Oslo’s Secret

It’s quite possible that the good people of Oslo, Minnesota won’t appreciate me letting thousands hundreds of people in on their well kept secret, but here goes.

If you like good pizza, and you happen to be in the Oslo area, I suggest a trip to Johnny Bravoz in the heart of the city.  Homemade pizza at its best.  It is some of the best I’ve had in long while.

True story:  Six men from the Grand Cities took a trip to Oslo last night to check out the pizza that has quickly grown a cult following.  I was part of that group.  We had heard whispers of good pizza in Oslo, but we were skeptical.

We are now believers.  I won’t go into details because I’m getting kinda hungry just typing this, but suffice it to say that it was fresh and hot and plentiful.

Ps…we ordered three large pizzas.  We didn’t finish them.  A large pizza at Johnny Bravoz is roughly the size of a tire from a cement truck.

Pps…we noticed the sign on the door, “No whiners or cry babies.”  We agreed not to test that rule.

Random Thursday

*The NFL is an offensive, pass happy, high scoring league.  And I don’t think the Vikings have nearly enough offense to compete.  In watching the Giants and Cowboys last night it became obvious how far Minnesota has to go to catch up.

*New Guy started here last week and seems to be doing a nice job.

*Reggie Tales shout out to Kurt at Union Lake.

*I miss the Bronze Boot.

*I’ve always been of the opinion that a Zorbaz in Grand Forks would perform quite nicely.  And a Panera Bread.  And might as well add a Chipotle to that list while we’re at it.

*I wish there was a Wednesday or Thursday night game every week during the NFL season.

Dickey’s Worth the Wait

Dickey’s BBQ opened in Grand Forks on June 21st.  Within minutes, there was a line out the door that spilled into the parking lot.  And it’s been that way pretty much since.

I was able to show remarkable restraint and waited exactly 24 hours before I made my first visit.  When Red Sox Daughter and Blonde Daughter and I took our place in line at 11:05 on Friday, we were the 15th, 16th, and 17th people in line.  But the wait was fairly short and well worth it.  We’d waited many years for smoked BBQ to come to town so fifteen more minutes wasn’t going to bother us too much.

There was an abundance of workers and everything seemed to move like clockwork inside the festive location which originally housed a Hardees, followed by one of my personal favorites, Mi Mexico.  The inside has undergone a rather large makeover to give it a southern feel.

I had the sliced brisket and ribs.  I expected them to be good.  They turned out to be even better than I had hoped.  As I write this, I’m about an 8 on the hunger scale, so I’m not going to go into too much more detail for fear that I will pass out.  But suffice it to say that I will be back.  In fact, I might move Dickey’s into the power rotation and slink in there once a week.

Owner Josh Becker and his staff are off to an incredible start.  Some of you might think that I’m on the payroll at Dickey’s, the way I go on and on about the joint.  I’m not, but I wish I was.

UPDATE:  While driving past Dickey’s yesterday the smell of BBQ wafted into my vehicle.  An immediate meat coma ensued and I nearly crashed.  I consider that the ultimate ploy in marketing.

More DC Stuff

The Minnesota Wild and the Washington Capitals.

We took in a nice NHL game on Sunday afternoon.  We had some pretty good seats to see the Minnesota Wild tangle with the Washington Capitals.  The Capitals have a talented team.  The Wild do not.  I was very surprised by the fan support shown to the Capitals.  Almost every single person in attendance wore a red Caps jersey and of those 75% were of the Alex Ovechkin #8 variety.  The Capitals home is the Verizon Center, which is also home to the NBA’s Washington Bullets Wizzards and the Georgetown Hoyas basketball team.  If you’re into people watching, stand outside the Verizon Center for fifteen minutes.  I think I can safely say that “I’ve seen it all” now.


Hill Country BBQ Market

Full disclosure:  I do not have the vocabulary to do the Hill Country BBQ Market justice.  Suffice it to say that it was the best smoked meats I’ve ever eaten.  Ever.  Anywhere.  We stumbled upon this place while searching for a place to watch the UND and Western Michigan hockey game on Saturday afternoon.  Turns out that the game was blocked out across the country except for Minnesota and North Dakota.  Anyway, our discovery of this Meat Mecca made up for it.  As I write this, I have tears in my eyes thinking about the moistest brisket in the world.  And beef ribs that were every bit as good.  Five grown men ate without saying a word…unless you count grunting and moaning as talking.  Hill Country BBQ is located in the heart of D.C. about three blocks from the hockey arena.  I will never make another trip to Washington without going there.



