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Jul 14, 2007 09:31 PM

Visiting from So Cal to So St Paul

Visiting next week from So Cal to So St Paul,,,,family there, staying in Eagan.
Family does not venture out much into Mpls area.... any ideas ? Would like to get them to try something new, not chain restaurants, but not toooooo adventerous !
I used to eat at the Le Ann Chinn's at the depot, not bad...but not there anymore....
Anywhere not tooooo far from St Paul area.... and lunch places would be great, taking the kids too.

thanks !

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  1. A couple of nice lunch spots in St. Paul:

    Cafe Latte on Grand at Victoria--nice salads and soups and such. Lovely desserts (Turtle Pie!)

    Also, in downtown St. Paul for lunch, you might like A Rebours, little French bistro'ish kind of place--right across from Rice Park where the bronze statues of the Peanuts characters are. It's not too fancy. Would be reasonably convenient to the children's museum or science museum.

    Also, Tanpopo Noodle Shop is a nice spot in downtown St. Paul for homestyle Japanese cooking. I don't know if that's too adventurous, but it's just a lovely spot and very low key.

    Very child friendly are the Highland Grill (on Cleveland near Ford Parkway) and its sister restaurant Longfellow Grill and the food's pretty good--covering all three meals. I love their buckwheat pancakes, their waffle is supposed to be great (I've never gotten around to trying it!), the turkey burger is fantastic; I love their sweet potato fries, though the last time I was at Longfellow they were different than usual. Not sure if that's a permanent change. Longfellow Grill has a patio that makes for great people watching this time of year--it's just over the river into Minneapolis.

    Another fun spot is Sea Salt Eatery right next to Minnehaha Falls in Minnehaha Park in Minneapolis--again, it's not too far into Minneapolis from St. Paul. It's just another small snack shack kind of place, but terrific setting and good seafood (oyster po-boys.) Also, they sell Sebastian Joe's locally-crafted ice cream. The big downside is that the wait can be 40 minutes in line to order your food and about a half hour after that to get your food. Don't go there when you're already starving.

    Another place I'm going to recommend is Ngon Bistro on University Ave. This might be a little more on the adventurous side, but the atmosphere is very pleasant and relaxed. They have both traditional vietnamese dishes (their pho is sublime) and some more French inspired dishes. My favorites there are the sweet potato fritter appetizer, the duck confit appetizer, the roasted ginger chicken entree, the pho, bun tau hu (rice vermicelli with ginger glazed tofu, and fresh shitaki mushrooms) (#51). For dessert, the ginger creme brulee or the mung bean cheesecakes (you have to try them to believe them.)

    Another spot that might be slightly less adventurous is Cafe BonXai on University Avenue in St. Paul. It's a little bit more "fusion-ish" than Ngon Bistro but they have steaks and chicken salads on their menu, alongside some fantastic coconut soups and such.

    Don't forget Izzy's ice cream on Marshall in St. Paul for fantastic hand crafted ice cream served in waffle cones made on the spot! Their salted caramel flavor is acclaimed, but you can't go wrong. Every cone is stopped with a mini-scoop of your choice they call an Izzy. Or, for soft serve mixed in a zillion flavors, a little ice cream shack Conny's Creamy Cone--my favorites are blueberry and peach. Their cheese curds are rumored to be good too, and we're hearing good things about the New Hong Kong kitchen across the street (though, I haven't been yet.)

    (Sorry, I can't get the places link for Sea Salt Eatery or Highland Cafe to come in, so, here's some other links for them:

    Highland Cafe and Bakery on Ford Parkway near Cleveland in St. Paul has a very limited Nepali menu (fantastic meat momos!), and pretty good American style menu. Terrific American style breakfasts (try their caramel rolls!) It's new I haven't explored their menu extensively yet, but it could be a nice place to go if you want Nepali and everyone else wants meat loaf or roasted pork or a burger etc. Breads are baked on the premises and just about everything--gravy, chili, soups--are made from scratch. Uninspiring setting.

    Have fun. Please report back!


