I watched the Super Bowl at Kings Place. You should have been there. You could have been relaxing to the sound of grease crackling on the grill, as patty after patty got flipped, flopped, topped, and sent sliding off in their baskets. You could have met one of the owners, and plucked a couple of tater tots out his bucket as he passed by. You could have had a pint of Hamm’s, in a Hamm’s collectible glass, while checking yourself out in a Hamm’s mirror. You could have had a cheeseburger in the first half, another one in the second half, and briefly contemplated a third.
You missed that chance, but Kings Place will be there. That bar’s been a caretaker on Highway 61 for quite some time now, but there has been a bar at that location off and on since before there were cars. When you finally do come to Kings Place, you’ll see some cool stuff. You’ll eat some great food. If you stop down in the summertime, you might even catch a good baseball game before you leave town.
All you need to do is drive out to Miesville.
The beauty of a Minnesota winter is undeniable, but certain stretches of highway do look like tundra on a dull day in February. Leafless trees, empty lots, and telephone phones for miles: it’s long and repetitive, just like those 10 consecutive below-zero-high winter days. You reach Miesville this way. If you’re paying attention, you can see a sign advertising the Friday night fish fry at River Oaks Golf Course; if you’re not paying attention, you can slip off the road and stick yourself on a snowmobile trail. You see some really nice houses with farms behind them, but you mostly see telephone poles and bare trees.
At the 2010 census, Miesville boasted a population of 125. They’ve a robust business district for a city their size. Example: Miesville and Newport have the same number of gas stations, and Newport is a town of 3,400. Miesville’s Class B baseball club, the Mud Hens, have won the last two Minnesota state titles.
Legend has it, the very first watering hole at Kings’ location went up in 1874. Its first visitors came on horses and buggies. The building has been a grocery store, a post office, a video rental store, and a few different bars over the years. It’s endured two floods, a few tornadoes, and a fire that tried to swallow the whole town back in 1959. Tried. Arlene and Jerry Greenlee bought Kings Place in 1984, and it’s been in the family ever since. Their children, Terri Lawrence and Jeff Greenlee, run it today.
Sit as close to the kitchen as you can. The staff congregates there during downtime, and will happily hook you into the chat. One waitress told me about a couple of creeps who tried to convince her they had an extra Super Bowl ticket for her. One off-duty staffer pointed at me, sitting there by myself, and said “I wanna be that guy, but at a different bar” before taking off for the night. The chef said the owners are sweethearts; my bartender, Tara, has been there six years and said they’re the best people she’s ever worked for. Six of the staff members got tattoos of cheeseburgers together. When I asked to see theirs, Tara eagerly rolled her left sleeve up to show me. The chef flashed the inside of her right wrist at me, in a motion like a quick wave.
It’s almost maze-like in Kings Place. You can tell the original building was added onto since it was first built, and you can tell that a wall or two has been knocked down in its lifetime. From the outside, it looks like a house with a bar sign hanging over the entrance. It feels like a house if you walk through it, too.
They’ve got almost enough neon beer signs to cover every inch of every wall, seducing you into a metal bottle of Bud Light or a glass bottle of MGD. Don’t listen to them. You’re at Kings Place to drink Hamm’s. Hamm’s mirror behind the bar. Hamm’s bear on a sign behind my seat. Hamm’s logo hanging outside under the sign. Five dollars gets you a collectible Hamm’s glass, filled, and subsequent fills of it are $3 thereafter.
You will need a little while to peruse the burger menu at Kings Place. It’s a huge, laminated sheet of paper and it’s almost entirely burgers. When I asked Tara how many were on this thing, she said 103! You can step right into peanut butter, maple syrup and bacon (they call it the Batter Box), or you can start with something familiar. I started on a Third Base, and I really enjoyed it. It’s a cheese bomb featuring a macaroni and gouda cheese popper, with a slice of classic American cheese and some bacon. This burger does great things on its own, but it will sell you a second cheeseburger, too.
Did I mention some of their burgers have hot dogs as toppings? The Line Drive is one such example. A hot dog is joined on the patty by Swiss cheese, coleslaw and barbecue sauce. This thing is a freakshow of backyard barbecue flavors. I mean it’s just marvelous. If you’ve never mixed coleslaw and barbecue sauce, try it. If you’ve never put a hot dog on a burger before, do it. My only regret was not putting any potato chips on it.
Kings Place burgers aren’t big, but they mostly hang around $7-8 and you can make them a half-pound for $3.50 more. Don’t do that. If you’re that hungry, just get two. There’s plenty to do on this menu.
There are burgers you’ll need to work your way up to. The Concession Stand is topped with pepper jack, American, jalapenos, sauerkraut, a hot dog, and salsa. The Full Count is topped with peanut butter and the BBQ sauce – Tara says they come together and form a Thai peanut-taste – with pepper jack, bacon, and raw onions.
But Kings Place also serves clean classics you can bite into and jump over that first little Goomba. They’ve got the classic California, a take on a Reuben, and straight-up bacon cheeseburger called the Queen. You’ll see how they’ve mastered these, and move onto something adventurous. Once you’ve tried those and loved those, you might just feel free to get crazy.
You can find more information about Kings Place on their website, as well as their hours of operation.