6Smith Front

Wayzata's weird.

Take the top of Wayzata Bay, for instance. An adorable little strip covers, I don't know, a half-mile of 6th Street. It's filled with little shops with names like Merilou and Oh Baby!. There's a Steele Fitness just for funsies; and a Starbucks because obviously. It's a nice little idle, down that strip. The pedestrians don't even seem suicidal.

Pull into something called the Boat Works Building and experience a state-of-the-art-looking center with angled, windowed walls and bricky curves and other accents that make you want to compare it to the Opera House in Sydney except the Opera House in Sydney is 100 times bigger and looks nothing like this. Perhaps it looks like the Opera House entrance? I don't know, something something Sydney. Moving on.

It's within this prim, proper building, this something something Sydney on this idyllic little street stretch with the white spotless Benzes and mindful street-crossers, that you can drop a measly $8 and get back two half-pound pork patties, a yolk mine, two fried bananas, countless bacon strips, and caramelized onions spread out between PB-lined Texas toast slices.

It's also where you can get a gravy-soaked stack of Eggo waffles, bacon bits, biscuit, onions, and fried chicken. Welcome to 6Smith Wayzata. In that weird little six-block-long universe on the bay, this is the restaurant at the end of it.

The Basics: Did I seriously not capture the location well enough? Google it, or get the address from 6smith.com. Fat Pants Friday is every week. It's a different creation, but it's always $8. That isn't a misprint.

6Smith starts messing with your mind the second you walk in the door. There's a wall to the left of the entrance, a wine shelf that climbs to the heavens; mounted onto the right wall is a metal cow head. The wall facing Wayzata Bay is entirely windowed and the ceiling patterns perfectly square. The gray shirts of the staffers have all got black ties tucked in between their second and third buttons.

My wife and I have sat right against the window and marveled at the water and the mansions built at its edge. I've also squeezed into the last seat at the bar, between a symmetrical man in a striped button up and a white-haired man in a vinyl wind jacket. What the two men had in common: They both said hello, and everyone -- EVERYONE -- at the bar had their napkins draped on their legs.

You can tell the staff apart. The woman who took care of my wife and I had perfectly-spaced blue streaks in her perfectly brown hair, a nose stud, and midnight-shade nails. The tender when I sat at the bar wore hockey hair slicked back, and a tattoo peered out from under his left sleeve. Uniform, schmuniform: from what I could tell, there isn't a boring-looking one on the payroll.

Should I get into the food now?

Hold and Point 6SmithKingslayer

I was introduced to my new Friday tradition by what they called The Kingslayer: It went toast, onions, pork patty, bacon, cheese, pork patty, bacon, cheese, toast, peanut butter, bananas, toast. A pickled pepper thing was staked into the top, and a spear of asparagus was served on the side.

I made a banana taco out of the top slice, chopped off and ate a quarter out of the bottom floor, and tapped. Like most such monstrosities, this isn't so much an examination of flavor depth as it is a culinary battering ram. You're paying for glances and visceral aches, and it's worth every penny.

The Eggomaniac sounded imposing, and stood tall, but was considerably lighter in mass than the Kingslayer. Somewhere in this gravycano were two Eggo waffles, a piece of fried chicken, a biscuit, onions, and bacon. I came ravenous, and cut this one down in less than 10 minutes. I didn't even need a beer break.

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There's other food, too, of course. At happy hour, their panko-crusted mac-n-cheese is a steal at $4 -- a creamy, cheesy, gooey, magnificent steal. On the other end of the value spectrum is A Fat Burger. Though delicious, at $14, it left my wife wishing she'd have just gotten the $6 happy hour burger. The beer prices, while not intimidating at regular, don't drop much at happy hour. The selection is good. You can find one to drink here.

My wife's and my waitress had timing as precise as her hair streaks, and we had multiple rounds of dishes and drinks. At the bar, I only need one beer and one plate but the tender was quick in a crowded bar.

