Tag Archive: Food

Donut Shop Reviews

If there’s one thing I know, it’s food. When it comes to food, there are 3 things I know really well: pizza, BBQ and donuts. If ever a place should open, that has all 3…look out.

A familiar part of my Sunday morning routine is taking the kids out for donuts and hot chocolate. For the past 4 years, we’ve always done donuts at Sunrise Donuts in Bloomington, MN.


Never one to be satisfied, we’ve been on the hunt for new donut places to try. Between, Yelp!, the web at large and recommendations from friends, we tried:

Mel-o-Glaze: let’s start by saying the owner let’s is cat roam the kitchen. Not cool. The donuts weren’t fresh. All were tasteless and hard, except the traditional glaze. I’ve never had a glaze donut like this. It was thick and cake-like, but with all the flavor of a traditional glaze. It was tasty, but a one trick pony and in a hard to reach location.

Glam Doll: this came recommended by several folks I’m friends with on foursquare. The location is great and the character-driven retail model works. There are ’50s style pinup paintings and photos hanging on the walls, and all the waitresses are dressed up in the vain of Bettie Paige. It must cost a lot to create that ambiance, because a dozen donuts will set you back more than $20. Yes, I’m serious. You do get some creative donut flavor creations that are given fun and whimsical names, like Bombshell and Femme Fatale. Overall a great tasting donut, but overpriced to the point, it makes NYC look inexpensive. Add in the time to travel to uptown (15 minutes) and these just aren’t worth the trip on for our Sunday journey.

Yo-Yo: located in a strip mall in Minnetonka (yes, I too was blown away that Minnetonka had strip malls) this donut shop is somewhere between Glam Doll and Sunrise. Let me explain…you get creatively decorated donuts, like the cake one with Fruity Pebbles adorned on top. There’s also a s’mores donut, that plugs the donut hole with a marshmallow. You also have simple bear claws and twists. A dozen will run you $17, nearly 3x the cost of a dozen at Sunrise. Add in the 15 minute drive and Yo-Yo is a no-no for me.

Look, there are two types of donut shops, just like there’s two types of bars. There are those that trade on flash (you pay a lot for this) and there are those that trade on substance. The substance places usually lack the polish and sizzle of the flash places. This usually leads to people preferring the flash places. No thanks. I will not be visiting the ROOF at the Wit in Chicago to pay $20+ for a mojito. Especially, not when I can get a great authentic pitcher at Havana. I digress. What makes Sunrise great is 3 things:

1. Consistency: always a great experience. Always friendly people. Always open when it’s supposed to be. Always the same people there. I’m practically a regular!

2. Taste: in my humble opinion, they make the best tasting glaze, cake and cruller style donuts I’ve ever had. They’re always fresh, with the right balance of topping to base.

3. Fair Value: a dozen is $6. Yep, $6. They could charge double that and I would pay it.

I’ll keep checking out other donut places, but I can’t imagine another place in the Minneapolis area besting Sunrise on consistency, taste and value.

10 Things To Pass On In Chicago

My best friend is coming to visit at the end of the month.  Whenever you have company visiting from out of town you try to be a good host.  That’s not always an easy proposition.  You need to figure out how to balance the really traditional touristy things with the things locals do every day.

Having lived in Chicago for roughly 6 years (over two different stops), I’ve got a fairly good handle on what’s worth seeing and doing…and what’s not.  There’s hundred of lists for what to do in Chicago, but I’ve never seen a list on what to avoid doing in Chicago.  Being the feisty guy that I am, I figured who better to create that list than me?  So without further adieu, here’s 10 things to pass on in Chicago.

