In the time honored marital tradition of bickering over inconsequential minutiae, Mike and I spent the majority of our drive to Lake Nokomis quibbling over whether Sandcastle is a snack stand or a restaurant. Mike, who was squarely in the snack stand camp, accurately pointed out that Sandcastle is open seasonally, orders are placed at a window in the side of the building, and the seating area consists of picnic tables. Additionally, the entree selections include hot dogs. I argued that any eating establishment that lists their locally-sourced ingredients on their website and makes their own ranch dressing deserves to be called a restaurant. The argument, such as it was, was settled as we stood in line. "Totally a snack stand," Mike declared as he pointed to the menu board, "They list their varieties of candy right on the menu."
In the face of such clear and convincing evidence, I was forced to concede Mike's point. But Sandcastle, located on the shore of Lake Nokomis, is far from your traditional beachside concession stand. Yes, there are classic snack options like popcorn, potato chips, and soft serve. But you can also opt for a beef hot dog topped with kimchee, a fried egg, and cilantro or a falafel wrap with house-made dill yogurt sauce. It's the upscale foodie snack stand of all snack stands.
I jumped at the chance to try the American Indian fry bread, topped with seasoned ground bison, lettuce, a modest sprinkling of cheddar, and a drizzle of sour cream. I appreciated the light hand with the cheese and sour cream, which allowed the flavor the bison to take center stage. The fry bread was perfect--lightly fried instead of greasy, with a pillowy soft interior and slight sweetness.
The Big Locus is a first-rate BLT of substance, with a double layer of bacon, generous helpings of tomato and lettuce, and a thick slathering of mayonnaise. "Doesn't it make you miss bacon?" Mike asked after I sampled a bite. Well, not really--I wasn't on the bacon bandwagon even when I regularly ate meat--but the quality ingredients in this BLT did give me an appreciation for bacon aficionados' fervor.
Unfortunately, the cheese curds were a bit of a disappointment. The honey-sriracha dipping sauce was tasty enough, but the cheese curds themselves were lacking in flavor. And at $7.50 for a serving (the same price as the BLT or the fry bread), they seemed overpriced. However, the rest of our meal more than made up for the cheese curds.
Whether you consider it a snack stand, a restaurant, or maybe a little bit of both, Sandcastle is a worthwhile stop on a walk around Lake Nokomis.
4955 Nokomis Parkway West
Minneapolis, MN 55417