Lowertown Sounds — Summer Concert Series in Mears Park

A new but familiar sound is coming back to Mears Park in St. Paul on Thursday nights this summer: the Lowertown Sounds concert series features live, local and original music, food trucks, local beer, cider, and wine, and benefits the St. Paul Yellow Ribbon Network.

The free concert events take the stage 6-9:30pm, starting June 6 and running through August 29, excluding the week of July 1.

See the full music schedule, beverage and food truck partners, sponsors and more at: www.lowertownsounds.com.

In addition to the music, Lowertown Sounds will pour several local, Minnesota-made craft beers from Castle Danger Brewing, The Lab Brewing, Mankato Brewing, Stacked Deck Brewing, Utepils Brewing, and Wabasha Brewing. Concert-goers can also enjoy local ciders from Minneapolis Cider Company and local wine from Alexis Bailly Vineyard. Each concert will include a roster of food trucks parked along Mears Park for guests to grab a bite to pair with their beverage.

Lowertown Sounds Music Schedule (headliners listed first)

June 6: Jaedyn James and the Hunger, Federales, Hailey James
June 13: Alex Rossi, The Fattenin’ Frogs
June 20: Jazz Fest
June 27: Flamin Oh’s, Tom, Dick, and Harry
July 11: Maudlin, St. Paul School of Rock
July 18: Annie Mack, Nikki and the Ruemates
July 25: Purple Funk Metropolis, Brianna Kočka
August 1: Katy Vernon, Martin Devaney
August 8: The Shackletons, Porky’s Groove Machine
August 15: Porcupine, Southside Aces
August 22: Melismatics, The Plott Hounds
August 29: Mears Park Mystery Band, Saint Small, Joe Hunt

Lowertown Sounds — Summer Concert Series in Mears Park

A new but familiar sound is coming back to Mears Park in St. Paul on Thursday nights this summer: the Lowertown Sounds concert series features live, local and original music, food trucks, local beer, cider, and wine, and benefits the St. Paul Yellow Ribbon Network.

The free concert events take the stage 6-9:30pm, starting June 6 and running through August 29, excluding the week of July 1.

See the full music schedule, beverage and food truck partners, sponsors and more at: www.lowertownsounds.com.

In addition to the music, Lowertown Sounds will pour several local, Minnesota-made craft beers from Castle Danger Brewing, The Lab Brewing, Mankato Brewing, Stacked Deck Brewing, Utepils Brewing, and Wabasha Brewing. Concert-goers can also enjoy local ciders from Minneapolis Cider Company and local wine from Alexis Bailly Vineyard. Each concert will include a roster of food trucks parked along Mears Park for guests to grab a bite to pair with their beverage.

Lowertown Sounds Music Schedule (headliners listed first)

June 6: Jaedyn James and the Hunger, Federales, Hailey James
June 13: Alex Rossi, The Fattenin’ Frogs
June 20: Jazz Fest
June 27: Flamin Oh’s, Tom, Dick, and Harry
July 11: Maudlin, St. Paul School of Rock
July 18: Annie Mack, Nikki and the Ruemates
July 25: Purple Funk Metropolis, Brianna Kočka
August 1: Katy Vernon, Martin Devaney
August 8: The Shackletons, Porky’s Groove Machine
August 15: Porcupine, Southside Aces
August 22: Melismatics, The Plott Hounds
August 29: Mears Park Mystery Band, Saint Small, Joe Hunt

Lowertown Sounds — Summer Concert Series in Mears Park

A new but familiar sound is coming back to Mears Park in St. Paul on Thursday nights this summer: the Lowertown Sounds concert series features live, local and original music, food trucks, local beer, cider, and wine, and benefits the St. Paul Yellow Ribbon Network.

The free concert events take the stage 6-9:30pm, starting June 6 and running through August 29, excluding the week of July 1.

See the full music schedule, beverage and food truck partners, sponsors and more at: www.lowertownsounds.com.

