It’s true. Good food and stadium sports don’t always go together. Pickins were slim during the Gophers’ Metrodome years, but, perhaps the Gophers’ return to campus — in brand spanking new TCF Bank Stadium — hails a new era of food. There’s hope, anyway. Larry Weger, Director for University [of Minnesota] Dining Services, says, as they were recruiting concessionaires for the new stadium, they sought out local providers in order to demonstrate that “we are a Minnesota-based organization, and we are committed to supporting local restaurants.” So, how did they do?
- Many options are the same. If you’re a fan of Klement’s (of Milwaukee, WI) hot dogs ($3.25) and bratwursts ($4.50), you won’t go hungry. Old Dutch (of Roseville, MN) potato chips ($1.50) are on hand, too. Stadium standards such as the jumbo pretzel ($3.50), popcorn ($3.50-$4), peanuts ($3.75), burgers ($5-$5.75), and cheese nachos ($4.25) are all still available. Other vendors familiar from other sports venues: Subway Sandwiches, Palermo’s Pizza by the slice, and Cinnamon, Roasted, Glazed nuts.
- Local-esque additions include Walleye Fingers & Fries ($6.25) and Minnesota Cheese Curds ($4). Dairy Queen is on board selling Dilly and Buster Bars ($2.50 and $3.50, respectively).
- Vegetarians and those looking for lighter options should be pleased to see the Minnesota Veggie Burger ($5) and the Farm Fresh Vegetables & Dip Bowl ($5.25).
- Fans of Dino’s The Greek Place, which is also a vendor at the Mariucci Arena, will be happy to see their beef or chicken gyro sandwiches ($6.25). According to The Foodservice News: Dino Adamidis “introduced Minnesota to the gyro, one of the traditional foods from his native Greece, at the Steele County Fair in Owatonna [in 1978]. He later got a booth in the Minnesota State Fair, and was soon persuaded to open a restaurant. ‘Everybody was telling me, Dino, you gotta open a restaurant, because we can’t just have the sandwiches once a year,’ he said.”
- Another local vendor, available at Mariucci and all other U of M sports venues, St. Paul Bagelry will be their with their New York-style bagels (boiled, then baked at St. Paul Bagelry’s Roseville location daily) and Maui Wowi Smoothies. Sisters Dodie Green and Peggy Teed bought St. Paul Bagelry two and a half years ago to complement the Maui Wowi Franchise — the largest in the US — they’ve been operating for eight years now. Bagel sandwich options include the basic Bagel & Cream Cheese ($2.50), Breakfast Bagel ($5), Reuben ($6), and Lox Bagel ($6.50). The Maui Wowi Smoothies, Strawberry, Raspberry, and Mango-Orange, are fat-free ($4.75 for a small to $7.75 for a large Tiki). If you’re seeking gluten-free options, check out St. Paul Bagelry’s Monster Cookie ($2).
- Completely new is Panino’s, which has been operating their North Oaks, MN restaurant for 18 years. They bake their Panino dough in-house daily, and, according to co-owner Joann Kurtz, will be serving their “‘Gopher Stick’ (made especially for the stadium) Panino sandwich, served more compact for easy eating at the games.” The Gopher Stick will be filled with either Buffalo Chicken, their top seller according to Kurtz, or Steak and Cheese. Says Kurtz: “Both sandwiches have our homemade secret sauces, my husband’s creations!” Other options, according to Kurtz: “We will also be serving our Panino poppers. They are baked poppers made with cream cheese and either jalapeño or ham and pickle. Lastly we will serve our baked fries served with our homemade ranch dressing for dipping.”
- Also new is Mayslack’s signature garlicky roast beef sandwich. Jeff Moritko, who according to the Star Tribune owned Mayslack’s, the beloved institution in Northeast Minneapolis, for about 10 years, retained the rights to the Mayslack’s recipe and name when he sold it in 2006. He now operates Moe’s in Mounds View.
- Looking forward to chilly November games, various vendors will be offering hot chocolate and coffee.
- There will be no beer for sale at or permitted in TCF Bank Stadium.
- That’s right, NO BEER FOR SALE AT TCF BANK STADIUM. Don’t blame Weger; it’s the standard in Big 10 stadiums, according to the Star Tribune: “Athletic Director Joel Maturi said that selling alcohol to the students isn’t allowed at any Big Ten sporting events held on university campuses. Minnesota has been an anomaly in recent years, allowing all fans to buy booze at football games since the team moved off-campus to the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in 1982.”
Pre- or post- game options for beer:
- Tailgate and bring your own beer. If you want to sear your team spirit or Goldy’s jolly image onto your meat, don’t forget your Gophers Grill Topper, either hot dog or burger version.
- Stub and Herbs Drinking and Eating Emporium, in Stadium Village at 227 Oak St. SE in Minneapolis. They offer 32 beers on tap, all domestic and local. The food’s improved, too, since owners brothers Josh and Justin Zavadil and Ryan Oberlander acquired it in 2007. Try the Stuffed Black and Bleu Burger ($9) on a pretzel roll (just crunchy enough to be interesting) topped with fried onions and served with a side of home-cut fries, if you don’t mind peppery, salty, and a wee bit greasy. Stub and Herb’s, affectionately known as Sterb’s, will turn their parking lot into a beer garden on football Saturdays, with barbeque-type food, beer, and DJ-music. The beer garden will open at 8am on “early” game days and their regular 11:30am on other game days.
- Big 10 Restaurant and Bar, in Stadium Village at 606 Washington Ave. SE, Minneapolis. On Saturdays when the game has an early start, Big 10 will be open for breakfast (otherwise, they are open from 11am to 1am). On all game days, they will be serving beer and brats in the beer garden tent (near Washington and Union — a different tent than Sterb’s).
- If you care to get a little exercise and hoof it, Pagoda in Dinkytown at 1417 4th St. SE in Minneapolis offers dim sum on weekends from 10am to 3pm, as well as happy hour from 3pm to 6pm and again from 9pm to closing. Happy hour specials include two-for-one beer and house wines, as well as 99 cent appetizer specials.
- If you don’t mind hoofing it even farther, Annie’s Parlor in Dinkytown at 313 14th Ave. SE serves up a solid shake, has a great deck, and offers beer and wine. Open 11am to midnight on Saturdays.
- Another Dinkytown option is the Loring Pasta Bar at 327 14th Ave. SE in Minneapolis, which has a full bar and 16 beers on tap. They are open from noon until 1am on Saturdays and offer live music, typically a French-inspired jazz band, on Saturday evenings. The unique setting and the open-air dining on warm fall evenings in the overhauled Gray’s Campus Drugs is the primary draw.
For non-beer Stadium Village options, here are the Heavy Table’s mentions of other Stadium Village eateries: Hong Kong Noodle, Bun Mi Sandwiches, Caspian Bistro, Jasmine Orchid Deli. In Dinkytown: Al’s Breakfast.
Click here for The Star Tribune’s round-up of TCF Bank Stadium concession prices.