Thursday, August 6, 2009

TJ Hooligan’s – Prior Lake, MN

Road trip for lunch day!!! I tried to find a place that had something large or exciting or wacky or horrific to eat, and I stumbled upon TJ Hooligan’s Pub and Grub. It had an Insane Burrito. To be honest with you, I had no idea where Prior Lake was, but I had heard a couple of people from work say they lived there, so I assumed it would be drivable for lunch. What’s funny is as I was walking to my car, I saw a couple of cars with Wisconsin plates in our parking lot as well. I started to wonder how far it would be, if people I worked with thought Wisconsin was drivable…

I hit the road and the ole’ GPS box said it would be 20 minutes away. That seems like a doable lunch distance, right? Sure, whatever. I found the place, but had to drive past it and U-turn to come back to it because the road has a significant concrete median right in front of the place. It’s in a strip mall, so things were looking up. I saw a nice patio outside and it’s next to a place where I’ll probably also come back to for lunch called the Basement.

The place on the inside looks like a dark Irish pub. It’s got all kinds of metal toys and pedal cars and airplanes hanging from the ceiling and an equal mix of booths and tables. Nothing special. I already knew I was ordering the Insane Burrito, so I just had to find out if they had Dew. Success!!!

I read some of the book I’m trying to get through and eavesdropped on some of the locals. My favorite comment was one of the townsfolks walked through the door and upon glancing at the tv, said loudly, “Aw come on. We’ve got nature going on up in hur!” referring to the discovery channel or something that was on the television. What an oddball. The waitress also brought out some chips and salsa for me to snack on while waiting for the food. The chips honestly were a tad stale and chewy, but the salsa was pretty good, if you don’t mind a sweeter (rather than spicy) salsa.

The burrito came out and I wasn’t impressed with its size (twss). I should have asked what made it insane. It looked pretty good, but not extreme by any stretch. I took a bite and honestly, it surprised me. The pork (you can get chicken, beef, or pork inside) was some of the best and most tender pork I’ve ever tried. But it wasn’t even the slightest bit hit.

I’m going to go out on a limb here, but when you call a burrito “insane,” it better have one of three things:
• It better be HUGE
• It better be dangerously spicy
• OR it better be in the shape of John Wayne Gacy’s head

Being that none of these items could be crossed off my list, my only assumption is that the chef is mentally unstable and might have killed someone and put him inside the burrito. Definitely not scary; definitely not spicy; definitely not gut-wrenching. HOWEVER, the pork was really really quite fantastic… for a bar burrito. If I were to throw out ratings, which I generally don’t like to do, I would give it the Minnesota-modified Mexican food rating of a 5. But on the bar burrito scale, I’d probably put it around 8-ish or 9, even. The meat was that good.

There were a couple of other things on the menu that sounded interesting, but I’m guessing they’ll be equally non-mexican tasting. Besides, the place next door is in the shape of a barn and I DO have a certain affinity for barn-shaped restaurants.

Top 5 things about TJ Hooligan’s
1. The pork was really quite tasty
2. Salsa
3. They have Dew
4. Waitress was super friendly and nice
5. Even though it’s a haul to get there, I drove by a handful of other places I want to try

Bottom 5 things
1. Not even remotely mexican
2. Stale-ish chips
3. It’s a serious drive to get there and THEN you have to do a U-turn to actually get to it
4. The Spanish rice is made from the same packets I use at home
5. I already have low expectations for the T.J.’s Belly Buster Bigger & Better Burger, and that bothers me. (The menu says it’s 2/3 pound – that’s not a belly buster. The 2-pound burger at the Twisted Spoke in Chicago is a belly buster!)

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