In addition to the music, Lowertown Sounds will pour several local, Minnesota-made craft beers from Castle Danger Brewing, The Lab Brewing, Mankato Brewing, Stacked Deck Brewing, Utepils Brewing, and Wabasha Brewing. Concert-goers can also enjoy local ciders from Minneapolis Cider Company and local wine from Alexis Bailly Vineyard. Each concert will include a roster of food trucks parked along Mears Park for guests to grab a bite to pair with their beverage.

Lowertown Sounds Music Schedule (headliners listed first)

June 6: Jaedyn James and the Hunger, Federales, Hailey James
June 13: Alex Rossi, The Fattenin’ Frogs
June 20: Jazz Fest
June 27: Flamin Oh’s, Tom, Dick, and Harry
July 11: Maudlin, St. Paul School of Rock
July 18: Annie Mack, Nikki and the Ruemates
July 25: Purple Funk Metropolis, Brianna Kočka
August 1: Katy Vernon, Martin Devaney
August 8: The Shackletons, Porky’s Groove Machine
August 15: Porcupine, Southside Aces
August 22: Melismatics, The Plott Hounds
August 29: Mears Park Mystery Band, Saint Small, Joe Hunt

Lowertown Sounds — Summer Concert Series in Mears Park

A new but familiar sound is coming back to Mears Park in St. Paul on Thursday nights this summer: the Lowertown Sounds concert series features live, local and original music, food trucks, local beer, cider, and wine, and benefits the St. Paul Yellow Ribbon Network.

The free concert events take the stage 6-9:30pm, starting June 6 and running through August 29, excluding the week of July 1.

See the full music schedule, beverage and food truck partners, sponsors and more at: www.lowertownsounds.com.

In addition to the music, Lowertown Sounds will pour several local, Minnesota-made craft beers from Castle Danger Brewing, The Lab Brewing, Mankato Brewing, Stacked Deck Brewing, Utepils Brewing, and Wabasha Brewing. Concert-goers can also enjoy local ciders from Minneapolis Cider Company and local wine from Alexis Bailly Vineyard. Each concert will include a roster of food trucks parked along Mears Park for guests to grab a bite to pair with their beverage.

Lowertown Sounds Music Schedule (headliners listed first)

June 6: Jaedyn James and the Hunger, Federales, Hailey James
June 13: Alex Rossi, The Fattenin’ Frogs
June 20: Jazz Fest
June 27: Flamin Oh’s, Tom, Dick, and Harry
July 11: Maudlin, St. Paul School of Rock
July 18: Annie Mack, Nikki and the Ruemates
July 25: Purple Funk Metropolis, Brianna Kočka
August 1: Katy Vernon, Martin Devaney
August 8: The Shackletons, Porky’s Groove Machine
August 15: Porcupine, Southside Aces
August 22: Melismatics, The Plott Hounds
August 29: Mears Park Mystery Band, Saint Small, Joe Hunt

Lowertown Sounds — Summer Concert Series in Mears Park

A new but familiar sound is coming back to Mears Park in St. Paul on Thursday nights this summer: the Lowertown Sounds concert series features live, local and original music, food trucks, local beer, cider, and wine, and benefits the St. Paul Yellow Ribbon Network.

The free concert events take the stage 6-9:30pm, starting June 6 and running through August 29, excluding the week of July 1.

See the full music schedule, beverage and food truck partners, sponsors and more at: www.lowertownsounds.com.

In addition to the music, Lowertown Sounds will pour several local, Minnesota-made craft beers from Castle Danger Brewing, The Lab Brewing, Mankato Brewing, Stacked Deck Brewing, Utepils Brewing, and Wabasha Brewing. Concert-goers can also enjoy local ciders from Minneapolis Cider Company and local wine from Alexis Bailly Vineyard. Each concert will include a roster of food trucks parked along Mears Park for guests to grab a bite to pair with their beverage.

