No nosh like home: Former residents keep local eateries busy when they visit Fargo-Moorhead
MOORHEAD - Stefne Broz's family has learned to not take it personally if she visits Duane's House of Pizza before meeting up with relatives.
"About a month out as I'm planning my travel home, I start really craving it," said the Moorhead native who now calls Columbus, Ohio, home. "When I get to Fargo-Moorhead, I often will go there before I even see my parents."
Jennifer Vining's dad knows exactly what's in store when his daughter, who moved to Omaha 15 years ago, comes back a few times each year - a hamburger, mushroom and onion pizza at Duane's.
"In our family, we call it the slider," she said. "We never really look at the menu anymore."
Whether it's pizza or tacos, burgers or grinders, former residents who responded to a Forum query about their favorite hometown restaurants said nostalgia - and the tasty food served up here - means they never grow tired of dining out at the same places when they visit.
Kat Vierzba left Moorhead in 1998 for college in Boulder, Colo., and moved to Boston in 2009. Even after 15 years, she said her love for Pizza Patrol has never diminished, and she's never found a better slice.
Whenever she's entered city limits or hit the tarmac here, she has Pizza Patrol's phone number pulled up in her contact list and ready to call - though she doesn't need help recalling the digits.
"I may not remember my childhood phone number, but 241-9000 is ingrained for life," she said, adding that she will occasionally opt for a churro at Taco John's or a meal at Burger Time when she surfaces from the self-induced "pizza coma."
James Martens and his wife have to eat at Spitfire Bar and Grill in West Fargo at least once when they visit from Mandan. When they're craving something else, they'll get a grinder from the Taco Shop, or stop by the Red Pepper for a taste of their time at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.
"But the utmost 'must have' is picking up a dozen doughnuts from Sandy's and/or brownies, if they have any," Martens said of the West Fargo bakery. "While known for their doughnuts, Sandy's brownies are a well-kept secret."
Samantha Krumwiede and her fiancé, residents of Minot for the past year and a half, also make it a point to eat at Spitfire. She said their other local favorite is Nine Dragons in Fargo, where they load up on chicken lo mein.
Las Vegas residents Judy and Mike Peterson get back to the Fargo area at least once a year, and whenever they're here, they have a full dining agenda - hitting up Kroll's Diner, Culver's, Sammy's Pizza in downtown Fargo and the original Dairy Queen in Moorhead.
"Then before we leave we need to get packages of Freddy's Lefse to take home," Judy Peterson said.
Julie Henderson moved away in 1993, and said she's never found another Mexican restaurant that can match the cheese enchiladas of Mexican Village. She also looks forward to eggplant chips at Speak Easy Italian Restaurant in Moorhead when she visits.
Even the local institutions in Manhattan, her home for the past eight years, don't hold a candle to JL Beers' burgers and brews and Borgia espresso drinks at Moxie Java that Erin Brust goes out of her way to indulge on here.
"I haven't found anything that measures up," she said.
Though they're both chain restaurants, Erbert and Gerbert's Sandwich Shop and Pancheros Mexican Grill don't have locations in Houston, where Carey Stoner and his family moved in August. So when the family comes back for Christmas, he said they'll be hitting up both restaurants - Erbert and Gerbert's for Stoner and his wife, and Pancheros for the kids.
Maureen Korsmo-LeCompte still fondly recalls riding her bike to the original Mexican Village restaurant on Main Avenue in Fargo while in grade school.
"I just always loved the place," she said.
Even after 30 years away - she now calls Seattle home - she still visits family here twice a year and eats at Mexican Village.
"I always prefer to sit in the old section, the original part of the place, when I can just because that's what I would do before," she said. "That part hasn't changed a whole lot."
Mexican Village's chile rellenos are the best she's found across the country, and she also has never been able to replicate the thin crust and tasty flavors of a slice of Duane's pizza.
Nostalgia for a slice of her past here also plays into Broz's love of Duane's pizza, which she said has become a beloved family tradition since she moved to Ohio. Broz always stops by the Fargo location for a carryout order, bringing one pie with mushroom and pepperoni and another with sausage and onion over to her brother's house for their version of a holiday meal.
"They've been around forever and the quality and taste of their product hasn't changed at all, so I just think you know exactly what you're getting and it's really tasty," she said. "And because it's so thin, you can eat more, which is always a good thing."
Steve Schultz, the son of the namesake of the pizza joint, Duane Schultz, said Duane's busiest day of business is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
"All of the relatives come from out of town and they're staying over and people aren't going to cook for them both Wednesday and Thursday because they're going to cook that big Thursday dinner, so they all go out and eat," he said.
Business is booming throughout the holiday season, Schultz said, and it's no accident.
A week before he died, Schultz's father made him promise to never change the recipe for the dough, pizza sauce and sausage that have made Duane's popular here.
"He said people will come back 10 years later and it will taste the same, and I've held true to that through all the years," said Schultz, who's been in the pizza business for 38 years and has been the owner of Duane's since 1999.
Consistency and quality has allowed Duane's to remain a favorite pizza joint since it opened in 1959, he said - and made it and many other local restaurants into a holiday tradition for the former residents who get back to town.
"That means I'm doing what I'm supposed to," Schultz said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan Johnson at (701) 241-5587