Updated: Jun 9, 2022
I don’t know if it’s allowed or not as a “foodie”, but I have a favorite restaurant. I’ve put off talking about it because I don’t feel like I will be able to do the restaurant justice, or that my words will be able to accurately describe why I love it so much. I don’t even know if there are words to explain the feeling. I have to give it a shot though, so that if you haven’t gone yet, you will just hop in your car and go there and experience for yourself why I love this place. Therefore, without further ado, my hands down favorite restaurant of all time is…The Angry Minnow.
A lot of restaurants “up north” require you to drive quite a ways out of town, but this place doesn’t. It’s right in Hayward, just off of Hwy 63 and Florida Ave, next to Arrow Building Center, making it the perfect location to meet up with family and friends (or a date!).
A huge draw to The Angry Minnow is its inviting, warm, and slightly hipster atmosphere. The building is even cool looking from the outside! It is a historic brick building built in 1889 to originally house the Northern Wisconsin Lumber Company offices. You can just tell it’s leaking with character and stories from the Hayward of long ago, and that you are entering into history when you walk up to its large and solid wooden doors.
The owners intentionally kept the integrity of the place by remodeling the interior to maintain that historic vibe. Walking in you can’t help but be drawn to the architecture and design. There is a mixture of archways, high ceilings, exposed air ducts, wood, and exposed brick that matches the exterior. I get taken away with the beauty of it all before I even sit down! The center bar is grand and inviting, and has been Jon and my favorite spot to sit, so that we can sit next to each other and talk comfortably and closely, and we are therefore always try to scope out two spots open there in the colder months. When it gets nice out, they have seating outside on a porch to the side or a back brick gazebo-ey (that’s an adjective now) area, and we love to dine outside in one of those spots. There really is no bad seat in the place though, so anywhere is great.
Before I get too carried away, let’s get to the heart of the matter: the food and drinks. Another cool thing about the Angry Minnow that I haven’t mentioned yet is that they are a brewery, crafting their own liquid gold on site (windows in the dining room provide a sneak peak into the basement of the brew house). They brew a variety of flavors of beer to fit almost anyone’s taste buds. Jon and I personally love the seasonal “Bitch Hill” brew, but River Pig is another favorite. When I’m not feeling beer-ish (that’s an adjective now too), they make the best Old-Fashioned’s around, and Jon loves their Jack and Coke. The staff, especially the bartender, is extremely knowledgeable about the different brews and mixed drinks; so don’t be afraid to ask for guidance in finding the best beverage to satisfy you.
The Angry Minnow has great appetizers. Jon and I aren’t always appetizer people, but here we almost can’t help ourselves, so we compulsorily get a plate of the variety of spelt pretzels: angry, Gouda, and triple stuffed. The pretzels come with mustard and garlic aioli dipping sauces and I can’t even decide which I love more. Jon has also taken to ordering the nachos lately, but those could be a meal in themselves! They are stacked with all of the goods; cheese, peppers, jalapenos, black beans, avocado, the works. Jon also likes to get them with steak, and then I start to think I should’ve brought my Thanksgiving pants, because I don’t know how I’m going to eat it all.
Nonetheless, the entrees come and I take a look at my plate, smelling the goodness, and all doubt disappears; I will definitely be eating all of this. My go to meal is the sweet potato salad. It may sound weird and not like a whole lot, but this isn’t just any salad. I’m pretty sure only in Wisconsin can you order a salad with decadent spicy sausage on it. This salad also has sautéed onions, red peppers, and sweet potatoes that are wonderfully warm in comparison to the fresh bed of mixed greens. It is then topped off with walnuts and white shallot vinaigrette. Simply delightful. Jon used to always get the Angry German burger (that had bacon, sauerkraut, and a sauce of some sort), but they sadly no longer have that on the menu, creating an Angry Jon instead. Therefore, Jon’s new favorite is southwest burger that is covered in cheddar cheese, bacon, spinach, caramelized onions, corn relish, and chipotle mayo. Sometimes Jon will get kettle chips with it, and sometimes he will get a side salad. The waitresses here are so kind and thoughtful that they remember that when Jon does get a side salad he doesn’t get carrots on it. Sure, we’ve been here a lot (probably an embarrassing amount), but they started remembering that like the second time we came in. That’s amazing service!
I don’t know if they have good dessert or not. I’m sure that they do but I’ve never had enough room in my belly to even try. If you have mustered the stomach space, please let me know what I’m missing out on!
There’s so much more that I could say about the Angry Minnow. The staff is friendly, kind, considerate, funny, and just flat out the best. The food and drinks are fantastic. The place itself is warm and soothing. Even the bathrooms are cool. I’ve made so many fun memories meeting with friends and family here. It’s just the place to be in Hayward. I don’t think Jon and I have ever gone in there and not run into someone we have known. Sometimes it’s even my own brother, the Northern Nerd himself, Dalton. It’s like the Hayward version of Cheers. I love it, and everything about this place. I had plans for cooking dinner, but while writing this, I’m even considering going to The Angry Minnow tonight. If you haven’t checked it out yet, I triple dog dare you to give it a shot. Your taste buds deserve it. I’ll even save you a seat.