Tobies Restaurant & Bakery

Welcome to Tobies. Open 24 hours and hailing as Minnesota’s famous halfway stop (between the Twin Cities and Duluth), they include an ice cream parlor, banquet hall, lounge, tavern, diner, boutique and gift shop, convenience store, gas station and, last but not least, a bakery. One with a national reputation, and a line out to door to match.

Colossal, gargantuan, massive, mammoth… These are just a few words that describe the infamous Tobies cinnamon roll. Whether you like it generously iced, caramel covered, or, the pièce de résistance, piled high with caramel pecans. World. Famous. Coming in at a whopping 30 to a pan, my sucre-loving heart skipped a beat. People often compare it to their grandmas recipe. Let me tell you, I don’t know any grandma that makes them this good. They go through so many cinnamon rolls that they have to make their homemade icing by the bucket full. It took every ounce of willpower I could muster to not nab one, find a spoon and pretend it was ice cream. I wish I were joking. Ahem, as I write this, I am halfway through a cinnamon roll, with icing as warpaint across my face. And no you can’t just get all the rolls from the middle of the pan – what sort of monster would make it so that everybody else has to have the outside pieces?!

If rolls aren’t your thing, don’t fret! Homemade cookies, cake donuts, crispies, pies, loaves of bread, muffins, bismarks, fritters, candies, jellies, jams,… I could go on and on! You can even get a cupcake bouquet! There is one thing I would highly suggest though; Andrej’s European Pastry. Potica (pronounced Po-tee-sa), a Slovak thinly rolled gourmet sweet bread dough that you can get with either walnut or poppy seed filling. I suggest this because it has an insane shelf life and is a favorite among hikers and backpackers (it’s small and calorie dense). Also, for those gluten-free folks who feel betrayed by the bakery-scene – Tobies has you covered. They have a whole section of gluten-free goodness! The restaurants’ are amazing, too. A welcome break from the fast-food ridden highways.

The green oval glowing the distance, beckoning the weary traveler from the highway. My love for Tobies runs deep because like most Minnesotans growing up vacationing on Lake Superior, it has become a staple and a tradition. In my lifetime of travels to Duluth, I don’t think there’s been a single time that I have not stopped at Tobies. Just the thought of a trip to the northcoast has visions of cinnamon rolls dancing in my head. I have been coming here for so long that I promise, if I call my mom right now, she has Tobies bread in her freezer. You would be hard-pressed to find someone who’s childhood involved the North Shore that hadn’t been here. I hereby proclaim that Tobies deserves it’s own zipcode because growing up, honest-to-goodness, I thought Tobies was the town name. P.S. It’s not, it’s located in Hinkley, for those who shared my confusion.

Hinkley has a rich history, with the Great Hinkley Fire of 1894, but I myself am partial to Tobies tale. Opened in 1920 by the Wendt family, the cafe and bus stop served donuts and coffee on the old Highway 61, Bob Dylan’s crown muse. It operated successfully for 27 years, until 1947 when Tobie Lackner bought the shop and gifted its current monikers most iconic element, his name. Tobies Eat Shop and Bus Stop was born and reigned on 61 for 19 years until the new freeway planned to come through. Prior to building I-35, this was the heart of Hinkley.  The Lackners chose to retire and sold to the Schrade’s (the prevailing family). In 1966, they moved, now simply called

“Tobies,” to its current location off Exit 183 and have become the one-stop-shop and widespread rite of passage for passersby. Currently on its second and third generation of ownership and fourth generation of employees.

They keep up with the times, too! My Paul Bunyan loving heart almost leapt from my chest when I saw all of the Minnesota-branded apparel and accessories they carry – and I’m not just talking food! I picked up a Sota Clothing sweatshirt, a few Minnesota Children’s books and even a buffalo plaid bottle koosie. Sure there is kitsch, but that’s exactly what you want from a place like Tobies.

What’s next on the horizon, you ask? Well, their gas station / car wash is about to get better. Soon, they will be opening a Caribou (keeping it local!) kiosk right inside! No more long distance trips without your ’Bou!

Big League Co. Collectibles

Let me start by saying, you won’t find this place virtually. I stumbled on Big League Co. Collectibles in Hinkley when I was on my way up to Duluth and Tobie’s line was out the door. I drove to the old Main Street to find food and happened across the black plastic bag lined windows of BLC. I thought it was abandoned until I saw the muffled “OPEN” sign. I’m so glad I took the chance. China, old jewelry, collectible coins, vintage books, trading cards, chess games, Precious Moments collections, train sets and, my personal favorite, hand-painted postcards. Full of dust and crammed in every nook, BLC has literally EVERYTHING. I love this place so much. If you love these kinds of places, and you are in the area, or on your way to – or from – Duluth, do yourself a favor, give it a chance and stop in.

Firestorm Cafe & Pizza

The Firestorm Cafe and Pizza in Hinckley, a huge favorite of mine on the #mnbucketlist, is off the path of the highway. A solid alternative to lunch at Tobies, they are just off Main Street East in the older part of town. Named for the Great Hinckley Fire of 1894, that swept through the area, over 300 miles and left a death toll of 418. They pay homage not only in décor but through their aptly named dishes on the menus like the Fireman’s Special, Hook & Ladder, “Chief’s” Steak & Eggs, “Captain’s” County Fried Steak & Eggs, Blueberry “Hot” cakes, the Fireman’s Burger and the Wildfire Burger. Serving breakfast all day and open seven days a week, the place is family owned and operated with a host of local clientele. They service Hinckley but also deliver to surrounding towns like Beroun, Sandstone, Brook Park, Kroschel and Cloverdale (try googling them, they are tiny). If you want to know more about the fire, I highly recommend going to the Hinckley Fire Museum, it will be open in May of this year.

They even have a video!

Tobie’s Restaurant

Tobies RestaurantThis is hands down my favorite place to go on my way to Duluth (for food that is). I always get their Sauerkraut bread and Bran muffins. I know, I’m weird.

(from Tobies)  Located on the corner of Main Street and Old Highway 61 in downtown Hinckley, the café and bus stop began serving its donuts and coffee in 1920 with Mr. & Mrs. Isodore Wendt as proprietors for the next 27 years. Then on April 1, 1947, Mr. & Mrs. “Tobie” Lackner took over the restaurant, changing the name to “TOBIES” Eat Shop & Bus Stop”. Tobie himself served as the café’s best public relations man. In 1966, after 19 memorable years as owners, Tobie and Ann decided to retire from the restaurant business. This decision was influenced by the new freeway coming through, which would mean relocation and starting over.

Mr. & Mrs. John Schrade grasped the opportunity to move this thriving eatery to its freeway location in 1966. Today our second, third and fourth generation family maintain the same friendly atmosphere everyone has come to know. At Tobies we prepare our foods to be thoroughly enjoyed: fresh baked pies, breads and rolls, hearty homemade soups, choice lean meats, popular seafood, delicate sauces and gravies, savory seasonings and condiments. We take pride in the culinary art, and our widespread reputation and a never ending list of friends confirm the fact that there is no substitution for good food. As the I-35 corridor has grown and changed, so have we. As always though, we cater to the needs of the traveler and offer a 24-hour welcome. Our famous bakery and fine menu makes Tobies a coast to coast landmark and memory making location to area residents and travelers.