The third (and final?) revealing of eats and treats from the Vikings team at U.S. Bank Stadium happened yesterday with much pomp and circumstance—though it should be noted that, despite our best efforts to sneak out there, the actual concourse and field were strictly off limits. And yet, we have to give props to the Vikes, they unveiled a partnership with more local vendors than we've seen before; from a family cooking chicken wings, to a three-chef collaboration on the Twin Cities Foodie kiosk. We made our way through some 20+ foods that will be on show with this caveat: this is press day, the people who were cooking for us won't be the ones cooking on game day, and even then, some of them were prepping and serving their food from banquet tables, not appropriately-equipped kitchens. Also, we were given no pricing information, so just know that if we gave a thumbs up for a taco, and it turns out to have a $52 price tag, that thumb is heading someplace else.
Revival Vikings Food
photos by Caitlin Abrams
- Petit Fried Chicken Sandwich
- Spiced Cheese Pork Rinds
- Miniature Banana Cream Pie
Steph March: Thumbs up. Fried hot-chicken sandwiches and personal banana cream pies are the stuff that championships are made of.
Drew Wood: Thumbs up. Obviously, Thomas Boemer's fried chicken, and by extension that sandwich, is second to none, but don't sleep on those Hot Cheetos-style pork rinds. NEXT LEVEL, PEOPLE.
SM & DW: Minneapolis-made Tattersall spirits will be in your drinks in the stadium. And, while they weren't actually cracking any of those seals during the media tasting, their bottles during the media tasting we give them a thumbs-up on their track record alone. Gimlet FTW!
612 Burger Kitchen
- 612 Burger: Black Angus burger with Sriracha mayo and sharp American cheese on toasted potato roll
SM: Thumbs up. Keeping a slider simple and well executed is the key to mini-burgers that you can chain-smoke.
DW: Thumbs up. Soft buttery bun, tender burger, and super chilled-out, creamy Sriracha mayo. Solid stuff.
Andrew Zimmern’s Canteen/Hoagies
- Italian Porchetta Sandwich
SM: Thumbs up. I liked this sandwich a bunch, the fresh bite of the broccolini gave it a nice kick. AZ has chef JP Samuelson running his concessions biz and he's spent some time being schooled at stadiums and ballparks across the country, learning what works and what flops. This has a high potential for successful repllication.
DW: Thumbs up. I'm not a huge porchetta guy, but was still squarely into this sammie.
Be Graceful Bakery and Catering
- Roast Turkey Sandwich, on wild rice cranberry bread with maple bacon jam.
SM: Thumbs sideways. I have a personal issue with cranberries in my savory sandwiches, so this isn't really my thing. But all the rest of the ingredients were good.
DW: Thumbs up. Be Graceful's one of the totally-new-to-me local vendors that the stadium's featuring, which made the pleasant complexity of this seemingly simple sandwich even more surprising.
- Gourmet Miniature Cinnamon Rolls
SM: Thumbs up. Like buttah.
DW: Thumbs sideways. Definitely a melt-in-your-mouth cinnamon roll, but I'm not positive a cinnamon roll is what I'm looking for at a Viking's game.
Curds & Cakes
- Fresh-made Cheese Curds
SM: Thumbs up. Even cold-ish and served no where near a fryer, these were yum city. The beer-battered crust was sturdy and substantial, not like some of those weak curds that fall out of their skin.
DW: Thumbs up. Among the best cheese curds I've ever had (and I've had A LOT OF CHEESE CURDS). These suckers are Blue Moon-battered and have bacon mixed in, and yet avoid being greasy; like, at all. They are crispy, round, consistent, and, most of all, awesomely savory Elsworth cheese-filled curds.
Ike’s Food & Cocktails
- Hand-carved Turkey Sandwich
SM: Thumbs up. A solid carved turkey sandwich with no cranberries anywhere.
DW: Thumbs sideways. A tasty-enough turkey sandwich that skews towards the dry side.
- German Bratwurst
- Andouille Sausage with Grilled Onions and Peppers
- Cheddar Bratwurst
SM: Thumbs up. The cheddar brat is the king of sausages. Let's just call it Abe Froman and get on with it.
DW: Thumbs up. DUH.
- Dry Rubbed Chicken Wings
- Sweet Chicken Wings
SM: Thumbs up. I love Lola, I love her wings. She was my favorite thing about yesterday, and I have to SING it out that someone will be serving whole wings. Can't wait to try the dry rub version. Also: that sweet bun, tho.
DW: Thumbs up. Lola is just starting 9th grade...9th! And yet she cooly presented her none-too-shabby wings to Steph and I like an old pro, right down to regaling us with the story of how they got started vending out of Jim Lupient Water Park in Northeast.
- Brunch Dog: topped with crispy pork belly, morning fried potatoes, Sriracha aioli, hollandaise sauce, and chives
- The Prairie Dog: served classic Chicago-style with all the trimmings
SM: Thumbs up. I feel like Prairie Dogs is the sausage pick you're going to make when you feel like you need an extra bit of zshoosh, like a rally cap for football. Do they have those?
