Have you ever been at a restaurant and not known what to order? With all the great food in Maple Grove, it’s hard to know where to start. That’s why we’ve asked a variety of locals to name favorite foods from restaurants around town. You may recognize some of the participants from TV, radio or city hall. They may be your next door neighbor, your favorite shop owner or the stranger standing next to you in the grocery line. We have top picks from 8-year-olds to 91-year-olds. Based on their responses, one thing is clear: Maple Grove has delicious food.
Every time WCCO anchor Kim Johnson is setting up dinner plans with girlfriends from high school (Johnson graduated from Maple Grove Senior High) or out shopping with her mom, Johnson stops by 3 Squares. Her favorite pick is the pear salad with pears, apples and walnuts. “The hearty helping of greens always fills me up,” Johnson says. “I go for the salad because then I can save some calories for beer—guilt free. 3 Squares’ craft tap selection is the best!” $12.50.
Coffee ice cream with a Reese’s peanut butter mix-in from Cold Stone is a clear winner for attorney Chuck Roulet of Roulet Law Firm. Roulet ventures to Cold Stone once a month with family. His daughters (ages 15 and 9) often sample new flavors, but Roulet doesn’t need samples. He knows what he wants when it comes to the rich and creamy flavors of the coffee ice cream mixed with the chocolate and peanut butter. He always orders the same thing: “That’s my guilty pleasure.” Ice cream starts at $4.
Tom Pellegrino, director of food nutrition services for District 279 schools, is at 3 Squares weekly for the Maple Grove Rotary Club breakfasts. Pellegrino is also club president. He likes everything at the restaurant, but a new favorite for him is the beef stroganoff. The tender beef, good-sized noodles, mushrooms and rich sauce exceeded expectations. “Someone knew what they were doing making that dish,” Pellegrino says. $14.50.
Local author and licensed marriage and family therapist Megan Bearce quickly picked the Swedish pancakes from The Original Pancake House as a personal fave. Bearce loves the pancakes for their light and fluffy texture and delights in the tart lingonberries that come with the dish. She always orders it with hash browns. “I am a sweet and salty person, so it’s the perfect combination for me,” she says. Whatever the reason is to celebrate, the restaurant is her family’s special occasion place. $10.25
It’s hard for the president of North Hennepin Community College to pick only one food favorite. But the chicken shawarma pita from Naf Naf Grill is right up there. President Barbara McDonald likes the grill because the ingredients are fresh and it’s a quick place to meet friends who share similar passions for Middle Eastern food. “I have spent a lot of time in the Middle East, so I feel very close to the food,” McDonald says. “It feels a little bit like going home.” $7.20.
(Photo courtesy of naf naf grill)
Thomas Beskow is a fan of the baha shrimp taco from Rusty Taco. Thomas, who was a National Geography Bee state finalist this year, is a ninth grader at Maple Grove Senior High. He likes Rusty Taco for its low-key atmosphere and convenience; he can bike there. But that shrimp hits a sweet spot for Thomas: “It’s not too spicy but it’s still a little spicy.” He enjoys the corn tortilla and all the other taco fixings it comes with. “You can’t really get a taco like that anywhere else,” he says. $3 each.
91-year-old WWII veteran Joseph Kovar is smitten with Sawatdee & Zushiya’s Sue’s egg rolls. “I can taste them now,” Kovar says. “They are out of this world.” He loves the meat inside, the crispy shell and the sauce used for dunking. Kovar goes to the restaurant twice a month, especially on Saturdays when the band Now & Then performs. “The place just rocks—it makes the food tastes even better.” $6.29.
When Duayne Malewicki, one of the founders of the Wastebasket Revue, wants to treat himself at T.G.I. Fridays, he orders the French dip. It’s a prime rib sandwich on a crispy baguette topped with horseradish sauce, Swiss cheese and balsamic onions. There’s also au jus, which tastes like French onion soup, served on the side. “It’s different from the other French dips at other restaurants because it has a very special horseradish sauce that’s on it,” Malewicki says. $11.50.
You’ve probably heard Steve-O LaTart on the radio as a KDWB morning show personality. Now hear him out on this: the Buffalo chicken wrap at Granite City. “The chicken to bread ratio is perfect,” LaTart says, and adds that the blue cheese on top and waffle fries also make this meal a winner. “I am a big Buffalo sauce guy and it’s the perfect amount where it’s not so much that it’s swimming in it but it’s also not too dry,” he says. $9.95.
