Love him or hate him, you can’t deny the success of Guy Fieri’s wildly popular TV show, “Diners, Drive Ins & Dives” on the Food Network.
For those that haven’t turned on the Food Network in the past 15 years, “Triple D” features the most popular restaurants in any given city, with an emphasis on the casual and down-to-earth options.
In other words, right in our wheelhouse.
So as purveyor’s of Minneapolis & St. Paul’s most authentic local’s guide, you can bet we’ve tuned into every episode featuring our wonderful hometown.
That’s why today, we’re highlighting 9 of our favorite restaurants that were deservedly featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive Ins & Dives – Minneapolis edition.
1. Smack Shack at the 1029 Bar (Minneapolis)
[Photo Credit: Food Network]
On this episode, Guy is searching out “Streamlined Sammies.” So, in our biased opinion, he made a great choice when he came to Minneapolis to check out Smack Shack’s legendary lobster rolls!
The episode starts with Guy explaining the quirky story behind Smack Shack at the 1029 Bar. As the legend goes, Smack Shack started as a humble downtown food truck. When the truck quickly reached max capacity, Smack Shack’s chef reached out to his buddy at 1029 Bar. The deal? Smack Shack would use the kitchen of 1029 to bring its legendary lobster rolls to the dive bar.
Except wait… Guy never tried the Lobster Rolls. Instead, Smack Shack’s feature starts with The Lamb Sandwich.
In any case, Guy was immediately impressed with the sandwich’s saffron aoli, before describing the lamb as “OUTSTANDING. I mean stupid in flavor.” Once Guy put all the ingredients together, he seemed legitimately blown away, and it certainly didn’t look like an acting job.
This has got to be in the top greatest lamb sandwiches I’ve ever had.” – Guy Fieri on The Lamb Sandwich at Smack Shack
Next, Guy moved onto a more traditional Smack Shack staple – The Lobster Mac and Cheese.
One bite in, and Guy Fieri was wandering around the kitchen, speechless. (For a change…)
2. The Nook (St. Paul)
If an out-of-towner comes to Minneapolis in search of a Jucy Lucy, we almost always recommend either Matt’s or The Nook. So, we were happy to see Guy Fieri visit one of the city’s best options for Minneapolis’s famous cheese-stuffed burgers.
(We also got a kick out him explaining the basics of a Lucy, including the molten hot cheese oozing out from the patties.)
To start, Guy met up with Mike Runyon and Ted Casper, who purchased The Nook as fresh faced 20-year-olds. This was a stark contrast to owner they bought it from, a grandmother-like figure who ran the nook from 1967 to 1997. (Which still comes up 30 years short of The Nook’s 1938 opening.)
Soon thereafter, Guy was digging into The Nook’s Juicy Nookie, which was apparently his first Jucy Lucy. He described the experience:
“Oh yea… the little cheese explosion. You know what I like about that? Everything. The bun is fantastic.” – Guy Fieri on The Nook’s “Juicy Nookie”
He then went on a little field trip to PJ Murphy’s Bakery to see how those buns were made fresh daily, before returning to the restaurant to taste a bite of the 300 pounds of fries which The Nook goes through every day.
Afterwards, Guy tried a Bacon Burger and a Nookie Supreme, which we didn’t pay all that much attention to. Because if you’re not ordering a Jucy from The Nook, well… then you’re just doing it wrong.
3. Emily’s Lebanese Delicatessen (Minneapolis)
Emily’s is a Twin Cities classic. So when Guy visited in Season 5, we paid attention.
Pretty accurately described as “Home cookin’, Lebanese style,” Guy tried the following Emily’s dishes:
- Lamb Kebob – Guy described it as “Nice, bright, and fresh… Unbelievable man…”
- Lamb’s Tongue with Herb Vinaigrette – Guy seemed to order this one for the shock factor, since it’s one of the least ordered items on the menu. But hey, it made for good TV, I guess.
- The Meat Pie – Guy devoured his middle eastern meat pie, saying it had great flavors and great dough.
We’d have loved to see Guy try some of Emily’s garlic sauce, which we lovingly refer to as “Crack Sauce” since we’ve been known to order it by the gallon, and then douse it all over our home recipes.
But hey, at least he visited one of our favorite Twin Cities Mediterranean places.
4. Broder’s Cucina Italian (Minneapolis)
[Photo Credit: Food Network]
At the recommendation of Guy Fieri’s own cameraman (a Twin Cities local… shout out!) Guy decided he had to try Broder’s in Minneapolis.
This episode described Broder’s as, “the family first Italian joint cranking out fresh pasta and dishing up righteous pies.”
Triple D hit the nail on the head there. According to our rankings, Broder’s is undoubtedly one of Minneapolis’s best Italian restaurants.
On the episode, Guy threw special shout outs to Broder’s Lasagna, the Chicken Parm, and the House Made Bolognese… which the show said was the restaurant’s top seller.
