Any devotee of the classic big Minneapolis Farmer’s Market knows the porky joys of the northwesternmost corner, where Dan Tollefson has sold his exceptional pork chops, sausages, bacon, and ham steaks for decades. People line up as the sun starts to peek over downtown, clutching coffee and waiting for gorgeously charred ham steaks—and then they stand in line all day long. And then they stand in line all season, and until Christmas trees start showing up in November. I’ve actually stood on line for Tollefson brats wearing mittens, watching Dan Tollefson tend the grill, the fires glowing in the low winter light—by the time you get your brat it’s like Christmas come early. The salt, the porky intensity, the smoke…
Yeah, I know, most pork is porky and smoky and salty, but there’s something to the Tollefson pork (raised in nearby Gaylord) and the cure that makes this pork porkier, it’s always extra-hammy, more intense, less vacuous, just better. And now because it’s 2012 the family has gotten a truck!
The Tollefson Family Pork truck has been parked on Nicollet Mall, just south of 5th street for the last week, and son Nick Tollefson tells me they’re going to be there every lunchtime for the rest of the summer, and will be making appearances at other farmer’s markets too. Behold! Attend! They’re selling the best brat in downtown, the best cheddar Polish in downtown, the best pork-burger in downtown—if you’re a pork connoisseur in downtown Minneapolis, rejoice.
Here’s the scoop:
Just north of 5th Street on Nicollet, between the light rail tracks and the Xcel (former NSP) headquarters, close to the main library, and beside a nice plaza with tables and plenty of seating.
Weekday daily, lunches.
The pork! Raised in Gaylord, Minnesota, antibiotic- and hormone-free.
Start with the Cheddar Polish, it’s a sweet ham injection of ultra flavor—a little pepper, a little tang, a gorgeous sweet bun. Top it with sweet pickles and spicy brown mustard from the condiment bar: That’s the essence of Minnesota summer.
You’re not going to believe their pulled pork. Developed by Tammy Wong, chef of Minneapolis superstar Rainbow Chinese, it’s got a little sesame to it, a little salty soy, and for an extra fifty cents you can have a scoop of it piled on to your pork burger, which you should have requested with a slice of cheddar. Now, you’ve got your pork-cheddar-pork pile, head around to the condiment bar and load it up with coleslaw, and, if you want, spicy barbecue sauce. Well hello, who’s the genius who whipped up this awesome Memphis-style barbecue in the middle of Minneapolis? It’s you, my friend, it’s you. Now try not to drip on your tie.
The Tollefson truck runs an ever-changing $4 special—I tried the smoked mozzarella sausage, which was really good, but not quite as off the hook good as the cheddar Polish. Still, $4, that’s the cheapest good lunch downtown. Right? Now, when you’re at the truck, look at the counter when you order, you’ll find a little stack of coupons good for free sesame noodles at Rainbow Chinese. And that’s not all! Tollefson has been known to run secret promotions on their Facebook page:
Promise of a Limitless Future:
Nick Tollefson tells me the family is trying to get licensed to sell retail packs of frozen brats, bacon, and pork-chops as well as their hot foods. Dear heaven let this happen!