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Downtown St. Paul lunch, walkable? Cheap and quick a big plus

Recently started working in downtown St. Paul. Any recs on good lunch spots?

I'm looking for places within a ten-minute walk from 5th & St Peter (shorter is better)... I can probably do occasional visits to sit-down places, but more often I'll be limited to spots where I can duck in, order my chow, and either eat it there or carry it back to the office. Budget is about ten bucks a day, with occasional splurges.

So far I've tried -

Kincaid's. They actually cater the employee cafeteria where I work; excellent sandwich/soup combos for $6, etc. I wasn't impressed with the caesar salad but have enjoyed everything else I've had.

Aroma's Pizza in the Lowry building. The only place I've found out here that has hot slices ready to be served (*NOT* precooked-and-chilled slices to be popped into the oven to warm over and dry out). Good pizza, and a pizza-salad-drink combo. I was happy to find this place but wonder how they stay in business -- they're tucked away in a back corner of this building -- no sign outside that I could see.

D. Brian's in Town Square. Love their Chipotle Chicken wrap, but after wondering about the doneness of the chicken once, and getting a piece of underdone chicken the next time, and watching them pull the chicken out of a plastic tub with a mysterious slightly pinkish liquid the third time, I've given up.

Bruegger's. Ehh.

Hunan Garden. Just-okay smallish greatest-hits-of-Chinese-American buffet; cheap at under $7.

There's Chipotle, of course.

Am also aware of Subway, Quiznos, McDonald's, LeeAnn Chin in skyways, and a Jimmy John's at 7th Place. Was sniffing curiously around A Rebours but there was no menu posted outside (c'mon, restauranteurs, I want to see what I'm getting myself into before I walk in and take up your time). Am curious about Matty B's Supper Club, which seems to have reasonable lunch prices.

Appreciate any comments.

fendel

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  1. Babani's, on the corner of 10th and St. Peter. It's America's first (only?) Kurdish restaurant. I'd walk a mile for the dowjic soup, which contains chicken broth, lemon, yogurt, basil, and rice. The food has a definite Middle Eastern leaning (tabbouleh, kebabs, etc.) but differs enough from typical fare to be worth a visit.

    2 Replies
      1. Oh the chains - I used to work in downtown st paul and really there needs to be better options.

        D Brians is great - but you will really be sick of it before you know it.

        Does the Liffey do anything for lunch? I haven't eaten there but have had food from the Local which is the same and is fine for lunch.

        Patrick McGoverns has excellent Turkey items - big enough to split a to go for 2 days of lunches.

        And what is the pizza place across the street - I can't think of it - but its excellent - big portions of italian specials & good slices. Same side as McGoverns, but a block closer to the Liffey....can't think of the name.

        2 Replies
        1. re: St Paul Susie

          If you havent tried yet, The Lifey has a decent lunch special. $10 lunch, bev, tax, and tip. They have a limited selection of sandwitches (I recommend the ruben) also you can sub sides (i recomend the garlic mashed potatoes instead of waffle fries)

          1. re: showercapcrazy

            Just a spelling correction: it's the Liffey. Located at W 7th St. and Kellogg Blvd (NW corner, same building as the Holiday Inn).

            Can't vouch for the lunch special - haven't tried it.

          1. re: St Paul Susie

            make sure to try a cannoli at Cossetta's

            1. re: faith

              I just had one of Cossetta's cannoli this weekend, and was pretty underwhelmed. I like Cossetta's in general, but their cannoli seemed to be filled with some sort of strange overly whipped, overly flavored, mascarpone-like cream. The pastry was not super-crisp, but not as soggy as others I have had.

              I still have not found what I would consider a great cannoli in the cities (even after reading Dara M's article on the subject), but am hopeful that D'Allesantro's deli in the North Loop may be the savior. They are my new favorite lunch spot, now that I'm working within walking distance -- and they have had consistently great Italian and Italian-American dishes. You could transplant them to northeastern NJ and they could hold their own. Last week I saw cannoli on their "specials" board, but sadly I was already chowed-out.

