Fitting Fare

Nutritious equals delicious, with a conscience on the side.
The multigrain bread at Great Harvest Bread Company is the perfect package for a harvest of vegetables.

The fit and fabulous intimately understand that nutritious and delicious go hand in hand. Local eateries that also know this are craftily creating fare from the best of the best, coupled with quality grains, fresh produce, meats, and more; gently declaring that eating healthfully can be the norm, not the exception. Whether it’s the local farmers market or one of these area dining venues, there is an authentic medley of foodie choices for even the most discerning, responsible-minded diners in Maple Grove.

Veggie Harvest

Great Harvest Bread Company
Each morning before the sun rises, bakers at this suburban jewel handcraft fresh bread from stone-ground wheat. Their menu offers sandwiches stuffed with wholesome fillings grown and raised on family farms. Customer favorites include the honey whole wheat, multigrain, Dakota, whole wheat, and High Five Fiber. Stop by for their scrumptious harvest veggie sandwich made from fresh pepper rings, cucumber slices, provolone and cheddar cheeses and hummus spread ($7.25).

Great Harvest has also implemented a number of admirable business choices. They partner with Minneapolis-based B&W Java to make their aromatic house blend. “Fair trade relations with coffee- growing communities assures that these farmers continue to thrive against bigger entities,” says co-owner Toni Fluke. They also donate all day-old breads to the CROSS Food Shelf as part of a larger commitment to recycle 50 percent of everything.

Smoked Pork Ribs

Dehn’s Country Manor
A rib lover’s paradise, Dehn’s Country Manor has been a local mainstay for more than 53 years. One key to their success is partnering with Knaus Sausage House, out of Kimball, Minn., for bacon, sausage and ribs. “We are dedicated to serving the highest quality to our guests,” says owner Mike Dehn. The pork ribs ($18.95) are smoked for five hours and then braised for five hours to ensure a deep rosy pink color and intense, smoky flavor.

Health conscious diners can be assured of menu items that are gluten free and lacking in preservatives. Plus, Dehn’s produce comes from local supplier, Bix Produce, located in St. Paul, and they offer a seasonal staple: Matt’s Sweet Corn.

Whole Hot Hoagie

Z’s Smokin Bonez

Suburbanites who want something unique should check out Z’s Smokin Bonez. This is where tried and true meets a hot, mouth-watering hoagie. Dry-rubbed ribs, jalapeno cornbread, and brisket chili top the list of customer favorites. “The reason we’ve been in this business for over 35 years is because we’re big about buying local over mass produced meats,” says owner, Dave Zapf. And a booming catering business makes Z’s more than a sandwich shop.

Zaft definitely stays busy year round. In season, locals can find Z’s at the Maple Grove Farmers Market. Zapf loves what he does and you can taste it in every bite. Try the whole hot hoagie made from smoked brisket, pulled pork, mac and cheese, onions, pickles, and Z’s homemade BBQ sauce, with a side of fresh house coleslaw and a local Minnesota brew ($12).

Vegetable Tacos

Highlander Pub
A spectacular view, overlooking the Rush Creek Golf Course, can be enjoyed from the dining room of the Highlander Pub. While there, you can also take in another kind of green: tasty greens that are locally sourced whenever possible.

“We buy the best ingredients possible, rotate religiously, and incorporate them into our recipes,” says general manager Bruce Michaelson. All seafood menu items are sustainable and non-farmed. The Highlander purchases only cage-free eggs, and a gluten-free bun or tortilla can be substituted for any menu item. The chef is conscientious about asking vendors how products are handled before they reach his kitchen. All hamburger is 100 percent ground Angus chuck, all natural and sourced from a Minneapolis vendor that meets his high standards.

When it comes to recycling, you’ll witness a staff that makes sure that whatever can be recycled is recycled—from the kitchen, to the cart cleaning area, to grounds maintenance.

While you’re there, enjoy the unique vegetable tacos—two flour tortillas, shredded romaine, diced tomato, feta cheese, cucumber, cilantro, roasted corn, avocado, and black beans with a vegetable cream cheese spread. “The secret to its success is our homemade sauce,” claims Michaelson. Famished foodies can add a protein such as Cajun shrimp, sautéed walleye, chicken or steak for an additional charge. All are served with homemade salsa and tortilla chips ($10).

Maple Grove Farmers Market

People of all ages are looking for more authentic connections with food. The Maple Grove Farmers Market, which first opened in 2004, offers fresh and seasonal options from more than 50 vendors. “We’re delighted to connect people with the folks who work diligently to grow and prepare food right here in the Twin Cities,” says market manager, Kirsten Bansen Weigle.

Unsure about what to eat or simply trying to make sense of all those health claims and food trends? The market offers easy-to-follow recipes using market products. And don’t forget the little ones. The Kids Power of Produce Club shows the kiddos what makes for a good food choice, combined with cool activities. This is the place for fall family bonding at its finest.

(Photo courtesy of Maple Grove Farmers Market.)

Buffalo Mac and Cheese

The Four Seasons Café
Rounding out our list of favorites is The Four Seasons Café, located at the Maple Grove Hospital on the garden level. Serving both employee and guests from the community, the café consistently strives to understand preferences, along with growing trends. There is no shortage of vegetarian and vegan options such as mushroom vegetable, vegetable bean, black bean, lentil tomato, vegetable brown rice and pasta fagioli soups. Many of the items are made to order—so gluten free is always an option.

A hands-down favorite is the Buffalo Mac and Cheese made with chicken, cavatappi pasta, buffalo sauce, alfredo sauce, onions, celery, garlic, bleu cheese, salt and pepper. ($5.75) “This is our spicy spin on comfort food,” says manager Amy Vajgrt. It’s one of many menu options that is made from scratch and in-house from whole ingredients. With stone walls and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking an outdoor patio and natural wooded surroundings, the Four Seasons Café is a perfect place to dine or simply sit and collect your healthy thoughts.