Lone Spur Grill (Minnetonka, MN)

By Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier
Star Tribune West
March 9, 2005

We have great affection for really fake-looking fake cactuses, adobe-like décor, and mariachi hats hung on the walls. These make an earnest and admirably corny dining experience. This stuff is so not-Minnesota, and that's what we adore.

Lone Spur Grill, in Minnetonka, serves a Texan and Mexican menu. You can get standards like enchiladas on a platter with rice and refried beans. They serve a nice chicken quesadilla appetizer: not at all greasy and with a large salad on the side.

The fajitas are quite good, as long as the server gets that sizzling platter to you promptly. You'll roll your own with a huge plate of fixings like cheese, lettuce, beans, guacamole, and rice. We liked the tuna, a nice change from the usual chicken or steak. Vegetarians will like the sautéed vegetable fajitas.

Lone Spur makes a big deal about their barbeque. This is Texas-style pit barbeque. The meat is slow-cooked -- as long as fourteen hours -- and hickory-smoked. Sounds delicious.

It wasn't. The ribs were fall-off-the-bone tender, but they were dry and flavorless. People tell us they really like the BBQ sauce, except we never got any. The smoked and sautéed pork loin was better, but the beef brisket was too dry. The chicken is delicious, however. Don't worry about a little pink in the meat: the chicken is cooked through and its smoky bite is quite nice. Try the smoked chicken in a chimichanga.

The restaurant serves three types of chili: a mild beef chili, a medium chicken chili, and a hot beef chili. Accompanied by their cornbread, these make a fine light meal. The menu warns that you can't send the XXX Bola Red chili back if it's too hot. It's one of those macho dishes people like to tell stories about, but it just tastes terribly terribly hot. The spiciness kills all the flavor. The Texas Chili Pie sounds better than it is, though. If the people in the kitchen thought no one would notice that the Fritos at the bottom of the crock were stale, they were wrong.

Our burger experts love the burgers here, especially the House #13 burger, which is a local favorite, and worth trying if you like spicy food.

Unfortunately, there's little else on the menu that warrants praise. While we especially liked the tamales and the chalupas, everything else we tried fell into the category of "not bad, but nothing special." There are a lot of authentic Mexican restaurants in the Twin Cities; almost all of them serve better Mexican dishes.

We tried a few of the appetizers. The "Caribbean" spur wings came coated with gussied-up teriyaki sauce that wasn't that good. The guacamole was both bland and watery, and tasted as if it couldn't have been house-made.

Lone Spur has a full bar attached, so you can either order a drink with dinner in the restaurant or smoke (for now, anyway) with dinner in the bar. The margarita specials are renowned in the area, and they're a good deal during happy hour.

On your way out, check the plaque by the door. Doesn't the idea of collecting barbed wire seem kind of interesting?

Location:
11032 Cedar Lake Road, Minnetonka
(952) 540-0181

Hours:
Sun–Thu : 11am–10pm
Fri–Sat : 11am–11pm
Bar open until 1:00 am every night

Atmosphere: Family restaurant with a bar next door
Service: Friendly
Sound level: Noisy when crowded
Recommended dishes: Fajitas, tamales, and chalupas
Prices: Entrees $8–$18
Smoking: In the bar only
Children: Extensive children's menu, and kids eat free Tuesdays and Sundays.

earlier review: Mojito (St. Louis Park, MN)
later review: Roasted Pear (Burnsville, MN)
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