Continuing with our “Nachos From Exotic Locales To Make Up For Rarely Posting” series, we bring you Toby Keith’s I <3 This Bar & Grill in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. Using live music, hearty portion-sizes, and mason jars, I <3 This Bar & Grill is doing to country what the Hard Rock Cafe did to rock: increasing the guitar size by 1000% and turning music into a tourist trap. That the developers at the West End thought the new retail park needed a country music bar probably hints at Minnesota’s right-wing swing, but if country music means more nachos for us, then we’re willing to indulge Toby Keith for at least one meal.
- Appearance: (8) Unlike most people at I <3 This Bar & Grill, these nachos look good in both dim and direct light. Red, white, and blue chips, green guac, orange cheese-like sauce (see Distribution), parsley confetti. Yep, it has all those things. We’re taking off three points for a messy plate.
- Distribution: (6) We still don’t know whether the orange stuff was queso dip or melted cheese, but in any case, what they were doing didn’t work. If it was shredded cheese, they did a terrific job melting the top layer, but not so great a job melting the rest. If it’s queso dip, they should have used more to help coat the naked chips on the bottom of the pile. There also wasn’t enough meat, and the so-called black beans touted by the menu were M.I.A.
- Quality: (6) Despite the distribution problems, the mix of queso dip and shredded cheese gave us an extra kick of melty-goodness. We also enjoyed the smoky, peppery flavors in the salsa. Our primarily complaint is with the pulled pork, which was too sweet, and would have been much better off sans-sauce.
- Price: (8) All-American nachos, All-American portion size, All-American prices. That used to mean super cheap, but now that means $9 for a small order. Too much for two people, probably too small for a group. In case you’re feeling extra hungry, they have something called “That Damn Nacho,” which includes all the toppings from a small order, plus three kinds of meat–chicken, BBQ beef, and pulled beef–for $20.
- Overall: 28/40. We feel a little guilty supporting the Toby Keith Industrial Complex, but despite our qualms, I <3 This Bar & Grill serves good food in a lively environment. If we knew anything about country music, we’d insert some sort of relevant lyric, but since we stick primarily to 90’s tunes, we’ll close by saying: America! Fuck yeah!