Tav on the Ave: Great Bar Fare in Mankato

Tav on the Ave Mankato Minnesota

We have been visiting “The Tav” (Tavern on the Avenue) regularly for over 20 years.   It was one of our favorite places to go in college at MSU and as a young married couple.  When our daughter was born 13 years ago, our favorite server Tasha (now a Mankato Independent Originals business partner), used to carry her around for us so we could enjoy a little “alone” time as a couple.   She was fantastic.  :)

If I’m being truthful, I’d have to say it’s lost a little bit of its charm over the years.  The days of that personalized service are gone.  I miss the menu classic “Blackjack Melt” and “Blue Whale” cocktail (the souvenir whales doubled as tub toys for our kids!).  I wonder if the Tav is resting on its laurels just a bit.

That said, it is still one of our favorite local spots.  They still offer free popcorn and board games to keep kids busy while we wait.  The menu has a little bit more diversity than the typical Mankato bar/grill, which we appreciate.  Our new favorites are the Cubano, the Thai Lettuce Wraps, and the Sashimi Ahi Tuna.  The wings are arguably the best in town.

A Mankato favorite, you really can’t go wrong.

Frugal Tip:  Go before 6 p.m. on weeknights to hit Happy Hour.  You’ll enjoy beer specials and half-price appetizers.

Tav on the Ave

1120 Madison Ave Mankato, MN 56001
(507) 345-3308
Web: http://www.thetavontheave.com/

View more of my reviews on Yelp.

Guy Fieri’s SNL Appearance

Did you see the Guy Fieri SNL spoof?  No? Probably because it never made it to the airwaves.  The segment was cut before it aired.  However, it’s pretty darn funny and is making the rounds on the internet.  If you’ve ever tried to find a good restaurant in Times Square you’ll get a kick out of it.

Dee’s Hangout: Great Eats in Panama City Beach, FL

dee's hangout panama city beach

Without Yelp, we probably would have walked right by Dee’s Hangout.  Located in a strip mall, it’s not exactly a high-profile location.  That’s OK.  The tourists can hit Pineapple Willy’s down the block while the true foodies can join me at Dee’s.  We enjoyed it so much the first time, we made it our last stop before heading home to Minnesota.

Both our starters were fantastic.  The she crab soup was out-of-this world, and rivaled one served at the Bubble Room on Captiva  Island (which is also fabulous).  I wanted to lick the bowl when I was done.  The BBQ shrimp was also swimming in flavor.  The sauce, with its Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice and butter base was tangy and delicious as well as unique.

My husband ordered the beans and rice.  It’s a simple dish, but since the roux takes a long time to get just right, not one we have too often.  My blackened redfish was also delicious.  Surprisingly, I really enjoyed the fried mac and cheese balls.  With two kids, mac and cheese is usually the last thing I want to order when eating out – but this doesn’t even compare to the orange stuff in the blue box.

Our server, Kaylee, was outstanding.  Not only was she friendly, she was knowledgeable about the food and the area.  We will definitely be going back, and recommending it to anyone who makes the trip down to PCB.

Frugal Tip:  Don’t forget to check in on Foursquare.  When we did, we got our appetizer for 1/2 off.

Dee’s Hangout


10440 Front Beach Road
Panama City Beach, Florida 32407

dee's hangout panama city beach

dee's hangout panama city beach

dee's hangout



The Brauhaus Restaurant & Lounge: Authentic German Food in Northern Minnesota

the brauhaus akeley, minnesota

The Brauhaus:  Authentic German Food in Northern Minnesota

Situated between tiny Nevis and Akelely Minnesota in the heart of lake country, you’ll find a hidden gem known as The Brauhaus German Restaurant.  Despite its remote location, visitors flock here year after year for authentic German food they can’t get anywhere else.  We’ve been going there for over twenty years.  It’s as much a part of our summer cabin tradition as taking the dock in and out of the lake.  Owner Gabriele Kirschman, known to everyone as Gabi, always greets us warmly when we walk in.  The hospitality is second only to the great food.

