Original location in Anoka, satellite location in Blaine
The original owner, Hans, passed away from cancer in 1997, just two months after being diagnosed
The bakery exchanged hands multiple times and eventually went into foreclosure
When the current owner, Kelly Olsen, bought it, it had sat vacant for 4 years. She says “everything needed help”.
The community rallied behind the new ownership to help Hans’ Bakery reopen in February 2014. The Food Network caught wind of the buzz and featured them before they opened. On their first day, they sold out of everything they had in the store.
The Texas Donuts are the size of your head. And they cost only $5.
The Beehive, and the smaller Beesting, are eye-catchers. The sweet dough pasty is filled with Bavarian cream, topped with candied almonds and dusted with powdered sugar. If you’re really hungry, order it as a cake.
The Minnesota State Fair’s website is a must-visit before you head out to the Great Minnesota Get Together. Watch my segment on KSTP-TV’s Twin Cities Live to learn about State Fair Bingo cards and how to create a custom list of what you want to see and eat at the Fair.
Breakfast becomes a passionate subject for many people. And for good reason.
For starters, it’s the most meaningful meal of the day. You need fuel to be productive.
It’s food people love, too: omelets, pancakes, French toast, hash browns.
Sitting down for breakfast is also the chance to connect with the people who mean a lot to you. Time and time again you hear about the senior mens’ groups who have coffee and chat about current events and what’s going on in their neighborhood. I’m guessing many of you reading this have a breakfast tradition you remember from when you were a kid, whether it be at home or at a restaurant on a weekend morning. Breakfast is more than food. It nourishes the soul.
I asked my Facebook fans, along with Twin Cities Live viewers, to tell me their favorite spot to get breakfast in Minnesota. Hundreds of entries came in. I visited the top five restaurants to meet with the owners and learn what you should order when you stop by.
I appeared on Twin Cities Live to share the top five spots:
Linda Frigaard and Linda Grady have been friends since third grade. A divorce kickstarted Linda Grady to call Linda Frigaard, who worked in the restaurant industry, to help her achieve a dream: to open a restaurant.
The two opened Lindas’ Cafe on August 1st, 2006 in a strip mall off of I-94 in Rogers. The space used to be a video store.
You will find four generations working at Lindas’ Cafe. Linda Frigaard’s father is there, along with her daughter and grandchild.
Their skillets are the number one menu item. The Ranch Skillet, with eggs, green peppers, onion, cheese and meat, along with the Log Cabin Skillet, smothered in sausage country gravy and a country fried steak, are the most popular.
The Lindas tell me they’ll go through nearly 225,000 eggs a year. If you’re a fan of wild rice soup, get the Minnesota omelet — it has the soup inside.
The pancake is worth ordering. The recipe belongs to the cook’s great great grandmother. The owners mentioned that customers drove from Edina to Rogers to get their pancakes. That’s nearly 60 miles roundtrip.
You don’t want to miss the Lindas’ Stuffed. I’m calling it a homemade take on the McDonald’s McGriddle. It’s two slices of French toast stuffed with Swiss cheese with your choice of ham or sausage. Pour some syrup on it and you got yourself a quality, homemade McGriddle without the guilt.
Lindas’ Cafe is not big — it’s only 88 seats. Make sure your whole party is there if you want to get seated.
Their entire menu, which does include broasted chicken and other lunch items, is available for take out.
3 metro locations, including the location I attended: 2700 39th Avenue NE, Saint Anthony Village 55421
Jeff Nat, whose nickname was Fat Nat while playing hockey, started Fat Nat’s Eggs in 2002.
Jeff, who loves to cook, wanted to run restaurant like his grandma’s house with quality ingredients.
The original location in New Hope had 35 seats when it first opened. Today, it has more than 100. It previously was a Chinese restaurant.
Fans of my Facebook page say the New Hope location is best, although the menu is consistent at all three restaurants.
They expanded to Brooklyn Park in 2007 and opened a Saint Anthony Village restaurant in 2012. Jeff’s wife, Lisa, tells me another location could be in the cards.
Fat Nat’s Eggs is a family affair. Jeff, Lisa, and their sons, Michael and David, run the restaurants.
