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Where to eat in the NCHC: League's coaches share their top restaurant picks

Plus, well-traveled NCHC beat reporters Matt Wellens of the Duluth News Tribune and Brad Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald add their favorite restaurants throughout the eight-city National Collegiate Hockey Conference.

BBQ pulled pork sandwich
A barbeque pulled pork sandwich with baked beans and hush puppies from Front Range Barbeque in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Matt Wellens / 2020 File / Duluth News Tribune
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The 2022-23 National Collegiate Hockey Conference schedule gets underway this week when Denver travels across the country to play Miami in Oxford, Ohio.

Next week, the league’s other six teams begin conference play with series taking place at Western Michigan, Omaha, Denver and Colorado College. St. Cloud State, Minnesota Duluth and North Dakota host conference series the following week.

NCHC players, coaches and support staff log thousands of miles traveling between cities each season. The same can be said for the fans who follow their favorite teams. After a long drive or day of airport-hopping — and sometimes both to get where you need to go in this league — there’s nothing like finding that perfect restaurant for that perfect meal.

This year at NCHC Media Day at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, the News Tribune asked the league’s coaches to provide us a restaurant recommendation for their town, sharing hot spots for fans and establishments they like to hit up with their families.

We’ve also included the top picks of News Tribune Bulldogs hockey beat reporter Matt Wellens and Brad Schlossman, the longtime North Dakota beat writer at the Grand Forks Herald. Both have traversed the league’s eight cities over and back again over the NCHC’s previous nine seasons.

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Colorado Springs

Kris Mayotte, Colorado College head coach (second season)

Red Gravy , 23 S Tejon Street, Colorado Springs, CO

“It’s a debate among the staff," Mayotte said. "Peter Mannino likes Paravicinis , which is in Old Colorado City. I love Red Gravy, which is downtown on Tejon. Both are Italian joints. … Jaden Schwartz told me that the best restaurant in town is the Rabbit Hole and I have yet to go."

Schlossman: Olde World Bagel and Deli — It's a tough call between Colorado Springs' Olde World and Oxford's Bagel and Deli for the title of Best Bagel in the NCHC.

Wellens: Front Range Barbeque — Phenomenal BBQ that I’m often devouring outside while gazing at the mountains, sauce dripping off my face.

Denver

David Carle, Denver head coach (fifth season)

Sushi Den , 1487 S Pearl Street, Denver, CO

Sushi from the Sushi Den in Denver
Sushi from the Sushi Den, located at 1487 S Pearl Street in Denver. “You wouldn’t think Denver to have good sushi, but Sushi Den is incredible," Denver coach David Carle said. "That would be a good spot."<br/>
Contributed / Sushi Den

“You wouldn’t think Denver to have good sushi, but Sushi Den is incredible," Carle said. "That would be a good spot. Park Burger , Uno Mas — really good tacos — that’s all on Pearl Street, close to campus, which is a good little area. For breakfast, go to Devil’s Food.

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Cherry Cricket sign
The signature sign of the Cherry Cricket in Denver.
Matt Wellens / 2018 File / Duluth News Tribune

Schlossman: Cherry Cricket — In 2019, UND's Josh Rieger was pounding wings at the Cricket when he got a last-minute call that he had to play. It's an awesome spot, but get a Cricket Burger instead of wings.

Wellens: Bull & Bush Brewery — It's a place I’ll hit up twice in one weekend, for a meal (underrated weekend brunch) and then after the game for a pint and late-night bite.

Duluth

Adam Krause, Minnesota Duluth associate head coach (fifth season)

Pickwick Restaurant and Pub , 508 E. Superior Street, Duluth, MN

Pickwick Restaurant and Pub
Pickwick Restaurant and Pub in Duluth as seen Tuesday.
Dan Williamson / Duluth News Tribune

“I like the old-school feel of the Pickwick," Krause said, filling in for head coach Scott Sandelin that day. "I’m a big fan of that, the old steakhouse feel. Va Bene is a good restaurant and if you’re looking for a sandwich, I think Sir Ben’s (Sir Benedict's Tavern on the Lake) . I’m kind of staying in that area there. Those are some spots we’ll hit up with the family quite often.”

Schlossman: Duluth Grill — You might have to wait a while to get a table, but it's worth it.

The lengendary grilled cheese will be joined by a rich, creamy cousin on the flattop grill this season, while the pizza offerings will be getting tasty refreshes for every series.

Wellens: Breeze Inn — You’re going to drive a little outside of town for this stop, but it’s worth it, especially for the all-you-can-eat fish fry on Fridays from 4-8 p.m. Great local tap selection as well.

