A Lunch Date at The Mint
In a town where pizza places and fast food restaurants are a dime a dozen, The Mint, located in the Meridian District, ties a historical name to a unique, delicious, and fresh menu. This small-town, hip lunch spot is our first Meridian District Restaurant feature. We’re excited to tell you more about owners and sisters, Amy and Amanda Johnson, the magic behind the scenes that makes The Mint a crowd favorite!
Five members of the Meridian District board, Jenna, Jessica, Megan, Amy, and myself, met for lunch at The Mint, which we had all eaten at before. I have tried many things on their menu as I visit the Mint weekly for a takeout order. As a small business owner, I and the other employees eat most of our lunches in the backroom, and very quickly. The Mint is always timely and offers a great variety for a lunch crew ordering out. From fresh Buddha bowls and chapatis to an unbelievable Philly and a mouth-watering Gyro, this place packs flavor into every meal that comes out of their kitchen. Talking with Amy Johnson, co-owner of The Mint, during our lunch, you can tell how passionate she is about her food and the confidence in her staff to provide great service. The place had a steady stream of to-go orders and diners during our visit, proving its loyal following.
Charming With a Side of Delicious
With dark brick walls, a chalkboard menu, and statement light pieces, The Mint’s spot is charming and not quite like any other place in town. Amy treated us to an appetizer plate upon arrival, which included the new crab ragoons, pretzel bites, onion rings, fried cauliflower, and fried pickles. The sauces included were sweet and sour, garlic, and of course ranch. Ranch lovers - this is a safe space at The Mint! Great consistency and restaurant flavor, they don’t mess it up for those of us who ask for “a side of ranch, please!” One of my favorite sauces is the Mint sauce and I highly recommend you order a side of it to dip their delicious, crispy fries in.
None of us went crazy with our orders, which included a Philly cheese steak with fries, a veggie burger, a Philly cheese steak in a Pita, and a chicken strip basket. It’s a nice perk when you can customize your order. For those looking for a meatless option, they also serve sun burgers and garden salads.
Amanda and Amy said all of their menu items cycle through being the week’s favorites. We all enjoyed our food and all simultaneously agreed that we had never had a bad meal at The Mint. They don’t compromise on quality or output and it shows.
What our board members say about The Mint:
"My favorite thing about The Mint is that there are so many different food options- comfort food & health-conscious options and it's all delicious!! Also- the atmosphere is always inviting and the food is consistently made with great quality." - Megan
"Their fries are THE BEST I've ever had and paired with their garlic sauce, it's a one-of-a-kind side that has my taste buds asking for more!" - Amy
"I love the atmosphere at The Mint. There’s very much a family feel to me. I’ve always been greeted with a smile and I never feel rushed even though table space is limited. I also love that it’s within walking distance from work! I try to order lunch there at least once a week. My favorites are the Sun Burger with Soup and the Buddha Bowls, you really can’t go wrong with that!" - Jessica
"My favorite part is all the different kinds of Buddha Bowls that you just can't find anywhere else!!" - Jenna
A Chat With Co-Owner, Amanda
Me: "What is the backstory of The Mint and what inspired you to open in The Meridian District?"
Amanda: "When owner Mike Feimer was doing construction on Douglas Street he and the building owner at the time (former Mint Bar owner) Dick Teeslink had a chance run in and Mike ended up buying the building from Dick. With Mike being an avid and amazing hobby baker and cook he thought it’d be fun to turn the building back into a restaurant/commercial kitchen with really no plans of actually opening a restaurant. Mike and his wife Amanda completely renovated the space, added on in the back then renovated some more ;) It was used for family gatherings and for small parties here and there but it wasn’t until Amy made a career change and convinced them to open a restaurant that it became 'The Mint'. We love being part of downtown Yankton in all of its historic glory."
Me: "Tell me about your amazing sauces."
Amanda: "Most of our dressings/sauces are made in-house. People love our house ranch, Mint sauce, and aioli, we can’t get enough of them ourselves! We lucked out because our dad is the king of sauces/dressings and he’s been making his famous Wayne’s Original Garlic Dressing and BBQ Sauce for over 50 years! He makes them in small batches and sells them at our local Hy-Vee and now we’ve pulled his arm to make them for The Mint. When it comes to his garlic and bbq, if you know, you know, they’re simply delicious! He’s also an intricate part of our team here as he’s been in the restaurant world since his early years!"
