The Best Deals on Restaurant Gift Cards This Season

401k 2012

Greetings, Hail Mary holiday shoppers. It's the week before Christmas (and the week of Hanukkah) and you're thumbing through Hot Dish thinking about what kind of gifts to get for that very special person you just remembered you had to grab a gift for.

Whoa, slow down. Don't run to that boutique-y shop and grab a pint glass that says TOKYO and NEW YORK on the side. Consider instead grabbing a gift card from an area restaurant because though it is certainly better to give than to receive, in a lot of cases you can do both with the holiday gift card deals at local restaurants.

See also:
The 10 Best Do-Gooder Holiday Activities for Food Lovers

More »

The 12 Beers of Christmas: One Man's Attempt to Drink Himself into the Yuletide Spirit

Jon Sullivan via Wikimedia Commons/PDPhoto; Tony Nelson & Benjamin Carter Grimes

I'm lagging in the Christmas spirit this year. Just like last year. And the year before. Scrooging has always been my go-to reaction to the yuletide, but as I grow older, fatter, and more sentimental, it's increasingly unacceptable to be crotchety and contrarian. It's unsavory. So, I decide to be proactive. I set aside a December Friday to gorge myself on Christmas cheer.

By which I mean Christmas beer.

Since December 1, Bulldog Uptown has been tapping a 12-pack of holiday brews in a variety of different styles. I see this as the perfect opportunity to fill my gullet with good tidings. I'm sure it's not Bulldog's intention for patrons to take on all 12 in a single evening, but, from my experience, Christmas is about nothing if not overconsumption, and I've got a lot of catching up to do.

See also:
The Essential Holiday Gift Guide for Local Beer Lovers

More »

The Essential Holiday Gift Guide for Local Food Lovers

A tin full of cookies is always nice, but how about fancy cheese or a night out on the town? Read on.

In an alternate universe somewhere there is a better version of you, a version who says, "Hooray! Holiday gift-giving time! I know exactly what to get Grandpa Lou even though he gave up drinking Scotch and Scotch was virtually the only thing he truly loved so that's all we ever bought for him! It's cool! I got this!"

Friends, this is not that alternate universe and you are not that better you. You need help and we are here with just the thing: food.

Lucky for us, it's a wonderful time of year for the local food lover -- special treats, both delicious to eat and pleasingly packaged, abound. And though Grandpa Lou might not care where the truffles you bought were made, you can feel good about keeping it local.

See also:
The Essential Holiday Gift Guide for Local Beer Lovers

More »

The Essential Holiday Gift Guide for Local Beer Lovers

Danny Nicholson

Shopping for a fanatic can be nigh impossible -- they already have everything, right? Fortunately, the beer fan consumes the collection, so there's always room for more.

Still, to give the best gifts one needs a background on the subject, and not everybody knows the difference between Centennial Hops and Cascade, nor cares about why a tulip glass is superior to a shaker. The Hot Dish is here with a guide to what your closest beer-loving friends want for the holidays.

See also:
Bad Weather Brewing is bringing its taproom to downtown St. Paul

More »

11 Local Markets to Get You Through Winter

Farmers Market top.jpg
Mike Kooiman

The arrival of winter doesn't mean the end of farmers markets, and this year there are more indoor markets than ever before. If you loved visiting the Mill City Market this summer to pick up a free-range chicken, some cheese, and that addictive bag of butterscotch granola, you can now make it a part of your winter routine.

See also:
Brake Bread Delivers Homemade Bread by Bike

More »

10 Twin Cities Apple Dishes and Drinks to Try Right Now

Stacy Spensley

Good food is all about the present. Spend all your time geeking out about the MN55, the lovechild of a Honeycrisp and a MonArk and the next big thing coming from the poindexters at the University of Minnesota apple research lab, and you'll miss the seasonal flavors sweetening up menus across the Twin Cities right this very minute.

We've got a list of 10 nibbles and tipples to get you started on this quest for that teacher's-favorite, doctor's-worst-nightmare, doesn't-fall-far-from-the-tree kind of autumnal fruit that makes Minnesotans go wild.

See also:
Dessert Wines to Try and Where to Buy in the Twin Cities

More »

Where to Get Thanksgiving-To-Go in the Twin Cities


For those of us who feel overwhelmed by the thought of cooking enough food to feed a football team on Thanksgiving Day, several Twin Cities restaurants offer an essential escape hatch. Whether we need to add a few side dishes into the mix, snag a pie or two, or commission the big bird itself, we can place our orders and relax knowing the day will come and go without a hitch.

See also:
The Lowry's Thunder Beard Cocktail for No Shave November and Charity

More »

Haunted Dining at Billy's in Anoka: The Tale of the Spooky Scrod

Categories: 'Tis the Season

Suzy Piper
Uhhh...anybody home?

It was Friday night and we were ready for some spooky thrills and ghoulish grub, so we did what anyone would do: We googled haunted restaurants in the vicinity. There are a few in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area (Forepaugh's and Cuzzy's to name a couple), but we wanted an adventure. So we chose Anoka, the self-proclaimed capital of Halloween and all things scarifying. The haunted establishment we set out for was Billy's, a popcorn-littered sports bar stuffed into an old Victorian hotel -- which was once a scarifyingly scandalous brothel.

See also:
8 Best Bets for Local Candy This Halloween

More »

8 Best Bets for Local Candy This Halloween

Michael Ocampo/Jeff Vier
Don't let this happen to you.

Halloween isn't just for kids anymore, but that doesn't necessarily mean you want to gorge yourself on fun-sized Snickers, Pixy Stix, and Skittles (but, hey, no judgement if you do). Check out the offerings from these Minnesota candy makers that will take your holiday to the sublime, whether you're watching Texas Chainsaw 3D, hosting a costumed bash, or making a midnight trip to a haunted graveyard.

See also:
The Creator of the Slayer Pizza Returns with a Bulldog N.E. Halloween Menu

More »

The 5 Best Fall Soups in the Twin Cities

Junita Bognanni
Borough's parsnip soup

The true soup lover longs for fall. After a summer of haphazard cooking, meals thrown together from fresh farmers market fare, we start to crave more complex flavors. The cooler temperatures inspire us to return to the kitchen. We're ready to linger over a simmering pot. Is it the changing leaves? The cable-knit sweaters? The preponderance of pumpkin? We don't know, but as far as we're concerned it is officially soup season by mid-September.

Luckily for us soup-lovers (and non-cooks), Minneapolis/St. Paul restaurants are just as enamored with the autumn harvest. Here are some of our favorite fall flavors.

See also:
Where to Pick Apples, Pluck Pumpkins, and Get Gourds This Fall

More »