Observations from in and around NE Eagan, MN
Recently my office moved from the east side of Eagan up to the northeast side. Maybe the small move rattled me out of some old habits, but I've made a couple of newer observations that I thought locals might appreciate:
1. Ambrosia Coffee is a great local find. In addition to their Lone Oak Rd. location in Eagan, they have locations on France Ave in Edina and in downtown Minneapolis. Unfortunately, it took me until now (after a few years of working in Eagan) to discover the place, maybe because it's tucked into a tiny strip mall between Obee's sub shop (which I'll try soon) and an Oasis Market gas station in a quiet, warehouse-y part of the suburb. I also never knew of their other locations.
Anyway, as you can see from their website, they specialize in Fair Trade and Organic coffees if you're interested in that. I have yet to talk up the staff, but I suspect roasting goes on at one of their locations -- the three times I've been there recently, the coffee has been excellent and seemingly freshly roasted. If you're familiar with the place(s), let me know. Not only that, the pleasant barista has already remembered my "usual" order and she seems to greet 99% of the customers by name as they steadily stream in the door. Bottom line -- much better tasting coffee than the usual suspects Caribou and Starbucks, neither of which I have any inherent problem with aside from generally uninteresting coffee.
They also have a good selection of baked goods, including some ever-present pans of scones on the back counter that look like they must have just been made on-site, as well as a panini grill, some breakfast and lunch options and smoothies. I haven't tried any of the food but I hope to become more familiar with the place, including a wider opinion on espresso, etc. as time goes on.
1278 Lone Oak Road (just west of intersection with 35E)
2. Junior's Grill is another good local find. Also tucked into a less-passed strip of shops, this is one of those 50's diner motif places but has proven to be an excellent source of burgers, fries, blue plate specials and obscenely large salads. Service is quick, food is mostly made from fresh that I've observed by sitting at the counter (burgers not frozen although the fries are pretty average, probably from frozen), and the place is immaculate. Alice, I think they may even have a french dip, though I'm not 100% certain. I've ordered the Steak Sandwich (non-Philly, "Philly style") but can't vouch for the availability of au jus. Not Maverick's, but all in all, a good, quick, satisfying blue collar lunch spot.
Junior's Cafe & Grill
1340 Duckwood Dr
3. Over in nearby Mendota Heights, they're constructing a little cluster of buildings off of Highway 110 at Dodd Road called "Village At Mendota Heights". Included in the cluster are E's Cheese and The Wine Market (a Kowalski's venture). E's Cheese is a neat little shop, and I was impressed by their thoughtful selection of cheeses. One case has the imports and another case is domestic cheese. Their website has a "current" listing, although it's dated from June.
Also available are a handful of fresh panini sandwiches (highlighting good cheese) and a number of kitchen gadgets, food products, cookbooks and some pretty interesting chocolates (some intriguing bars by Vosges I think). I haven't been in there very often yet, but the shop made a good first impression and the panini was darned good. They also do cheese classes and tastings apparently. Friendly owner (I'm assuming she was the owner).
720 Main Street (in the Village off of 110 and Dodd
)Mendota Heights, MN
When I check out Obee's I'll post about that too. Lots of people from my office have tried it, though nobody that I consider having a clue about chow. Feel free to post if you know about it.