Elevation Burger, left; Dogma Dog Bakery, right.

It took us 24 hours to eat again, and when we did we went to a place called “Elevation Burger” in Arlington, Virginia.  Even though the place was plastered with signs saying “Organic This” and “Organic That,” it ended up being awesome.  It was located next door to “Dogma Dog Bakery.”  And no, I didn’t get anything for CJ.  I only brought a carry on, and I already had it stuffed full of brisket and ribs.


Jefferson Memorial

After the amount of food we ate, it was a good thing we walked 37 miles.  I include this photo of the Jefferson Memorial because it’s my personal favorite.

I took a bunch of other photos but I’m unable to post them due to the meat coma I’m slipping into.

If you do go to Washington D.C., it’s best if you have a really good friend that you went to high school with and has lived out there for 20 years.  It also helps if he has the patience of Job.  And a nice place to stay in Arlington with good coffee.  If you have all that, then I suggest you go.  And do it with friends.

Thanks, Kevin.

DC Randomness

Washington Monument

I won’t bore everyone with all the details of our just completed trip to Washington D.C., but rather, I will hit a few of the high points.  The above photo I took just before we landed at Reagan National Airport.  It seemed like we were very close to the Washington Monument.


The White House

Sunday morning we went down to the White House so that we could take the obligatory photo at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  Keen observers will notice that I reached through the fence to take this picture.  On this particular morning it was relatively quiet at the President’s house.  That is to say there were probably about 200 people milling around doing various strange things.  I dare say we were the most “normal” people there.  The White House is a magnet for people wanting to make a statement.  Our statement was, “Let’s hurry up and get out of here.”


Ben's Chili Bowl

For those of you worried that we spent all of our time sightseeing and looking at historical documents and playing board games, we did manage to squeeze in a few meals.  One of the best was a late night stop at this popular D.C. joint, “Ben’s Chili Bowl,” as seen on The Travel Channel’s “Man Vs. Food.”  The place was packed and the line spilled out the door, but it moved quite briskly.  I had a Chili Half Smoke, which translates to a ginormous chili cheese dog.  These things are not for the weak of heart…or stomach.  I’d love for Marilyn to stop there some night around midnight.  It was really good, especially if you’re into chili and cheese and sausages with spicy mustard late at night.  The place was absolute chaos inside and out.  When we were exiting, we watched as police “subdued” a man on the sidewalk.  And somehow it seemed quite normal.

I will write some more about our D.C. trip tomorrow.  Stay tuned.

Dickey’s BBQ Coming to Grand Forks

I know this has nothing to do with Olive Garden or Marilyn Hagerty, but it is good news nonetheless.  Actually, it’s very exciting news for me and people of my ilk that like meat.  My new best friend, Josh Becker, told me in an e-mail this morning that he’s opening a Dickey’s Barbecue on the corner of Demers and South Washington in the former Mi Mexico location.  He hopes to have the restaurant open by mid-May.  I will attempt to wait patiently.  Dickey’s is a growing chain of very good BBQ, and a location opened last year in Fargo.  Let the countdown begin.  Good luck, Josh!

By the way, the brisket is insanely good.


Spicy Pie

Spicy Pie, downtown Fargo on Broadway. Notice the "Fargo" sign in the background. As a former photographer I'm witty that way.

Since it seems as though Grand Forks and East Grand Forks are getting two new restaurants a day, I decided that I better get my vote in for the next big thing.  And the winner is:  Spicy Pie.  What follows is a private letter to the good people of Spicy Pie in Fargo.  If you’re not a member of the Spicy Pie hierarchy, then please skip ahead to where I stop using italics.  Thanks.

Dear Spicy Pie People,

Please find it within your infinite wisdom during this joyous Christmas season to open a Spicy Pie in Grand Forks.  Or East Grand Forks.  Whichever works better for you.  You see, we need your awesome pizza and grinder offerings here in the Grand Cities.  And good news:  I’ve already taken the liberty to scope out a couple of locations.  Actually, I think that makes me a legitimate candidate for part owner.  And let’s try get this wrapped up by March 1st.  Thanks!