The number one selling menu item is the Eggs Bacon Avocado Benedict, served on a toasted English muffin with a slice of tomato, bacon and an (AMAZING) spicy avocado verde. If you like spicy, you must order something with the avocado verde.
All of the salsas Fat Nat’s Eggs serves are made in-house. They have green chili, which you will find in New Mexico cuisine.
If you’re looking for an omelet, the owners say a hidden gem is the Jacob’s Omelette with carnitas, black beans, salsa verde, pepper jack cheese and homemade salsa on top.
Don’t pass up on the warm fruit fritter, which are made by Denny’s 5th Avenue Bakery in Bloomington.
Fat Nat’s Eggs has counter seating at all three locations.
It gets busy, especially on the weekends. Owner Lisa says for the shortest wait time, come before 9:00 am or after 12:30 pm.
4 metro locations, including the location I attended:
1661 County Road B2 West, Roseville 55113
I need to be honest: before my first trip to The Original Pancake House, I wasn’t thrilled about eating there, mostly because it’s a chain. But after learning their story, it’s definitely worthy of this list.
The four Minnesota locations are franchisees of the national The Original Pancake House brand. The locations in Edina, Eden Prairie, Roseville and Burnsville have the same owner, however, each location has a totally different look and each location has a different menu.
The Edina location is the original in the Twin Cities, opening in 1977. They started by serving pancakes in the morning, closing for a couple hours, then serving pizza for dinner. You won’t be able to miss the huge chandelier inside.
Eden Prairie opened in 2007 with a traditional restaurant vibe.
Roseville opened in 2013 and is very contemporary, having gone through a remodel in 2018.
The newest location in Burnsville has a Scandinavian feel.
None of their kitchen have microwaves.
Their most popular item is the 49er Flapjack, a thin pancake. The Potato Pancake and Buckwheat Pancakes are top-sellers, too.
A hidden gem are the Breakfast Ribs, which is like thick cut bacon.
On a busy day, one location will serve up 1,400 orders of bacon.
The hash browns at OPH are epic.
I heard this from multiple people: The Original Pancake House does an extremely good job accommodating those with food allergies. Gluten-free food comes out on yellow plates and there’s no extra charge. Our gluten-full table tried a gluten-free peach crepe, and it was really good. They also can accommodate those who are dairy-free and who have soy or egg allergies.
The coffee mugs are made by a potter from Saint Paul. Some of the other OPH locations from around the nation have started to use her mugs as well. You are able to purchase them, too.
R.J. Riches Family Restaurant in Mounds View originally was a Country Kitchen back in the 1970s. The owners who took over that space were named Royce and Janice (RJ) and they wanted to make ‘Riches’ — hence the name R.J. Riches. The current owners have operated the restaurant since 1992.
You need to watch other people’s food come out before you place your order. Food comes in HUGE portions. The chocolate chip and blueberry pancakes are not only the size of dinner plates, they’re also extremely thick. Think of it more like a cake than a pancake. You don’t need more than one for your table.
The number one menu item is the Country Fried Steak, which was really good. A thick gravy didn’t sit too heavy.
The second most popular menu item is my favorite. The Gyro Omelet was epic. First, it’s huge — it could be two, maybe three meals. It’s four eggs, with hash browns, cheese, and gyro meat inside. It’s served with Tzatziki sauce, too.
Owner Barb tells me that a lot of people overpass their Spicy Chicken Omelet, which has deep-fried, spicy chicken.
The restaurant isn’t huge, with only 120 seats. On a busy weekend day, you may have to wait 45 to 60 minutes to get a table. They’re the busiest between 8:30 am – 1:00 pm.
In addition to breakfast, R.J. Riches is open for dinner, serving all-you-can-eat meals.
Note that R.J. Riches is not set up for large parties. I would recommend that you keep your group to four or less (or be willing to split yourselves up). Most of the restaurant is booths.
Hopkins, located in the west metro, is home to one of the cutest Mainstreets in Minnesota. I was on KSTP-TV’s Twin Cities Live with places worth checking out if you’re looking for a date night, including one shop mixing books with beer.