Miss MN USA Bridget Jacobs had a lot of fun at the Miss USA pageant this past June. But she’s happy to be back home with family. When people visit Maple Grove, Jacobs tells them to try the pineapple style Thai fried rice from Sawatdee & Zushiya. There’s something about the authentic fried rice mixed with warm fruit that makes it her favorite. Jacobs also likes how she can choose the level of hotness (she likes it spicy!). But be warned, spicy means spicy: “It makes it really good, but be prepared to have water on hand.” Dish starts at $11.29.
Rush Creek Elementary second grader Elliot Claussen has a refined palate for an 8-year-old. His favorite thing to chow down is the half steak at Pittsburgh Blue’s happy hour. He finds himself there once every few months on dinner dates with his grandpa. “It’s really juicy,” Elliott says, who likes the steak cooked medium rare. The meal comes with fries and a side of béarnaise sauce. What’s not to love? $16.95.
Quality homemade food is what State Farm agent Steve Riebel seeks out at the deli counter at the Osseo Meat Market. He’s there every week or so. His favorite? Any of their hot dishes. From tater tot hotdish to vegetable hamburger hotdish, the deli mixes up daily specials. “It’s good comfort food and different than the regular fast food around here,” Riebel says. “Where else do you get hotdishes?” $5.95 per pound.
Shrimp is Doris Krause’s all-time favorite food. That’s why she offers up the shrimp scampi from Malone’s as her fave Maple Grove dish. Krause, a senior resident at Rose Arbor & Wildflower Lodge, ventures to the restaurant about once a month with friends. The dish has linguini noodles, tomatoes and a garlic olive oil sauce, but it’s the shrimp that makes her mouth water. “It has a kind of a fishy taste, but I like shrimp the best,” Krause says. “It’s just real special.” $15.95.
Need a brunch suggestion from the dark side? A villain from Beauty and the Beast has one for you. Bryan O’Neil, who played Monsieur D’arque in Cross Community Players July performance of the musical, recommends the salmon scramble from 3 Squares. It’s salmon, cream cheese and shallots all mixed into a hearty scramble. O’Neil pairs it with an English muffin. “It’s perfect,” he says. “A lot of the best cuisine is simple but has really fresh ingredients, which always seems to be the case there.” $11.95.
FOX 9 morning meteorologist Keith Marler brings us the weather every morning and now his favorite pizza recommendation from Punch Pizza: “The Napoli with the pepperoni, prosciutto and buffalo mozzarella, and just a little garlic. That, combined with a punch salad, is crazy awesome.” He goes there every few weeks with his wife Susan, daughter Grace (11) and son Jack (9). Marler likes Punch for its fresh ingredients, but there’s also nostalgia. The restaurant reminds him of traveling around Italy with Susan back when they were in college. Napoli pizza starts at $6.75.
Maple Grove Senior High senior Lexi Willey loves the Maple Grove crimson burger from Lookout Bar and Grill. She shares it with her mom. “The Lookout is pretty famous for its burgers, so you can never go wrong with a burger,” Willey says. The toppings on the crimson burger make it special. Think cheddar cheese, Swiss cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion, mushrooms and mayo. Willey’s family are Lookout restaurant regulars: they go there every few weeks for the family-like atmosphere. $12.
As founder and artistic director of Maple Grove Jazz Band, we know Paul Mazzacano can put on a show with flair. He also speaks with pizazz of his favorite dish, the shrimp and crab cannelloni at Biaggi’s. “It’s cooked to perfection. When they say it is filled with seafood, the word ‘filled’ is taken seriously.” Mazzacano, whose heritage is Italian, also notes that the bread baskets are supreme. “Well-made Italian bread is the stuff of life; if you have that, then everything is fine,” he says. $19.99.
Terry Just, the former director of parks and recreation, has a favorite dish at Highlander Restaurant. It’s the Southwest salad. He recommends ordering the prime rib sliders as a starter. With romaine lettuce, roasted corn, black beans, avocado slices, shredded cheese and tortilla chips, the salad hits a homerun for Just. “That lime vinaigrette with the black beans and the avocado is just to die for,” he says. “I like that kind of spicy, tangy taste.” $10.
Donna Rongstad loves Daily Dose Cafe & Espresso for lunch, and not just because it is located right next door to her shop, Mainstream Boutique. It’s the fresh ingredients, the variety and portion options that draw her to the cafe a few times per week. If she had to pick a juicy lunch fave, it would be the club sandwich with its turkey, ham, bacon, cheddar, tomato, lettuce, onion and garlic aioli. “The turkey is so good and tender, and the multigrain bread is delicious,” she says. Half sandwich starts at $3.95.