Look into the dining room as you leave and you'll see a poster of a suit-and-tied ruffian. He wears a demanding scowl, but his message is EAT MEAT. DRINK NEAT. It's your last reminder that you just ate at a different place. It doesn't matter what we do in the daytime and how big our checks are. We all want the same things after the office on Friday, and 6Smith defies its community's expectations and serves it in a way anyone can enjoy.

It's weird, but I don't think anyone in Wayzata would have it any other way.

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Okay, listen, I'm really sorry about the title. Before you leave me forever, let me tell you about the Republic brass' new Irish pub. It's a great hiding spot with knock-em-dead cheeseburgers. The legend of its namesake is fascinating, and its beer selection is what you've come to expect from Republic. 

The Basics: You'll find Kelly's on S. 7th St. in Mpls., downtown but not too downtown. There might even be free parking on a Saturday if an event isn't scheduled ... but good look with that. You can find them online here. Included on their site is the story of Dan Kelly, the boxer who went undefeated for life after losing his first 12 fights in a row.

Hiding in plain sight is an underlying theme here. Eschewing the assault-your-eyes tactic of some downtown storefronts, you don't know you're near Kelly's until you see its simple green-and-white sign. The door doesn't quite vacuum you in, either. Is this ... yeah, this must be the entrance.

My wife and I took up at the bar, beneath chalkboard wisdom and stained-glass panels that outshone the ceiling lights. What little light Kelly's offers is further suppressed by dark wood surfaces and textured, off-white wallpaper. Off the top of my head, only Prohibition and Mayslack's offer a more extensive array of shady corners and booths. As for the playing of "Let's Go to the Hop!" over the speakers in the midst of all this ... no clue.

When this pub isn't packed, as it wasn't Saturday afternoon, it's a nice place to just sit. Long looks at the TV or phone-fiddling feel weird in here. Next time I write here, I'm bring a pen and paper.

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Their non-happy hour beer prices aren't frightening: $5-6 for local and imported crafts. Pryes Miraculum was their "beer of the moment," which is wise: Am I crazy for calling Miraculum a top-five individual beer being made in the area? How about top three? Screw you, I'm crazy then.

Oh hey, pro-tip: The food menu is on the back of the drink menu. Don't be like me and ask for the food menu. You already have it. Just flip it over.

My wife chose the Pub Burger, and I dialed up a DK Burger. Ready for this? Peterson Farms beef, whiskey onions & cabbage, Cashel blue cheese, stout mustard, potato bun. Hit me!

In less than 10 minutes, the plates were out.

The plates looked rugged, from the texture of the ketchup to the color of my top bun. Doesn't it remind you of an overused coaster?

DK Burger

By the time this was taken, my wife was well into her mmms. One bite into mine and I was right into them with her. A hint sweetness from someplace went nicely with the sharp cheese and perfectly pink patty. The veggies were stringy and the cheese was drippy, but the bun kept it together while I worked. It's not huge; you probably won't put this down before it's gone.

My wife pointed the unexpected flavor of the ketchup, which reminded her of tomato Marsala she often orders with Indian food. It isn't spicy, though: if my wife can handle it, anyone can. My fries had a few nubs too many, but my wife didn't report that problem. Good portions, too: she kept to her burger-cutting discipline, but cleaned out her fries; I obliterated my burger, but gave up on the fries with maybe a third of them left. We finished around 6:30 p.m., and didn't need to eat again that night.

If you're a frequent Republic-in (SORRY), you'll feel some of what you feel in its atmosphere in that of Dan Kelly's. Service was great, as it is at Republic. The prices are a nick higher, downtown-style you could say, and the lights are one or two settings lower. Kelly's offers a nice little nod to the Emerald Isle, without breaking its neck. Whether you're in it for the bangers, the mash, or the cheeseburger, Dan Kelly's will give you all you can handle. Bar.

Bye.

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I was invited by Cayman Jack to bring a friend and head over to Hola Arepa to experience the joys of Agave nectar margarita with Hola's creative Latin cuisine, and "joy" would best describe the experience. Cayman Jack certainly pairs well with a sope or 100 too many tortilla chips, and caps off a rough day nicely. It'll be on my summer liquid soundtrack, for sure.