Every month, Worth the Trip, my series on KSTP’s Twin Cities Live, presents the top five Minnesota spots in a particular category. And since summer is officially upon us, I had to determine who sells the best ice cream in the state.
The winning locations are determined by your suggestions. Thousands upon thousands of votes came in. Honestly, it was a bit overwhelming.
All of the top five vote getters are ice cream parlours, not places where you would go for a soft-serve cone. They are using premium ice cream. But I did notice something peculiar: none of the spots make their own ice cream. It’s purchased from two ice cream wholesale producers in Wisconsin (one shop also tosses in ice cream from Kemps, so there are three producers overall).
I have personally attended many Minnesota shops who make their own ice cream. Many of you are extremely loyal to them. What these top five shops had that some of those shops don’t offer is top-notch customer service. You’re going to be more than a number at these parlors. The owners are always there. They live in the community. And many of the shops were able to rattle off a whole bunch of ways of how they connect with the school kids and the neighborhoods they are situated in. This is far beyond donating a $20 gift card to a silent auction, folks. To the loyalists: I recommend you venture to these shops before you comment back to me with your distain.
Sing with the Twin Cities Beer Choir. The concept is simple and quite fun. The group gathers as a brewery, bar or restaurant and hand out “hymnals” to attendees. The music are melodies you are familiar with, but the words are switched out to involve drinking beer. Many Twin Cities Beer Choir participants are alumni from those really good Minnesota Lutheran college choirs, so as a group, they sound quite good. It’s a very lighthearted time. Their July meetup takes place at Spring Cafe, located at the Como Lakeside Pavilion in Saint Paul. (July 3)
The PGA Tour stops in Minnesota with the brand new 3M Open. The field has yet to be announced when this list was published, but Phil Mickelson has already announced he will play. Tournament play takes place July 4-7, but festivities go all week at the TPC Twin Cities in Blaine. (July 1-7)
Head down to the Mississippi River in Northeast Minneapolis to watch a Twin Cities River Rats show. Every Thursday night, this ski team puts on a free show filled with stunts, jumps and pyramids all on the water. They do have a show on the 4th of July, which is followed by fireworks. They also have a bonus performance on Friday, July 5th. They’re super family-friendly. Bring a blanket! (July 4, 11, 18 and 25)
Little Mekong is the Asian business and cultural district in Saint Paul. It runs along University Avenue between Mackubin and Galtier Streets. At the tail end of the 4th of July weekend, businesses in the area hold the Little Mekong Night Market, which is a huge street festival with really good food, unique shopping and lots of entertainment. It’s inspired by the night markets you would find in southeast Asia. It runs from 5-10 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday. (July 6-7)
The Minnesota Orchestra starts their annual Sommerfest concert series by performing the soundtrack to the Disney Pixar movie, “Coco.” Sommerfest 2019 has a Latin American theme, with concerts throughout the month of July. It should also mark the expected debut of the new Peavey Plaza, the public park space next to Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis. (July 6-7)
If you can’t wait for the Minnesota State Fair to start, check out the Ramsey County Fair in Maplewood. Admission is free. (July 10-14)
There’s no need to head west to catch a classic rodeo! The town of Hamel is just west of Plymouth and since 1981, has hosted a rodeo with barrel racing, steer wrestling and more. More impressive: the Hamel Rodeo is operated by 5 non-profit groups; the large event doesn’t have a single paid staff member. (July 11 – 14)
Kacey Musgraves, Semisonic, Jason Mraz and Hanson headline the Basilica Block Party in Minneapolis. The two-night outdoor concert first started in 1995 to raise money for the Basilica of St. Mary. (July 12-13)
The Minneapolis Movies in the Park series continues all month with free films shown at parks across the city. Stop by the Nicollet Island Pavilion on Monday, July 15 for “Free Solo,” a National Geographic documentary following Alex Honnold as he attempts to climb El Capitan at Yosemite National Park without any ropes. I recently saw it and it’s riveting.
