Tooties on Lowry is a bar that if you were to see inside in the dead of night when there is no people, beer or food around, you might go in but not without some serious hesitation. It has the look of a place you would find tucked away in a small town in the boondocks of Wisconsin – wood paneled walls, vinyl stools with rips in them, a gravity furnace hole in the center of the place, a ficus tree in the center of the dining room…

But you do not notice those things when you enter in the height of things. What you do see are families and friends gathering and hugging each other. Old friends bellying up to the bar and shaking hands with the person sitting next to them. Kids running around the game room playing with each other in games of hide-n-seek. Though the physical aspects of the building detract from the appeal, it’s the people and the employees that generate the merriment and jovial nature of the atmosphere.

Credit: foodio54.com

Having eaten there before, my comments on what Tooties is only solidified with this mancuisine visit – It is a community space that locals come to eat food, drink, and be together. Being at Tooties just makes you feel warm inside, before you even have a beer or bite of food.

Their tap selection is notable, at our visit they had just had Insight over for an event and had some of theirs, along with many other local breweries (an a surprisingly absent presence of the big brew dogs, which we enjoy).  We tweeted Tooties in the morning of our visit asking what food we should try and one recommendation was to have the peanut sauce from their wings cover a burger patty and served. It was delicious [thanks twitter Tooties!].

Top commendation goes to their wings. We did Tooties’ “Wing of the month” which has ghost pepper and Surly and they were top notch. Their wings have the right amount of meat, cooked at the right temperature for the right time and covered with deliciousness. Their wing cooking process is refined, and creates delicious and filling wings.

If you are ever in the Robbinsdale area, at North Memorial Hospital (knock on wood – you won’t need to!), or in North Minneapolis and you are looking for a place to settle in, we strongly recommend giving Tooties on Lowry a visit.

Food: 4/5 typical bar food, made in a way that raises them above.
Drink: 3/5 Beer and wine bar, with local selections but not too diverse.
Atmosphere: 5/5 Welcoming, friendly and warming
Overall: 4/5 Good food, great atmosphere, tired building.

With the new onslaught of high end restaurants selling fancy burgers and fabricated authenticity it is always a pleasure to find a place without pretense, where the same fryer and griddle have likely been in use since before a Clinton or a Bush entered politics (maybe even a Kennedy as well). If you are looking for an establishment that is content with its current clientele and does not expense with the frivolity of trying to be “the new thing”, look not further than Schullers Tavern in Golden Valley.

The place proclaims itself the “Last Real Roadhouse”, which I take as a jab at the influx of chain based roadhouse-esque eateries that popped up in the mid to late 90’s around town (with some still remaining). Since the place first opened in 1929 I am guessing they have seen many a trendy establishment come and go and one would hope they will weather current trends as well.

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Image from http://www.schullerstavern.com

The Place: The building has clearly been built upon in a few minor expansions over the years and you may feel like you stumbled into the back alley entrance to a speakeasy (the place did open during prohibition). Upon entering you first pass a barred and locked beer cooler before actually finding your way to the bar and restaurant area. From what we gathered this is tied to off-sale liquor sales that Schullers offers. While not uncommon in the “land of cheese” or in the Northwoods, happening upon an on/off sale joint when you live in the Twin Cities metro area is like finding an hidden onion ring in your basket fries. It’s something that you didn’t know you wanted but you quickly realize is a good idea.

The Atmosphere/Service: The crowd appeared friendly overall with a hint of suspicion at the new faces we brought in. There was no problem finding a place to sit at a table (maybe at 15% of capacity on a Tuesday around 6). The bar, however, was full and you got the sense that these seats were rarely available during business hours. The random smattering of other patrons included a couple guys in suits working on some sort of business plan, a large group of people in the corner seemingly there to celebrate some sort of milestone, and a few small groups of people clearly there to enjoy good food and good company. Our server was attentive, friendly, and made sure we did not go thirsty.

