MSP - House of Coates: Coates, MN
I don't have anything with antlers hanging in my house. Nor do I own any purple, orange and day-glow green winter wear. I don't even start sentences with "yeah...me and my buddies..."
But every now and then, in the pursuit of finding good chow, I veer from the safety of my average, straight-and-narrowness to go where very few of my circle of friends dare to go:
The Snowmobiler Bar.
Maybe it's the residual effect of the smoking ban, but the House of Coates (corner of Dakota County Road 46 and Highway 52) isn't exactly the stuff of Larry the Cable Guy legend that its history, exterior, and impressive array of parked small-motored vehicles would suggest. It's certainly not the Red Barn outside of Dorset but clearly, there is more separating this place from the likes of Apple Valley than the 10 miles it takes to get from there to...there.
Anyway, what's important is that occasionally I've heard that people traveling to and from Rochester and the Big City are looking for a quick bite and this is as good a place as any on that stretch to grab one.
The House of Coates basically takes standard bar fare and makes it good, as well as from scratch. The beer-battered onion rings are hot, crisp and would satisfy even the most discriminating low-budget alcoholic with their generous cheap beer essence. The star of the show is a tossup between the burgers (1/2 pound, hand-formed, not from frozen) and the broasted chicken.
The waitress isn't outwardly concerned with how you want your burger cooked, and I perpetually forget to ask for medium-rare. What you generally get is medium to medium-well -- only a hint of pink which morphs to brown by the time you are finishing it. IF you can finish it. I would like a bit more reddish pink inside personally and, done that way, it might qualify as the best burger in the south metro. Next time I'll remember to ask.
Bun is fresh, not quite yeasty enough and way too big, but it doesn't diminish the overall quality. Fries are similar -- seemingly cut on-site, but a little too formulaic. Bacon, mushrooms, cheeses, etc. are good quality if you want them.
TDQ, they also have an Italian burger (aka pizza burger) on the menu. I think the mass of their burger and bun would hold up well to some sauce and mozzarella if you're ever down that way.
So there you go. If you're in the area of Coates -- maybe a trip to Mayo or an appointment at the Koch refinery, or heck, just goin' muddin' -- grab a nice juicy burger and Git-R-Done.
i remember eating the bar-b-que ribs there and enjoying them (they are not "real bbq" but rather that strange sort of tavern bbq which requires a different standard of comparison). i agree the hamburgers are good. but... i always feel like i might catch Leukemia in that corner of dakota county.
MSPD, what a great post! I am in agreement that lovely food lurks under the lowliest of guises. Hand-formed burgers and good onion rings? Almost non-existent in the chain populated universe of bar food.
Thanks for the heads up. I have to go down that way to pick up chickens from my favorite farmer soon, and the House of Coates sounds like a good stop along the way. Hmmmm...onion rings....