Hell's Kitchen has a bunch of free stuff for you as they celebrate 13 years in business and customer appreciation month all through August. There'll be free parking at Metro Parking Ramp — the elevator drops you straight into the restaurant. Park there 4 p.m. to close weekdays and all day on weekends, and after purchase of an entree, get a voucher worth the $5 parking fee. And since you're already going to be there, take advantage of a complimentary EPA from Summit or a Nordic Blonde from Bent Brewstillery. And why not grab a parting gift, too, since you're getting really comfy with this freebie idea? On the way out the door, grab a travel-sized jar of the restaurant's famous house-made peanut butter, you guessed it, gratis.
80 S. Ninth St., Minnepaolis
Got a hot dog hankering at lunchtime but parking the wienermobile Uptown is too much to handle? More in free parking: Grab a spot at any meter nearby, or in the city lot behind the restaurant, show the receipt, and Prairie Dogs will shave that amount off your bill. But you gotta spend 20 bucks. How do you spend 20 bucks at Prairie Dogs? Grab a friend and order up a couple of "Double Dog Dare Ya's": two Prairie Dogs, double-fried fries, and a PBR Tall Boy for $10. After a meal like that you should probably take a walk, but hey, I'm not here to tell you what to do. Every day until 6 p.m., beginning August 3.
610 W. Lake St., Minneapolis
Isn't it fun to think about the East Side as a dining destination? I mean, it is for me because I grew up over there and can remember a time when it was only fast food joints, red sauce places, and a Chinese restaurant called Bali Hai where girls in grass skirts would hula while you hunkered over your chow mien. Fabulous. But now there's Tongue in Cheek, Cook St. Paul, Ward 6, and Urban Oasis — where they're churning out tilapia and greens in a cutting-edge closed-loop gardening system in the old Hamm's Brewery. On September 19, they're throwing a 2nd Annual East Side Food Fest, a family-friendly event to showcase East Side food vendors, plus all the rest: live music, games, and this year a 5k run/walk. Register here for the race, and click here for more details on the festival.
September 19, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Indian Mounds Regional Park
Earl Street and Mounds Boulevard, St. Paul
Love the vintage charms of the St. Paul Broiler but don't love the dusty, stuck-in-another-era cooking? They've finally made some changes to the 1950s menu, 30 changes to be exact, including catching up to this century by adding some local craft beers. Thirteen hand-pattied burgers, all-day breakfast including huevos rancheros, and a Cubano are also included in the updates.
St. Clair Broiler
1580 St. Clair Ave., St. Paul
The relentless local burger invasion continues. Perhaps because there's not room enough for another single burger in either city, Smashburger is gonna post up way out in Shakopee, in a former Dickey's BBQ Pit at 8088 Old Carriage Court. The Minneapolis/St. Paul business journal reports that the chain is also planning locations in Rochester, St. Paul, Wayzata, and Blaine. The Shakopee restaurant is due to open in October.