The Food/Beverage: Upon arrival I put in an order for a refreshing beverage (happy hour prices are only on standard domestic beers but this includes GrainBelt/”Premo”) and a full plate of wings. Schullers puts any place charging more than $10 for 10-12 puny meatless bones covered in sauce to indisputable shame. WARNING: A full plate of wings is 3 lbs of sticky whole chicken wing deliciousness, prepare to be full. With three of us we were able to polish the plate clean but the prospect of trying to fit a meal into the outing was out of the question. As any self-respecting tavern should there was also a popcorn machine and a tap list that included a handful of local brews in addition to the standard domestic options.

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If you find yourself on highway 55 in golden valley in need of some cold refreshment, some sustenance, and a no nonsense environment, head on over Schullers. Just tell them Mancuisine.com sent you!

We noticed a rather large hole in our Restaurant Map that needed to be filled in St. Paul and the place that fit the bill for us was the Paddy Shack at the Halftime Rec in the South Como neighborhood.

They have a bar that stretches their entirety and open spaces for tables and booths throughout. This place could get lively during games and special events. The bartender was attentive and friendly, and the beers came out immediately. There was no mention of happy hour beer prices so we were a bit taken back that a local brew delivered to us was not on HH but our future rounds were properly directed. As we waited for all the crew there were multiple groups that would gather around pitchers and head downstairs to the Bocce Ball Court for what we found out was Thursday League Night at the Halftime Rec. The kitchen looked immaculately clean. The bar was in good order and we noticed that the staff were constantly washing their hands and bussing tables and glassware.

The service as we took our table was wonderful. Soon as we sat down, even though we had just been standing at the bar, she came over and gave us all the important info. Round one was a plate of buffalo wings – incomparable to any other wing we have had. They were juicy and crisp, and the sauce was a deliciously modified buffalo variation covering each nook and cranny and their blue cheese was definitely not poured out of a plastic container. Our mistake here was only ordering one plate for all of us.

We each took a variation of their burger – The Paddy Melt (at the recommendation of the server), a Guiness Cheeseburger, and a Paddy Shack Burger that was ordered with an extra ‘paddy’ on the top. The most impressive visually was the extra paddy, as the cook took the idea to the top and did not just add another meat slab in the middle, he added a whole extra burger and stabbed them both together!

Photo credit @trevolve on twitter

It was agreed around the table that for the flavors of the plates that were put in front of us could have been delivered in a white napkin and marble tabletop joint where each one cost over double. The meals here are a rare find for the facade that the tin tackers, pinball machine, pull tabs, and well worn bar curtain behind.

Food: 5/5 a rare breed, but worthy of the highest ranking.
Drinks: 3/5 small beer list for happy hour, but decent enough.
Atmosphere: 3.5/5 large space with sparse tables, meant more for events.
Overall: 4/5 amazing food, decent establishment.

An event at work gave a few of us the option to venture out around lunchtime. After a short discussion we came to J R Mac’s for a [thankfully] quick bite. We found a spot right in front of their door in the tiny parking lot and came into a bar space filled with one table of 6+ people and sporadic chairs filled thereafter. No head turns or quieted tones upon entry – unique for us.

Taking a couple chairs at the bar we were greeted by the one bartender/server who placed the laminated menus down and explained to us that Saturdays were ‘Taco-Days’ and that she recommended going that route as specials go all day. Obliging to the lady we ordered some tacos and some beers.

The pull tab booth in the back had a line of regulars and we joined the movement. The big surprise with this visit was that the taco shells were deep fried and then filled, like a crunchy enchilada. Although this provided for some ideal taco flavorings the insides were the style that you may find at any run-of-the-mill fast food taco joint.

Before we left and discarded all the empty pull tabs [no big winners here] a look around gave a nice summary of what this place tries to be, and quite frankly is: a neighborhood bar with an atmosphere that welcomes and indulges, but lacks the backbone to bring in anyone outside of ‘dropping in’ distance.

