Until last week, many at the Grand Forks Herald thought the most-read stuff in the paper was college hockey. Marilyn Hagerty proved that to be very wrong. It’s food. So, it’s time to combine these pillars of life into one blog post: the All-WCHA dining team. (And no, the Grand Forks Olive Garden did not make the list).
First team (food stops)
Glacier Brewhouse, Anchorage. The place even smells good when you walk in. It’s got a fireplace right in the middle and just a great feel to it. The food is amazing. I’ve crushed the Bering Sea king crab legs, Alaskan halibut and Alaskan cod there. All unbelievable.
The Cherry Cricket, Denver. Solid atmosphere. Amazing burgers.
State Street Brats, Madison. Classic place and it’s perfect if you want to watch a game. TVs are everywhere. Solid setup. Solid food.
Upstream Brewing Company, Omaha. Go with the burgers or steaks. You won’t be disappointed.
Street hot dog vendor, Colorado Springs. Seriously. There’s a guy with a stand on Tejon Street. Find him, order the spicy cajun dog. It’s unreal. Has a kick to it. One time, my friends and I were trying to catch a cab for a half hour in freezing weather. We finally got one to stop, but he wouldn’t let us bring the cajun dogs in the car. We sent him on his way and waited another half hour for a cab. That’s how good they are.
Second team (pizza places)
Campus Pizza, Minneapolis. The location is perfect, a couple blocks from the rink. The pizza is amazing. I make it a point to get there every time I’m in town. And to top it off, the owners love college hockey. You can’t go wrong.
Deek’s Pizza, Grand Forks. You can’t dine in there, but you can order pretty much any time of the day. It’s cheap and the pizza is outstanding. My Deek’s love is well known in these parts. I likely played a key role in them deciding to expand to Fargo.
The Ambassador, Houghton. I didn’t stop here on my first trip to Houghton and have regretted it ever since. I enjoy thin crust pizza and nobody does it better than the Ambassador — not even Duane’s House of Pizza in Fargo.
Pagliai’s, Mankato. It’s open past 1 a.m. The deliver time is speedy. And the pizza is awesome. It always fuels me while writing my rewind blog posts.
Pizza Luce, Duluth. If you like crazy pizzas, this is your place. I’m a pepperoni-only guy and I still like this place.
Third team (arena food)
Ralph Engelstad Arena, Grand Forks. Great assortment of food. Almost every stand has a unique twist to it. I found a new favorite at the end of this season: the cajun chicken strips at the stand by the student entrance.
Sanford Center, Bemidji. Not a lot of vendors, but if you go to the end of the rink, they have a chef cutting fresh meat. It’s different a different meat both nights of the series. And they have some outstanding soup there.
World Arena, Colorado Springs. There’s a stand near the elevator that’s on the opposite side of the concourse as the other vendors. You can find a lot of great stuff there. Pulled-pork sandwiches are a winner.
Magness Arena, Denver. At one end of the arena, they have a guy cutting up some fresh meat. It’s usually solid.
AmsOil Arena, Duluth. I’m not a fan of most arena pizza. Most of the time, it has been under a lamp for a long time and is terrible. I tried some pizza at AmsOil and it was surprisingly outstanding. Went back the next night for some more.
And for the top awards…
Player of the year: Glacier Brewhouse, Anchorage. No brainer. I only went there four or five times on the trip in December. I wanted to try a pizza place up by campus, but couldn’t pass up a single meal at the Brewhouse. I miss it greatly.
Rookie of the year: Texas de Brazil, Denver. My first experience at a Brazilian-style steakhouse, where they bring different meats to your table nonstop until you can no longer eat anymore. What a wonderful concept.
Coach of the year: John Sweeney, Denver. College friend of mine responsible for introducing me to the Cherry Cricket, Texas de Brazil and the spicy cajun dog. And no coach can get by without great assistants. Andrew Gunkelman and Tyler Nelson played key roles in landing at these great food stops.