When you go out to eat, do you ever stare at the menu for minutes on end, waffling over what to order? Do you ever wonder if the restaurant's regulars know something you don't? Here's a handy guide to what customers order most at some of the Twin Cities' most popular eateries, plus recommendations from the chefs. Check in next week for more restaurants, or see last week's Eat This here.
CHINO LATINO Most popular: "Really our most popular item is the mojito, but if we're talking more about food, on the big dishes, the biggest seller last month was our Belafonte's Banana Boat Chicken [$21]," says executive chef and general manager Noah Barton. "It's a chicken breast crusted with crushed plaintain chips and served with a passion-fruit cream sauce. It's kind of sweet and tart."
Chef's choice: "My favorite menu item of the big dishes is the Cuban Pork Roast Crisis [$24]. It's a Cuban-style marinated, slow-cooked pork that we shred and serve with jasmine rice, black beans, fried bananas, and a pickled cabbage that goes on top."
Most popular: The Old School pizza [$16.95 for a large] is Galactic's best seller, according to owner Pete Bonahoom. "It's like a standard supreme, so it's got tomato, mozzarella, pepperoni, sausage, organic button mushrooms, organic green peppers, and organic red onions."
Chef's choice: "Maybe the Alamo," Bonahoom says. "It's got barbecue sauce, mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese, marinated free-range chicken, organic red onion, organic button mushrooms, and organic red bell peppers [$16.95 for a large]."
TRUE THAI Most popular: "Our sweet green curry is probably our most popular curry," says co-owner Chuck Whitney. "And pad Thai is probably our most popular noodle dish [both $9.95 with chicken, beef, or pork; $10.95 with seafood]."
Chef's choice: "I like No. 43," Whitney says, "which is wok-fried garlic and crushed black pepper with scallops [$11.95]."
THE STRIP CLUB
Most popular: Not surprisingly, steaks are easily the biggest seller at the Strip Club, and specifically the namesake grilled New York strips ($32), says chef-partner J.D. Fratzke, though the grilled sirloin ($19) is an up-and-comer. The most popular of their saucily named steak sauces is the "Whip Me, Beet Me," made with roasted beets, caramelized onion, carrots, a ginger-lime vinaigrette, and spicy horseradish whipped cream.
Chef's choice: "I've loved my boneless duck breast [$21] for quite some time," Fratzke says. "But we've got some crazy delicious pork belly on the menu now [$22] that I think is just outstanding."
HELL'S KITCHEN Most popular: Hell's Kitchen began as a breakfast joint and is now open for dinner, but at any hour the huevos rancheros ($10.95) are huge, says chef de cuisine Joseph Wuestenhagen. "Even at nighttime we're putting out a lot of them. I think last month we did, like, 5,000 of them."
Chef's choice: "I'd say our pulled pork [$10.25]. It's modeled after a North Carolina style of barbecue," Wuestenhagen says. "We make our own barbecue sauce here too."
What are your favorite dishes at these restaurants? Leave a comment below!