BY STARRLA CRAY
DARWIN, MN The area’s newest place to dine is all about Darwin.
Darwin Tavern is located in the center of town (324 N. First St.), and its menu incorporates the unique flavor of Darwin history.
“We have some good, creative sandwiches,” owner Warren Riebe said. “The one we’re selling a lot of right now is the Locker Plant Special.”
Served on a hoagie bun, this sandwich is filled with pulled pork, BBQ sauce, and cheese curds. Two other favorites are the Hansen Hardware Philly (sliced sirloin covered with sautéed onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, and Swiss cheese) and the Wimmer Bros. Walleye (battered walleye fingers with lettuce, tomatoes, and tartar sauce).
“Pete’s Combo Sampler [onion rings, boneless wings, breaded ravioli, cheese sticks, and garlic toast] is named after Pete Blackwell, who owned a bar in town for many years,” Riebe said, adding that Pete still lives in Darwin, and is a fan of the new restaurant.
Riebe officially opened Darwin Tavern April 29, and began serving breakfast May 1.
“We’ve had an overwhelming response,” he said. “The weekend was bananas.”
Busy times are no problem for Riebe’s staff, a few of whom are family members. His wife, Jennifer, helps with cooking, bartending, and bookkeeping, and two of his daughters Alyssa and McKenzie are employed as servers.
“I’m also teaching Alyssa how to cook,” Riebe said.
The youngest Riebe child, 5-year-old Tanner, likes to be involved in any way he can.
“He thinks he runs the place,” Riebe said.
Children are welcome at Darwin Tavern, and Riebe said his goal is to create a “family-friendly” spot to eat and relax.
“Instead of a bar that serves food, we have a restaurant that serves alcohol,” said Riebe, who has many years of kitchen management experience.
Riebe, who was raised in Darwin and now lives in Litchfield, is also the owner of Litchfield Video. An entrepreneurial spirit runs through the Riebe family, and his father was the founder of Riebe Sod.
In honor of the local landscaping company, Darwin Tavern offers a Riebe Sod Burger, made of seasoned beef, sautéed onions, bell peppers, and Swiss cheese.
Darwin Tavern’s menu isn’t limited to burgers and sandwiches; customers can also order pizzas, flatbreads, appetizers, baskets, and desserts.
Breakfast is served daily from 7 to 11 a.m., and includes stuffed hashbrowns, omelets, eggs, corned beef, biscuits and gravy, French toast, and more.
Riebe is planning to add dinner selections in the future, such as steak, prime rib, and crab legs.
Darwin Tavern is open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m., and Sundays from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. The restaurant can be reached at (320) 693-2011.