DW: Thumbs up. I know, I know; I've dropped a lot of thumbs up already, but dammit if there hasn't been some good stadium food already. In the case of Prairie Dogs, something I knew I loved before this tasting, I'm not going to have a real decision to make for my gameday sausage/hot dog: Kramarczuk's or Prairie Dogs. Truly a Sophie's choice of gameday wiener perfection.
- Fried Chicken Taco: crispy chicken with jalapeno ranch, slaw, and cilantro
- R Taco: Achiote pork with pineapple, onion, and cilantro
SM: Thumbs sideways. These were fine. Tacos are fine.
DW: Thumbs sideways. The fried chix taco by the artist formerly known as Rusty wasn't too shabby. A tad unruly as a taco, but not shabby.
Icehouse MPLS (at Twin Cities Foodie)
- Smoky Chicken Nachos
SM: Thumbs up. Sleeper hit for me. Here I was thinking nachos was nachos, but with this smoky chicken and crisp tostadas just lolling under crema and peppers, I'm all in. I'm sure there will be the neon cheese version somewhere else.
DW: Thumbs up. All hail Chef Bickford from Icehouse from taking something as tired as football game nachos and making them spectacular by making them some sort of un-nachos (come gameday they won't be using chips, they'll be using stacked tostadas). Worth it for the crema alone.
Smalley’s Caribbean BBQ (at Twin Cities Foodie)
- Jerk Bacon Sammie
SM: Thumbs up. That bacon is a jerk.
DW: Thumbs up. Did you really think Tim McKee/Shawn Smalley's time-tested Stilwater BBQ joint could possibly go wrong with a jerk bacon sandwich?
Rainbow Restaurant (at Twin Cities Foodie)
- Lemongrass Meatballs
SM: Thumbs up. I could have stood there all day jamming those sticks in my face. I loved the chicken meatballs for their lightness and also their flavor, especially when dragged through the tamarind sauce.
DW: Thumbs up. Even though I don't think lemongrass meatballs are ever going to be my regular Viking's game jam, you can never, ever go wrong with Rainbow Chinese. And, oh man, that tamarind dip. Yowza.
Foods that will be available only in clubs, suites, and for catering:
- Short Rib Sandwich with spicy slaw
SM: Thumbs sideways. This one was just hard to eat, the bite didn't pull easily so it all came apart on me, but I would totally nix it for that.
DW: Thumbs sideways. Mainly because I won't be able to get my hands on one unless I make fast friends with the suite-sters.
- Assorted, hand-dipped truffles
SM: Thumbs sideways. Super tasty for you truffley game-day people who are not me.
DW: Thumbs sideways. Pretty good truffles, but just not my thing at a football game.
A Peace of Cake
- Sweet Sumac Popcorn
- Spicy Pad Thai Almonds
SM: Thumbs up. There is NO REASON this sumac popcorn shouldn't be available to everyone (do you hear me Wilf?) It was one of my happier bites, sprinkled with sumac seasoning which gave it the slightest earthy bite.
DW: Thumbs up. Every time I eat regular popcorn whilst sitting in the normal people seats in Vikingville, I'll be silently cursing the fact that I know somewhere else in the stadium some lucky sap is encountering the unexpected and profound joy of oh-so-savory sumac popcorn.
Thomasina's Cashew Brittle
- Cashew Brittle
SM: Thumbs sideways. This box is still in my purse.
DW: Thumbs sideways. Not a big brittle guy, but I hear Dara really digs this stuff; so there you go.
- Fresh-baked, half-pound Cookies
SM: Thumbs up. You can use one of these cookies as a seat cushion if you can't make it through. Or pass it down your seat row for bites and see how far it gets around the stadium until it's gone.
DW: Thumbs up. They gave me a half pound sugar cookie to take home, and not only was scrumptious; it was so big that both of my daughters, who've never not eaten all the cookies, tapped out before it was gone.
Chappy's Street Eats
- Gluten Free Caribbean Jerk Chicken Wings
- Gluten Free Buffalo Baked Chicken Wings
SM: Thumbs sideways. I'm going to blame the room for this poor execution, this guy was no where near a kitchen so who knows how long those wings had been sitting there. I would give them another chance as a straight up order, because GF'ers need wings too.
DW: Thumbs down. Just alright wings. The buffalo sauce had good flavor, though.
- Handcrafted, artisan chocolates
SM: Thumbs up. I love these chocolates and I get that they will have someone's corporate logo on them and I'll only taste them if I'm lucky enought to be invited to a suite some day. Hint hint.
DW: Thumbs sideways. Even really good chocolates are in the same boat as truffles for me at a football game.
- Italian Grinder Sandwich, with sausage, red sauce, peppers, and mozzarella cheese
SM: Thumbs down. The sausage mix didn't really do it for me, nor the abundance of green/red peppers on top.
DW: Thumbs sideways. The grinders were pretty cold by the time we finally got over to Gramsky's spread, so it's pretty hard to pass judgement on them, though they were a tad peppery.
An overall thumbs up for the day. The team is playing it smart and not trying to go crazy with pizza-stuffed-nachos-in-a-burger kind of things; and that's a good thing. Leave Frankenfoods to the State Fair. Dare we say it's going to be a--wait for it--touchdown for football facestuffers?!