NICOLLET, Minn. (WCCO) — Around 28 percent of Minnesotans say they are of German ancestry. So, it’s no surprise there’s a lot of bratwurst being sold in this state.
But we wanted to find the Best Bratwurst in Minnesota and you sent Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield to the southern Minnesota town of Nicollet to find it.
Hard to tell the town of Nicollet’s more than 4,000 miles from Germany. The façade of Schmidt’s Meat Market is Bavarian through and through.
Ryan Schmidt is the owner.
“Both my mom and dad come from German families, my heritage would be 100 percent German,” he said.
Schmidt is the family name and the family business. Ryan’s grandparents started the meat market in 1947, the matriarch Esther is still going strong at 105 years old.
“I think word of mouth spread what we were doing here and it just continue to grow and grow to where it is today,” Ryan Schmidt said.
And according to our viewers, they’re doing it well, winning best sausage honors in 2014.
“Pretty cool. Just goes to show you the loyal customer base we have,” Ryan Schmidt said.
Their newest title: “Best Brats in Minnesota.”
Unlike sausage, their brats aren’t cured, no preservatives or nitrates, just salt and seasoning and it’s all in good taste according to the regulars who sampled and tasted a few for us.
“A great flavor, you got the pork flavor just makes it delicious,” Jeff Grommersch said.
“Schmidt’s in my mind are very unique in what they create and it’s just wonderful and it’s a destination to come here you can’t leave with just one thing when you come here,” Deb Newman said.
Mike Holmin has been coming to the market for 50 years, he likes the Schell’s Beer Brats best.
“You can taste the beer and it’s not overpowering it’s juicy,” Holmin said.
“Come over here just about three, four times a week you can get fresh meat don’t have to worry about freezing anything,” Shelly Dorin said.
Each day there are four fresh brats on display and trust me this is just the beginning. There are 22 flavors — dill pickle, jalepeno, wild rice and blueberries just to name a few. Click here for a list of the others.
“It’s very customer driven. Change is what keeps people coming around so we try to keep coming around,” the butcher in charge said. He says his brats are pork-based. They’ve successfully sold 140,000 this year.
It seems people drive from all around to indulge.
Holmin came from Lakeville.
“I’m in southern Minnesota making some sales calls and anytime I can get close to Nicollet, Schmidt’s I try to do it best meat that we found,” he said.
The mayor of Nicollet, Fred Froehlich , says it’s put this town of 1,116 people on the map.
“We’ve got two bars and a gas station and we’ve got a gas station in town and they all get a spinoff of the traffic that comes in here,” Froehlich said.
Between the German work ethic and the Minnesota nice, it seems the recipe for success isn’t just about the food.
Schmidt’s Meat Market is about an hour and a half drive south of the Cities. They’re open six days a week. Click here for a list of all 22 brats flavors.
Other finalists: Kramarczuk’s in Minenapolis and St. Joseph’s Meat Market.