Review: Great Gathering Places in Woodbury

A tour of great places to dine out together in Woodbury.
Acapulco Restaurante's popular fajita quesadilla.

It’s the best of times; it’s the worst of times. It’s dinner with the family. Like a good old-fashioned buffet line, when you’re with this crowd you get a little bit of everything. The plate-piled-high dinners, excited storytelling and happy news sharing over everyone’s favorite dessert. And then you’ll have the plugged noses when presented with suspect veggies and the heated debates over everything from homework regiments to mini skirts to car privileges and politics. Either way, you gotta love dinner with the ones you know best: your family.

This month, Woodbury Magazine sought out eateries that are perfect for accommodating your beloved bunch. We looked for restaurants that offered a killer appetizer, guaranteed to satiate most everyone’s palate, and we also kept an eye out for establishments whose menus ran a wide gamut. No one gets left out; everyone gets to eat what they love most, be it taco pizza, walnut-crusted chicken or a gigantic order of French fries tossed with rosemary, olive oil and garlic. Spending time with the fam can be tricky with everyone’s busy schedule, but going out to any of the joints in this month’s lineup will be incentive enough to get the whole crew round the table.

Wild Rice Meatloaf Sliders

The Lakes Tavern & Grill

Rally the troops. You’re going to do it up tonight with dinner at The Lakes Tavern. Once the happy cheering has subsided and you’re corralled around a cozy table, get an order of the wild rice meatloaf sliders ($10). You’ll savor the house-made succulent meatloaf married with spicy aioli sauce on a mini bun as you decide what to order as an entrée. For picky tikes, you’ve got classics like chicken fingers and cheeseburgers ($5.95, also comes with an ice cream cone). Meanwhile, there’s lobster mac & cheese ($15.95) for those searching for a sophisticated something. The dish features spiraled cavatappi pasta and sweet lobster tossed with white wine sauce plus velvety-rich cheese—finished with toasted breadcrumbs. If you were really smitten with the slider appetizer, you might consider ordering the full-sized entree version: wild rice meatloaf ($16.95). It’s topped with black pepper gravy that’s to-die-for and served with seasonal veggies and fluffy mashed potatoes. 9240 Hudson Road; 651.287.2000.

Mega Family Pack

Dino’s Gyros

It’s been a long day. Wild horses couldn’t drag you into the kitchen to cook dinner. Don’t worry; it happens to the best of us. The family still needs to eat though. Here’s what you do: Saddle up the car and gallop off to Dino’s Gyros for the mega family pack ($34.99). It’s called “mega” for a reason. This is a veritable feast that includes 1 lb. of gyro or chicken meat, five soft pitas, tangy tzatziki sauce and toppings for building your own pita deliciousness. The “mega” also comes with two side orders (fries or rice) as well as one refreshing Greek or Caesar salad. If the mega is too mega-much for you, get an individual meal of a falafel sandwich ($6.50), bursting with fresh lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and tzatziki. For the kids, there are gyros or chicken gyros that come with fries or rice, plus a beverage ($5). For those less adventurous little ones, you’ve got the safe bet of chicken tenders ($5) or mac and cheese ($5). So kick back with your gyros, and relax. 10060 City Walk Drive; 651.738.9757.

Mile High Nachos

Champps Americana

Everyone grab your coats, hats, scarves, boots…ad infinitum. We’re gunnin’ it to Champps for dinner tonight. At this all-American eatery, you can find something to please everyone. We suggest starting with the mile high nachos ($10.99) for the table to nosh on while you all hem and haw over what to order as your entree. The nachos comprise a pile of corn tortilla chips topped with your choice of seasoned pulled chicken or chili. This magical combination is then drizzled with white queso, sprinkled with cheddar cheese and dotted with fresh pico de gallo. Then, the whole shebang is garnished with jalapeno, sour cream and salsa. As for the main attraction, it’s all a matter of preference, but we love the walnut crusted chicken ($14.99)—pan-seared chicken breast with chopped walnuts and hazelnut-pecan sauce, served with sesame veggies, garlic mashed potatoes and fried onions. Something for families with wee ones to note: on Tuesdays from 5 to 9 p.m., with every adult entree ordered, a child gets a free meal.  8418 Tamarack Village; 651.735.5050.

