Even those who don’t normally wear jerseys on game days understand the importance of Super Bowl Sunday—if only to watch multi-million-dollar commercials, the halftime show and eat some fried food. But this year is different. It’s in our town. While most of us can’t afford tickets to U.S. Bank Stadium, the special occasion means it might be time to venture outside the house party and watch with the rest of the city. So I caught up with two neighborhood bars that have plans to make your watch party, and your after-party, memorable in the host city.
At Tailgate Sports Café in south Minneapolis, bar manager Miranda Eiler has a binder filled with notes and plans. “We want to be your go-to watch party,” she says. And she has done her research to make it possible. “I’ve been contacting Houston [Texas] bars and seeing what worked for them,” she says, when they hosted the Super Bowl in 2017.
From the information gained she started ramping up Tailgate’s social media campaign. “Because we have such a great clientele here, such a great base, social media is kind of secondhand for us because people come here regardless,” she says.
But when it comes to the day of, and surrounding days, expect a party. Eiler worked with beer and liquor companies to get promotions in the bar. “Like getting the Bud Light Girls in here, the Jager[meister] Girls in here, the Captain [Morgan] Girls in here and playing games with customers—making sure there’s always something going on,” she says. The goal is to get “the most party-like atmosphere in here as possible,” she says.
Every good party has food, and Super Bowl food is bar food: Tailgate’s burgers will be on special as well as their wings—available in sweet ’n’ spicy, barbecue, jerky dry rub, hot barbecue, teriyaki, Jameson barbecue, buffalo danger and barbiyaki sauces. And if you head over before the game, start with the Bloody Mary (made in-house) and later catch their beer and rail-drink specials.
As to why you should ditch your house party and head to Tailgate (aside from not having to cook and cleanup)? “Because we have the best staff,” Eiler says. “It’s a great neighborhood bar where you’re going to have a great time no matter what.”
But if you absolutely must have the house party (aka you already invited everyone over and it’s too late to cancel), delay the cleanup by heading over to Bulldog in Uptown for a Super Bowl after-party. General manager Bryan Johnson says the beer-centric bar will be a hot spot once the Vince Lombardi trophy is handed over, with a local DJ spinning vinyl (literally—“he has a great collection of vinyl,” Johnson says). It’s always busy after the Super Bowl, he says, “but now that it’s going to be here” it’s going to be an event. “We stay open until 2 a.m., and it’s a good place to go for late night.”
While they always have a great tap list, on Super Bowl Sunday Johnson says they’ll host a tap takeover, where a local brewery will be featured on four-to-six of their taps. Expect great deals on beer and food. “We’ll be doing an appetizer special, a burger special and a hot dog special,” he says.
Wings will be a special here as well, with options like jerk, Sriracha garlic, reaper (super spicy) and others. And don’t forget the cheese curds (a must if a Midwestern team is playing). “We do Ellsworth, Wisconsin cheese curds—we make our own batter here and fry them up and sell pounds and pounds of those,” he says.
And while he notes downtown Minneapolis will get the bulk of business that day, “we’re not too far. I heard a Minnesota Vikings player comment, ‘Uptown is so great,’” he says. “We’re getting more traffic from downtown, the airport, Bloomington … Uptown is kind of a destination if you’re visiting Minneapolis.”
If the Vikings or Packers are playing, expect the place to have a few extra decorations. And while the staff aren’t holding their breath, “Hopefully a local team can get in there,” Johnson says. “That would be crazy.”
And if you’re lucky enough to go …
You may know four-time James Beard award–winning TV personality Andrew Zimmern from his Travel Channel show, Bizarre Foods, but did you know he’ll have several meat-centric options at U.S. Bank Stadium on Super Bowl Sunday? While he spends much of his time curating the wildly content-intensive food/recipe/cooking instruction website, andrewzimmern.com, he can occasionally be found right here in St. Louis Park in the offices of his company, Food Works Inc.
Here’s what Zimmern’s AZ Canteen banner is cooking up for the Super Bowl, at two separate U.S. Bank Stadium booths:
Zimmern’s Canteen Rotisserie
The choices here are rotisserie-cooked meats and sandwiches. Straight-up meats come in ½- or 1-pound buckets. The cuts are dry-rubbed pork shoulder with barbecue sauce, chicken with sambal sauce (spicy, chili-based, popular in SE Asia), and oregano- and cumin-spiced lamb shoulder with cucumber yogurt sauce. Sandwiches feature the same rotisserie meats on St. Agnes Bakery potato buns. Pork sandwiches are served with barbecue sauce, coleslaw and pickled onions. Chicken sandwiches have Mediterranean accompaniments including charred onions, fried eggplant and mint sauce. Lamb sandwiches are Greek-style with sliced red onion, tomato, yogurt and cucumber sauce.
Zimmern’s Canteen Hoagies
Three hoagies await you: roasted and braised Italian beef (with horseradish mayo, pickled veggies and pepper jack cheese); porketta (roast pork shoulder marinated with fennel, black pepper, garlic and onions) served with spicy greens and provolone cheese; and Italian parsley and provolone sausage, a pork-based sausage accompanied by stewed peppers and pepper jack cheese.