We had ’em long before I woke up New Year’s Day with a splitting headache, long before my man Eliot and I were driven home by a local Good Guy, and at least 12 hours before I stood on the bar for a second at Palmers before realizing I shouldn’t be doing that.
We had ’em long before I had Bobbi the Bartender on my shoulders, just after the ball dropped on 2016, way before Eliot and I walked through machete winds up Howard St. We had ’em before that young lady with the bright red lipstick and the leopard-spot-pattern skirt showed me how to use Snapchat at Mike’s Pub, well before seven of us squeezed into that one booth (most of whom had never met each other before).
It wasn’t too long before we brought back the shovel, which we did after we broke the first shovel, that we had ’em. We had ’em before Palmers the first time – the spontaneous Modist Brewing beer tasting, the patty melts, the chips, and the ham and cheese balls, all of that.
I’m talking about steak and eggs. We had ’em at Sportsmen’s Restaurant and Taverna. They are a crucial first step if you want to go out with a bang.
The Basics: That’s right, it’s spelled TAVERNA! They don’t have a website.
In a year that saw fires erase the Brickyard in Hibbing and the Mirage Bar in Virginia, it’s important to point out that Sportsmen’s had a fire break out in one of its upstairs apartments and merely suffered a flesh wound. Bars are weak and susceptible; tavernae are immortal.
It’s a tradition. We ooze out of our beds, get to varying levels of cleanliness, wait for a car to warm up, screw off on our phones (Eliot is big into Tower Defense; you already know about your homie and Angry Birds), hop in the car, slide through a few intersections, and park in something that we’re assuming is okay to park in because there’s nothing telling us we cannot. We’re still stretching our necks and legs as we enter. We find a table, preferably not one being soaked in sunlight but not one so far off that we’re mistaken for bridge trolls, and we heave our keesters up on a high chair the way we might heave a sandbag into the back of a truck.
Sporty’s offers a Bloody Mary bar in the morning, but we’ve got one word in the chamber when the waitress walks up:
You’d like a chocolate raspberry machiotto with medium whipping cream and a dab of honey? Go stuff yourself. Sporty’s runs on diesel, the thick stuff, the stuff you might not take a snap of and put in your Instagram feed but maybe you might! It’s a drinkable heat when it arrives. We drink our quarters, crank on, the waitress comes back, and now we’re ready for …
“Steak and eggs.”
“Steak and eggs.”
Do you remember that one R & B song that was nothing but a man singing “Baby” over and over again for three-and-a-half minutes? Not the Bieber one, the other one. You don’t remember it? Just make one up in your head, and have a look at this!
Isn’t that handsome? It’s the most handsome meal I’ve seen since the steak and eggs at Cook St. Paul. Get hot sauce for the hashed browns, use the toast on the yolk, and don’t even think about using steak sauce. The steak is everything you want in a steak. I don’t have to describe the taste of a steak, do I? It’s a mighty fine steak. It’s a mighty fine meal, a kindling for your inner fire.
Cook’s run $15. Sporty’s runs $10. Both prices are crazy nice for their locations; and, whether you’re in blue-collar Hibbing or blue-collar East St. Paul, you’ll walk out well-equipped for making a blockbuster. In Sporty’s case, once you’re fully-charged, you can come back when the sun goes down and prepare for liftoff. You can stand sheepishly while your friend chats up a friend about something you know nothing about, and sip a Summit EPA slowly and smile every time you hear something you think was a joke. You can charm an off-duty bartender into buying you rounds of shots. You can do those shots together, and regret them together the second they hit the backs of your throats.
When you run it all back, you can’t beat steak and eggs at Chapter 1. You just can’t. When you’re in Hibbing, it’s got to be Sporty’s. If you’re not steak-and-egging, you might as well get back in bed.
If you’re not tired anymore and you’ve got a shovel to break, now you know what to do.
RELATED: If you’re in Hibbing and you haven’t had the Boshi Burger at Palmers, fix that immediately. While you’re at it, gaze into Eliot as he halfway lifts an RJ Riches pancake.