Everything on the menu at The Brauhaus is good, but our family’s favorite dish is the jägerschnitzel: a delicious, lightly-breaded pork cutlet served with green peppers, mushroom and onion gravy.  We always order it with a side of spaetzle noodles (great with the gravy) and red cabbage. The spaetzle noodles are so good, we started making them at home years ago.  The kids have been raised having them at least once a month or so (here is our own spaetzle noodle recipe).   All the entrees are under $20 (with the glazed duck at $21 as the one exception) and the portions are large; so there’s no arguing about the value.  Other restaurant specialties include sauerbraten and schweinhaxe; as well as desserts like schwarzwälder kirschtorte.  If you’re in a group, the hostess is likely to bring you a free plate of liver pate (pictured below).  If you’ve got picky eaters or kids in your group, there are plenty of American specialties to choose from as too – although I believe you’d be doing yourself a disservice by not ordering anything German.

The decor is homey with a bit of kitsch, but stays true to the experience:  waitresses dressed in old-fashioned German dresses, posters of Germany, and the bar stocked with German beers.   It’s definitely a family favorite and worth the trip if you’re ever in the area.

Frugal Tip:  The portions here are huge.  For lighter appetites, the side dishes can be ordered a la carte.  Sometimes, I simply order a side and have a few bites from my husband’s plate.

The Brauhaus German Restaurant
Akeley, MN 56433-8024
(218) 652-2478

the brauhaus restaurant akeley

the brauhaus german restaurant jaegerschnitzel

the brauhaus sauerbraten

the brauhaus german restaurant sauerbraten

Sally’s Restaurant: Grits, Victorian Dolls, Bear Statues and Jewelry – All Under One Hot Pink Roof!

Sally's Restaurant and Seafood Kitchen

Sally's Restaurant and Seafood Kitchen

Sally’s Restaurant and Seafood Kitchen

The outside of Sally’s Restaurant is warm, pink, and inviting. Kitschy pink decor is everywhere: from the pink walls to the plastic pink cups. The Victorian dolls in the curio cabinet next to the giant bear plaque are an eclectic touch.  Is jewelry your thing?  Not to worry!  You can pick up a heart necklace for just $5 when you check out.

Listening to the locals tell their alligator stories added to the mom and pop vibe of the joint (definitely something we don’t get to experience as Yankees). Even the waitstaff stopped what they were doing to join in the conversation (putting cooking and cleaning temporarily on hold, I might add).   I don’t think I’ve ever been to a restaurant where the entire restaurant participates in one group conversation.  That was definitely a first!  Everyone made us feel very welcome.

Overall, the food was good, tasty and cheap.  Grits were creamy, bacon was crisp. Sally’s is definitely a no-frills place. You’re not going to find eggs benedict or rye bread on the breakfast menu.   My daughter is turning into a bit of a foodie herself, as she noticed the cheese on her omelet was processed, not “real” Cheddar.  I would like to come back sometime and sample the burgers and seafood, as that’s what Yelpers raved about.

Now for the negatives:  The place could be cleaner. Half the tables had dirty plates left on them waiting to be bussed, and my flip-flops stuck to the floor as I walked. Bathroom walls needed a good scrub-down. Note to greasy spoon restaurant owners: If you’re going to decorate with ceiling fans, chandeliers, and artificial flowers– make sure they’re not dusty. Customers like me notice when they are, even if you do not.

Another minus:  All of our four meals arrived at different times.  To me, that’s basic restaurant operation 101.  Two of us had completely finished our meals before the fourth was brought to the table.  My husband commented, “Maybe Sally can only cook one thing at a time.”

Sally’s restaurant is not going to win any food service or culinary awards.  It’s old fashion(ed) in every way (according to their sign pictured below, and I’d have to agree).  However, if you’re looking for a good value on simple food with local color, this is your spot.

Sally’s Restaurant
1594 Hwy 90
Ponce De Leon, FL 32455
(850) 836-4403

sally's seafood kitchen

sally's seafood kitchen

sally's seafood kitchen

sally's seafood kitchen

sally restaurant