Bound for Great BBQ: Head North
For some of the best Midwestern BBQ you need to check out the unique treats at Northbound Smokehouse & Brewpub. Situated in a sleepy neighborhood between the airport and downtown you will find a fairly nondescript brick a glass corner restaurant with a line out the door. Jammed to the gills with people is always a sign of phenomenal BBQ and this is no exception to that rule. People were braving bordering freezing temperatures just to wait for some sweet sweet Q. The interior itself is a bit dark and moody, giving the feeling of a dark and weathered soul that’s been through some shit, which is ideally what you want from a cuisine that was raised hand in hand with the blues. Televisions provide some added atmosphere of whatever local sporting event is transpiring that day, but the main focal point of the space is the bar. Taking up a good portion of the restaurant is a giant L shaped bar, that forms a barrier in front of two giant fermentation tanks, serving as a reminder that you are indeed at a brew pub that serves some phenomenal suds. Try out one of their house specialties Big Jim IPA’s with your meal and you won’t be disappointed.
From the jump the food is a mixture of Midwest bar staples and southern treats. The national dish of the dairy union, the deep fried cheese curd, is done up fantastically. It is gently smoked and fried up golden in the crunchiest of batters, packing so much flavor it makes the ranch dressing unnecessary. Another bar staple that is prepared to perfection is the house smoked chicken wings. Done up with the jerk rub, the smoke coats the wings like a sauce, satiating your palate as the piquant poultry slips down your gullet with a toothsome bite.
Now usually I try to differentiate whatever main entree I get from my dining companions so as to get a little more coverage, but neither of us could resist trying the 18-Hour Porketta Sandwich, especially after a glowing recommendation from the waitress. Boy was she ever right. Tender shreds of succulent swine drip with porky goodness, soaking up all that jubilant juice in the soft egg roll. The caramelized onions add a sweetness that accentuates the inherent piggyness and is sent over the top with the mellow Swiss cheese that is oh so gently kissed with smoke. Having the BBQ sauce on the side is ingenious as it isn’t necessary at all, but does add a bit of tangy zip if your palate is looking for a bit of a pick me up. This by far was the best bite of food I had in Minneapolis.
For some solid smoked staples combined with bodacious beers head no further than Northbound Smokehouse and Brewpub. You may end up leaving there smelling like someone who stood too close to the grill at a backyard cookout, with faint aromas of smoke and beer permeating your clothes, but it definitely is worth it.