Lowertown Sounds Music Schedule (headliners listed first)

June 6: Jaedyn James and the Hunger, Federales, Hailey James
June 13: Alex Rossi, The Fattenin’ Frogs
June 20: Jazz Fest
June 27: Flamin Oh’s, Tom, Dick, and Harry
July 11: Maudlin, St. Paul School of Rock
July 18: Annie Mack, Nikki and the Ruemates
July 25: Purple Funk Metropolis, Brianna Kočka
August 1: Katy Vernon, Martin Devaney
August 8: The Shackletons, Porky’s Groove Machine
August 15: Porcupine, Southside Aces
August 22: Melismatics, The Plott Hounds
August 29: Mears Park Mystery Band, Saint Small, Joe Hunt

Lowertown Sounds — Summer Concert Series in Mears Park

A new but familiar sound is coming back to Mears Park in St. Paul on Thursday nights this summer: the Lowertown Sounds concert series features live, local and original music, food trucks, local beer, cider, and wine, and benefits the St. Paul Yellow Ribbon Network.

The free concert events take the stage 6-9:30pm, starting June 6 and running through August 29, excluding the week of July 1.

See the full music schedule, beverage and food truck partners, sponsors and more at: www.lowertownsounds.com.

In addition to the music, Lowertown Sounds will pour several local, Minnesota-made craft beers from Castle Danger Brewing, The Lab Brewing, Mankato Brewing, Stacked Deck Brewing, Utepils Brewing, and Wabasha Brewing. Concert-goers can also enjoy local ciders from Minneapolis Cider Company and local wine from Alexis Bailly Vineyard. Each concert will include a roster of food trucks parked along Mears Park for guests to grab a bite to pair with their beverage.

Lowertown Sounds Music Schedule (headliners listed first)

June 6: Jaedyn James and the Hunger, Federales, Hailey James
June 13: Alex Rossi, The Fattenin’ Frogs
June 20: Jazz Fest
June 27: Flamin Oh’s, Tom, Dick, and Harry
July 11: Maudlin, St. Paul School of Rock
July 18: Annie Mack, Nikki and the Ruemates
July 25: Purple Funk Metropolis, Brianna Kočka
August 1: Katy Vernon, Martin Devaney
August 8: The Shackletons, Porky’s Groove Machine
August 15: Porcupine, Southside Aces
August 22: Melismatics, The Plott Hounds
August 29: Mears Park Mystery Band, Saint Small, Joe Hunt

Lowertown Sounds — Summer Concert Series in Mears Park

A new but familiar sound is coming back to Mears Park in St. Paul on Thursday nights this summer: the Lowertown Sounds concert series features live, local and original music, food trucks, local beer, cider, and wine, and benefits the St. Paul Yellow Ribbon Network.

The free concert events take the stage 6-9:30pm, starting June 6 and running through August 29, excluding the week of July 1.

See the full music schedule, beverage and food truck partners, sponsors and more at: www.lowertownsounds.com.

In addition to the music, Lowertown Sounds will pour several local, Minnesota-made craft beers from Castle Danger Brewing, The Lab Brewing, Mankato Brewing, Stacked Deck Brewing, Utepils Brewing, and Wabasha Brewing. Concert-goers can also enjoy local ciders from Minneapolis Cider Company and local wine from Alexis Bailly Vineyard. Each concert will include a roster of food trucks parked along Mears Park for guests to grab a bite to pair with their beverage.

Lowertown Sounds Music Schedule (headliners listed first)

June 6: Jaedyn James and the Hunger, Federales, Hailey James
June 13: Alex Rossi, The Fattenin’ Frogs
June 20: Jazz Fest
June 27: Flamin Oh’s, Tom, Dick, and Harry
July 11: Maudlin, St. Paul School of Rock
July 18: Annie Mack, Nikki and the Ruemates
July 25: Purple Funk Metropolis, Brianna Kočka
August 1: Katy Vernon, Martin Devaney
August 8: The Shackletons, Porky’s Groove Machine
August 15: Porcupine, Southside Aces
August 22: Melismatics, The Plott Hounds
August 29: Mears Park Mystery Band, Saint Small, Joe Hunt

Lowertown Sounds — Summer Concert Series in Mears Park

A new but familiar sound is coming back to Mears Park in St. Paul on Thursday nights this summer: the Lowertown Sounds concert series features live, local and original music, food trucks, local beer, cider, and wine, and benefits the St. Paul Yellow Ribbon Network.

