You can practically hear Homer Simpson saying it: “Mmm … bacon.” But maybe it was your own voice intoning those words of love. Check the mirror. Do you see a blissed-out expression? Is that a trickle of drool on your chin? Yep, it was you, and suddenly you need bacon, stat.
We’ve got you covered. We joyfully chased down the tastiest bacon treats in the lake area, from traditional to innovative. So next time your bacon craving hits, run, don’t walk, to one of these bacon-loving spots.
MAPLE BACON LONG JOHN
This bakery has been open since 1978 but it’s kept up with the trends in the bakery world, jumping into the mosh pit of bacon frenzy with both feet. In case you haven’t noticed, doughnuts are getting crazy; creative new flavor combinations quickly turn into cult favorites. A case in point: the maple bacon long john, a rectangular dandy frosted with maple sugar glaze and sprinkled with crispy chunks of house-cooked bacon. The sweet and savory combination is addictive. When Grandma’s discontinued the long john because of high bacon prices, the ensuing protest brought it back in a hurry. $1.25. 2184-B Fourth St., White Bear Lake; 651.762.2900.
EAT! @ Banning and 5th
This place is all about freshness: freshly baked bread, freshly sliced veggies and freshly hatched ideas. The Red October sandwich is just one of chef/owner Shawn Smith’s palate-pleasing inventions featuring bacon. Pastrami and pork show each other to best advantage in this sandwich; neither one overwhelms the other. The meats get a jolt of pepper cheese, a hint of jalapeno and a dash of red pepper. The bacon warrants special notice: It is pecan-smoked for a subtly nutty vibe and will soon be available at Eat’s retail shop, Eat @ Home. $7.50. 2202 Fifth St., White Bear Lake; 651.653.1225.
BLT GRILLED CHICKEN BREAST SALAD
Bacon-mania sometimes gives way to bacon guilt. So, clever restaurants concoct a little perceived healthfulness to grant us permission to go whole hog (pun intended). Donatelli’s BLT grilled chicken breast salad is a nifty twist on the classic bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich, skipping bread’s empty calories in favor of crisp romaine. Mozzarella and cheddar cheeses and chunks of grilled chicken breast add protein and texture, but the applewood-smoked bacon is the unabashed star. $10.99 2692 E. County Road E, White Bear Lake; 651.777.9199.
BACON BLUE CHEESE SANDWICH
This beauty will satisfy your craving for something that is deliciously rich and salty. A delicately grilled juicy chicken breast is topped with smoky applewood bacon and a generous helping of blue cheese, all served on a fresh ciabatta roll. $9. Or if you’re in the mood for a unique dish, try the creamy Cajun chicken pasta, featuring bacon, mushrooms, sundried tomatoes and a savory Cajun cream sauce, tossed with spaghetti. $14. 106 Wildwood Road, Willernie; 651.426.3668.
BEEF LIVER DINNER
Keys Café & Bakery
The liver dinner may be best forgotten for some, but we contend that liver-haters just never had it cooked correctly. At Keys, fresh calves’ liver is expertly grilled with onions and bacon. The bacon doesn’t just serve to make the liver more palatable (though it can’t hurt); it keeps the quick-cooking beef moist and tender, creating a compellingly earthy yet delectable dish that will convert erstwhile liver-haters. $9.95. 2208 Fourth St., White Bear Lake; 651.426.2885.
SHRIMP DIAVOLO WRAP
Roma Restaurant Bar and Market
Of all the pig-centric ditties—and there are many!—our favorite one is about the fun things little piggies get to do, like the little piggy who went to Roma market and ordered the diavolo shrimp. It’s a Roman flatbread wrap filled with salty, rich nuggets of sautéed shrimp and jalapeno-rubbed bacon. Chef Brent Pilrain adds three-pepper cheddar cheese and a bit of piquant adobo-ranch sauce, finishing the party with a peppery bite of rocket greens. $15. 460 Stillwater Road, Willernie; 651.653.4733.