Birthday Crawls & Pizza Fries

Everything else tasted fine, but the pizza fries were really good. They’re “I still think about them today” good.

The pizza fries adventure all started with my mother-in-law. Every time it’s one of her family member’s birthdays, she’s bound and determined to arrange a celebratory dinner at a restaurant. But, not just at any restaurant, or even one our favorite restaurants.

The birthday restaurant must include the name of the birthday person in it.

This worked rather conveniently for Joe’s birthday. Some of you may remember the epic “Joe’s” restaurant crawl she planned for his 60th birthday. Thankfully, her vision to visit three “Joe’s” restaurants in one day was pared down to two; Joe Sensor’s just didn’t make the cut.

In September we celebrated Gabe. There is only one restaurant in the Twin Cities that includes the name “Gabe” in it, so our crawl was rather short. We started and ended at Gabe’s by the Park in St. Paul, MN.  Most of us had never visited Gabe’s, except Jake who remembers drinking there with friends in his 20’s. The menu includes a variety of casual dining fare like pizza, burgers, sandwiches, and a selection of entrees.

Some of the burger and pizzas have wacky toppings. For example, the Mac & Rib melt pizza is loaded with macaroni and cheese, pork rib meat, jack cheese, crispy haystack onions, and BBQ sauce. Plus, there are lots of crispy fried things that go well with beer. The onion rings which definitely did not taste like a frozen pre-made product and walleye fingers were especially delicious. But the pizza fries were the best. Everything we ordered paled in comparison to the pizza fries.

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The pizza fries were more like cheesy bread sticks than fries. Those who attended St. Paul public schools gleefully exclaimed how they reminded them of Italian Dunkers. The school I attended made their dunkers with old hot dog buns and a thin layer of plasticy cheese, so all I could feel was envy.

Each attempt to grab a pizza fry was an adventure in navigating glistening, stretchy cheese. With a quick dunk in the warm marinara sauce, all felt well in the world, at least in that “Gabe’s” microcosm, at least for that moment.

We passed the first order of pizza fries around as an appetizer. Then, Jake’s brother ordered another round as his main dish, except that he asked if the kitchen could add pepperoni. At first I thought he was nuts, but he proved to have made the best decision of the group. Pizza fries 2.0 with pepperoni is where it’s at.

“We should come back and just order pizza fries and drinks,” we concurred. One of our friends responded with a tweet: “Didn’t you know Gabe’s is a Packer’s bar?” Some gasped and recoiled in horror while others of us shrugged. After discovering the Trivial Pursuit cards on the tables and passing around appetizers, this fact was soon forgotten.

You don’t have to like the Packers or be named Gabe to enjoy the pizza fries at Gabe’s.

How’s that inspiration for you?

5 Comments

  1. Oh my goodness. Those look AMAZING! And I am jealous of those who had Italian Dunker memories. Our schools had absolutely nothing memorable in the way of lunch items which is is why I packed my lunch most of the time. I am now officially crazing pizza fries.

  2. It’s been years since we’ve been to Gabe’s. Pizza Fries sound insane (in a good way).
    Love your MIL’s method of having to eat at a place with the persons name in it.

  3. as long as the packers aren’t playing, i’m in!

  4. I would like some pizza fries right now please!! They look beyond delicious!!

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