Once a month, The Spring Street Tavern in Northeast Minneapolis hosts Pundamonium, a pun slam competition. Those who think they are punny are welcome to show off their skills. Participants are selected first come, first serve. The five judges are pre-selected members of the audience. (July 17)
Italian restaurant, Pazzaluna hosts its annual Wheels of Italy street party in downtown Saint Paul on Thursday, July 18. Stop by to see some of the finest street cars along with live music. The car show is free to attend.
People from around the Twin Cities will make their way to the Rondo neighborhood of Saint Paul for the Rondo Days Festival and Parade on Saturday, July 20. The parade begins at 10 am with the festival running from 12-7 pm.
Minnesota Monthly hosts its Fine Spirits Classic inside Orchestra Hall. Sample cocktails from the best mixologists in the state. (July 24)
Competitive eater Joey Chestnut will be at The Great Midwest Rib Fest at Mystic Lake Casino Hotel in Prior Lake. His mission: to eat more than 13.76 pounds of pork meat in 12 minutes. The three day festival is free to attend and also includes performances by Gretchen Wilson and Sugar Ray. (July 25-27)
The iconic Porky’s drive-in diner in Saint Paul has a new home in Hastings. It’s a part of the Little Log House Pioneer Village, a collection of historic buildings which are restored to make it feel like you are stepping back in time. The village is open to the public one weekend a year. Stop by the last full weekend of July for the Little Log House Antique Power Show, which allows you to walk through the Village. This year, they welcome artifacts from the Cottage View Drive-In in Cottage Grove. (July 26-28)
The British choral group, Libera, is astonishing. Boys range in age from seven to 16 and members are from schools throughout London. They tour internationally and are visiting Saint Paul once again. I had the privilege of hearing them the last time they were in Minnesota and I just wanted to melt in my seat. The venue is ideal, too: the gorgeous Cathedral of Saint Paul. (July 26)
Fitness studio Alchemy 365 is taking over the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and will offer a free class as part of the Minneapolis Aquatennial festivities. All fitness levels all welcome, just bring your own yoga mat. Check in begins at 5 pm with the class starting at 6:00. (July 26)
Watch (or walk in) a parade of dogs in northeast Minneapolis. The gathering point is right on the shores of the Mississippi at St. Anthony Main. (July 26)
Say ‘ooh, ahh’ at one of the largest fireworks displays in the country. The Minneapolis Aquatennial fireworks display start promptly at 10 p.m. on Saturday, July 27. The best viewpoint is near the Guthrie Theater.
Avoid downtown Minneapolis traffic by taking a water taxi! That’s right, the Minneapolis Water Taxi is a solar powered boat and is currently privately operated, meaning that you can book it for your group of friends for an intimate ride down the Mississippi River. The Water Taxi can fit two to six people and does private events for up to one hour. It goes from 10 am to 10 pm.
Rent a Lime or Spin scooter for a ride. They’re very simple to use and their max speeds only get to 15 MPH, so it’s hard to lose control. Pro tip: find someone who has already rented the scooters to refer you before you download the app. That way, you both get a free credit!
Be in control of how much beer you want to sample. Stop by the new First Draft Taproom & Kitchen near Target Field in Minneapolis. They have over 50 beers, wines, ciders and kombucha on tap. You get to control how much you would like. If you’re curious, the average pour is about 5 ounces.
Before my visit, I asked museum officials what they felt was underrated. They told me that the Gale Family Library was worth checking out. I wasn’t provided much more information, but I wanted to scope it out.
At the front desk, we asked the volunteer what we could do here. She said we could look up information (like any other library), but then she said we could use ancestry.com for free. Our jaws dropped. People pay good money for that. A monthly membership is $44.99.
So there must be a catch, right? Nope. When you arrive to the History Center, go up to the second floor. You don’t need to pay for History Center exhibits to go to the Library. If it’s your first time at the Library, bring your ID and they will give you a special Gale Family Library card.
Now, not only do they have access to ancestry.com, the computers in the Gale Family Library have access to Fold3.com, a military records database. They also have access to newspapers.com, which lets you search newspapers from Minnesota and around the world.
The Gale Family Library isn’t the only Minnesota library with free access to ancestry.com. Call your local library and check.
