The “Almost a Ruben” at Chaska City Diner

Amy Rea / Heavy Table
Amy Rea / Heavy Table

You’ve got to give credit to the proprietors of the Chaska City Diner. First, they decided to open in a spot that previously housed the Egg and Pie Diner, which in turn took the space over from the (still lamented) Mix American Diner. It takes guts to try to succeed as a diner in a spot where two others (one good, one not so much) didn’t survive.

But if that wasn’t gutsy enough, Chaska City Diner has an item on its menu that you just don’t see everywhere. Or anywhere, for that matter: the “Almost a Ruben” ($8).

At first glance, this looked like a decent iteration of the classic Reuben, with nicely grilled rye bread and cheese oozing out the sides. But when we pulled the sandwich halves apart, its true beauty — or downfall, depending on your point of view — became apparent.

“It’s … it’s a sauerkraut sandwich,” said one nonplussed and dismayed diner, who, fortunately, was not the person who had ordered it.

“I know! I’m so excited!” said the diner who, fortunately, was the person who had ordered it.

Amy Rea / Heavy Table
Amy Rea / Heavy Table

If you, like some of us, believe that restaurants err on the side of being too sparing when it comes to sauerkraut on Reubens, this might be for you. Besides the bread having had proper contact with the griddle, the sandwich was full of mouth-puckering sauerkraut, along with fried onions, Cheddar, and Thousand Island dressing. No need for any of that pesky corned beef. No faking it with tofu or tempeh. Plenty of crunch, plenty of tang, and the dressing softened up some of the sourer aspects of the sandwich.

The sandwich led to a spirited discussion of why sauerkraut is often treated as a lowly ingredient and not used often enough (unless you’re in an Eastern European eatery), with those for and against pretty much remaining polarized.

The good news is: If you don’t like sauerkraut, order something else. Chaska City Diner has plenty of sandwiches and burgers, and breakfast all day. But if you do like sauerkraut? Welcome home.

Chaska City Diner, 222 N Chestnut St, Chaska, MN 55318; 952.368.2345