To prove that I’m not a complete Minneapolitan food snob, I find it necessary, from time to time, to write about the places I frequent in a place known as “suburbia.” This foreign land of ample parking, dive bars with booths that aren’t sticky and a regrettable frequency of Applebee’s (I know, starting to sound like a snob, sorry), possesses a few proverbial diamonds in the rough. One of these diamonds is a happy hour gem found in Hopkins; it’s known as the Big Ten Restaurant and Bar (there is one near the University of Minnesota, but it doesn’t have the same awesome specials).
Ever since the closing of “Downtime” (near University and 15th Ave SE) and its ridiculously awesome all-you-can-eat-and-drink Wednesday special, I’ve been missing a place in my repertoire where I can gorge on cheap beer and sub-standard food; Big Ten is not the answer, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Located next to the Mann Hopkins Cinema 6 (a great discount movie theater to sober up at) Big Ten has a very large parking lot in back. There are of course plenty of spots available between 3-6 pm on weekdays (which is when the specials are). There’s also frequent bus service (the 12 runs along Mainstreet Hopkins in front). Little will keep anyone from getting to Big Ten unless they can’t get out of work early or they live way far out in Woodbury, White Bear Lake or Hudson (or somewhere else ridiculous).
Unlike many city bars that simply drop their more expensive craft beers down to one uniform price (usually $3 or $4 dollars a pint), Big Ten snips off two dollars from the price of all their 22 oz. mugs of beer. That means that suddenly a mug of PBR, which normally costs $4.25, becomes $2.25. Again it’s not the $10 all-you-can-drink PBR and all-you-can-eat pizza of the once infamous “Downtime,” but then again I’ve never pounded more than $9 worth of beer at Big Ten.
The food isn’t shabby and it’s not that pricey. Apart from drink specials, their happy hour cuts certain appetizer prices in half’; loaded fries and wings are all that’s needed when there’s so much beer to work on. Usually the food part of the bill will be less than $10 a person.
The service is quite friendly and the atmosphere is rather tame. It has a clean interior and patio seating for the summertime — always a plus.
So look no further for an economic place to take that special someone (or maybe the not-so-special someone), Big Ten in Hopkins is worth consideration.
Photos by: Erik Bergs