I never want to drink another Wondrous Punch but I have no regrets about trying one.
Until this weekend, I had never had a “Wondrous Punch,” but I’ve always known the name. Most Twin Cities residents do. It’s the signature drink at Red Dragon, a dive bar located on Lyndale in South Minneapolis. As far as I know, Red Dragon’s always been there. The exterior looks the same as it did when I used to drive past every day ten years ago.
People tell their Red Dragon stories wistfully. They typically occurred a while ago and end in “I don’t remember much,” a brawl, or puking. “The Wonderous Punch is really strong,” they add.
Many things in Uptown have changed. When everything becomes newer and shinier, I’m drawn to establishments that keep serving what they’ve always been serving in an unapologetic, irony-free manner. They don’t serve kale salad or change their menu font from Comic Sans because they don’t want to.
At any moment I expected the bartender to tell Jake, “I’m sorry sir, but we have to cut you off.
“Can you get cut off at a kombucha bar?” I wondered, as he ordered another glass.
Jake’s best described as a beverage enthusiast. He loves all kinds of beverage, from coffee to tea to kombucha to beer. His favorite non-alcoholic drink is definitely kombucha, something I haven’t learned how to make yet. As long as we were at a fermentation bar, he wanted to try everything.
In a recent post I wrote about one of my latest Minneapolis skyway food adventures. I still haven’t branched out as much as I had intended, but have had opportunities to try a few more restaurants.
The skyway is a fascinating microcosm you might not know exists unless you work downtown. Many of the restaurants and cafes are only open Monday-Friday during daytime hours. This post serves as a running list of all of the foods I’ve tried from the Minneapolis skyway system.
Broders’ Cucina Italiana’s Eggplant Special Pizza has been my favorite pizza for almost ten years.
I worked behind the deli counter at Broders’ during my first year after college. As employees, we were given opportunities to nearly everything from the menu and learn about the Italian food products sold in the restaurant. How are you supposed to answer customers’ questions about the menu or communicate a genuine enthusiasm foods if you haven’t tried them? Broders’ gets this.
Even though I ate a lot of food from Broders’ while I worked there, I never got tired of it. The Eggplant Special pizza was my favorite then and it is now.
I’m really picky about my favorite places.
And by favorite places, I mean the places I return to time and again. The same goes for my favorite people, including hair stylists, butchers, car shops, tax preparers, and veterinarians. I’ve had to find my new favorite places and people more often than most. Each time we’ve moved I had to start the process from scratch. Sometimes I find my favorite person or place right away and sometimes it takes a while. But when I find it, I just know.
A lot has to fall in place for a place to become my favorite place. The actual product, noise level, availability of snacks, music choices, smell, location, customer service, parking, table spacing, outlets (in the case of coffee shops), temperature, and price.
When I first started a position in downtown Minneapolis, I set a goal to try a new restaurant once per week. And I have failed miserably because I’ve found a favorite place.