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Week No. 17 • House of Coates

The Swanee Burger at the House of Coates is a massive creation. A half pound of beef is topped with bacon, American cheese, onions and a side of bleu cheese dressing.1 / 2
Beef is the star at the House of Coates. To get there from Hastings, take County Road 46 to the west. Just before you cross over Highway 52, turn right and head north on a small frontage road. The restaurant will be on your right.2 / 2

You've driven by the House of Coates a hundred times. It's that little place on the side of the road near where Highway 52 and County Road 46 intersect just west of Hastings.

You've probably never stopped.

Well, you should.

Their burgers are out of this world. And the star of the show is the patty. The huge half-pound pieces of velvety beef are hand formed and dropped between enormous and fluffy buns. Choose a loaded up Swanee Burger, or a regular old cheeseburger. It doesn't matter. The beef, not the stuff on top of the beef, will keep you coming back for more.

Just get there early, or else you won't find a seat.

The day before Thanksgiving, five Star Gazetters stopped at the House of Coates to stretch our stomachs. It worked.

I had the Swanee Burger: bacon, American cheese, fried onions and bleu cheese dressing. Not bad for $5.50.

I added fries ($1.75) and, well, there was no need for dinner. By noon the following day, I was hungry again.

There are a couple other burgers that must be tried at House of Coates.

The Big Canada Jack has a big slice of Canadian bacon and Monterey jack cheese.

Vito's Italian Burger has Italian sauce, spices, mushrooms and mozzarella cheese.

Then there's the Australian Vegemite Burger: onions, red peppers, celery, mushrooms, green peppers and Monterey cheese.

Don't like burgers?

Yes, the House of Coates does more than just burgers. My neighbors love their ribs. There's a 7-ounce sirloin steak and a 10-ounce hamburger steak on the lunch menu for $9. They also have quarter and half chickens.

Daily lunch specials are available for $6.25 between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

No. 17

Minnesota Monthly featured burgers in one of its publications this summer, and put the House of Coates' Swanee Burger as one of the state's best burgers. No. 17, actually.

Here's what they wrote:

"Once a stop for the Chicago Great Western Railroad, the town of Coates still has a rural, middle-of-nowhere feel, despite being not all that far from the Twin Cities.

"Maybe it's the well-worn plywood booths. Or the church-basement chairs. Or the pull-tabs. No matter. Order a burger and you'll see why the parking lot here is always full.

"The fried onions on the Swanee Burger are soft as butter, the bun is big and bready and makes you feel like you're eating a whole platter's worth of meat. The burger itself is gorgeously charred, but tender as tears. ... If you're taking Highway 52 anywhere, the House of Coates will forever fix in your mind that the middle of nowhere can be somewhere worthwhile."

What Christina says

Regina Medical Center dietician Christina Gapp looked over House of Coates' menu and had this to say about healthful options there:

"I love the friendly environment at the House of Coates. This restaurant is unique in offering a variety of ethnic sandwiches, which may open our horizons when it comes to eating well.

Don't skip the bun with the burger! Better yet, ask for whole grain buns or bread. Carbohydrates seem to act on our brains to regulate pain, sleep, mood, and hunger. Carbohydrates increase serotonin levels, making us feel calmer and less irritable. Eating carbohydrate-based foods for stress relief seems logical. The problem with this scenario is that it leads to overeating carbohydrates, especially if we're hungry to start with. Space smaller meals three to four hours apart and evaluate if you are really hungry before you eat.

As always, if you have ideas, comments or suggestions about this piece, please let me know. My phone number is 651-437-6153 and my e-mail address is crichardson@hastingsstar