Julie Linaman has worked at Mad Jacks—as a server, then a bartender, now as a fill-in manager—since it opened in February 2008. She’s worked almost every Super Bowl in the past decade and loves the atmosphere and buzz of the packed restaurant on that special Sunday. “There are good vibes—everyone is just so happy,” Linaman says. “People are interacting. Drinks are flowing. Everyone gets a little amped up.”
Mad Jacks is the kind of place where there are countless regulars, everyone knows everyone and there’s not much drama. The from-scratch food and Mason-jar-served drink menus are expansive. There are two fireplaces and an outdoor fire “beacon,” plus a stone pizza oven and chicken rotisserie commanding attention and creating a warm atmosphere.
The appetizer list features sirloin tips two ways, jacked up nachos, garlic cheese bread, and fish and chips—to name a few. But “the loaded hashbrowns—they’re by far the best,” says Linaman, who has clear favorites.
If you’re curious, that crowd favorite concoction comes made-to-order and stuffed with cheese, bacon, scallions and buffalo sauce for a zingy, toasted-brown finish. “And for dinner, I can really go for the steak and Gouda pasta—that’s never let me down!” she says. The signature pasta dish comes with sautéed tenderloin, fresh mushrooms and scallions tossed with white wine Gouda sauce and served over rigatoni.
Flatbreads—in caprese, barbecue or chicken Florentine—are one of the few menu items that can’t be made gluten-free, and the famous thin-crust brick oven pizzas, are “nice and chewy,” says site manager Mike Miosek. Besides the bevy of pastas, sandwiches and salads, there are chef-inspired seasonal entrée specials available daily. “It takes a lot of work and talent to make something fresh and creative every day,” says Miosek. “But we’re still a big wings and burger place.”
But when it gets down to ordering, Miosek skews simpler. “The chicken sandwich with bacon—piled with lettuce, tomato, onion—is just the world,” he says. “But I’m kind of a health geek.” Health geek or not, the four-year Jacks veteran is the mastermind behind the signature, gluten-free Tito’s Handmade Vodka–based house bloody mary mix, which took six months to perfect. A new version has a sausage, steak and egg biscuit on top—taking the “morning after” reputation to extremes. There are also bourbon, scotch, tequila and rye whiskey lists—and always 12 beers on tap.
Mad Jacks has specials and events on the calendar constantly, with regular car shows and live music. A recent and somewhat notorious bike night with the band, Church of Cash, had people dancing on the bar. Linaman organizes the restaurant’s Polar Plunge team, which raises money and jumps into White Bear Lake to benefit Special Olympics. There’s a charity golf tournament, and at the Oktoberfest stein-holding competition last fall, an underdog won with a time of five minutes, 30 seconds. Philanthropic or fun, there’s always something going on at Mad Jacks.
Super Bowl 2018
For this year’s big dance, the restaurant has a few extra specials taking the field. Score a trip to the make-your-own bloody mary bar—or get a mimosa or screwdriver (before 3 p.m.)—for $3.50. During halftime, a free Mad Jacks signature sloppy Joe, chicken wing and nacho bar will help offset the other happy hour-priced drinks and food served up all day long.
“We also did a ‘You Pick’em’ weekly football sheet at the restaurant this fall. The winners went head-to-head in the playoffs—and some all the way to the Super Bowl,” says Miosek. “The grand prize television will be given away that day. The Super Bowl is such a fun night—a great time for everyone to let loose and have fun.”
It’ll be a long, crazy night, so party smart and find a designated driver or set up a ride home ahead of time. Pro tip: Mad Jacks also works with a few local shuttles to provide rides for customers.