When is a new sports bar not a new sports bar? When NBA City and Chammps are transformed overnight into Hubert’s and Smalley’s 87 Club, that’s when. In case you’ve found yourself hungry after a Twins game, beware, as these are the first two eating establishments most fans pass on their way out of the ballpark and they fill up fast.
Assuming you get inside, it’s tough to find a lot of differences between NBA City and Hubert’s. NBA City’s owners have licensed the prestigious name, but the menu and operation are distinct and different. The NBA City menu has been downscaled and is now mostly sandwiches and bar fare; this Hubert’s actually has a smaller menu than the original.
On the positive side, there was a nice patty melt, a properly cooked burger, and decent though salty Buffalo wings. A Reuben’s corned beef was too chewy, while the signature battered and deep-fried Juicy Lucy, which tasted vaguely like a donut with meat and cheese, was too big, too chewy, overcooked, and borderline scary.
The restaurant was thinly staffed on the night we dined there and we waited long stretches of time for attention and food. NBA City’s ambience is little changed; it’s reasonably sedate and classy. The place works, but they’ve not exactly rewritten the book or produced a must-visit destination.
Smalley’s 87 is the former Butler Square Champps, which had devolved into something of a disaster. The joint is under completely new management and there’s an upbeat, customer-centric attitude about the place. There are many similar menu items, but all new recipes, management told me.®