Getting free tacos for a year, at long last determining which local beer is best, and dining in a "mess hall" are just a few of the activities you need to set your sights on right now. Presenting the best bets in mid-summer eating and drinking:
So, now that we have so, so many local beers in the Twin Cities, is there even a way of gauging which one is the best? The In Cahoots Block Party will take a lighthearted crack at the question by pitting a dozen Minnesota craft breweries against one another. Six teams will create a bespoke collaboration beer to debut at this year's block party. In Cahoots! will be the exclusive seller of these special beers, available for one day only. Red Stag Supperclub will provide the brats, pulled pork sandwiches, fish tacos, and burgers (available for purchase).
Red Stag Supperclub
Sunday, August 14, 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.
509 First Ave. NE, Minneapolis
Don't you just like the sounds of a mess hall? We do. Go to the Aquatennial's first-ever "Mess Hall" and instead of institutional chow, you'll dine on fare from Dumpling Minneapolis, Pimento Jamaican Kitchen, Potter's Pasties, Rainbow Chinese, Wyn 65, and more. Drinks and libations courtesy of Sociable Cider Werks, Finnegans, Lakes and Legends, and others.
Boom Island Park
Saturday, July 23, 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Go to a "Birthday Taco Party" at Bar Luchador and you'll have the chance to win free tacos for a year. And this prize is the real deal. The winner will be entitled to three free tacos every day for a year (not including days the restaurant is closed). So, how many tacos can you eat? This could be the truest test yet.
To enter: Go to Bar Luchador on August 1 and buy three tacos to get entered into the contest. Order three more and get entered again. Do this as many times as you want over the course of the day to increase your chances of winning.
Or, do this instead: In the true spirit of wrestling, people are encouraged to "Cut a Promo." Submit an over-the-top wrestling interview explaining why they are deserving of the title of "Bar Luchador Champion." Upload your video to Instagram or Twitter with the #BarLuchadorChamp and tag @BarLuchador. A promo video gets you an entry into the contest.
Also at Bar Luchador: Dumpling Minneapolis pop-up on July 30. There will be tacos. There will be egg rolls. There will be happiness.
The first year at Lela was a bit shaky. It lost its opening chef and watched as so many local restaurants with similar concepts opened and subsequently closed. But Lela is holding steadfast, with a more, ahem, "guest-centric" focus.
"Some restaurants are chef-centric, some are wine-centric, and some are bar-centric," quoth Woodman. "At Lela, being guest-centric is our DNA. The better we are at creating wonderful experiences for our guests, the more enduring our legacy will be."
The chef's new menu items include a shrimp salad roll, tuna crudo tacos, poppy seed pasta salad, braised lamb chitarra, veal chop Milanese, and a crudo sampler.
Crudo: It lives on.
5601 W. 78th St., Bloomington
Learn-nose-to-tail animal butchery at Kitchen in the Market on August 29, when local boxer-turned-butcher Raul Gracia (who calls himself a "meat sommelier") grabs his cutlery and shows you how it's done. Gracia also offers instruction on making charcuterie at home.
August 29, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Register for his classes at butcherandtheartist.com
The 2016 Cubs are now poised for greatness and fans all over the world are anticipating the event they have long hoped for and relentlessly dreamed of: an appearance (and possible win) in the World Series.
So Nidetz has dubbed Prairie Dogs the official Cubs Fans Headquarters for the rest of the regular season and the World Series. The restaurant will be cheering on the Cubs with a special game time menu of "insider favorites": the Prairie Dog, a true Chicago style hot dog; the Maxwell Street Polish, a lightly smoked garlic sausage wrapped in a requisite poppy seed bun with caramelized onion, bright yellow mustard and fiery sport peppers; and an Italian Beef Sandwich slow-cooked in a garlic and herb jus (known as gravy to Chicagoans). To make it a true-to-street encounter, order it dipped. The whole sandwich will be dipped back in the gravy one more time, messy but exquisite. Finally, to keep it lively, there’ll be specials on Old Style Beer, the beer hawked by the vendors of Wrigley Field back in the day.
610 W. Lake St., Minneapolis
Go outside, take in the stunning sights and sounds of the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, hang out with chefs, and eat, eat, eat. The arboretum presents a monthly Dinner With the Chef series, where you'll get cooking tips from local chefs, plus recipes, wine notes, and recommendations. You can just sit back, watch the meal unfold, sip some wine, and dine. The upcoming chef schedule includes chef Eli Wollenzein of Coalition Restaurant, food writer and author Beth Dooley, Scott Graden of the New Scenic Cafe, and others. Each class is $65 for arboretum members and $77 for non-members. Register here.
3675 Arboretum Drive, Chaska
If just one night with a favorite chef is not enough, how about spending the whole weekend? The weekend of August 24-26, Madden's on Gull Lake offers an annual Food & Wine Weekend where Twin Cities chefs mash up with Madden's chefs for a three-night bacchanal. Ticket prices include a "whole beast" beach BBQ, breakfast buffet, chef demos, golf and other sports, and lots of activities. Participating chefs include Jorge Guzman of Surly, Ryan Cook of Sea Change, and others. More info and tickets here.
Go to the 4th annual North Loop Fest on August 6 and check out some of the bars and restaurants that were here before the neighborhood was gracing the New York Times. Get eats from Cuzzy's, J.D. Hoyt's, Freehouse, and the Loop; drinks from Modist Brewing, Fulton Brewing, InBound Brew Co., and Cuzzy's. There will also be a beer and burger battle, plus live music. Purchase tickets here.
Cuzzy's parking lot
507 Washington Ave. N., Minneapolis
August 6, 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.