On a tip from my dealer in Fargo (who used to live in the Twin Cities for a number of years), I was told that I had to seek out Mayslack's Bar in Minneapolis. His description of the sandwiches they have at Mayslack's almost had him in a frenzy. "Oh man," he exclaimed. "They do their own beef at Mayslack's. It's goooood!" With a recommendation like that, I had to look for Mayslack's on my next trip to the Twin Cities.
The history of Mayslack's starts with former pro wrestler, Stan Myslajek. The handsome Stan was a crowd favorite in pro wrestling circles around the upper Midwest in the 1930's and 40's. Along the way, he American-ized the spelling of his Polish surname so it was easily pronounceable for wrestling fans. When Stan's ring career ended in the late 40's, he became a wrestling and boxing promoter.
In 1955, Stan bought an old tavern in Minneapolis' Nordeast neighborhood that had been built in the 1890's. He renamed the tavern "Mayslack's" and began to make huge garlic-roast beef sandwiches. Stan served the sandwiches on paper plates and he would implore people to use "two hands!" when eating the sandwich.
With Stan making sandwiches in the kitchen, Stan's wife ran the till using a cigar box as their cash register. A juke box played nothing but polka music. Mayslack's was the epitome of a neighborhood bar.
Stan Mayslack died in 1994 (or 1995, I've seen both years listed doing research on Mayslack's wrestling career) and in 2006 bar veteran Dean Jacklitch bought Mayslack's. Determined to continue the Mayslack's experience that Stan began 50 years prior, Jacklitch dedicated himself to making sure the food was of the highest quality. On weekends, Mayslack's brings in local bands to play in the place. But there's still a number of polka songs on the jukebox.
I had an appointment with a dealer on the north side of downtown Minneapolis one morning and when I finished, I remembered about Mayslack's. I put the address in my GPS and it guided me to a brick building at the corner of NE 4th St. and NE 15th Ave. (see map) Mayslack's is on the southwest corner of the intersection and there's a large parking lot on the south side of the building. Four guys were having lunch on the patio connected to the south side of Mayslack's building.
For those expecting an elegant setting, well, Mayslack's ain't the place. While the place is clean, it is somewhat aged. But that helps with the charm of the place. It is simply a dive bar. And I immediately loved the place.
The main room when you walk in is where the bar is. There's another large room off to the side behind the bar. I bellied up to the bar and was greeted by a young lady who asked me what I'd like to drink. I took a quick look at the beer spigots and decided upon a Summit Summer Ale. She got me my beer and pulled out a menu for me to look at.
Mayslack's signature sandwich - the Original - consists of sliced beef that is slow roasted (at least 8 hours) in a concoction of garlic and natural juices. The beef is piled onto a dark rye bun and topped with sliced onions and banana peppers, and served with a side of au jus and cole slaw.
In addition to the "Original", Mayslack's also has variations of other roast beef sandwiches including a Chicago-style Italian beef that is topped with giardiniera, a "special" club sandwich that is consists of roast beef, ham, bacon, Swiss and American cheeses, with lettuce, tomato and mayo, and Mayslack's Dip sandwich that features roast beef, sauteed mushrooms, onions and provolone cheese.
If you're not looking for roast beef sandwiches, Mayslack's also features over a dozen different types of sandwiches including a Cuban sandwich, a roasted pulled pork sandwich, and "The Chicken Royale" - a grilled chicken breast served on a egg bun and topped with pepperjack cheese and a bourbon barbecue sauce.
Along with the sandwiches, Mayslack's has a number of burgers on their menu, as well as pizza. Of course, there are appetizers, soups and salads. And Mayslack's also serves breakfast with pancakes, biscuits and gravy, French toast and build-your-own omelets.
On your first visit to Mayslack's, you've got to try the Original sandwich. And once the young lady came back to take my order, that's exactly what I asked for. It wasn't long when she brought me a plate - with two hands - that bore the Original Mayslack sandwich.
She said, "Yeah, it's somethin', isn't it?" It was somethin' and more, that's for sure.
Piles of thinly sliced beef spilled from the sandwich onto the blue plate. There was no way that even two hands would be able to handle the sandwich.
My first bite produced a somewhat bitter surprise. A rather tough piece of meat was my first experience of a Mayslack's Original sandwich. So tough that I had to pull it out of my mouth. I don't know if it was an end piece, a piece of gristle or what. But it wasn't a pleasant start to my sandwich.
I took a fork and began to eat some of the beef slices that were on the plate. My first real bite of Mayslack's beef yielded a tender piece of beef, almost silky and easy to bite into. However, it also made me realize that it was permeated with garlic.
Now, I love garlic - I use garlic in many of my dishes that I make at home. My wife and I are both garlic fiends and we say that with us, you can never use too much garlic. Well, with the Mayslack's Original sandwich, yes, you can use too much garlic. The sandwich was - by far - the most garlic that I had ever tasted on a food item. It was overpowering, so much to the point that I almost couldn't taste the beef because of the garlic.
I dismissed my first bad bite as an anomaly until about halfway through the sandwich I hit another chunk of tough beef that I had to pull out of my mouth. That kind of got me skittish and I started to use my fork to eat the sandwich out of that. I didn't want any more surprises getting hung up in my mouth.
But other than those two bites, the rest of the beef that I had was tender, but it had WAY too much garlic. Thankfully, I wasn't going to be calling on any more dealers that day. And when I finally made it home later that night, my wife kissed me and said, "Oh, my God! Did you eat garlic today?" And that was after having about a dozen Altoids on the way home. Even brushing my teeth didn't mask the garlic smell I had. It was literally coming out of my pores. There was no way vampires would be harming me that evening.
But overall, I really liked Mayslack's. It was a great dive bar and I wouldn't have any problem going back at some point to try a burger or even one of their pizzas. The service was fine, but I found that while they do take credit cards, it has to be at least a $20 charge. My sandwich and beer with tax came to about $17.50 and I just laid a $20 bill on the bar when I left. You've been warned - there's a ton of garlic cooked into the beef on a Mayslack Original sandwich. I would probably get another Original at some point (or maybe even the Chicago-style beef), and this time the amount of garlic they use wouldn't gob-smack me in the face. And it could be that I would enjoy it more.