Guy’s reaction to that Bolognese, and we quote:
“I’ve enjoyed pasta all over the world… I pride myself on making my own pasta. This is fantastic. This is like the rocket that is going to go to mars, man…” – Guy Fieri on Broder’s Cucina Italian in Minneapolis
5. Pizzeria Lola (Minneapolis)
Guy’s foodie friend (and fellow celebrity chef Andrew Zimmern) brought him to Pizzeria Lola. Not surprisingly, Andrew knows his food! We’ve long touted Lola as one of our choices for best pizza in Minneapolis.
On the episode, Ann Kim (who we lovingly refer to as Minneapolis’s pizza queen, thanks to her ownership of not just Pizzeria Lola but Young Joni AND Hello Pizza, too) went tit for tat with Guy Fieri’s sometimes overbearing personality.
In the process, she served him three of Pizzeria Lola’s most popular pies:
- The My Sharoni – a DiscoverTheCities.com favorite and our vote for one of the best meat lovers pizzas anywhere…
- The Lady Zaza – a Korean sausage fan favorite very similar to our personal favorite, the Korean BBQ
- The Sunnyside – egg and all!
Not surprisingly, Guy loved all three. We agree!
6. The Wienery (Minneapolis)
On this Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives Minneapolis episode, Guy immediately dug into a $4 burger which he seemed modestly impressed with, simply stating “That’s a good burger.”
From there, Guy wanted to try the Spicy Italian Combo after seeing a customer “inhaling” his.
This meal is essentially a long Italian sausage on a homemade hoagie bun, topped with butter soaked roast beef, cheese, and hot giardiniera peppers.
Guy gave it a solid thumbs up before raving about its balance of flavors.
7. Victor’s 1959 Cafe (Minneapolis)
[Photo Credit: Food Network]
Cuban food in Minnesota? Guy was surprised.
One of the things I’m always looking for on Triple D. Those small little joints that make you stop and go, ‘What in the heck?’ Like this small tropical looking dive here in South Minneapolis.” – Guy Fieri’s first impression of Victor’s 1959 Cafe.
To add more confusion to the picture, Guy met up with owner Niki Stavrou, the Greek lady responsible for the restaurant’s delicious Cuban food.
As Niki explains, she learned all the authentic recipes from her Cuban ex-husband.
Guy seemed convinced, so he ordered up a fan favorite – the Picodillo Plate, which he decided was “good enough [for him] to eat everyday.”
Next, Guy got a tutorial on Victor’s Cubano Sandwich, which Victor’s slow cooks for an impressive four hours. After a quick taste, Guy decided it was in his “Top 5” all time Cuban sandwiches, which is high praise from someone who clarified he’s had over 50 different ones.
Lastly, Guy gave the Ropa Vieja a shot. He was immediately impressed with the patience of this dish. The episode showed the flank steak being simmered for an hour and a half until it’s fall apart tender, then steamed on a pile of aromatic veggies, then simmered in some Creole sauce for good measure.
Not surprisingly, Guy raved about this one too.
His final verdict?
If you live within 500 miles of this joint, make a vacation out of it.” – Guy Fieri on Victor’s 1959 Cafe.
8. Donatelli’s (White Bear Lake)
For a suburban twist, Guy headed North to White Bear Lake.
Donatelli’s is a strip mall location is owned by Steve Donatelli, whose menu is based entirely of classic Italian family recipes.
Like the Special Red Sauce. Donatelli’s showed how this sauce is made fresh every day, which involves an impressive 8 hour simmering process.
Guy ordered his red sauce over some fresh made Mostaccioli pasta, which convinced him to rename the restaurant Donatelli’s House of Cheese, thanks to gooey strings in every bite.
He then tried a “dynamite” Spaghetti Pie, which he described as an interesting “Pasta, Egg, Veggie, and Cheese Thing.”
Lastly, Guy watched the making of Donetelli’s meatballs, which he tried on a Meatball Sandwich. Again, Guy was surprised by the mountain of cheese, large portions, and low price.
9. Red Wagon Pizza Company (Minneapolis, MN)
On another recommendation from Guy Fieri’s Minneapolis-based camera crew, guy headed to one of our favorite Minneapolis pizza spots – Red Wagon.
Once there, charismatic Red Wagon owner Peter Campbell stole the show, as he enthusiastically showed the passion he puts into every pie.
The first of those was The Red Wagon Pizza, which was later officially renamed to “Red Wagon Pizza (DDD)” in honor of the episode.
That’s probably because Guy anointed this pizza as “The Real Deal.” In the episode, Guy spent a few minutes raving about the balance of the homemade sauce, the homemade dough, the touch of peppers, and the perfect spices.
Interestingly, the next order wasn’t pizza at all, but the handmade Tortellini. Sadly, this dish is no longer on the menu, even though Guy described is as “phenomenal.”