Long Prairie’s Central Avenue is central Minnesota’s “Eat Street.” Within less than four blocks are four restaurants, a coffee shop, an ethnic bakery, a burger and beer pub, and a Mexican grocery that serves up treats such as Mexican sodas with real cane sugar and deep fried and crispy chicharones. What are chicharones? Come and take a tour of Eat Street and learn for yourself.
Some of the wait staff and kitchen staff stopped for a photo during lunch at Countryside Restaurant in Long Prairie. Back row: Melinda Christensen, Angela Bartkowicz and Brandy Peterson. Front row: Alisha Christensen, Tiffany Rosenow and Steph Powell. Photo by Jan King.
The Countryside Restaurant, near the intersection of Highway 71 and Central Avenue, is a bright, spacious family restaurant that serves a big menu of traditional American favorites. Some of those favorites include grilled ham steak dinner, Canadian bacon burger, Texas melt sandwich, taco salad, and chicken fajita wrap. The Countryside is particularly well known for serving breakfast all day. Repeat customers especially like the nine different omelets, according to co-owner Lee Zahler. Omelets are served with hash browns, toast or buttermilk pancakes. Customers also like the good service.
“The wait staff was very knowledgeable and quickly made menu recommendations based on some questions we asked. Our meals came out quickly and proved to be hot and tasty,” a visitor from Nebraska wrote in a review on the Trip Advisor website in July 2015.
“I have eaten here many times with my boyfriend and we have never had a bad experience. Food was always hot and fresh and always arrives quickly. Staff is really friendly,” a local woman wrote on the Yelp website in December 2014.
But don’t take our advice or that of restaurant visitors. Drop by Countryside Restaurant and see for yourself.
One block down Central Avenue, next to the Mexican grocery Mi Pueblito, is Griff’s. This Italian-style restaurant is a Long Prairie landmark. It’s a lunch hot spot for local business people and construction workers as well as families.
Clint and Marja Kreuger of Griff’s Pizza. Photo by Luan Thomas Brunkhors.
“Our pizza buffet and pasta bar are really popular with our lunch crowd,” co-owner Marja Krueger said.
Griffs specializes in fresh-baked pizzas, and it also features spaghetti, lasagna, and the delicious Clint’s Giovanni sandwich.
“The taco pizza and oven combo are my two faves,” wrote a female Minneapolis visitor on the Yelp website. “Service was top notch. A cute young man waited on us and he was perfect! We had 1919 Root Beer in a quart, the owner let me plug in my always needing a charge Iphone, the jukebox was playing, and we will be back!”
The taco pizza includes hamburger, lettuce, taco chips, cheddar cheese, tomatoes, and hot sauce. The oven combo has sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, and green olives. Clint and Marja Kreuger who are the owners, chefs, and head wait staff have also created pizzas and named them after their children. The Sydney has grilled chicken, onions, green peppers, cheddar cheese, and BBQ sauce. Sweet Baby Cory’s has pepperoni, sausage, onions, and green peppers.
Griff’s is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. It’s closed on Sunday and Monday.
Next door to Griff’s is a colorful mural depicting Long Prairie’s cultural diversity. The northern European, Amish, and Hispanic cultures are portrayed in a 50-foot long panorama painted by Royalton artist Jim Daley. Also, in the painting is Daly’s young friend Simon zooming down Central Avenue on his bicycle. He’s headed to his family’s Chinese restaurant the Ming Dynasty.
Sam and Mai Mai from the Ming Dynasty. Photo by Jan King
Sam and Mai Mai make up the staff at the Ming Dynasty.
“The food here is as good as anything that you can get in New York City,” a visitor from Long Island said.
Sam can rapidly prepare any of 120 menu items, or visitors can help themselves to the all you can eat lunch and dinner buffets.
“We only use really fresh ingredients,” Mai Mai said.
“Sometimes we order together with Mr. Krueger at Griff’s to be sure we always have the freshest vegetables,” Sam said.
The bright, fresh vegetables really stand out in dishes like seafood delight, roast pork with broccoli, beef with snow peas, and chicken with mixed vegetables. For those who enjoy their Chinese food spicy there is plenty to choose from, including Szechuan beef, curry shrimp with onions, and Singapore chow mein fun. Mai Mai, who has a way of remembering what you had the last time you ate at Ming Dynasty, will always point out to customers that a dish is hot.
“You like it hot?” she’ll ask.
The Ming Dynasty is open every day from 10:30 a.m. until 9:30 p.m.
Miguel and Leticia from Taqueria Chavez. Photo by Jan King
One block further down eat street is Taqueria Chavez. This full-service Mexican restaurant recently expanded. Each of the new booths is a unique work of art, and the entry area is bright and colorful.
When you enter you’ll see the large menu posted on the wall. It features a selection or tortas (Mexican sandwiches), burritos, enchiladas, tostadas, sizzling fajitas and many other selections. Our favorites include the filled chile or chiles rellenos and the tostada with shrimp on it. Tostadas are like very big corn chips that you can cover with shrimp, beef, beans, or whatever you fancy. Among the drinks served is a sweetened rice milk called horchata. If you order a glass of this refills are free.
The Chavez family owns this restaurant, and head chef Monica Chavez learned how to cook in Michoacan, Mexico. She’s brought her talents to Long Prairie, and with help from her sister-in-law, serves up tasty and authentic food that keeps both Hispanic and Caucasian customers coming back.
“This is a nice restaurant with decent food. The burritos are big. For dessert, a couple doors down, is a Mexican bakery with 75 cent pastries,” a visitor from Iowa wrote on Trip Advisor.
In addition to the restaurants on Eat Street you’ll find the Pan de Vida Mexican bakery. The bakery is next door to Taqueia Chavez, and the owners, the Lopez family, bake a myriad of different tasty, inexpensive, and fascinating Mexican pastries. A block further east Daiv Freeman brews a whole world of hot and cold coffee drinks at the Hats Off Coffee Shop, bookstore, and hat store. And if you’re looking for a burger and a beer you can find that at Irish’s, next to the Ming Dynasty.