My old neighbor, Eric Page, had told me about this funky place in Minneapolis that he said had really good pizza. The name alone - Psycho Suzi's Motor Lodge - intrigued me enough even before he said they had good pizza. I had just finished a long drive from Bismarck, ND and decided to program the GPS for a meal at Psycho Suzi's a few weeks ago.
Psycho Suzi's opened in 2003 under the ownership of the very colorful Leslie Bock, pictured here. Bock had been what one would call an "alternative entrepreneur" for a number of years. She was (and still is) the owner of Saint Sabrina's, a tattoo and piercing parlor in Minneapolis' Uptown neighborhood. Bock took an old A&W restaurant, added on to the building and then added an outdoor patio. She decorated it in sort of a wierd Caribbean voo-doo theme, definitely not a T.G.I. Fridays, if that's what you're looking for. It's funky, but it's fun in Psycho Suzi's. And that's what Bock was looking for when she came up with the decor.
In addition to some of the funky decor, Psycho Suzi's also boasts signs such as, "No free-roaming children or small circus animals." Or, "No menu theivery - We hunt and kill." The place is wonderfully kitschy, tacky and hilarious. If you don't have a sense of humor, Psycho Suzi's is not the place for you.
And it's not the place for screaming kids. In an article in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune a few years ago, Bock said, "I like kids, but this is not the place for them (they are prohibited after 9 p.m.). But some people think we are Broadway Pizza," she mocks. "If they act up, I'm like, get your bratty kids outta here! It's called Psycho Suzi's! It's a bar!"
Bock recently opened a second bar/lounge - Donny Dirk's Zombie Den - no doubt playing on the growing fascination by young adults over the zombie phenomenon. According to the descriptions I've read, it may be even more of a fun, tacky and kitschy place than Psycho Suzi's. She's stumbled onto a great concept - outlandish and wonderfully tacky.
As I pulled up to Psycho Suzi's near the corner of NE Lowry Ave. and NE Marshall St. near the banks of the Mississippi, (see map - click here for the map of the new location for Psycho Suzi's, and check out the update at the bottom of this post), I found that their web site is right about the parking situation around the place - it's an adventure. The parking lot of Psycho Suzi's is not that large, but there is ample parking on the streets around the place - that is, if you're up for a little bit of a walk. It was a Thursday night around 8 p.m. and I had to park a block and a half away. But the neighborhood seemed to be OK, and I didn't feel threatened at all.
I decided to eat in the Tiki Bar at Psycho Suzi's, a bar that looks like it was a run-down Trader Vic's, or a Las Vegas-style lounge that hadn't been updated since the 60's. In fact, the Tiki Bar was where the old car port for the A&W used to be years ago. I sat at the bar and got a menu and a Summit Pale Ale. The menu features an number of appetizers - which they affectionately call Pu-Pu. Psycho Suzi's also features a lunch menu that they serve up to 2 p.m.
But Psycho Suzi's is famous for their pizza.. They feature a thin crust or a deep pan style of pizza. They have four different types of sauce - their regular red sauce, their chunky tomato deep-dish sauce, a white sauce and their award winning barbecue pizza sauce. They feature over 30 different toppings for their pizza including such eclectic selections as goat cheese, pine nuts and rum-soaked raisins. Psycho Suzi's also features a number of specialty pizza's to choose from. And they have fun names such as the Hemi Cuda, the Suzy Quattro and the Sunny Buick.
I have to go with my reference Italian Sausage, pepperoni and mushroom pizza. The bartender took my order and said it would be about 20 minutes. That gave me time to read my Star Tribune paper and to look at some of the kitschy-ness they had about the Tiki Bar. It definitely wasn't a boring place, that's to say the least.
Right on time, my pizza showed up. It was - in a word - marvelous. Excellent. Light, thin crust with a lot of cheese, chunky sweet Italian Sausage, large slices of pepperoni, and very fresh mushrooms. The sauce was tangy and a great compliment to the overall taste of the pizza. But it was too much. Their smallest pizza is a 12" sized pie and with all the toppings, it was a filling meal. I was able to finish about half the pizza. I had the rest boxed up and I took it with me. I was able to snack on it the next afternoon after a full day of seeing accounts.
Before I left, I took a look out and around the outside patio area. It was filled with a raft of 20-something young adults having fun on a Thursday evening. It was kind of a cool night, but no one seemed to care. As I was just checking things out, a waitress came up to me and said, "Sir, there's no exit out this way. The only way to get out is from where you came in."
I said, "Oh, I'm not looking for the exit. I just wanted to check the place out."
She said, "Oh, well, by all means, meander about!"
The pizza and three beers weren't cheap - the total bill with tax and tip came to about $35 bucks. But, I have to say Psycho Suzi's lived up to their billing as having some of the best, if not THE best, pizza in the Twin Cities. It's a fun place, there's a lot to see, the service was good and the pizza was excellent. I'm going back to Psycho Suzi's for pizza, that's for sure.