The free concert events take the stage 6-9:30pm, starting June 6 and running through August 29, excluding the week of July 1.

See the full music schedule, beverage and food truck partners, sponsors and more at: www.lowertownsounds.com.

In addition to the music, Lowertown Sounds will pour several local, Minnesota-made craft beers from Castle Danger Brewing, The Lab Brewing, Mankato Brewing, Stacked Deck Brewing, Utepils Brewing, and Wabasha Brewing. Concert-goers can also enjoy local ciders from Minneapolis Cider Company and local wine from Alexis Bailly Vineyard. Each concert will include a roster of food trucks parked along Mears Park for guests to grab a bite to pair with their beverage.

Lowertown Sounds Music Schedule (headliners listed first)

June 6: Jaedyn James and the Hunger, Federales, Hailey James
June 13: Alex Rossi, The Fattenin’ Frogs
June 20: Jazz Fest
June 27: Flamin Oh’s, Tom, Dick, and Harry
July 11: Maudlin, St. Paul School of Rock
July 18: Annie Mack, Nikki and the Ruemates
July 25: Purple Funk Metropolis, Brianna Kočka
August 1: Katy Vernon, Martin Devaney
August 8: The Shackletons, Porky’s Groove Machine
August 15: Porcupine, Southside Aces
August 22: Melismatics, The Plott Hounds
August 29: Mears Park Mystery Band, Saint Small, Joe Hunt

Lowertown Sounds — Summer Concert Series in Mears Park

A new but familiar sound is coming back to Mears Park in St. Paul on Thursday nights this summer: the Lowertown Sounds concert series features live, local and original music, food trucks, local beer, cider, and wine, and benefits the St. Paul Yellow Ribbon Network.

The free concert events take the stage 6-9:30pm, starting June 6 and running through August 29, excluding the week of July 1.

See the full music schedule, beverage and food truck partners, sponsors and more at: www.lowertownsounds.com.

In addition to the music, Lowertown Sounds will pour several local, Minnesota-made craft beers from Castle Danger Brewing, The Lab Brewing, Mankato Brewing, Stacked Deck Brewing, Utepils Brewing, and Wabasha Brewing. Concert-goers can also enjoy local ciders from Minneapolis Cider Company and local wine from Alexis Bailly Vineyard. Each concert will include a roster of food trucks parked along Mears Park for guests to grab a bite to pair with their beverage.

Lowertown Sounds Music Schedule (headliners listed first)

June 6: Jaedyn James and the Hunger, Federales, Hailey James
June 13: Alex Rossi, The Fattenin’ Frogs
June 20: Jazz Fest
June 27: Flamin Oh’s, Tom, Dick, and Harry
July 11: Maudlin, St. Paul School of Rock
July 18: Annie Mack, Nikki and the Ruemates
July 25: Purple Funk Metropolis, Brianna Kočka
August 1: Katy Vernon, Martin Devaney
August 8: The Shackletons, Porky’s Groove Machine
August 15: Porcupine, Southside Aces
August 22: Melismatics, The Plott Hounds
August 29: Mears Park Mystery Band, Saint Small, Joe Hunt

Minnesota Cloudscapes, Exhibition by Heather Friedli

Artist Heather Friedli, presents dreamlike and colorful abstract impressionist paintings for her traveling exhibition, Minnesota Cloudscapes, opening May 4 at the Schmidt Artist Lofts in Saint Paul.

