As I thwack my greasy mitts down on this here keyboard, let it be known: I’m really fucking full. Today was Target Center food tasting day for local media elites, you see, and most outlets sent teams of reporters and camerafolks to gorge on the buffets of carefully arranged arena foodstuffs. Me? I gutted it out alone, a pile of plate carnage stacked next to my scribbles of incisive food commentary. (Racket can’t be bought with cheap culinary trinkets like Wagyu Burger Sliders, which, it must be noted, were quite good.)
This year the Wolves pushed all their chips in with the acquisition of Rudy Gobert, a pricey attempt to shake off decades of utter basketball futility. The towering Frenchman paired with the Wolves sizzling young core of Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards, D’Angelo Russell, and Jaden McDaniels? Should be a hoot to watch. But has David Fhima, the T-Wolves’ exec chef since 2016, constructed a food roster to match? We subjected this year’s concessions lineup to our proprietary rating system based on past Wolves draft hits and misses. In order of descending quality: KG, Kevin Love, Corey Brewer, Rasho Nesterović, and the dreaded Jonny Flynn. (Prices were not made available; assume “quite high.”)
- Spicy Chicken Lollipops: Jumbo, meaty, fall-apart protein bombs wrapped in spice-rubbed-yet-hardly-spicy skin. It should be noted: Some corporate guys from the Wolves interrupted this portion of the event to extol the virtues of Glen Taylor, Alex Rodriguez, and Marc Lore; hot-shot restaurateur Fhima then began speaking, followed by some executive from local plant-based food company Wicked Kitchen. With politeness top of mind, I sat, watching my Spicy Chicken Lollipop grow colder and colder. Even at room temp, the lolly rocked. Verdict: Kevin Love.
- Wagyu Burger Sliders on Brioche: These itty-bitty bad boys came concealed under tinfoil and plastic wrap, thus incubating a squished, uniform burger blob. Sounds kinda gross, sure, but the parts summing the whole amounted to a umami blast of beef and butter that went down real easy. But why compete with the G.O.A.T. Target Center burger from Parlor? Foolishly, already stuffed to the freaking gills, I grabbed one for my skyway walk back to my ’06 Elantra. Verdict: Corey Brewer.
El Burrito Mercado
- El Burrito Bowl: Come on, it’s the St. Paul institution that’s been slinging great Mexican eats since 1979. You know this burrito bowl—featuring tender sirloin and a dual blast of queso and creamy chipotle—slaps. Verdict: KG.
- La Quesadilla: No complaints. Nice tortilla char, dunked pleasantly into the trio of house-made salsas. Verdict: Kevin Love.
- Chips and Dip Trio: It’s chips and salsa. Verdict: Corey Brewer.
- Jalapeno Slider: Woof! OK, so, in the food writing biz, you’re supposed to afford endless benefits of doubt to plant-based whathaveyous, as to not appear like a vein-throbbing MAGA meathead or someone who simply doesn’t care about the catastrophic implications of factory farming. I’m in a vegan adjacent-household; I fuck real hard with the Impossible Whopper. That said, yikes, man, jeez, every single one of my notes on Wicked’s products included the word “mush.” To speed through these Ls, let’s just go straight to the notepad…
- Meatball Slider: “Saucy… Ragu-like. Mush.”
- Chorizo Slider: “Unmelted cheese, preformed mush.”
- Teriyaki Salmon Cake: “Salty, mushy, odd oceanic flavor.”
- Chorizo Street Taco: “Much factor. Zero flavor.”
- Wicked Ice Cream: Didn’t try these! I bet they’re an improvement on the dinner options.
- Verdicts: Johnny Flynn all around, unless you’re vegetarian/vegan, then feel free to bump up to Rasho Nesterović territory. We coulda had Steph Curry!* (*Beyond, Impossible, or, here’s a thought, Herbivorous Butcher.)
- Wingz: We weren’t fans of Soul Bowl’s Minnesota State Fair dud, but these wings are freaking delightful. Generously meaty, expertly glazed, crispy-skinned, flavor-packed. Verdict: Kevin Love.
- Mrs. Parker Donut Peach Cobbler: Interesting! And I don’t mean that in the passive-aggressive Minnesota way. There’s surplus peach flavor in the sticky syrup, though I worry about the logistics of dripping and sogging while chowing down during a game. Verdict: Corey Brewer.
Parlour Burger: A juicy double-patty burger swimming in Swiss and American cheese, all spilling out from inside a buttery brioche bun? No lilies gilded here. This is simple burger perfection, though the heat lamp examples at Target Center today suffered ever so slightly. Verdict: KG.
Butcher & Boar
- All Beef Foot-Long Hot Dog: Crunchy, zingy topping. Passable dog, acceptable bun. If you’re a kid or recovering from surgery, a fine alternative to the superior tubular meat products below. Verdict: Corey Brewer.
- Sausage-Hot Link: These are girthy, snappy links. Exploding with flavor, smothered in toppings. Is it on the same level as what Kramarczuk’s does over at Target Field? Pretty damn close. Verdict: Kevin Love.
- Sausage-Cheddarwurst: This one was also good. And cheesy. Verdict: Kevin Love.
Concessions by Levy Restaurants
- Nashville Hot Chicken Sliders: As far as I know, popular local chicken spot Nashville Coop has a stall at Target Center. There’s no reason to opt for these interchangeable tendies that pack unmemorable heat. Verdict: Rasho Nesterović.
- BBQ Poutine: A punishingly salty bowl of brown goop. Verdict: Johnny Flynn.
- Smokehouse Sliders: Chewy, under-seasoned. Verdict: Rasho Nesterović.
- Chicken Tenders: Didn’t appear to be available. Assuming it’s same stuff inside the sliders. Levy, a Cisco-grade supplier to stadiums and arenas around the country, provides the dregs of Target Center eats. Thankfully, it’s easy to chomp elsewhere. Verdict: Incomplete.
Wine and vodka cocktails were made available to easily influenced members of the press, but I take my career far too seriously to ever, ever produce a single word of Racket content while gripped by the diabolical properties of mind-altering substances. (I did wash my road burger down with a bottle of Dasani.)
All photos by Jay Boller. Got issues with the image quality? Subscribe to Racket so we can buy better phones!