If you’re in Rochester, MN for a sports game or tournament, play hard and then score big at these six winning restaurants that welcome large groups and will satisfy even the heartiest athletic appetites.
All of these group-friendly restaurants offer ample seating capacity, appreciate calls in advance for group reservations, provide delicious kids’ menu dishes, and are close to where your little or not-so-little athlete will likely be competing, be it in basketball, swimming, wrestling, soccer, baseball, hockey, or some other sport.
Nicely situated downtown, Dooley’s has countless TVs tuned to national sporting events and seats up to 350 people, says Assistant General Manager Ashley McKittrick. Weather permitting and in-season, outdoor seating on a patio adjacent to the sidewalk showcases the city’s vibrancy and energy.
Dooley’s welcomes reservations from sports teams all year round, with February being an especially popular month for visiting youth basketball teams playing at the nearby Mayo Civic Center. Soccer, softball, baseball, volleyball, swimming and hockey teams all sidle up to booths throughout the year, too.
The pub’s most coveted menu item is its Juicy Lucy burger, which is ghost-pepper cheese infused and served as a half-pound Cajun-seared burger with jalapenos, applewood smoked bacon and homemade chipotle aioli sauce on the side.
Dooley’s kids’ menu, which includes a beverage, goes beyond the ordinary by featuring the pub’s tasty haddock fish, a fan favorite. In addition, Dooley’s boasts 16 different beers on tap, with Surly Furious as their best-seller from the Twin Cities. They also serve Moscow mules, wine, martinis, mojitos when in season and a variety of Long Islands.
BB’s seats up to 150, appreciates calls ahead from sports teams and urges those who dine among such a large group to order up single-topping pizzas to expedite their dining experience. Groups also can qualify for group rates, so if you’re among a large group ask your server to find out what discounts might apply to you at this locally-owned eatery.
Beyond its pizzas, BB’s is also well-known among kids and their parents for its game room tucked away in the back of the restaurant. Bring your quarters, ‘cause this is a fun time waiting to happen! Let your athletes hit the buzzers and buttons while adults relax and unwind.
“Who doesn’t like pizza and beer?” asks owner Jason Brehmer. Um, no one! BB’s also sports a full bar.
Whether your tourney is on the south side of Rochester or the north, Whistle Binkies has you covered with its two locations on either side of town. If you prefer outdoor seating, go with the obvious -- Whistle Binkies On The Lake -- but if you’re cozier inside, either spot works well.
Whistle Binkies takes reservations for up to 100 people, so call ahead and reserve for your large group and then be ready to be wowed by the extensive, savory menu. While you wait on your meal, load up on what’s described as Rochester’s best free bar popcorn. One popular menu item is the fish and chips, but the diverse menu has something for everyone.
Owner Randy Lehman says the restaurant is also known for its beer selection, featuring beers from all over the world -- and a drink menu that’s as expansive as the food menu. “We have over 450 beers to choose from,” Lehman says. Make the most of it!
This restaurant conveniently located across Highway 52 from Apache Mall seats 150 inside and an additional 75 on the patio. Owner Jim Nicholas says Wildwood takes reservations for groups numbering as many as 40 diners, and ropes kids in with friendly menu items such as corn dogs, burgers, quesadillas and even a “smaller portion of our ‘almost famous’ boneless wings.”
Wildwood is known for its savory burgers and those ‘almost famous’ boneless chicken wings. The restaurant also has more than 30 beers available on tap or in the bottle -- always a hit, Nicholas says.
If you want to support a locally-owned restaurant and really get a feel for life in Rochester, Valentino’s is a great neighborhood restaurant off Elton Hills Drive. Valentino’s features jumbo pizzas that’ll serve your team easily and quickly, or veer away from the ‘za and hit up Val’s spaghetti, which one Yelp reviewer calls “life changing!” Pasta after a big game, or before? Can’t go wrong!
Valentino’s is a favorite for visiting swimmers and hockey players, as it’s sweetly located right across Elton Hills from the Rochester Recreation Center.
Seating as many as 200 people when the patio is open, Fat Willy’s trademark offering is their burgers. But if you veer away from the beef patties, they also offer a wide variety of all-American food, says owner Matt Henderson.
Twelve beers are on tap, “so anything someone would like to drink, we have it,” Henderson says.
Other restaurants that are surefire hits while you’re competing in Rochester include: Tinn’s Grilled Philly Steak Subs (three locations – Second St., Downtown Skyway, 55th St. NW) for sandwiches, and excellent chain options, such as Buffalo Wild Wings, Olive Garden and Potbelly Sandwich Shop.