Heather Friedli’s show Minnesota Cloudscapes is an effort to synthesize her love and experience in the natural world, and wilderness adventure travel. Those experiences, being out in the world seeing the beauty and power of nature are represented in large scale paintings. Through the lens of her family’s native Odawa and Mexican heritages, she shows what that means to be indigenous in this landscape. Working in a large scale is not only an expression of what she sees, but also becomes a physical dance with her painting. The movement and rhythms in these works are her own unique dance with the land around her.

GRAND OPENING: May 4, 6:30pm-9pm. Show is in the Landmark Gallery, located at the Schmidt Artist Lofts. This Show will then run from May 5th till May 15th, 2019. Daily hours are 10-5, Monday through Saturday. You may gain access to this show after the grand opening by calling Heather at 248-660-3771 for a private viewing.

ADDITIONAL VIEWING: Minnesota Cloudscapes will also be on display at the Norseman Distillery in Northeast Minneapolis from May 17- June 25, with an artist reception at May 22 at 5:30pm.

Find more info at the artist’s website.

Bite of the Week: Pork Sticky Rice at Ha Tien Supermarket

Servings of Pork Sticky Rice at the Ha Tien deli quick serve line // Photo by Aaron Job

Servings of Pork Sticky Rice at the Ha Tien Supermarket deli quick serve line // Photo by Aaron Job

Bite of the Week is a weekly feature showcasing an exceptional meal or dish, curated by The Growler.

It’s possible to get lunch at a fast food joint for $3, but you have to shop carefully, and you may have to redefine what, exactly, you mean by “lunch.”

Ha Tien Super Market’s Xoi Man (“savory sticky rice”) is $3 and it includes enough food to feed two slightly hungry people (or it could be lunch for just you, if you’re freakin’ ravenous.) The bulk of its mass is a chewy, almost al dente sticky rice, and the lion’s share of its soothing, umami-rich flavor comes from fried onions, quite possibly augmented by a couple bold dashes of onion powder.

Chewy nibbles of pork and fine slices of scallions provide hits of protein and concentrated flavor, and the whole thing is shockingly compelling for such a simple looking dish. It’s good all day but hit the deli early (around 10:30 or 11) to get sticky rice that still radiates warmth from within its shrink-wrapped packaging. Ha Tien’s deli itself is worth a visit on its own merits, too—it offers a variety of ready-to-go Chinese-style entrees, stellar freshly made sesame balls, and a variety of baked goods.

And if you’re not in the mood for rice and you find yourself at the Ha Tien, remember that the barbecue banh mi is one of the best in the state—compared to the old Ha Tien (now Little Saigon) on University Avenue, it offers more mayo, less pate, and more pickled veg.

A serving of Ha Tien Supermarket's Pork Sticky Rice // Photo by Aaron Job

A serving of Ha Tien Supermarket’s Pork Sticky Rice // Photo by Aaron Job

The Dish: Xoi Man, $3

The Place: Ha Tien Supermarket, 1959 Suburban Avenue, St. Paul

The Reason: Incredible texture, lovely flavor and a tiny price tag make this one of the best lunch values in the state

Bite of the Week: Chicken and Waffle at Heritage Tea House & Café

Chicken and Waffle at Heritage Tea House and Cafe // Photo by Aaron Job

Chicken and Waffle at Heritage Tea House & Café // Photo by Aaron Job

Bite of the Week is a weekly feature showcasing an exceptional meal or dish, curated by The Growler.

Few things trigger a wider range of emotions than the phrase “chicken and waffles.” Those who have had it (done correctly) tend to swear by it; those who haven’t tend to look baffled or otherwise nonplussed. We’ve had some great chicken and waffles around the country (tops on the list: Brown Sugar Kitchen in Oakland, California) and so when it pops up locally, we can’t hold back.

