Local golf courses provide idyllic dining venues for golfers and visitors alike. A round of food and drink makes any golf day better, and between tee times, the clubhouse is the place to be. Public courses also put out the welcome mat to diners, who just want to enjoy the golf course vibe minus the woods and irons. While some golf courses stick to the basics (and do it very well), others go all out for a gourmet dining experience. Both options warrant special visits, with or without clubs.
THE GRILL // Bluff Creek Golf Course
The beautiful, serene golf course is a draw on its own. “Stay and enjoy food and beverage,” says Debra Roesser, events and marketing manager. “We have a lovely patio.” Vast expanses of greenery afford breathtaking views. The food is a standout, too. “Chef Andre is fabulous and has a ton of experience from all over the [Twin Cities].” He came out of retirement to work at Bluff Creek, and his talents are revealed in everything from Philly cheese steaks to a killer veggie burger. All of the food is handcrafted. “The menu is quite extensive but basic—what golfers are wanting,” Roesser says.
STICKS TAVERN // Dahlgreen Golf Club
Sticks Tavern, with picturesque views of the championship 18-hole golf course, made its debut this season under new ownership. “We’re a family that grew up in Chaska,” Keith Hinrichs, general manager, says. “We’re local and plan to support the local community and appreciate the support of the local community.” Sticks Tavern is innovative in its approach to food. “The all-new menu with new items and different ingredients will be affordable and over deliver on flavor,” Hinrichs says. “Basically, we want you to get a three-star item at a two-star price.” Look for sandwiches, sirloin, Porterhouse pork chops and other favorites meticulously prepared with quality, local ingredients. Happy hours, daily drink specials and 13 tap beers are also available.
AUGIE’S PUB // Deer Run Golf Club
“We have a very cool restaurant, actually it is an Irish pub,” Tom Abts, general manager and head golf pro, says. “Augie’s Pub naturally features Guinness beer on tap with Enki and other local beers from Victoria and Excelsior. Though not a formal restaurant, Augie’s serves delicious hamburgers and sandwiches.” Deer Run Golf Course prides itself on its intimacy and hospitality and aims to enhance a wonderful golfing experience. The seasonal restaurant has a full bar that caters to golf patrons at this public course. The surroundings are comfy with a sunroom and outdoor patio that overlook the 18th green.
THE CLUBHOUSE // Halla Greens Executive Golf Course & Driving Range
The public, nine-hole golf course has concession-style fare, just right for a quick meal before or after hitting the green. “We like to say we have the best chocolate shake (and vanilla and strawberry),” Dave Kirkbride, general manager, says. “It doesn’t get any better than this.” The clubhouse serves pizza, hot dogs, soft drinks, beer and other traditional pleasers. The food lives up to the fun, fast and family-friendly mantra at Halla Greens. Like the course and driving range, it’s affordable, proving golfing can be played on a budget. “A place for mom and dad and kids to play,” Kirkbride says.
VANDY’S GRILL // Island View Golf Club
Winter brought a transformation to the Island View Golf Club restaurant. Changes include a new dining room, chairs, barstool, kitchen and menu. The novel digs have a warm, inviting feel, and the scratch-made cuisine follows suit. A large smoker inspires inventive dishes with eggs, salmon, chicken and pork. Drippings from smoked meat flavor the smoked Bloody Mary with unexpected oomph. “We try to do a small menu well that captures what everyone wants from a burger to a steak dinner,” owner Corey Vanderhoff says. While the club is a semi-private course, the restaurant is open to the general public year-round. “The view is incredible,” Vanderhoff says. “A whole row of windows overlooks the golf course.”
OAK 19 // Chaska Town Course
After playing around 285 acres of greens, oak groves, prairies and marshes, any golfer would need to refuel. For non-golfers, just taking in the expanse could conjure up an appetite. Venture to Oak 19, the new American-style restaurant, featuring craft bar fare, craft beers, cocktails and wine. Brent Grover, owner-operator, is passionate about food quality and spreading the joy of good eating. Around half of Oak 19 diners are not golfers. “A lot of families from the neighborhood walk over to the restaurant,” he says. Even Fido has a place. Paws up, the patio is dog-friendly. “The patio is one of our biggest assets with the view of the lake and wetland,” Grover says.
Area restaurants offer beverage twists
Say cheers with a mocktail. Done well, non-alcoholic drinks can be every bit as satisfying as their spirited comrades. Typically, a lighter taste leaves more room for a meal or a second mocktail. Go sweet, go spicy, just go without alcohol.
Tavern 4 & 5
Morning cheer resonates from the Tavern 4 & 5 version of a Virgin Mary. The $4 price brings smiles any time of day. A deep red blend of Sacramento tomato juice, condiments and secret spices packs a punch of flavor. “The Virgin Bloody Mary is delicious, just without the booze,” Dave Guistolise, general manager, says. A seasoned, salty rim frames a skewer of tasty garnishes—a beef stick, cheese, an olive, lime and a pickle. The generosity hints of an appetizer that’s served in a glass rather than a plate.
Wrap up the day in style with a mocktail as radiant as the setting sun. This drink’s orange-red color looks the part. A splash of cranberry and soda over blood orange puree cascades over ice, melding into a drink that screams of summer through and through. The seasonal feature is refreshing, with a true blood orange citrus smack tempered by a bit of sweet. The popular surf and turf coconut shrimp beef medallion combo is an ideal pairing.
Rey Azteca of Waconia
Eating Mexican? Maybe something lighter to drink is in order. A margarita without tequila has a sweeter taste that lingers longer than any spice. A Mexican enchilada or taco feast is even more festive with a cocktail in hand, but it need not contain alcohol to serve as a comfortable pairing. A margarita mocktail will take the edge off any spicy food. Kids enjoy them and adults can, too.