Best of the Midwest: Dinner at Dino’s

Before hittin’ the skies, I laid out a few eating-related goals for my visit to Minnesota. I knew at the outset that I wouldn’t meet all the goals — I was only home for a few days, and I can’t eat that much, despite my best efforts — but I’m pleased to report that I made it to Dino’s Gyros, home of the killer fries.

Here they are in all of their greasy glory.

My family grew to love Dino’s a solid decade ago, when Ali worked there part-time. (In fact, I credit Ali’s love of All Things Greek to this formative tyme in her lyfe.) Fairly standard as far as fast-casual places go, Dino’s offers sandwiches, salads, Pepsi soft drinks, and a few desserts, including the seemingly out-of-place French silk pie. My go-to order, established when I was a young lass of 16, is as follows:

  • One large soft drink, which is a mixture of Diet Coke (2/3) and Light Lemonade (1/3);
  • One Greek salad with chicken breast;
  • French fries, to be split with my dining companion.

Annnnnnnd, because I am the ultimate Creature of Habit, I did not deviate from my ordering pattern. Shown above is a close-up of my salad; the green pepper ring encircling the pepperoncini and the olive strikes me as beautiful — as in, if it could be preserved and dipped in silver, it would make a badass pendant. Not pictured is my large soft drink, but you all can use your imaginations.

How did my nostalgic meal stack up? Better than I expected, actually. The salad was basic: a bed of chopped romaine hearts topped with tomato slices, thin-sliced onions, a handful of kalamata olives (pitted, thankfully), cucumbers, chicken, feta, and a quartered, grilled pita. (Dressing — about 1/4 cup of it — came on the side.) To my great pleasure/surprise, these winter tomatoes didn’t totally suck; they were a little mealy, but not as mealy as they could have been. Olives were salllllllllllty and briny and delicious, and I ate every last one. Chicken was gorgeously browned and gristle-free. The romaine offered the only obstacle — about half of it was browning at the edges or otherwise wilty. A tad bit gross, but not gross enough to prevent me from chowing down.

Sys, stoked for our traditional meal.

 And how, you ask, were the fries? Quite tasty, thank you. Revision: our first order of fries was pretty bad — they’d clearly been re-fried* and sparkled with salt. Sis returned the basket and asked for unsalted fries, which the cook promptly provided. Hell yeah! The new fries (pictured blurrily above) were golden and slender and mercifully salt-free. Of course, we added our own salt and gobs of HFCS-rich ketchup, and the result was damn fine.

Yep, this trip to Dino’s was resoundingly successful. I ordered my traditional meal, which hasn’t changed a bit in the past decade, and took part in a good-ole-fashioned French-Fry Feeding Frenzy (F^4). No French silk pie this time around, but it’s on the to-eat list for my next Midwest trip.


*Never be afraid to bring back re-fried fries, people! I worked for four years at my college’s diner, and I KNOW. Protip: ask for unsalted fries, and you’ll often have a fresh batch made just for you!


3 responses to “Best of the Midwest: Dinner at Dino’s

  1. I LOVE Dino’s fries. i have worked there for the past year, and at the location I worked at, if you want fresh fries, ask for fresh ones!:P They often times just dip the salted fries back into the fryer to get the salt off.. and that’s no fun.. fresh Dino’s fries are A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.

  2. YES! The fresh fries were delectable, and the staff were more than happy to replace the too-salty fries 🙂 Sadly, it’s gonna be a while until I get my next Dino’s fix…

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