Thus: When we saw that the recently opened Heritage Tea House & Café on University Avenue in St. Paul was offering a Chicken and Waffle dish ($14), we dove on in. The Tea House itself is unlike any other business in town. Owned by Raeisha Williams, the restaurant is a combination art space, teahouse (with dozens of varieties on offer by cup and pot), and restaurant. When we visited on a Wednesday afternoon, the room was filled with the sound of vintage jazz, and only the knowledge that we were going to be taking a chicken and waffle plunge stopped us from getting a slice of delectable-looking chocolate cake under the glass bell behind the counter.

Chicken and waffles traditionally turns on contrasts and the Heritage version cranks up the flavors in order to accentuate the differences. In this case, the chicken isn’t fried in a crispy batter or breading, so it lacks some of the savory crunch that you may be expecting when you order this dish. Fear not: the wings that ride atop Heritage’s chewy, flavorful waffle are intensely herbed and almost briny in their moist saltiness, which sets them at direct odds with the chocolate syrup positioned at the waffle’s edge (and, presumably, the breakfast syrup that you’ve poured on top of the dish). The delicately chewy chicken skin and toothsome waffle complement each other; the intense salt of the bird and intense sweet of the breakfast pastry are a great contrast.

It all looks like a lot of food, but it goes down disconcertingly fast.

Chicken and Waffle at Heritage Tea House and Cafe // Photo by Aaron Job

Chicken and Waffle at Heritage Tea House & Café // Photo by Aaron Job

The Dish: Chicken and Waffle, $14

The Place: Heritage Tea House & Café, 360 University Ave. W. #103

The Reason: It’s a battle of sweet versus savory, and the diner is the winner

Bite of the Week: Pepperoni Pizza at Michael’s Pizza in St. Paul

The 10” Pepperoni Pizza at Michael''s Pizza // Photo by Aaron Job

The 10” Pepperoni Pizza at Michael’s Pizza // Photo by Aaron Job

Bite of the Week is a weekly feature showcasing an exceptional meal or dish, curated by The Growler.

If you let yourself wander the streets of St. Paul a little bit, one of the first things you’ll notice is a sprinkling of old-school pizzerias. Mixed in throughout the city’s many neighborhoods, they’re the opposite of flashy—they’ve generally got a gritty, comfortable, lived-in kind of feel to them—and they tend to serve up surprisingly tasty food.

Along with Mama’s Pizza on Rice Street, Michael’s Pizza is one of our favorites of the bunch. Michael’s is an utterly unpretentious little spot that, from our location, lies just across the Smith Avenue High Bridge from West Seventh Street. If you happen to come and go via that route, you’ll catch some of the most spectacular views in the state, particularly as you cross back to the north and take in a panoramic skyline view including the Cathedral of St. Paul.

Since Michael’s is a classic spot, we ordered a classic 10-inch pepperoni pizza ($12). There may not be a local old-school pizza better than this one: the crust is crispy but chewy, not merely a cracker-like vehicle for oversized gobs of cheese. The proportions are good—cheese, crust, and sauce are in harmony, and the sauce pops with spicy, tangy flavor. The cheese is chewy and pulls nicely as you separate the square-cut pieces, but it’s not so thick as to drown the rest of the dish.

Make Michael’s a destination, and while you’re there stop in next door at the St. Paul Flatbread Company—it’s making some of the state’s best Arabic flatbreads, plus hummus and kibbeh.

The 10” Pepperoni Pizza at Michael''s Pizza // Photo by Aaron Job

The 10” Pepperoni Pizza at Michael’s Pizza // Photo by Aaron Job

The Dish: 10” Pepperoni Pizza, $12

The Place: Michael’s Pizza, 441 S. Robert St., St. Paul

The Reason: If you’re craving a simple, classic American pizza, nobody makes it better

Bite of the Week: BBQ Pork Banh Mi at Little Saigon Supermarket

The BBQ Pork Banh Mi at Little Saigon Supermarket // Photo by Aaron Job

The BBQ Pork Banh Mi at Little Saigon Supermarket // Photo by Aaron Job

Bite of the Week is a weekly feature showcasing an exceptional meal or dish, curated by The Growler.