    Connys Creamy Cone
    1197 Dale St N, Saint Paul, MN 55117

    Highland Grill
    771 Cleveland Ave S, Saint Paul, MN 55116

    Cafe Latte
    850 Grand Ave Ste 1, Saint Paul, MN 55105

    Cafe BonXai
    1613 University Ave W, Saint Paul, MN 55104

    Tanpopo Noodle Shop
    308 Prince St, Saint Paul, MN 55101

    A Rebours [CLOSED
    ]410 St Peter St, St Paul, MN 55102

    Izzy's Ice Cream Production - DUPLICATE
    2034 Marshall Ave, St Paul, MN 55104

    Longfellow Grill
    2990 W River Pkwy, Minneapolis, MN 55406

    Pho Anh Vietnamese Restaurant (CLOSED)
    799 University Ave W, St Paul, MN 55104

    1 Reply
    1. re: The Dairy Queen

      we're hearing good things about the New Hong Kong kitchen across the street (though, I haven't been yet.)

      I have to put in a plug for the New Hong Kong Kitchen. They used to be in a strip mall over by Southdale when I lived in Bloomington. Now they are at the corner of Dale and Mayland across form Connie's. They are my default Chinese take-out on they way home in St. Paul. When you go in, most of the people eating there are Asians. They do some great sizzling platters. Extensive Cantonese menu.

    2. Two places that would be great for kids are Cossetta's and Christos. Cossetta's is an Italian deli/market/cafeteria. Prices are good, it's really kid-friendly, and sometimes when you're sitting in the upstairs see the people making the pizza dough throw the dough high enough to go into the upstairs area - kids love it.

      Christos Greek restaurant is in Union Depot. At lunch they offer an all-you-can-eat buffet that is a very good deal. It's only offered M-F.

      Cossetta Italian Market
      211 7th St W, Saint Paul, MN 55102

      Christos Two
      140 4th St E, St Paul, MN 55101

      1. Day By Day Cafe is another good place to try. They have eye popping breakfast specials that are cheaper the earlier you get there.

        Day By Day Cafe
        477 7th St W, Saint Paul, MN 55102

        9 Replies
        1. re: pgokey

          I love the Day by Day--at least for the super friendly service. Not fantastic chow, but pretty good. I've never eaten out there, but they have a little teensy patio, too. Also, isn't the Day by Day the one where they have the toy on the wall where, if the kids can find it, they get a free order of fries?


          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            The place I was thinking of where they hide the Mr. Potato Head is the now closed Andy's Garage on University Avenue. Day by Day still has all the cute toys on the wall, but no "free fries" gimmick, alas. Sorry for the confusion.


            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              Andy's Garage simply moved, rather than closed. They are now in Midtown Global Market. They have a dedicated space there which, I think, offers more seating than their old University Ave. location.

              Andy's Garage
              2929 Chicago Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55407

              1. re: pgokey

                Yes, I'm aware of Andy's MGMkt location--there was about six months overlap in the two locations before they closed the University Avenue one down. Do they do the same "find Mr. Potato Head and win free fries" for kids in the MGMkt location? That always seemed like a cute idea to me. I originally thought about recommending at stop at MGMkt to danita, but she seems pretty clear about wanting to limit the replies to St. Paul.


                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                  I haven't eaten there, just walked past it.

                  1. re: pgokey

                    Same with me. They were having a "mini-burger" special last fall when they were running the dollar menu promos shortly after MGMkt opened. I don't know if they still have the mini burgers on their menu or if it was a temporary thing, but it sounded kid friendly to me!


                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      No, Andy's didn't move. That's the second location, at Midtown Global Market. Not sure exactly how it worked, but the original owner ("Andy") can't run the place anymore due to his knees (I'm getting this from the Midway Monitor, my Midway newspaper). He was looking for a buyer for his University location but couldn't find one.

                      Sad. Sorry to be so pedantic on the topic. I was hoping he'd get a buyer.

            2. re: The Dairy Queen

              I have almost written off the Day By Day, because I haven't had great food there for lunch-especially the chili. It is right next to the school I teach at, so it is sort of a default sometimes. What I have really liked there is the pecan pie with ice cream, and once I had a wonderful chicken and strawberry salad in the summer on the lovely patio.

              1. re: jenniegirl

                I've only been to the Day by Day for breakfast. The breakfast is solid and it's an especially good option, I think, if you're with a vegetarian (because they offer tofu dishes, for instance, among other things). I was there very recently and still think it's as good as ever. And the glorious patio is now open for the season. YAY!

                P.S. my comments in this post are just for the sake of posterity and the search engine, as the OP was planning her visit in the summer of 2007 and likely won't be helped by any of my recent comments...


          2. One other place, and then I'm done. Buca di Beppo is a kind-of chain. It's a chain that started here and then spread to some other cities. We kinda considered a local place, even though they have locations in Iowa and Wisconsin now. While there area places that do Italian better in town, it's a great place to take a family as the food is served family style, and the atmosphere is really fun and kitschy. They have various metro locations, but one in St. Paul. They do have a good menu, too, even if it's not the best of the best in terms of foodie quality. They also have a Burnsville location, which is a suburb that neighbors Eagan.

