards are available for purchase at each of the 5 participating restaurants or from BRIDGE. However, the punch cards are already sold out for the Burger Battle.

One hundred percent of the punch card purchase will go to BRIDGE, supporting programs that allow youth and young adults with disabilities in the St. Croix River Valley to attend year-round day service programs, attain meaningful employment, participate in ongoing recreational activities, and socialize with friends.

A special thank you to all the restaurants and Craig Hofland for getting We’ve Tried It all set up.

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Phatphood Eating Twin Cities: Big Guys BBQ Roadhouse

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Phatphood Eating Twin Cities: Big Guys BBQ Roadhouse – Not sure where to go for some good kick ass BBQ? We’ve got you covered. A little trip over the river to Hudson, WI is where you can find this four-month-old Double Duece inspired Roadhouse that sits on seven acres of land for endless possibilities.  A top notch sound system is in place for events and concerts to come with ample room to get your groove on, while coin operated pool tables, foosball and a handful of video games occupy an area off to the side. They serve amazingly strong drinks along with meat that is slow-smoked for 16 hours on (using virgin cherry wood), 4 hours off, then is freshly delivered to your face. Oh, and I hope you like bacon!

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As usual, we always start out with some mouth-watering alcoholic beverages before we jump into our #FOODPORN. Here we have a Southern Suiter (Jesse James Bourbon, Triple Sec, Sour, splash of Sprite, Muddle Orange, lime, lemon, simple syrup) – a nice southern cooler with a sour twist. 
Also had a Kentucky Bourbon Ale from Lexington Brewing and Distillery – easy to drink, light, rare hop. Supporting local, it always a good thing.

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Basket O’ Bacon – Thick cut, slow smoked & rubbed with Big Guys BBQ Roadhouse signature house rub. 
Its not crispy like you would think upon delivery, but tender and oh-so flavorful, almost jerky-like but easy to chew. It is also referred to as candied bacon and I’m like a kid in a candy store. Good stuff.   I need the Bucket O’ Bacon please!

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Bacon Wrapped Satay – Chicken breasts wrapped with bacon, seasoned with Big Guys BBQ House rub and basted with their house BBQ sauce. served on a bed of their signature smokey slaw. Moooooore bacon? Yes! Tender, juicy chunks of chicken with that awesome smoked bacon and the perfect glaze of BBQ sauce. The slaw is yogurt based with some jalapeño and bacon as well. Good appetizer on a stick right here.

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Chicken & Waffle Sliders – Buttermilk breaded chicken breast, candied bacon, provolone cheese, sandwiched between two waffles and served with a side of pure maple syrup. Okay, these are something for your foodie bucket list. I have to admit, it didn’t look like much at first until I got it in my hand up close and personal. Love at first bite. Provolone is my favorite cheese. Have I mentioned bacon yet? It’s here again. The chicken is a perfect mix of herbs and spices (14 I believe?). Definitely used all of that syrup by pouring and dipping. This is a breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner…anytime sandwich. Food truck these to my neighborhood please.

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Time to cleanse the palate with some more alcoholic beverages. Left to Right: Big Guys Ginger – Fresh orange slice, bitters, Jesse James Bourbon, Ginger beer, Grand Marnier Float. I could use a cigar with this one; strong, manly, dig it. Texas Tea – Muddle Orange and mint, simple syrup, peach whiskey, sweet tea vodka, lemonade and a splash of Sprite. Brisk and refreshing. Great to pair with their dry rubbed meats. You’ll order a second because they go down so easily.

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Cubano – Slow-smoked pit ham, house pulled pork, Swiss cheese, pickles and creamy mustard sauce served Panini style on ciabatta bread. What a great tasting cubano. Didn’t want to stop eating it, and I have been looking for one of this caliber and to my liking for a while now. Found it. Pack me one in my lunch box daily please.

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Roadhouse Platter – Half Rack of Big Guys house rubbed ribs, half-pound of smoked slow cooked brisket, half of signature sauce glazed chicken, half-pound of pulled pork, candied bacon, and boneless loin chops.

 The meat God plate. Something for everyone, or everything for one. Either way, it’s a feast! Now, they do have a few sauces at the table, but suggest that you just enjoy eating their ribs as is. Ribs are smokey, not your boiled fall-off-the-bone type, you will have to earn to see these bones. Everything here is well cooked with bar-none flavors.

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Sides!! Top to bottom: Secret House Recipe Potato Salad. I only like a couple of potato salads, add this to that list. Creamy, smooth, light, perfect. Mac N’ Cheese – Fusilli pasta in a creamy blend of three cheeses (sharp cheddar, Gouda and fontina) topped with crispy cheddar crust. Yes! Yes! Yes! Gooey yuminess! Smokey Slaw – Smoked red & green cabbage, mixed with jalapeños, bacon and blue cheese…unforgettable! And lastly, Roadhouse Beans – Baked beans blended with house seasoning and Big Guys signature pulled pork. Meaty, tasty, hearty goodness. No complaints with these sides. Keep’em coming.

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No, seriously, that mac n cheese though. Can we have a moment?

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Big Guys Signature BBQ Glazed Salmon with fries. I love a good char lately on my fish. Damn that’s a good char with a nice sweet BBQ glaze. There’s that awesome slaw underneath again, which means more bacon!

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Finally, #dessertporn. Whiskey Apple Bread Pudding – Granny Smith apples baked into the bread pudding and topped with whipped cream and house made praline sauce. Their praline sauce, yea I’m an instant fan. If you love bread pudding, you’ll love this. C’mon, trust me already.