Ask any group of serious Minnesotan eaters where to find the best banh mi, and a host of different answers will come in. iPho by Saigon, for sure; Trieu Chau, quite likely, maybe even Lu’s Sandwiches if you’re particularly new-school. But our go-to, for years, has been the cheap, gorgeous, savory BBQ pork sandwich at the venerable Ha Tien Market on University Avenue in St. Paul.

Except that Ha Tien has decamped for a different part of St. Paul—White Bear Avenue at I-94—and its old store has changed hands, becoming Little Saigon Supermarket.

The critical question for all University Avenue banh mi people is, of course, whether the new place has made any major changes. The answer is: yes, but not in a bad way. The Little Saigon banh mi tastes distinctly more meaty, with a particularly assertive finish of creamy pork pate, than its Ha Tien predecessor. Cilantro and jalapeño peppers are present but toned down, and the meat runs the show. The bread is still great: crackly, tender, chewy, supporting its ingredients without overwhelming them.

We returned to the newly relocated Ha Tien for a comparison bite and found that their BBQ pork banh mi had seemingly picked up a creamier dressing element and was more cilantro-forward, with its bread-to-filling ratio tipped in favor of bread. Overall: Less pate, more chopped-pork forward, creamier tasting. Just as tasty as Little Saigon’s, or tastier, depending on how you feel about pate. Both are $5.25, so no advantage to be gained or lost there.

What’s indisputable is that between Little Saigon and Ha Tien you can get two of the best banh mis in the region.

The BBQ Pork Banh Mi at Little Saigon Supermarket // Photo by Aaron Job

The BBQ Pork Banh Mi at Little Saigon Supermarket // Photo by Aaron Job

The Dish: BBQ Pork Banh Mi, $5.25

The Place: Little Saigon Supermarket, 353 University Ave. W., St. Paul

The Reason: The shop may have changed hands and names, but this is still one of the great Minnesota sandwiches.

Bite of the Week: The Flavor Explosion at Mama’s Pizza

The Flavor Explosion pizza at Mama's Pizza // Photo by James Norton

The Flavor Explosion pizza at Mama’s Pizza // Photo by James Norton

Bite of the Week is a weekly feature showcasing an exceptional meal or dish, curated by The Growler.

There’s something disarming and charming about a dish that brags up its own effectiveness. The Flavor Explosion pizza at Mama’s Pizza talks a good game, and it delivers: sausage, pepperoni, bacon, banana peppers, and pineapple. The cumulative impact of all this exploding flavor, delivered atop a crispy thin crust covered with a generous melty roof of cheese, is surprisingly… subtle. It succeeds thanks to the heat versus sweet push-and-pull between the hot peppers and pineapple—all the meats and cheese underpin and support the tug-of-war without swamping it.

We got the “mini” sized pizza, which costs $11 and is 10 inches in diameter—miniature, perhaps, if you’re working a full morning hanging drywall but otherwise enough for two regularly hungry civilians to split for lunch, particularly when backed up by some cheesy bread.

If you’ve never been to Mama’s Pizza, it’s worth a visit regardless of your feelings about explosively flavored pizzas—everything from the old-school murals to the veteran waitstaff to the throngs of regulars to the complimentary miniature ice creams that arrive after your meal is expertly designed to win your heart. And if that’s not enough: there are plentiful (huge and affordable) Italian-American classics studding the menu beyond pizzas.

The Dish: 10-inch “Mini” Flavor Explosion Pizza, $11

The Place: Mama’s Pizza, 961 Rice St., St. Paul

The Reason: A lot of flavor on a lot of pizza for a small amount of cash.

A BLIND TASTING BEER FESTIVAL

Taste & Rate
48 Hazy IPAs

July 18, 2019 | 5:30–9:00pm
Upper Landing Park, St. Paul