              1. re: Chris Mitra

                Have you had the cannoli at Buon Giorno in Lilydale?

                1. re: Chris Mitra

                  Wow, a new place to check out!

                  The "North Loop" threw me for a loop. Here are the details:
                  D'allesantro's Italian Market & Deli
                  600 Washington Ave. N. b101
                  Minneapolis MN 55401
                  p 612.338.3536
                  f 612.338.3169
                  http://www.dallesantros.com/

                  1. re: Chris Mitra

                    I am really sorry to hear that about a Cossetta's cannoli.
                    The one I had a couple of months ago seemed to have ricotta
                    in the filling, which was the only way I really like them.
                    Lund's seems to have mascarpone in theirs, and the effect is
                    too light, like whipped cream. I suppose the shell may have
                    been a bit less than super crispy, which is inevitable unless they are filled to order. I don't mind that aspect though. Let us know how the Buon Giorno ones are.

                    1. re: faith

                      Faith -- I agree, I only like my cannoli with ricotta, which is why I was disappointed with the one I got from Cossetta's. I just Google'd the Dara article about cannoli for reference again, and it turns out that her Cossetta cannoli also was the same mascarpone/whipped cream kind that I received.

                      MSPD -- Buon Giorno is one of the few that I have not yet tried, but it is on my "to-do" list.

                      KTFoley -- Yeah, definitely check out D'Allesantro's. I had been meaning to post about it here before, but had not gotten around to it yet. It is a great lunch place because their daily specials are always changing -- I don't think I have seen a repeat yet. They have had a number of regional dishes that I have not seen anywhere else (except when growing up in NJ).

                      1. re: faith

                        Yes, get to Buon Giorno. It's comparable to the best I've had in NYC (including Viniero's, Ferrara, Bruno Bakery, DeRoberti's, etc.) Maybe Dara wouldn't, but I would drive from Bismarck to get one.

                        Like a moth to one of those redneck bug zapping lights, every time a thread about cannoli hits this board, I helplessly trek over to Buon Giorno and have them fill me one (or two or three). Today was no exception.

                        The beauty of Buon Giorno is that even if you hate their cannoli, something will make your trip worthwhile. I'm more impressed with their desserts every time I'm there -- they've put a lot of effort and talent into their bakery case.

                        1. re: MSPD

                          I'm 99.99% sure that their desserts are supplied by Truffles & Tortes, in Plymouth.

                2. Ooh, I just saw their website for the first time. Wow, I feel like I need to go there *now*!

                  1. Hi all. Thanks for the tips! I'll have to check out Babani's, Patrick McGovern's, and the Liffey some time when I can take a longer lunch.

                    I tried Cossetta's some years ago, but I don't remember how I liked it. Maybe it's time for a return visit...

                    Interesting side discussion of cannoli. As far as I'm concerned, if it isn't ricotta, it isn't real cannoli and I'm not interested. :)

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: fendel

                      If you like Thai food, Ruam Mit is pretty good -- it's on St. Peter just off 7th St. I don't like to eat in, because the service is really slow more often than not, but you'd do fine with takeout if you call ahead. The menu is online: http://www.ruammitthai.com/ruammit/de...

                      1. re: fendel

                        While hijacking the thread I forgot the original point: Tanpopo is probably my favorite downtown St. Paul place. I'd be a regular there if I worked nearby. A Rebours would also be high on the list although I haven't been there for ages at lunch. When I was, they had a great charcuterie plate for $8 -- a steal and would be a filling lunch. I'm envisioning lunch specials at St. Paul Grill and Sakura as well.

                        1. re: MSPD

                          just moved away from Tanpopo. used to walk there all the time, i will miss it so much-- also would like to put in $0.02 that you can eat well there for under $10 if you dont get carried away with apps & bevs. Adore A Rebours too-- wow didnt think they did lunch

                          1. re: soupkitten

                            Since this thread has been bumped up, I'll note that A Rebours closed in August 2007 and that it has been replaced by Meritage which just opened last week. Similar in feel and menu to A Rebours. I think they have their menu in the window too...