Grand Forks

Brad Berry, North Dakota head coach (eighth year)

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The Parrot’s Cay Tavern and Grill , 1149 36th Ave S, Grand Forks, ND

Wings and beer from Parrot's Cay Tavern and Grill in Grand Forks
Wings and beer from The Parrot’s Cay Tavern and Grill, located at 1149 36th Ave S in Grand Forks. “I love Parrot’s Cay wings," North Dakota coach Brad Berry said. "Parrot’s Cay wings are lights out — Sharks, Sauce No. 7. That’s what I go with."<br/>
Contributed / The Parrot's Cay Tavern and Grill

“I love Parrot’s Cay wings," said Berry. "Parrot’s Cay wings are lights out — Sharks, Sauce No. 7. That’s what I go with. Blue Moose in East Grand Forks, I love Blue Moose. The higher-end steak places, you got Harry’s and you got Sky’s . Those are some of the places around there. Then, really a little bit of everything, is Helix Wine and Bites . Helix, that’s a sneaky little spot.”

Schlossman: Steers — The samosas, falafel and hummus are the best you'll find.

Wellens: Rhombus Guys Brewing Company — A craft brewery with good food, the second Rhombus Guys restaurant has been a very welcome addition to Grand Forks.

Kalamazoo

Pat Ferschweiler, Western Michigan head coach (second season)

BOLD , 6915 W Q Ave, Kalamazoo, MI

BOLD shrimp
BOLD Shrimp from BOLD, located at 6915 W Q Ave in Kalamazoo. "There’s a little place called BOLD," Western Michigan coach Pat Ferschweiler said. "It’s a little, tiny, looks-like-nothing strip mall, it’s in the corner. It is spectacular high-end food."
Contributed / BOLD

“Out in Texas Corners, there’s a little place called BOLD," Ferschweiler said. "It’s a little, tiny, looks-like-nothing strip mall, it’s in the corner. It is spectacular high-end food. And there is another place out in Mattawan called Bird Dog . Same thing, they have about eight tables inside, little tiny place, world-class food. My wife’s favorite place is Bird Dog and my favorite place is BOLD. That may change depending on which meal I have that day. Real, real good food.”

Schlossman: Bell's Eccentric Cafe — Bell's is known for the beers it brews, but the food is sneaky good, too.

Wellens: One Well Brewing — A geeky little brewery in a strip mall that also has good food, arcade games and pinball.

Omaha

Mike Gabinet, Omaha head coach (sixth season)

Ponzu Sushi and Grill , 2110 S 67th Street, Suite 102, Omaha, NE

“It's kind of a little bit of everything there," said Gabinet. "They got unbelievable fish tacos and I think some of the best fries in Omaha. The portions are big, so it's a good spot.”

Schlossman: Modern Love — If you're looking for something in Aksarben Village near the rink, Mai Thai is the spot. But Modern Love in Midtown is the best place in the city.

Steak from Drover
A whiskey sirloin steak, loaded baked potato and a Lucky Buckey Brewing Company Pre-Prohibition Lager from The Drover in Omaha, Nebraska.
Matt Wellens / 2019 File / Duluth News Tribune

Wellens: The Drover — This steakhouse reminds me of the Wisconsin supper clubs I grew up with. Their whiskey sirloin pairs perfectly with a Lucky Bucket Brewing Co. Pre-Prohibition Lager.

Oxford

Chris Bergeron, Miami head coach (fourth season)

Paesano’s Pasta House , 308 S Campus Ave, Oxford, OH

“Good, good Italian food," Bergerson said. "Paesano’s or Cru , unless you’re looking for bar food. Then I’d say Mac and Joe’s or Skippers. You can’t go wrong with either one of those.”

Schlossman: Skyline Chili — Oxford might be the best food town in the NCHC, but it's impossible to top a three-way at Skyline Chili.

Menu board
Just a small section of the menu board at Bagel and Deli Shop in Oxford, Ohio.
Matt Wellens / 2019 File / Duluth News Tribune

Wellens: Bagel and Deli Shop — I usually end up here twice every trip to Oxford for a ‘Tanya Harding’ and a ‘Crunch and Munch.’

St. Cloud

Brett Larson, St. Cloud State head coach (fifth season)

White Horse , 809 W St. Germain Street, St. Cloud, MN

“It’s downtown. I’m not a big chain guy," said Larson, the Duluth native. "I like to find, even when I’m out recruiting, I like to try to find a local hole-in-the-wall place where the locals like to go. That would be the one in St. Cloud.”

Schlossman: Chipotle — Yeah, it's a chain. But it's right downtown next to the hotels. How can you pass on it?

Wellens: 7 West Taphouse — I know we have one in Duluth, but it’s a terrific late night stop for terrific late night apps and local taps after a game.

Co-host of the Bulldog Insider Podcast and college hockey reporter for the Duluth News Tribune and The Rink Live covering the Minnesota Duluth men's and women's hockey programs.
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