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J R Mac’s Tacos
  1. Food: 3/5 Classic bar fair
  2. Drinks: 2.5/5 Limited beer list and drink specials. Spotty glassware.
  3. Atmosphere: 3/5 Quiet atmosphere centered around the bar and pull tabs.
  4. Overall: 3/5 Worth a stop, but would be hard to be a regular.

J R Mac’s website

It was a series of unfortunate events that brought me to Steve O’s this time around. The first could have been labelled in a similar way, but that night was brought about through a beer-fueled celebration of the end of a school year. It is important to note here that I work at a school a ways down the street from Steve O’s and had it not been for the teachers there I would have never heard of the place…

It was 10 AM that day and the school was shut down due to a police presence across the street. The students had been turned around in the buses and the staff was told that we could leave for the day (everything turned out fine). A group of teachers gathered in my room as we began looking for a place to grab a drink after the stressful morning. A google search could find no such places as they all opened at 11. Someone asked the question “What about Steve O’s?”, “You remember what happened there last time”, “Yeah but I think they are open”, “They open at 8 AM! We found a place!” What luck!

Walking into Steve O’s at 10 with a group of people attracts a few stares from the regulars as the tables are moved around but their eyes turn back to their bottles on the bar without complaint. The bartender waitress came out as we looked over their breakfast menu and we ordered a round. Beers came in clean glasses with a good variety available and the mixed drinks came strong. Odell’s St. Lupulin the waitress affectionately called “the one I cannot name”.

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Breakfast here is a stop worth making if you are in the area. They have pizza with hollandaise as the sauce, plates that are cheap that come with a free bloody mary, and a good variety of meals off the griddle. It is not a large kitchen however, so anticipate that any large orders will take time. The list that was handed to the cook actually enticed him enough to come out and give us a wave to see how many people were actually eating it. And don’t ask if you can get poached eggs, the response will be a scripted “alright, how do you want your eggs fried then?”

We stayed until well after the lunch hour, tried our luck at pull tabs, and paid our surprisingly minimal bill before opening the doors to the great blinding light called the outside world. I will be coming back to try their wings.

  • Food: 3.5/5
  • Atmosphere: 3/5
  • Drinks: 4/5
  • Overall: 3.5/5

This week the Mancuisine group will be assembling to have a great collection of BBQ ribs. Each member will be stopping by a favorite BBQ site on the way to Scott’s, arriving with a rack and a side. If anyone has a suggestion of a Twin Cities BBQ place worthy of a stop please let us know in the replies below.

Mancuisine members will be posting the sites they are claiming as well. First come, first taken on the locations. As you’ll notice Isaac has already claimed the mighty Ted Cook’s  from his old Neighborhood. Scott has taken an entirely different approach.

Here’s the early claims (updated post event). Check the replies as they come in for the rest:

Isaac

Scott

  • Rack- Nye’s Polonaise (Do the Poles really make ribs?)
  • Side- Sauerkraut and boiled potato

Kyle

Trev

  • Rack- Baker’s Ribs – full rack, St. Louis Cut, Texas Style with a delicious sauce on side.
  • Side- Smokey Baked Beans & Tomato Basil Salad

Brad

  • Rack- Baldy’s BBQ
  • Side- Delicious cornbread & Potato salad (white variety with bacon)

Doug

  • Meat- Pulled Pork from 
  • Side-

Jeff

  • Meat- Wings from B-Dubs (four varieties: Hot, Hot BBQ, Asian Zing, Mango Habanero)

Great turnout with almost all in attendance.  The ale selection included two varieties of Oskar Blues, Bells Two-Hearted, Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ (although the discussion was more on whether Kyle inspired the Lagunitas Sucks! brew after interactions with the head brewmaster when living in CA), and another sampling of Isaac’s fine Alt homebrew as he attempts to perfect his recipe.  All in attendance reached a state of meat coma, followed by random YouTube watching, Spam flavored Macadamia nut eating, and bourbon sampling around Scott’s fabulous bar set-up in his NE pad.