Spicy Pie of Fargo found its way onto my radar a couple months ago.  Since that day I’ve been inventing reasons to go to Fargo for the sole purpose of eating there.  They have two locations there and one in Minot.  I’ve been frequenting the downtown Broadway location.  Three separate visits.  Once with Red Sox Daughter, once with my boss, and the last time with TV’s David Schwab.  All three agreed that it was simply delightful.  Even Schwab, who normally doesn’t eat and when he does it’s usually something weird.

The genius of Spicy Pie is the simplicity of its menu and the quality of the food.  They basically do pizza and grinders.  And you can order specially made pizza by the slice.  You don’t see a lot of that in these parts.  Keep in mind that this isn’t a slice of pizza that has been sitting under glass and a strong lamp for an hour.  This is the freshest tasting pizza this side of West 97th in New York City.  All this and cheap prices.  If you’re into that kind of thing.

Jake’s to Undergo Changes

In the very near future, Jake’s Bar and Grill will be undergoing some big changes.  According to my sources, the south end business in Grand Forks will be changing its name to Wild Hog, which stands to reason with the addition of a commercial sized smoker that was installed a few months ago.  With the name change, the menu will also undergo a face lift with an array of smoked items being added.  Those include whole chickens, wings, ribs and brisket.  The last couple of months have been a trial run of recipes and special menu items to help gauge the popularity of different smoked meats.  And if the testing phase is any indication, Jake’s Wild Hog is headed in the right direction.  Suffice it to say that the wings are worth the drive alone to the far end of South Washington Street.  Also, the hint of smoked meats creates a lovely aroma when you set foot in the joint.  Below are the aforementioned wings.  Editor’s note:  the wine is not mine.  I was with Farming Bro #1 and sometimes he likes a nice glass of wine after a big day of farming.  I’m not judging.

When you take pictures of food at restaurants people look at you funny. Then when they realize that I work at The Tales, they nod knowingly.

Olive Garden Rumor May Be True

Grand Forks Olive Garden?

For nearly 20 years the rumors of an Olive Garden coming to Grand Forks have run rampant.  I’m still skeptical, but if that’s not an Olive Garden in the above photo, well, then someone is building a really cool house across the street from Texas Roadhouse.  Complete with a large parking lot.  My sources are telling me that it was confirmed six months ago that it was indeed an Olive Garden but like I’ve said for years, I will believe it when I’m face down in some pasta and sausage dish and a couple 13-14 bread sticks.

Crookston’s Big Secret

Authentic Mexican Restaurant...Also known as El Metate.

About two months into mourning the loss of the Mi Mexico restaurant in Grand Forks, I had a chance encounter one night with a shadowy figure in a downtown parking ramp.  All the person said was, “Authentic Mexican Restaurant…Crookston.”  And while I had seen the place sitting along the highway as you enter Crookston from the north, I had never stopped there.

Until recently.

I’ve now been there twice in a relatively short amount of time.  The first time I went was just to “check it out.”  The second time I went because I wanted to make sure it was as good as I thought it was.

It was.

It turns out the good people of Crookston have been trying to keep “Authentic Mexican Food” also known as “El Metate” a secret from everyone else.  They even went so far as to keep the red roof on the former Pizza Hut to throw the rest of us off the trail.  Sheer genius. And it almost worked.

I’m sure one of the reasons that our fine friends in Crookston have been keeping this secret is that they were probably afraid of an influx of rubes crowding the best Mexican restaurant in the area.  Well, the cat’s out of the bag now.  After this glowing review, surely thousands hundreds a couple dozen people are going to stop in.

Predictably, I ate the same thing both times.  That’s how I roll.  In the above photo it’s listed as #37.  Chorpollo.  Grilled chicken breast topped with Mexican sausage, rice and beans and tortillas topped with cheese dip.  And now as I type this I’m calculating in my mind whether or not I have enough time to drive to Crookston on my lunch break and get a #37 to go and still make it back within an hour.

I wouldn’t steer anyone wrong on matters of this importance.  The food is so good it’s scary.  And let’s face it, I’m not an expert on what constitutes authentic Mexican food, but I would assume that what I ate in Crookston is more authentic than any I’ve ever had.  And…it’s better than Mi Mexico.  And has taken some of the sting away from Mi Mexico’s closing.

El Metate.  A really good Mexican food joint in a no frills atmosphere.  Just the way it should be.