Places we go to despite the food (MSP)
Sometimes, there's some redeeming quality to a place that calls us back again and again, even though it's definitely NOT the food in some cases.
Runyon's - actually, the "buffalo" shrimp are pretty tasty, and their "Tuscan" tomato soup is yummy, too. But the real draw is that it's my comfortable local. It was my study hall in grad school, there's a picture of me in NZed with my Runyon's t-shirt, and one of chowspouse in Yunnan province in her Runyon's t-shirt on the wall, Michael (the best bartender in town) works there, and it's rarely slammed.
Keegan's - not the best fish and chips in town, not the worst, but the live Irish folk jams on Sunday make it a great place to wind down on a Sunday evening. And it's an easy walk or bike from where I live.
Dulono's - not the best pizza, either, but the live bluegrass on Friday nights makes it worth a stop. And they have a pretty good beer selection.
Psycho Suzi's - again, not the best pizza (but really there is not great pizza in this area), but heck, the ambiance, waitstaff, and dangerous tiki drinks on that huge back patio make it all worth while.
Bulldog and Pracna - I can't find a thing to eat at either place (I don't eat red meat and their "vegetarian" selections are embarrassing), but their beer selection is wonderful.
Kikugawa - it's on the way to the St. Anthony Main movie theater and it's passably good sushi.
Funny, I was just thinking about this idea in terms of the Chatterbox last night. We went yesterday because we know they're open on Easter, we can get something fairly edible, it's close to our house, and it's a fun place if we want to play a game or just hang out on our laptops. Last night we got their "inferno wings" which were not spicy in the least, and I got a really dry burger. In retrospect I was wishing we went somewhere with better food, but I know we'll end up there again someday soon for all the same reasons.
My kids adore the chatterbox for the old school video games etc. But we can't eat there - its so bad. Even the kids food stinks. My kids would be happy with mac & cheese from a box and frozen pizza (and actually so would Chowspouse!)
We've given it too many second chances and now we head to Billy's and get better service, great quick bar food and just pay for the video games. and then play board games at home.
Plus Billy's is about 1/2 the price of Chatterbox. Same with Groveland Tap - although its harder to time a table there.
Billy's is on Grand Avenue in St. Paul. Somewhere between Lexington and Dale, I'd say. Absolutely they have a liquor license. Crowd runs young'ish--and by that I mean early to mid-twenties. That's not a reference to Susie's kids!
The food isn't exceptional, necessarily, but it's pretty good (and I agree, way way way better than St. Paul's Chatterbox Pub which I agree is "just plain gross"--sad, too, because it's a place I really want to love...) and they have a nice patio. Billy's is are among the first restaurants in the area to crank up the heat lamps in spring so you can dine outside. I've usually been happy with their salads and a few other things that I ordered so long ago I don't remember them well enough to recommend them anymore...
I should mention, I only recommend Billy's for lazy weekend afternoons. All the folks churchka is referring to are still asleep at that point. I've only been to Billy's in the evening once; a Monday night, I think. Quite tame.
It's quite safe for children, families and the "what the heck is an IPod crowd" at 2pm on a weekend. No blushing sailors.
And, as I said above, the salads are quite respectable. Not mind-blowing, but fine.
I'm not taking my kids there at like 10 pm at night.
I'm talking with kids - 5/6ish in the dead of winter when we are all sick of the house and the hockey rink & we want to meet up with some pals and no one feels like spending a ton of $ or hosting.
We are out of there well before the crowds get rolling. And even when there is overlap the other Billy's fans are more friendly.
But I'm not there at midnight on Sat either.....
Billy's on Grand? Full bar confirmed.
Across from Caffe Latte - near intersection of Grand and Victoria
Its a bar....late night it can get pretty packed. esp. during summer - they have a patio.
Basically the highlights for me.
Better than average kid fare - lots of options for food and sides
Lots of TVs.
FAB service....you never have to ask for ketchup, another beer, extra napkins etc. and everyone that's waited on us smiles & is friendly.
Better than average bar food - good solid options which come out of the kitchen at a great pace.
The layout is a bunch of rooms strung together and a bar in the middle - so you can be in one room with a bunch of families and in the next room there could be a bunch of rowdy peeps. But you aren't bothering them, and they aren't bothering you.
and the usual assortment of darts, pool, video games etc.
I certainly wouldn't classify it as chowish but its steady, solid, reasonable and close. and in saint paul that counts for a lot.
Billy's On Grand
857 Grand Ave, St Paul, MN
I'll call this my "reality of three kids, busy schedules, life in the south suburbs" bit. All places with sub-par to terrible food that get far too many of my hard-earned dollars. Basically, they all serve a niche that I can't totally avoid, for which there are no alternatives down here:
Buffalo Wild Wings
Noodles & Company
Mostly I agree with MSPD.
I actually like Culver's burgers and Caribou coffee.
Perkins is a stopgap breakfast joint close to where I live, until I find somewhere close to home that has good breakfasts.
McDuck's is emergency food, suitable only to fill my gut. White Castle is better, but is miles from where I live.
DQ is OK for their soft serve only, but I haven't seen one since I moved here.
Where do you live that you haven't seen a DQ? Aren't then in every town and neighborhood practically?
Same goes for breakfasts...curious about your location. Maybe someone knows something. (I have recently found a non-chain spot for all-day breakfast in Apple Valley that will hopefully eliminate Perkins from my list).
For the record, Dulono's is my favorite pizza in MPLS. I also love their spaghetti with meatballs. I love thier red sauce and the crust.
The place I go the most with bad food is the cafeteria at work. Run by Aramark, it is okay, but the fact that I don't have to leave the building is the major draw.
I used to love Baja Sol but then Chipotle came and showed them they could significantly cut their costs my filling burritos with rice. Now I prefer Chipotle because I can monitor the rice/bean ratio.
To keep this on topic I'll have to fess up to Chiang Mai Thai, mostly for a cocktail and the spicy cashews. But after a cocktail you have to order dinner so you can digest the aforementioned boozy concoction and be safe on the roads.
Applebee's -- they're everywhere, and someone in a group always brings it up as a last ditch suggestion
Figlio's -- c'mon, the food isn't that good