Here’s what I do when I see other individual bloggers post year-end awards: I roll my eyes, ask myself who the f— really cares, and move on. I don’t put myself above that, either — in fact, I’d probably have that same reaction to my own year-end awards if I did them!
Yet, I do feel the need to recognize what stood out in 2015; so, rather than hand out costume-jewelry titles or use best-of polls to fish clicks, I’m recapping the year’s best with some brief notes.
Up first is the food (part 1).
The walleye sandwiches are executed superbly, but the real thunder is being made by the cheese curds. Cheese curds? Yeah, cheese curds.
They’re perfect, is what they are. Bites begin sweet and steamy, and end with a gooey mouthful of cheese that I swear doubles in size once it gets into your mouth. The breading is flaky but sturdy, just right, every time, and you won’t find any of those crummy curd nubs o’er here — no, Brooks High is dishing out business curds.
Cuisine From a Restaurant I Haven’t Visited Yet: The Libertine Weenie at HOTList
Libertine has got Tim McKee on the management roster and a shot you can take from a bone, and I haven’t been there? Well, that’s because Libertine beats in the heart of (shivers) Uptown Minneapolis. I only have one man’s opinion; but, if I had to choose between driving through Uptown and straight-up driving my car off a cliff, I’d choose Uptown … but I’d ask to look over the cliff before making that my final decision.
Luckily, my ilk was gifted a sample of Libertine’s wares over the summer at HOTList. This weenie looked so simple, but tasted so complex and harmonious. I took four, inspecting each as if it could’ve possibly been a murder weapon. “How did they do this? I could buy these ingredients and I have a grill, but there’s no way I could remake this. Why?! What do they know?!”
Someday I’ll suffer Uptown and do a more thorough investigation, but for now …
The Infinite Craving: A 12-way Tie Between Every Meat Taco at Rusty Taco
Imagine you’re a driver in the Twin Cities. You’re in the fast lane, going 50 miles an hour and texting somebody like so many other insufferable assholes on these highways, and you see a Chrysler blow past you. The driver’s pushing it at emergency speed. You watch this car slip through an impossible hole, cut off a semi, wiggle around a couple of Kias, and zip out of your sight. Throughout that whole sequence, you feel like that car’s a different space-time continuum, as if physics and gravity just work differently for that car. One second for you was five minutes for the driver of that car, and that car is long gone.
That’s how people drive when they’re in a frenzy for Rusty Taco. I’ve broken a phone getting out of my car for Rusty Taco. I’ve gone to Rusty Taco for lunch by myself, came back to work, and went again when a co-worker took a late lunch an hour later. For little more than what you’d shell out for flaccid, flavorless Taco Bell schlock, you can bask in the glory of Rusty Taco. Better yet, you can pay less than $10 and have what I call the fried taco vertical: fried shrimp, fried fish, fried chicken. Amexica.
The Burger that Blew Everybody Away: Paddy Burger, Paddy Shack/Half-Time Rec
Here’s the great thing about Half-Time Rec‘s Paddy Burger: Everything.
It tastes better than any brick you could score at the cloth-napkin yuppity-lounges, but you’re eating it in a happy place. Nobody judges you here if you miss a spot wiping your face, and that will undoubtedly happen during a Paddy Burger. Now, how do I describe this without sounding fantastical? Let’s try this:
Imagine you’re creating a player in a Madden video game. Isn’t that great? You ramp up all of his talent scores to 99, slot him into your lineup, and clobber everyone because the realistically-scored players can’t stop him? Imagine your create-a-player is a McDonald’s Big Mac, and you get to raise all of its attributes to 99 and slot it into your stomach. That begins to describe a Paddy Burger.
If you don’t believe me, just ask the TC Burger Battle judges, the City Pages, and the heroic young man doing the USA Pour Tour. When Vincent closes at the end of the year, this burger has a real — and I mean really real — chance at claiming the crown in our kingdom of Twin Cities burgers.
STILL GOT TIME? Read about Beer Dabbler at Pride, when I had Brooks High’s cheese curds for the first time; the purpose of HOTList, and how Libertine’s weenie and other foodstuffs helped raise 600,000 meals for kids around the world.
Clean-up edits were made in the moments after this post’s initial publication.