I had to hear about Mayslack’s from strangers on the train (meaning I didn’t hear about it from my family – just in case that wasn’t clear).
After two decades away from Minnesota, I’ve moved back and am beginning to explore my “new” hometown.
I moved to Minnesota by train. I had pared down my belongings, which meant mailing boxes and reserving a sleeper car on the train was far cheaper than renting a truck, and paying for gas and hotels. Besides, I enjoy staring out at the scenery or reading on a road trip, which is probably not the best quality in a driver.
The train ride from Portland to the Twin Cities was 38 hours – two full nights. On the first morning, I woke up to mountain views, eventually passing along the south border of Glacier National Park in western Montana. I visited the park years ago and I’d rank it as one of the most beautiful in the United States. Holding the park so high and knowing train tracks are often hidden behind a wall of trees, I tried to keep my expectations low to avoid being disappointed.
I didn’t need to.
(Although my backpack was incredibly heavy, it didn’t occur to me to eliminate the apricot jam or butter.)
Turns out I didn’t need to bring as many snacks as I did, because the meals were pretty good. Because of the limited space on the train and the number of passengers, diners sit with other passengers to fill every possible seat. During lunch, two of my fellow diners were a father and son retuning to Minnesota. At one point, the father mentioned Mayslack’s, getting a little dreamy eyed as he mentioned the roast beef sandwich. The son joined in. Despite growing up in Minnesota, I had never heard of Mayslack’s.
When I got home, I started to tell the story to my dad, who immediately said, “Oh, best garlic roast beef sandwich in town.” When I mentioned Mayslack’s to my sister, she said with familiarity, “Oh, yeah, Mayslack’s.” In all my visits home over the years – and all visits include lots of food – not once had anyone mentioned Mayslack’s, yet they seemed to be oh so familiar with the place and its massive roast beef sandwich.
I had to venture out to discover for myself. Mayslack’s was opened by former pro-wrestler Stan Myslajek (that’s the Polish spelling) in 1955 in Northeast Minneapolis, a neighborhood that was home to many immigrants from Eastern Europe, Poland in particular.
Because I was so shocked that my family had never told me about Mayslack’s, I had edited out the rest of their comments. As soon as I walked through the doors, though, those comments came back to me. My dad had said, “It’s a complete dive, but best sandwiches.” My sister simply said, “Rowdy.” I’m not sure if that was in disapproval or if she was remembering college days.
I probably didn’t need to order the deep fried cheese curds (oh, how I’ve missed cheese curds) for an appetizer, given the size of the roast beef sandwich. Although I gave it my best, I couldn’t finish the entire sandwich.
The night I went to Mayslack’s I ate dinner fairly early, so I don’t know how rowdy the place gets, but there is live music most nights and let’s just say the bartender who served me, well, her language was salty enough to make a sailor blush. I’ll be back.