Smash Fries


Who can resist a burger and fries? A better question: Who can resist a burger and fries from a sassy joint that calls itself Smashburger? Certainly not your family. Make tracks there for the burgers, of course, but be absolutely sure to indulge in a slew of smash fries ($1.99). These spindly spuds emerge hot from the fryer and are tossed with aromatic rosemary, garlic and olive oil. Warning: These are highly addictive. The kids will find something that suits them on their own menu, which features the usual yummy suspects: hot dogs, burgers and chicken strips ($4.99). Your turn, adults: Try the classic smash burger ($4.99). It’s a luscious beast topped with American cheese, smash sauce (you know you’re curious), ketchup, lettuce, tomato, pickles and onion on an egg bun. Vegetarians, we’ve got you covered too. Get the spicy veggie black bean burger ($5.99), a glorious sandwich loaded with jalapenos, guacamole, pepperjack cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and chipotle mayo on a spicy chipotle bun. Want to really do it up? Order everyone a Häagen-Dazs shake or malt for dessert ($4.29, regular size). 9965 Hudson Road, Suite 690; 651.256.0021.

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Carbone’s Pizza

When it comes to a quick, sharable dinner for the whole fam, there’s no beating a fresh, cheesy pizza pie. You know this, and Carbone’s really knows this. This pizzeria makes a killer BBQ chicken pizza ($17 for a 14-incher) that will have everyone grunting in delight as they reach for another slice. It’s laden with tender chunks of chicken, bacon, onions and BBQ sauce, and it’s topped with a melted mixture of cheddar and mozzarella cheeses. Try pairing that mass of yumminess with a Caesar salad ($9.50 for the whole size) that the whole table can share. The greenery comprises crisp lettuce topped with grilled chicken, shredded Parmesan cheese, crunchy croutons and your choice of dressing. Served with Vienna garlic bread, it balances nicely with the ooey-gooey richness of the pizza. Do you have hungry tikes who are ready for food, like, now? Order some pizza fries ($9.25 for a 12-inch slab) to combat the hunger. They’re light and crisp, topped with mozzarella cheese and served with a side of marinara sauce. 6445 Lake Road, 651.714.5519; 2070 Eagle Creek Lane, 651.436.9999.

Ice Cream Pizza


You’ve heard of tiny candy-coated chocolate candies that melt in your mouth and not in your hand, but what about this: pizza that melts in your mouth. No need to tell you that this is no ordinary ‘za. MaggieMoo’s makes a variety of these innovative “pizzas” which are made entirely of ice cream and topped with tantalizing extras. The employees at this ice cream hub recommend the straight-up simple “cheese” ice cream pizza ($19.95). It’s made with Udderly Sweet Cream ice cream (“pizza crust”) and red icing (“pizza sauce”), and it’s topped with white chocolate curls (“cheese”). Another winner is the supreme ($23.95), which features white chocolate curls, M&Ms, cherry disks, crushed Heath toffee bars and crushed Reese’s peanut butter cups. Look out; the kids are gonna go nuts over this. 9000 Hudson Road; 651.739.9333.

Fajita Quesadilla


Cinqo de Mayo seems light years away, but that doesn’t mean you and your crazy-fun crew can’t gobble up yummy Mexican noshables in the meantime. Make tracks over to Acapulco for some uber-good, authentic grub. For something everyone can indulge in, get the fajita quesadilla ($10.49). You’ll get your choice of steak or chicken sandwiched in side a huge flour tortilla and fried with onions, peppers, Ranchero sauce and cheese. Garnished with lettuce, guacamole, sour cream and tomato, this ‘dilla makes a killer appetizer that the whole fam can enjoy while they pick out their main course. Speaking of that main course, we recommend the carnitas dinner ($11.49), seasoned pork that’s sliced and deep-fried until crispy-crunchy on the outside while staying tender-juicy on the inside. This luscious pork is garnished with lettuce, onion, pico de gallo and guac, and it’s served alongside rice, beans and soft flour tortillas for folding around all that yumminess. 1795 Radio Drive; 651.739.6360.