By Bailey Hovland
It’s a new year, and thus time for a new take on delicious dishes in the Willmar Lakes Area. As mentioned in my previous “Delicious Dishes in the Area” blog, I’ve been a local connoisseur in the cuisine of the Willmar Lakes Area for two full decades, and then some. Selecting delicious dishes from the area is not a job that I did not take lightly, as there are so many local restaurants to choose from and so many incredible foods. So, without further ado, here are the most delicious dishes in the Willmar Lakes Area by meal— two breakfasts, two lunches, and two dinners.
At the Middle Fork, a huge serving of hash browns and a Bloody Mary might do the trick as well. Yes, the breakfast croissant is to die for. But those crispy hash browns and leafy Bloody are pretty dang enticing too.
Raspberry Dark Chocolate Scone and Chocolate Chai — LuLu Beans Coffee House
LuLu Beans is one of my absolute favorite places in Willmar. And when it opens as early as 6:30 a.m., it is a great spot to grab breakfast. My go-to breakfast order, regardless of whether I’m there to get caught up on some work or have a coffee date with a friend, is the raspberry dark chocolate scone and a chocolate chai (with a shot of marshmallow flavoring if I’m feeling like treating myself). I always ask if they can heat up the scone for a few seconds, because when this baked good is warm, it ascends to a whole new level of delicious. And the chocolate chai? You can’t get anything like it anywhere else in town (or anywhere else I’ve lived, for that matter).
Breakfast Croissant and Mimosa(s) — Middle Fork Cafe in New London
In downtown New London, you can get your breakfast (or brunch) on at the Middle Fork Cafe. Their menu features a vast array of breakfast items, including a quiche of the day, stuffed hash browns, and eggs served every kind of way. My usual order is the breakfast croissant: a buttery and flaky croissant sliced in half to accommodate a filling of fried egg, cheddar cheese, and breakfast sausage. Incredible—that’s the only way to describe it. Pair the meal with a mimosa or a Bloody Mary to elevate the fun. There is nothing like a Saturday morning breakfast date with your closest friends at the Middle Fork Cafe, with delectable breakfast items washed down with a mimosa.
The Sausage Pizza — Jake’s Pizza
After impressive renovations, Jake’s Pizza is once again open for business in downtown Willmar. And locals have rejoiced in the fact that their favorite pizza spot is back in business. My memories at Jake’s are countless. As a matter of fact, my parents went out to Jake’s Pizza the night before I was born. And every single occasion at Jake’s includes ordering a sausage pizza. Now, I know that sausage pizza doesn’t seem revolutionary. But there is something about Jake’s sausage pizza that makes it incredible. Maybe it’s the melty cheese that seems to stretch for miles when you separate one slice of pizza from the rest. Maybe it’s the kind of sausage they use. But regardless of what specific factor makes it unique, Jake’s sausage pizza is a must-have. Order a large for the table or a personal pizza for yourself and see.
Double Order of Chicken Chimichangas— Rosita’s Grill
Another great stop in downtown Willmar for lunch is Rosita’s Grill, not too far from Jake’s Pizza. The menu encompasses a variety of Mexican and Tex-Mex foods, including menudo, burrito bowls, and quesadillas. But what I usually go for are the chicken chimichangas, a classic Tex-Mex dish. A chimichanga is a deep-fried burrito, filled to capacity with delicious ingredients. You can order two for $8 at Rosita’s and get a full meal for a great price, rounded out by a side of rice and beans. It’s the ideal dish for your lunch break: a great little getaway from work where you’ll leave full and have spent your hard-earned money at a local business. What more could you ask for?
Even if decadent baked mac n’ cheese isn’t your favorite dish (something I will never be able to relate to), Model Citizen has plenty of other options, like this ooey-gooey grilled cheese.
Honey Chicken — Golden Palace
Whenever grandma calls everyone together for a family meal, Golden Palace is always offered up as an option for dinner. And you can be certain that we’ll be ordering a plate of honey chicken for the table to share. Tempura fried chicken, doused in a honey sauce that tastes savory and sweet all at the same time. Introduce your taste buds to this honey chicken, where the soy sauce and sweet-and-sour sauce on the table will be rendered useless thanks to the honey glaze covering each piece of chicken.
Baked Mac n’ Cheese — Model Citizen
I dream about this mac n’ cheese. That’s it: there’s no intro I can come up with better than this dish that haunts my dreams. It is so rich, made of blue cheese, muenster, cheddar, garlic bread crumbs, and of course, noodles. Every time I order this dish it comes out to my table steaming hot with flavor that packs the most mouthwatering punch. Try it. You can thank me later.
So there you have it — my 2020 list of delicious dishes in the Willmar Lakes Area. And I’m always on the hunt for new meals to add to my favorite’s roster, so don’t hesitate to share your favorite menu items from the area. When there’s so many restaurants to choose from, it’s certain that there will be new dishes that I need to try before my next delicious dishes line-up.