Once the dishes rolled out, however, the spotlight was stolen by Hola Arepa head chef Christina Nguyen. With a magnetic smile, she introduced course after course of thoroughly enjoyable dishes. I say "creative" because not a single course consisted of a taco or tamale.

It was a taste experience beyond the driver's seat taco mess or misguided thrill of burning your lips off. There were moments when certain flavors worked together, in a way I'm not accustomed to. I stopped to think a couple of times, and "stop" when eating isn't a command I heed very often. It made me feel like a polished, classy man at times ... until I wasn't.

At least I didn't spill a drink on myself.

The Basics: Hola Arepa got its rep on wheels, in the form of a highly-sought-after food truck, and bricked up at 35th and Nicollet in Minneapolis. Hop off the 35th/36th exit from 35W and you're there. Easy. You can hit holaarepa.com or caymanjack.com for more information.

On a sunny afternoon, provided you're not ogling across their parking lot at Pat's Tap, Hola feels beach-housy with its sea-blue interior framing and wooden surfaces with its paint chipped off almost completely. It's not a big place: Eighteen guests showed up, and just about filled it. We could've had 10 more at the bar, and one table was slid aside for the seminar, but not many more would've fit.

Tortilla chips and salsas were the first course, and we moved through them like a Peterbilt driving downhill. All five dips were fantastic, including the really hot one and the one with the curious texture (I'm bad with names). Nguyen briefly explained each round before we dug in:

Plantain Sope: I tried lifting this up on one forkful, but refrained when I felt the continent crumbling. I don't usually think of fruity and citrus when ordering Latin (see above). On a stage in which I'm used to the fire dance, this was a foxtrot. It was a nice first step out of my comfort zone.

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Molote (above): Doesn't that just look marvelous? It paired especially well with the Cayman because there was alcohol in it and meat was in this molote. I am, at my core, a man of simple needs.

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Bibb Salad: Who knew you had to cut into a salad? I tried to lift a leaf out of this and upturned its entire foundation. Once it finally made its way to my mouth, though, the snap of the apple and watermelon were the first things I identified as going well with the Cayman on a more than elemental level. I felt like a real foodie for once ... but then asked for a napkin while my mouth was full by pointing at the napkin of the man sitting beside me. Your move, DeRusha.

Cachapa: This sweet potato corn pancake concoction dismantled itself when I attempted to break a bite off, so I enjoyed the radish slices, shrimp, asparagus, and sweet potato corn separately. Sitting less than five feet away were members of Minneapolis/Paul Magazine, Eater, and Lord-knows-who-else, making this the perfect night to eat like a two-year-old. On the bright side, the next course was something I actually knew how to eat:

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Cochinita-Pibil Sope: My good buddy PORK joined the party, with a posse of radish and cabbage riding in on a sope. On the side came a roasted habanero salsa, and I was already hearing pants of discomfort from others when I slathered mine on. Did I take that a warning? Of course not! It wasn't that hot, though.

Maybe it was the bar-foodiness of its presentation (looks like a slider, yes?), or the familiarity of the flavors, but Cayman Jack seemed out of place with his one. It wasn't bad by any means; it's just, it really made me crave a Miraculum.

Butter Semifreddo: Semifreddo, roasted pineapple, pineapple jerky, and Chex Mix. I was too busy spooning this Heaven cloud empty for note-taking. Just trust me on this one. By the time we left with our swag bags, my shirt was fitting funny and walking was a laborious endeavor. Small plates add up, y'know!

Service was fantastic throughout (all the way down to the staffers' bandanas, which, when folded correctly, had HOLA in big letters), and it's frightening to think I didn't even have their signature item (you know, an arepa). While its location isn't the greatest, at least for this west metro-loiterer, Hola Arepa just feels like an escape. It's an escape from what most posers try to pass off as Latin, and it's a good hiding spot.

Stop back for a bottle of Cayman. Yes, yes I shall.