However, the Gale Family Library in Saint Paul also has the power of working the Minnesota Historical Society. Reference staff are on hand to help you look through birth records dating back to 1900 (when the Minnesota Department of Health began keeping duplicate records of births), church histories, death records, family histories, land records and newspaper articles. Another highlight is that you are able to do a full text search of the Minneapolis Tribune from 1867-2001.
While you’re there, check out the digital fire insurance maps for Minneapolis, Saint Paul and Duluth. The old street grids and maps are very similar to the artwork you might see sold on Etsy. Those maps are just one thing you can use to document the history of your house. If you want, you could find out who lived there long before you, learning when they were born, when they died, what they did for a living, and more.
The Gale Family Library and the Minnesota Historical Society are accepting your artifacts for their database. From high school yearbooks to church directories, click here to tell them what you have.
Buy Candy Buttons or a bottle of bacon flavored pop at Jim’s Apple Farm/Minnesota’s Largest Candy Store along Highway 169 south of Jordan. Don’t forget to bring cash or check — they don’t take credit cards.
They don’t have a website or phone number…just go. They are open 9 am – 7 pm until the Sunday before Thanksgiving.
Spend an afternoon tubing down a river. Welch Mill Canoeing and Tubing will take you on the Cannon River. Make sure you wear shoes in the water, and flip flops don’t cut it! Pack a cooler with your favorite beverages and make sure to rent a tube for your cooler. After a hard day of relaxation, stop by King’s Place in Miesville for a burger.
Welch Mill has not yet opened for 2019 due to high water. Check their website for updates before you go.
Spend a late night out at the Vali-Hi Drive-In movie theater in Lake Elmo. It’s three movies for the price of one. Kids 5 and under are free and ages 6-12 are only $1. Plus, hot dogs are always $1! They don’t accept credit cards, so bring cash.
Take your little ones to Madison’s Place, a 16,000 square-foot all-inclusive playground in Woodbury. It features sensory play equipment, ramps for wheelchair access and sun-shade covered play decks. Cool off in the neighboring splash pad.
See Kacey Musgraves, Semisonic, Jason Mraz and Hanson perform at the 25th edition of the Basilica Block Party in Minneapolis. (July 12 – 13)
Head to the ‘front porch of St. Paul’ and take in a St. Paul Saints Baseball game at CHS Field. The team will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Monty Python on July 13, the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing on July 16, and the 80th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz July 17.
Say ‘ooh, ahh’ at one of the largest fireworks displays in the country. The Minneapolis Aquatennial fireworks display start promptly at 10 p.m. on Saturday, July 27. The best viewpoint is near the Guthrie Theater.
Visit the new home of iconic St. Paul drive-in restaurant, Porkys, and nearly 50 other restored buildings at the Little Log House Pioneer Village in Hastings. (July 26 – 28)
Watch clips of cuddly kittens at the Cat Video Festival, presented by myTalk 107.1 and the St. Paul Saints, at CHS Field in St. Paul. (Thursday, August 8)
Drive up I-35 to Duluth for the Bayfront Blues Festival. The outdoor music festival draws more than 30 bands and 20,000 fans each year. (August 9 – 11)
The 40th annual Irish Fair of Minnesota features Celtic and Irish music, dance and food. Admission is free. (August 9 – 11)
Duluth’s Tall Ships Festival has a new name. Check out historic ships and the world’s largest rubber duck at the Festival of Sail. (August 11 – 13)
Be ‘The Luckiest’ hearing Ben Folds in the Surly Brewing Company Festival Field. The concert is planned by First Avenue, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in April 2020. (August 14)
It’s been over 20 years since the musical, RENT, started touring. The Pulitzer Price and Tony Award winning show stops by the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis. (August 14 – 18)
The Minnesota State Fair’s best kept secret is their annual fundraiser, Taste of the Fair. Held the Thursday before the Great Minnesota Get Together begins, attendees can taste new and classic Fair foods, play Mighty Midway games and enjoy entertainment. (August 15)
Learn more: read and see my experience from Taste of the Fair here.
The Como Park Japanese Obon Festival is an end of summer tradition. The evening ends with the majestic lighting of lanterns in a pond outside the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory. (August 18)