Apr 05 2010

Plaza Garibaldi in New Ulm, Minnesota

My dad always said that the way to tell if a restaurant was good was to drive past it at noon.  If the parking lot was full, you should stop, because it was probably the best place in town.  This tip served us well when we took cross-country road trips and preferred hometown cooking to chain restaurants; we found delicious burgers at the cafe in Woolsey, South Dakota, and at the bar in Elk Point, SD.  I remember the Chieftain in Carrington, North Dakota, not only for its seeming political incorrectness, but for its good cooking.  (For some reason, I learned there that carrot sticks and/or saltines were good dipped in French dressing.  Who knew?)  The sweet rolls at the truck stop in Rothsay, Minnesota, are worth a special stop, as are the Juneberry pancakes and pie at Lund’s Landing on North Dakota’s Lake Sakakawea.  Would you be able to separate one Applebees or McDonald’s from another?  Not likely, but eat in a locally-owned joint and you’ll likely remember it for a long, long time.

And so it is that today I write about the oxymoronic place where my girls and I had lunch today:  Plaza Garibaldi in New Ulm, Minnesota.

Now, if you don’t know New Ulm, you won’t know why this is such an oddity.  After all, what’s so strange about a non-chain Mexican restaurant that has efficient but friendly service, excellent food, and reasonable prices?

Mostly the fact that it’s plunked in the middle of New Ulm.

If you’ve never been to New Ulm, you haven’t seen its top-of-the-hill statue of Hermann the German, watched the Glockenspiel, or toured Schell’s Brewery (where Grain Belt beer is made now, too).  You haven’t been to German Park or driven down German Street.  You haven’t shopped at the Guten Tag Haus or the Treasure Haus or Domeier’s German store.  You haven’t had sauerkraut with a meal at the Kaiserhoff (which has arguably the best ribs in the Midwest) or Otto’s Feierhaus and Bierstube at the Holiday Inn (home of many of the town’s festivals).

Do you see a theme here?

Yes, New Ulm is about as German as it gets.  Yet in the years since Plaza Garibaldi moved into the building where I once bought a dishwasher and refrigerator and deep freeze (known to many of you as a chest freezer), its parking lot has become fuller and fuller.

Perhaps it’s because these Germans watch their money closely, and Plaza offers good food for a fair price.  Perhaps it’s because they’ve had enough landjaegers and sauerkraut and kuchen and are looking for something different.  Perhaps it’s because kids eat free on Sundays.

Whatever the reasons, Plaza Garibaldi has found its way into the hearts and stomachs of New Ulm.  If you’re traveling through, you should stop in and give it a try.

Just be prepared to park a ways down the block because the parking lot will likely be full.

Plaza Garibaldi is located at Broadway and 17th North Street, in front of Runnings fleet store and almost across the street from Happy Joe’s pizza.  If you’re traveling through town on US 14 or MN 68, it’s on your route.

Things to do in New Ulm, MN, via Uptake.

 

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  1. [...] the Lamplighter Bar & Grill, a steak at George’s Fine Steaks, some good Mexican food at Plaza Garibaldi, or creme brulee at Lola’s Larkspur Market.  Shop in some of the unique shops like [...]

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