An Illustrated Tour of the Original Coney Island Cafe and Bar

WACSO / Heavy Table
WACSO / Heavy Table

Some time in the mid 1990s, the Original Coney Island Cafe and Bar in St. Paul abruptly went dark. A sign posted in the window said that the restaurant was closed due to family illness. The sign stayed there for years, but the space remained untouched and looking like they could reopen at any minute. Since they closed, I’ve pressed my face against the window 1,000 times wishing/hoping it would reopen. Well, they finally did…for one day earlier this month during the St. Paul Winter Carnival. We got there early and stood in a line with the diehards that stretched down the block an hour before they opened…everyone waiting for a taste of that famous Coney dog and a peek at space that’s been frozen in time. Sometimes dreams really do come true.

(Top: The line stretched out the door and down the block. And see the original-sized illustrations on WACSO’s website, in gallery #31.)

There are 2 distinct sides to the Original Coney Island…the “cafe” side, and the “bar” side. Walk through a fenced doorway with a sign reminding you that children are NOT allowed in the bar area and the space goes from a very diner-like space with stools at a counter, to a very bar-like space with stools at a bar.

WACSO / Heavy Table
WACSO / Heavy Table

The bar side.

WACSO / Heavy Table
WACSO / Heavy Table

The cafe side.

WACSO / Heavy Table
WACSO / Heavy Table

The old bar gets a workout.

WACSO / Heavy Table
WACSO / Heavy Table

Enjoying the original.

WACSO / Heavy Table
WACSO / Heavy Table

People couldn’t believe what they were seeing: an “open” sign.

WACSO / Heavy Table
WACSO / Heavy Table

Left: Preparing the Coneys. Right: Mustard is key to a good Coney dog / the dogs / satisfied customers.

WACSO / Heavy Table
WACSO / Heavy Table

I’m assuming she’s the daughter of the original owners…she kept saying how happy her mother would have been to see so many people lined up down the street for the dogs.

38th Street: A Culinary Travelogue

38th Street: A Culinary Travelogue Andy Sturdevant
Andy Sturdevant / Heavy Table

38th Street in South Minneapolis is one of my favorite stretches of street in the city. It’s an old streetcar line, mostly residential but with busy little clusters of commercial activity every few blocks. It’s a sort of shadow Lake Street, passing through all the same neighborhoods, but with everything happening on a smaller scale. Following 38th across the south side, one encounters the full range of culinary experiences available in the Twin Cities…

VIEW THE STORY: [Full JPEG (1MB)] [Paginated High Resolution PDF (4.23MB)]

Special thanks to the 38th Street team: Jen, Stephanie, Sergio, Nyla, Emily, Patty, David, Crystal and, in particular, Kurt, who stuck it out for all 15 hours.

The Pizza Farm in Stockholm, WI

There’s this pizza joint that’s not really a joint at all. It’s a farm where they grow all the ingredients on the pizza, even the crust. They are only open one night a week, on Tuesdays. They have no table service (grab your pizza and find a spot on the grass). They don’t serve drinks, or have plates, or utensils, or even napkins — and the toilet is an outhouse. And they have no signage, so good luck getting there. Once you arrive, you’ll have to wait a long time for your order (my number was 185… they were just serving 71), but they manage to kick out one killer pizza per minute from those brick ovens, and the farm is beautiful, so it’s easy to kill a little time talking to goats and stuff. Pretty much unlike any restaurant experience out there and well worth the drive — if you can find it.

The Pizza Farm
N2956 Anker Ln, Stockholm, WI
715.448.4802 (Tuesday night only)

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