A small crew headed out to South Minneapolis to eat at this smaller, younger sibling version of the Town Hall Brewery at seven corners. This relationship may come as a surprise to some as there is no word of this location in the elder brother’s not-so-easy-to-navigate web site – but  following those of a younger generation, they are on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/townhalltap. We were greeted outside, and then inside, the door by a run-down local who was looking for small change to ‘buy a pizza’ but watched intrigued as he left the premise to wander further into the neighborhood. As a likely host to most of the places we visit this was not a deterrent to us sitting down, and we were very pleased to have done so. A short wait found us to a booth in the back, properly padded and cleaned.

Top of their beer list are the brews Town Hall produces (and we immediately ordered our favorite – the Masala Mama [the other ones we are usually not impressed by]) and a great list of domestic and imported beers followed shortly thereafter. Once this place gets a Happy Hour going, we would be glad to visit here often.

The menu consists of the usual bar food: wings and fry types for appetizers with the addition of fried pickles, highly recommended. We had a few burgers, sandwiches and a cup of soup with no complaints across the table. The best addition to the menu would be the pressed sandwiches. With their bread coming from the famous bakery a few doors down, The Turtle Bread Company, each bite was pure gold. The burgers were very decent and were not as impeded by the odd pie plates used as their serving vessels as they would appear to at first sight.

The waitstaff were very eager to please and noticed us glancing at the beer list even before we were halfway done with what we had been served (we were even approached with a good amount of proper sarcasm when we asked a question about the menu – a definite plus!). Although the walking paths had some tight spots, the liveliness of the place allowed for unnoticed bumps and shuffles of people getting by. We liked the separation of the bar and seating area being only implied instead of concretely established and enjoyed being able to see a TV screen from our side to theirs as we had our moments of mastication to fill the inevitable silences therein.

If you are in the neighborhood, this is a definite stop you need to make, and make it soon.

SOME COMMENTS ON THE PLACE

We had driven by this place often and Isaac suggested that it would be good for us to get back to our roots after too many places that seemed similar and safe.  Although safety was never an issue the place provided plenty of atmosphere. Our first greeting was from on one the drunks at the back table. He was selling raffle tickets for the Cedar Inn drinking club. Next was the pool hall Nascar lights hanging about the place and not a pool table in sight. There was a cook on duty and the barkeep who would come whenever we would wave him down. The back table was the hotspot as the group grew to a half-dozen regulars by the time we left. In an economical mood they where ordering pitchers, but not sharing with each other. Fortunately all were certainly in the neighborhood and wouldn’t be behind the wheel. (more…)

AN ODD OUTING FOR THE GROUP-COLLEGE BARS ARE NOT REALLY OUR STYLE BUT THIS ONE CRIED OUT TO US FROM THE PAST. WHEN WE HEARD ABOUT THE REMARKABLE BEER LIST WE HAD TO GIVE IT A TRY.

SOME COMMENTS ON THE PLACE

THE PLACE WAS QUIET FOR A 7:30 MONDAY NIGHT BUT THE HELP WAS GREAT.  QUITE LIKELY THE ONLY PLACE WE HAVE BEEN WHERE THE WAITRESS REFERRED TO ONE OF THE BEERS (A SAISON) ON THE LIST AS TASTING LIKE PISS. ON HER RECOMMENDATION WE MADE ANOTHER CHOICE. A GREAT NIGHT OVERALL, THE TIME PASSED QUICKLY AND BEFORE WE NEW IT A BEAVY OF GREAT BURGERS HAD BEEN TOSSED DOWN ALONE WITH SOME OF THE BEST PALES AND HOPS WE’VE HAD. THE PLACE LACKED THE GREAT AMBIANCE OF THE BLUE DOOR BUT IT HAD A MUCH BETTER BREW LIST AND A BIT OF A BROADER MENU. (more…)