Me: "What makes your food and environment special?"
Amanda: "We love food and have always loved going out to eat so we kind of came up with what our version of a perfect little restaurant spot would be. We wanted yummy food that was fresh and fast, friendly, clean, and unique environment, and … a soda machine, ha! because who doesn’t love a good old, icy fountain soda with their meal?!"
"As for our food, we wanted to keep it simple and just serve a few personal favorites. We've always loved gyros so we knew a delish, authentic gyro was a must-have. We also love a good burger so we took our hand-pattied burgers to the next level by adding Amy’s own concocted “mint” sauce which, if you’ve had it, you know it’s the bee's knees! It’s our take on a gourmet In N’ Out burger! And who doesn’t love a perfectly-melted-cheese steak Philly?"
"Next up, our Buddha bowls! We sure love these healthy bowls of delish! The bowl is different every week and filled with fresh veggies, chicken, and rice (sometimes quinoa), and drizzled in one of our house dressings. Our Buddha master Kathy doesn’t let a bowl go out with a garnish out of place. :) She loves her Buddha station and making these bowls for her customers! Buddhas are a way to get a healthier option without sacrificing the yum."
"Once Karen from The Bodyguard stopped doing her beloved chapatis and sunburgers, we thought it’d be great to bring them back, with her blessing and guidance of course, and they’re here and they’re a hit! Amy grows our own sprouts and babies those beauties so they’re always fresh and perfect and oh so yummy especially when paired with the tortilla, cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, fresh-sliced turkey, and special seasoning that is the chapati."
"We’re weird about fries, we wanted a good crispy fry and didn’t stop searching until we found the perfect ones! We switch out our soups and appetizers to mix it up a bit and we bring in different specials now and again. We also offer a fresh and delish salad if that’s your jam.
Once Gundy’s Farmers Market has their amazing fruits and veggies available we snatch those right up all season long and love using those on our food! We always opt for fresh and organic every chance we can. Amy goes above and beyond in so many different areas to make the food what it is. She is constantly making special trips here or there to get just the right rice or olives or avocados, the list goes on! We’re picky about our food and ingredients and we think that shows."
Me: "Your hours are Tuesday through Friday, 11am - 2pm, but you also offer açaí bowls on Wednesday mornings from 8 - 10 am. What's an açaí bowl?"
Amanda: "Oh these darn açaí (ah-sigh-eee) bowls! We’re all hooked! These were another Amy addition. She’s been obsessed with açaí bowls for years so she wanted to bring them to The Mint and now she has a whole crew of customers obsessed as well! The base is her concoction; it’s an organic açaí sorbet. Then we add our fave granola and switch up the toppings each week, usually fresh fruit along with peanut butter or honey is our go-to. Oh, and did we mention you can feel good about this delish breakfast/snack/treat/bowl of amazing!? Açaí berries are relatively low in sugar and have high levels of antioxidants. These berries offer all sorts of health benefits so drop the guilt when you’re enjoying your Wednesday morning treat because you’re doing your body and taste buds a favor!"
Me: "What does the future have in store for The Mint?"
Amanda: "We’re going to keep doing our thing for as long as we can. It’s challenging with constant price increases on not only food but supplies etc. We’ll never compromise quality so we’ll continue to adjust as best we can. We have an amazing team and that’s hard to find. We’ve built quite a special place here and we all love doing what we do!"
Me: "Above all, what do you want people to know about The Mint?"
Amanda: "The Mint is a family-owned and operated restaurant. When you stop in you’ll be sure to see the familiar faces of The Mint crew as well as a lot of our customers who come in each week, every week! Most days you’ll see bright-colored flowers throughout as I love bringing in fresh blooms to add to the cheery environment. We love our customers and love our Mint family, it’s a very special place for all of us.
Whether you’re looking for a delicious meal or a walk down memory lane with a friend, we hope you’ll stop down to Yankton’s Meridian District and treat yourself to a trip to The Mint.
Until next time!