  1. North Avenue Beach – The beach is small, it’s packed, the drink and food options are very limited.  You’ll spend more time trying to find a place to sit down/lay out than you will actually sitting/laying out.
  2. Navy Pier – I’m torn on this. Sure, it’s iconic, but there’s very little to actually do here unless you have kids.  And even if you have kids, it’s challenging to get to, tourist trap priced and overall not a good return on the effort.
  3. Wieners Circle – There are many hot dog options in the great city of Chicago.  Winers Circle is usually on a must try/eat list.  I would pass in favor of Hot Dougs.
  4. East Bank Club/The Wit – The places to see and be seen.  I live close to EBC and I have to say, it’s just not the people you want to hang out with.  Too much flash and not enough substance; oh and the price (even for just the sun deck or a simple mojito) will make you wonder if you are in Cannes or the Amalfi Coast.
  5. Little Italy – Tragic, for a city known for its great Italian food, Little Italy just doesn’t deliver the goods.  Little Italy is roughly 5 blocks by 5 blocks.  For comparison, that could fit into one corner of Little Italy in New York City.  Getting to Little Italy is tough, it’s away from the center of the city and when you get there, there’s not much to do or eat.  Even the authentic Italian Bakery concept is missing.
  6. Field Museum – It’s big, but lacks oomph.  Choose the Shedd Aquarium instead.
  7. Mag Mile Shopping – There are plusses and minuses here.  Yes, there’s lots to shop, but none of it unique to Chicago.  Instead, head to Lincoln Park in the Halsted/Armitage area for shopping that’s not so chain focused.
  8. John Hancock Center/Observatory – You really have two options for being able to see the city from a high vantage point.  The Hancock Observatory is one and the Sears Tower is the other.  The Hancock building is often mobbed because it’s right on Michigan Avenue.  The Sears Tower however offers a similar spectacular view, but without the lines.
  9. Gino’s East – Yes, deep dish pizza is on the menu, but I’d pass on Gino’s in favor of Giordano’s or Lou Malnatti’s.
  10. O’Hare Airport – Fly into Midway, not only is it faster, cheaper and easier to get into the city, but then you can fly Southwest…and that’s always a win.
For what it’s worth, because I’m not a total curmudgeon :) here’s a list of 10 things I would have on my Chicago must see/do list:
  1. The Bean – I know the official name is Cloud Gate, but the “Bean” sounds cooler.
  2. The Drake Hotel –  It’s a piece of iconic history.  The bartenders are top shelf.  Not only do you get to see a true classic, you’ll have a great drink inside of a stunning hotel bar like no other.
  3. Lou Malnatti’s – Different than other Chicago Deep Dish institutions because of the cheese to sauce ratio.  In my opinion, it’s the best pizza in Chicago.
  4. Grant Park – Even if it’s only to see the fountain, it’s a nice experience and great for picture taking.
  5. The Art Institute Of Chicago – The best collection of impressionist art work I’ve ever seen.  Not badly priced, but note on most nights the doors close at 5.
  6. Wrigley Field – Baseball fan or not, it’s such an amazing experience.  The people watching alone coupled with the bar scene surrounding Wrigley makes it a must do.  Make sure to get an Old Style beer.
  7. Billy Goat Tavern – No fries, chips and your choice of a single, double or triple burger.  The legend of the Billy Goat lives on today.
  8. Tree Streets – This area is where all the high end shopping is.  But, you aren’t going to visit for that reason.  Nope, it’s all about the people watching.  More salmon colored shirts and deck shoes than you could shake a stick at.  At night the scene is so over the top, it’s almost impossible not to take your camera out and start snapping photos.
  9. Architecture Tour – How can you beat a boat, water, the sun and some serious knowledge?  You can’t, well unless you paired it all with a beer.  It’s a nice leisurely experience and something that’s 100% unique to Chicago.
  10. Steak – Chicago has no shortage of great steak places.  Some of the few I’d recommend are Smith & Wollensky, Gibsons and Gene and Georgetti.  The portions are usually huge and cooked to perfection.
So there you have it, the good and the bad.  See, I’m fair!

Out From Behind The Camera

It’s rare, but it happens.  Take today at the 5-8 Club in Minneapolis.

May I Have Some Peanut Butter

I’ve always loved how much Joe Black, loved Peanut Butter, in the movie, Meet Joe Black. I think everyone has their favorite and I’m no different. For me it’s Peter Pan. Specifically, the honey flavored. I finally found it in Chicago.

A Meal Fit For A King

I had lunch today at Lugo Caffe.  It was outstanding. Seriously, amazingly good. I had the Crispy Lugo Pork Shank, which was larger than I thought it would be and one of the best food experiences I’ve ever had.  Great recommendation from a great friend.

A Thoughtful Gift

After sharing some good news, I received a very special and thoughtful gift to help me celebrate my good news: 1lb of Katz’s Pastrami. To preserve the freshness it had to be packed with dry ice and shipped over night.  After a quick 2 minutes in the microwave it was ready to eat.  Eating Katz’s pastrami is a food occasion like no other.  You have to love it when people enjoy hearing your good news and then know you well enough to know exactly what to get you to help celebrate.

Shake Shack

One of my new loves is Shake Shack.  New York has some of the best food in the world.  And every time I visit the city I hit my old standbys of Katz, Scotto’s, Nathans and L&B Spumoni Gardens.  I also try to find new places.  A few trips back I discovered Shake Shack.  This particular one is

Pizza By The Slice

As a New Yorker I grew up eating pizza by the slice. You take the pizza, you fold it, put it in some wax paper and then stuff your face while you walk. That’s just how you do it. Every city seems to claim that they have NYC Bagels andNYC Pizza. I laugh at the idea of this concept. It’s just not true.

While on my way to lunch today, I passed by this sign, claiming to offer pizza by the slice.

I had to laugh.

My Sweet Tooth

I have a sweet tooth.  There’s no denying it.  My breakfast of choice lately has been a steady dose of Red Bull and Gummy Bears.  Yes, Gummy Bears.  Tasty.

Bacon Of The Month

I’m punting a little bit on this photo.  It was late, I was running out of time and I went to what was in my freezer.

In this case, it was bacon…lots of bacon.  My very good friend signed me up for the bacon of the month club.  Every month a new type and flavor of bacon arrives at my door and I get to eat it.  Talk about a great friend!

Digital dad to Cora and John. Love ironing, bourbon and BBQ; no necessarily in that order. Living life, like I stole it. I'm always up for a

spirited conversation. These are my thoughts and ramblings, not those of my employer.
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