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Ooooh, and yet, another Key Lime Pie – It upholds to all the rest we’ve had on @tonyflizzle and I #foodporn journey. Effortless, petite and hits the spot with a buttery crust. Minor tartness I might add.

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Brandied Caramel Pear Trifle – Layers of Bartlett pears, caramel sauce, ginger snap cookies and cheese cake topped with whipped cream. 
This is a cup o’ love with my name written all over it. I’m in Phatboy heaven, and I don’t even like pears! You’re coming to get this, I already know. Still licking my spoon and fingers.

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Yee-Haw, that about wraps that up. Make the simple drive. Remember, Hudson is basically a part of the Twin Cities. They will start having a DJ on Friday nights and I plan on going there in February for a couple of shows myself. They just got some new equipment out back that, once installed, will increase productivity of their slow-cooked meats, also making room for some whole pigs when needed. There will always be fresh and ready beef and pork here, come and get it, because dinner is ready!

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Tinto Cocina + Cantina Weve Tried It

Phatphood Eating Twin Cities: Tinto Cocino + Cantina

Tinto Cocina + Cantina Weve Tried It

Phatphood Eating Twin Cities: Tinto Cocino + Cantina: We were in search of a food fiesta, and we certainly found that off of Lake Street in Minneapolis at Tinto Cocino + Cantina, which is a corner restaurant with a spacious floor plan and gnarly wall murals on the inside and street-side patio or more private seating on the outside.  If you haven’t been here, what is taking you so long to do so? If you have, you’re making great life decisions. Time to get wow’d by some hand crafted cocktails and of course, some Latin American-inspired fare from Executive Chef Carlos Garza.

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Alright, @tonyflizzle and I always like to start out with a couple of specialty cocktails.  First up is Tinto’s famous Primiero Impacto Margarita ~ Don Julio Reposada, Cointreau, Gran Marnier, agave nectar, fresh lime and grapefruit juice.  What can I say, that’s a damn good margarita! Kudos!

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Now this was more my style, Mexican Coffee Martini ~ Patron XO, Kahula, Bailey’s, fresh brewed coffee.  Slightly thick (but just right), and creamy with two different buzzes. Me likey!  It’s a sexy drink that will have people asking “what is that?”

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Feeling good, time to grub.  Now, I may come off a little biased, but I absolutely love every single item on Tinto’s Starters Menu, but these, these right here, these are my favorite. Try not to eat this without saying WOW! Ropa Vieja ~ Braised beef, spicy aioli, queso fresco, sweet plantains and pickled onions. WOW! These flavors together are amazing. Four to a plate. Get them.  I did not get their flautas on this visit, but typically that is my favorite go-to item here.

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We visited on Taco Tuesday, so let’s get on to that.  Shrimp Tacos ~ Green peppers, red peppers, yellow onion, habanero aioli, queso fresco and cilantro. They make their own corn tortillas with rice flour, so it’s even gluten free and you can really taste the freshness.  Served three to a plate.  I recommend ordering four different versions at minimum, so make it a 12-pack.  These shrimp tacos are just simply refreshing.  Drooling yet?

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Keeping the #TacoTuesday tradition going with some Fish Tacos ~ White fish (Tilapia), habanero aioli, pickled cabbage, avocado.  Light and crisp batter with a good fourth of an avocado, yea, these are some tasty two-bite tacos –  enjoyable any day of the week.  I’m seriously a fan of their habanero aioli; it’s sweet, yet hot with a faint mustard taste.

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Tinto Cocina + Cantina only serves four entrees, so they put a lot of love into each of them and highlight each in their own unique way. Pollo Con Mole ~ Chicken breast, white rice, sesame seeds, pickled onion with traditional mole sauce from Oaxaca. Let me tell ya, that mole sauce is like a sweet bean gravy that I’ve never tasted before.  Nice juicy bone-in chicken breast evenly flattened for a perfect cook.  Definitely unique and delicious.

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Here is another spectacular entree out of the four they have.  Atlantic Salmon ~ Grilled salmon, squash purée and seasonal veggies.  The salmon had a perfect char on it, so much that I really want to duplicate it at home.  I typically just foil-bake salmon or use my Himalayan salt block, but I am really diggin’ this crisp char.  Going to also start introducing this squash purée to my house.  Very health conscious option right here, and another unique plate I might add.

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I should’ve had this first.  My all time favorite dessert, Tres Leches.  Tinto’s changes it up a bit with their Pinneapple Coconut Tres Leches ~ Pineapple sponge cake, coconut whipped cream and vanilla pineapple compote.  I’m not really even into pineapples, but damn I love me some of this.  Tres Leches will always be devoured no matter what fruits are involved that I’m not fond of.  Perfecto!

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Okay, so you’re not going to believe this.  All that hype I just told you about the Tres Leches, well, this trumps that.  Coconut Lemongrass Flan ~ With cinnamon crunch and whipped cream.  Soooooo amazing.  At Tinto, this is my new favorite dessert.  It literally is perfect in every aspect.  The cinnamon crunch is just like a toffee.  Don’t share this with anyone.  Have them order the Tres Leches and make them share with you, but make sure you get all of this.

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Tony Fly and I sat at the half moon bar that seats directly in front of the kitchen, definitely recommend this on one of your visits.  Every single day of the week they have happy hour from 3-6pm and those flautas are on it!  They also have a hot dog called the Spicy Latino; I had it once, it was great with a Dos Equis (also on HH).   Get both for 10 bucks!   Rumor has it that a special person was flown in to show the bartenders how to craft some top notch drinks here.  Filled with flavors and spice, definitely above average.  Watch for seasonal menu changes, which is a good thing in my opinion.  Waiting on that new Tres Leches I keep seeing pictures of on their FaceBook page.