In celebration of V&R's Fifth Anniversary, we are doing a series of Five Favorites to celebrate this major milestone for this site. We will explore some favorite experiences from roads to lifestyle bits to eventually, the Five Favorite Vehicles of the V&R Era.
Speaking of lifestyle, one thing I found in doing this work is that food is a gathering place for car folks. One thing I learned when doing work in the community some 20-plus years ago in Washington, DC is that you have to elevate the experience of food by gathering at better dining places. I stuck to that. Along the way, even that element has been elevated to another level.
It also helps to contribute content to a magazine that has a strong food writing staff.
These Five Favorite Places to Eat follow a certain criteria. These places should not be national chains, but preferably one-off locations. They also need to exemplify food, service and overall satisfaction.
Oh, and hotel restaurants are off this list. Not that there are some great ones along the way…
However, there is a problem. Listing five favorite restaurants is really not enough to do any of them justice. The solution? List seven. Without delay, here they are….
FAT NAT'S EGGS – NEW HOPE, MN: If one place speaks to V&R, it is this. This is a popular breakfast/brunch place in a strip mall not far from V&R headquarters. The food is excellent with a bit of a Latin American twist. The service is down home and friendly. It is popular, because of everything as a whole – especially on the plate. There are now three – including Brooklyn Park and New Brighton. When you go, come hungry!
NONNA ROSA'S – ROBBINSDALE, MN: Across town from V&R's headquarters is a great Italian restaurant that specializes in two things: seafood and awesomeness. The rest of the menu is superb, thanks to Chef Francesco Suglia's vision and guidance to ensure excellence on the plate. They do everything well – from Gnocci to dessert ad everything else in-between. For real Italian food, this is the place to go.
LONE OAK GRILL – EAGAN, MN: I blame the Minnesota Volvo Club for this place! It is really good food. There's so much going on at this place – live entertainment, lots of television screens and good service. Back to food – their breakfasts are fantastic. Their other menu items are quite good, too. For any occasion that gets you out to Auto Vault or en route to Dakota County Technical College's road course, stop at this place!
HARBOR VIEW CAFE – PEPIN, WI: Along with a wave of journalists testing the 2016 Hyundai Tucson in Western Wisconsin, we were treated to a lakeside treat. The atmosphere and food were down home – good to the palette. Though we had a spot of rain, any other day would yield a view that spectacular. Whenever you find yourself along Wisconsin Highway 35 south of Prescott and want a great meal – stop here.
MICKIES DAIRY BAR – MADISON, WI: This is classic Madison! Across from Camp Randall Stadium at the edge of the University of Wisconsin's main campus is an old school diner that is popular among everyone. The portions are huge and the food is delicious. Don't worry about the service, because it is worth queuing up for the privilege of eating at a piece of Madison history. One tip: Bring cash! Now, that's old school!
ZINGERMAN'S ROADHOUSE – ANN ARBOR, MI: This is actually a tradition when I travel for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles on their annual summer event at the Chelsea Proving Grounds. You come here for one of the finest barbeque meat selections in Southeastern Michigan. You cannot go wrong with your selection. The sides, too! There are other locations in Ann Arbor, along with an online store. This is an institution that cannot be missed.
VICENTE'S CUBAN CUISINE – DETROIT, MI: Auto shows and media drive junkets sometimes yield a mixed bag of dining experiences. This one was an absolute home run. Thanks to General Motors and our time at the 2013 North American International Auto Show, who knew you could find exceptional Cuban food in downtown Detroit? It is part of the many things that are remaking Detroit today – especially on the plate.