            Edit in: Wow, I didn't know Buca has spread as far as it did. There are dozens and dozens of locations in the US now, including 21 in California. My apologies for steering you toward *such* a chain. It wasn't this chainy several years ago.

            Buca Di Beppo
            2728 Gannon Rd, Saint Paul, MN 55116

            Buca Di Beppo
            14300 Burnhaven Dr, Burnsville, MN 55306

            5 Replies
            1. re: pgokey

              A friend recently told me that on their trip to Hawaii they were directed to the "local" Italian place. It was Buca! They were pretty bummed. While I generally avoid places that serve that much food at once, I was looking forward to a recent event there since I hadn't been in a few years. I was really disappointed in the food. So little distinct flavor (except when they totally over do the garlic). I would highly recommend going to another Italian place (Cosetta's is really fun too) instead of Buca.

              1. re: katebauer

                Yeah, Buca is pretty much everywhere now, including in downtown San Francisco.

                I third the pgokey's recommendation for Cossettas--I love their little adjoining grocery, too. If you need picnic stuff or just stuff to have around the house for quick sanwiches, you can get a loaf of their peasant bread, some cheeses and deli meats from their deli case (we recently had some of their wonderful, fragrant provolone and spicy capaciola.) They have some wonderful mozzarellas and ricottas, too. Pretty good cannoli--though, not exceptional by East Coast standards.

                Another kid friendly spot, though not what you'd typically think of a chowish dining and not in any way adventurous, is The Nook on Hamline at Randolph in St. Paul. It's just a neighborhood bar, but super kid friendly, and sort of an institution. They serve fantastic Jucy Lucy's (cheese stuffed burgers) on a bakery bun with hand cut fries. Sometimes there's a wait at the Nook. A similarly child friendly neighborhood bar with good burgers is the Groveland Tap on St. Clair in St. Paul--it's a sister to the Highland and Longfellow Grill twins.

                You didn't mention the ages of the kids--I mentioned A Rebours earlier--it's casual, but doesn't especially cater to children.


                Groveland Tap
                1834 Saint Clair Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55105

                Nook [DUPLICATE]
                492 Hamline Ave S, St Paul, MN 55116

                1. re: katebauer

                  I too would pick Cossetta's over Buca without a second thought, but I do enjoy some things at Buca. Oddly, their pastas are my least favorite (although I liked the lasagna, which I think was a special the night I went). The spaghetti in particular is not good, and it seems whenever I am there, it is with one of the least adventurous people on the planet so it gets ordered. Their baked pastas are better.

                  Their grilled fish and meat is good, I love the beans and greens, and of course the garlic mashed potatoes.

                  For me, it's pretty much a place that exists for large group outings where a wide variety of taste levels need to be accommodated. I also appreciate that they have tables large enough to seat a whole group at one. It is also a decently priced way to feed families.

                  You could do a whole lot worse at what I now know is a good, old-fashioned chain.

                  Oh, and in my book, it's impossible to over-do garlic. :)

                  1. re: pgokey

                    Thank you all !!!!!!!!!!!!!! I will print this and take it tomorrow !!
                    Funny, we decided to go to Bucas just cause its easy for a big group ( 14 of us ) and some of their stuff isnt too bad.....Last time I ate there was Universal Studio location, its ok...good for groups.
                    This gives me ideas, outside of south st paul. Read about a great french sandwich shop in Signal Hills on Robert in W St Paul. Will try that too !

                    1. re: danita

                      If you need ideas for quick meals (breakfasts, lunches, food on-the-go) in and around Eagan, let me know. At first glance, Eagan appears to be a typical suburban chain food wasteland but there are a few hidden breakfast, lunch and coffee spots. You can also do a search for Eagan and find some of my comments from the past, many of which are still valid. Welcome back to MSP.

              2. I want to throw in a vote for Kallyste. French cafe, good smoothies (I like the pear), and bunches of different kinds of sandwiches, hot and cold.

                A co-worker of mine recently took her kids there (2 & 4 y/o) and Bruno, the proprietor, was charming and recommended a ham and cheese on a croissant for the kids to share. They loved it.

                Looks like the place link won't add on. Kallyste is at 5 Signal Hills in Saint Paul. Don't be fooled by the strip mall where it is located. It's a whole different world inside.