My Favorite Places to Eat – The 2018 Edition

Joey Nova's Rally Team #TeamNovas
All Photos by Randy Stern

Before the Twin Cities readers figure out what this next My Favorites list is all about…yes, it is on this list!

As are other restaurants. Still, you can read the first list of favorite restaurants here. That way, you can see how much things have progressed from that point in 2016.

But, I digress. A place to eat is not about the food. It is the full dining experience. It is also location, service, atmosphere, noise, and selection. It is how they take the cuisine and make it theirs – for you.

Here is another list of favorite places to eat. Let's start with the obvious, shall we?

JOEY NOVA'S – TONKA BAY, MN: "The clubhouse." Need I say more? Yes…great pizza, great staff…great everything! Never ask me what I would recommend. That answer is everything! Plus, if Gary and Anna happen to see you, they will come up and greet you, ask you about your food, and talk to you for a bit. They love visitors from afar! And, if you happen to be in the Twin Cities and see me post on social media that I’m there, please come through! When V&R is there – it's a celebration!


FORK IN THE ROAD – MUKWONAGO, WI: Whenever I visit Jason, we go there. Located right in the middle of Mukwonago – on Wisconsin Highway 83 north of Interstate 43 – is a mix of casual dining and high class. The food is terrific, the service is fun, and the prices are great! Not to mention, you get a bit of Wisconsin history with photographs of celebrities who were born or raised in the state. It is a place well suited for this lovely town in southwestern Waukesha County.

CENTRAL KITCHEN + BAR – DETROIT, MI: The renaissance of Detroit is real! It is fostered in part with extraordinary dining experiences. This is located right in the heart of downtown Detroit. The combination of service, presentation, and location are completely on point. The food was extraordinary – chef driven to excellence! This place should be a dining destination when business takes you to downtown Detroit.

The Classic Garage - Eau Claire, WI

THE CLASSIC GARAGE – EAU CLAIRE, WI: Take an old gas station and create it into an automotive-themed restaurant. Sounds familiar? I can name several, but this one pops up brighter than most. Not only does the owner Rick runs this place – he is also an automotive enthusiast. Pieces of his collection can be seen on the lift right by your table. The food is terrific, by the way. Classic diner food that is well done and presented in a classic manner. But, you stay for the cars, right?

PINEDA TACOS – TWIN CITIES, MN: A chain should not pop up in a posting like this. However, this chain has three locations: East Lake Street in Minneapolis, West St. Paul on Robert Street, and in Plymouth near General Mills headquarters. I have been to two out of the three locations – and this is the place for authentic Mexican food. The Plymouth location is where I have been mostly of late – and it’s worth it. Very chill, but the food is superb! I'd go to any of the three, if I were you.

Waffle House Run to Kansas City

JOE'S KANSAS CITY BAR-B-QUE – KANSAS CITY AREA, KS: Though there are three locations on the Kansas side of the metro, it is considered an institution among barbeque places in the area. It is also quite affordable – and very busy. In particular, the original location in Kansas City, Kansas – a former gas station. The line is long getting in but trust me when I say that it is worth the wait. Plus, inside seating turns over very quickly. They have more modern locations in Leawood and Olathe, which offers the same quality barbeque as the original. It is a must-go for any visit to Kansas City.

POINT BURGER BAR – MULTIPLE WISCONSIN LOCATIONS: In light of the demise of the Quaker Steak and Lube locations in Middleton and New Berlin, they have converted to a restaurant centered on a Wisconsin craft brewery – Stevens Point Brewery. The New Berlin location is an example of how that marriage of craft beers and some really good hamburgers and other menu items. Aside from Middleton (near Madison) and New Berlin, there are locations in northwest Milwaukee and Pewaukee. By the way, I said the burgers were really good, right?

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