Update - I was just in Minneapolis recently and I invited the staff from the Needle Doctor out to Psycho Suzi's for beers and pizza. The staff at the Needle Doctor are a pretty edgy and fun bunch and I figured we'd have a great time at Psycho Suzi's.
I met up with the guys at the Needle Doctor around 5:30 before they closed and we made our plans to go to Psycho Suzi's. Kenny, the manager, asked me, "Have you been there before?" I told him I had and we all got in our respective cars to drive over after 6 p.m.
On the way, my GPS had taken me to the Lowry St. bridge that would take me over the Mississippi River to get right to Psycho Suzi's. The only problem is that there was no Lowry St. bridge - they had taken it out and were working on a new bridge. So I had to double back south to Broadway and get across the bridge there. I turned onto Marshall and headed north. Suddenly, I encountered cars up and down the street, then I came up to a large sign that said, "Psycho Suzi's Motor Lounge". Wait a minute... This isn't the Psycho Suzi's I'd been to on a couple of occasions. I turned around up the street and came back to the large parking lot - which was full, but had valet parking. I swung in and had a valet park my car.
When I met up with Kenny from the Needle Doctor, I asked, "Did Psycho Suzi's move? They used to be up the street about six blocks, didn't they?"
I was told that the place did, indeed, move to this new location in the fall of last year to a building which was the former Gabby's nightclub, a notorious hip/hop, dance club that had a pretty saucy reputation. He said, "That's why I asked if you had been here before. I didn't know if you knew it moved or not." I had not and it was just luck that I came across it.
The new location is four times the size of the old building and is located right on the river front. There's an upstairs bar that is only open on the weekends or for special occassions, a main bar that is downstairs (pictured left - courtesy of City Pages) and a spacious outdoor patio/deck that overlooks the river.
The place - for a Wednesday night - was just packed. Much more packed than me or anyone with the Needle Doctor had ever imagined. We put our name in for 8 people to get a table, but the hostess said that it would be close to an hour for a table. No problem, we started a tab at the downstairs bar and enjoyed the evening out on the patio.
True to form, Psycho Suzi's kept it's tacky tiki lounge theme throughout the place. A nice little fountain greets you as you walk in, and Polynesian decor and lights permeate the bar/dining area. Of course, tiki torches are all over the patio/deck area.
It was actually about 90 minutes before we were seated and we were all well lubricated by then. We ended up getting three pizzas - I had to have a sausage, pepperoni, and mushroom, of course. But we also got a pineapple and barbecue chicken pizza, and Rachel, who is in charge of shipping and receiving for Needle Doctor, didn't want any meat on her pizza. She requested the Suzi Quattro (named after the former female rockstar with a spin on the Psycho Suzi's name) - spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted garlic and mozzarella with a white-wine sauce.
We also ordered some appetizers to tide us through until the pizza showed up. We got some fried asparagus (which was surprisingly very good), cheese curds and deviled eggs. I'm not big on deviled eggs, but I have to say the ones at Psycho Suzi's were very good.
Our waitress, Jacquie (simply pronounced "Jackie"), was very good. Edgy and punkish in her look, she was overly efficient in getting our beer and food out. We had anticipated at least a 45 minute wait to get our three pizzas, but it was only about 25 minutes after we had put in our order that our pizzas showed up at the table. As it was on my previous visits to Psycho Suzi's, the pizza was just excellent. But I have to tell you, when they set down the Suzi Quattro pizza, the smell of the garlic hit me like a brick wall. I said to Rachel, "That smells so damn good, can I get a piece of that?"
She said, "Knock yourself out!"
And it was very good. I told her this would be a pizza that my wife would really like. But the garlic, wow! I love garlic, but it was just LOADED with roasted garlic. It was outstanding.
The owner of the Needle Doctor, Jerry Raskin, showed up late and the party continued. We pretty much made a significant dent in all the pizzas - there were two pieces left of the Suzi Quattro and one piece of the pineapple and barbecued chicken. I got those boxed up and gave them to Rachel to take home with her.
After we finished in the dining room, we retired to the patio for a nightcap. It was a long, but fun evening with the guys from the Needle Doctor. And, to me, it was relatively cheap. For about 11 of us for drink and food (a couple of the guys cut out early and didn't eat), the accumulated tab came to about $300 bucks with tips. I thought that was a good value for all the drinks and food we got.
About the only quibble with Psycho Suzi's is that putting it right on the river meant Minnesota mosquitoes. And with the main dining room/bar area opening right out onto the patio, that meant mosquitoes came inside and bit me (and others) during our meal. I had welts the size of small acorns on my arm, elbow and even my back from where they got down in my shirt. Minnesota mosquitoes are big and mean.
So, Psycho Suzi's has a new and bigger location. The food is still great and expect large crowds if you go. And it's still fun and, to me, that's the bottom line.
(Picture courtesy Downtown Journal)