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Jan 17, 2008 02:36 PM

MSP: "decent" dinner near St Paul U of M campus

Going out there tomorrow (Fri, 1/18). Not as cheap & processed as MacDonald's, not as expensive & "arty" as Muffeletta, but--as Goldilocks always desired--Just Right. TIA for your nominations.

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  1. the board's having technical issues and created a duplicate....

    1. I don't see a duplicate, so I'll answer here. In (roughly) increasing distance from campus, there is:

      - Abu Nader Deli - "real" fast food (shawirma/gyros, etc.)

      - Pho 79 - decent Vietnamese soups and stir-fries (I like the grilled chicken on rice)

      - Jay's Cafe - can be as pricy as Muffuletta, but it's not as "arty"

      - Black Sea Turkish Restaurant - so-so Turkish fast food with very charming owners

      - Fasika Ethiopian Restaurant

      - Cafe Bon Xai - Asian and American food; best "fine dining for pennies" place around.

      - Obento-Ya Japanese Bistro - highly recommended (another good-value place)

      - Vina II Vietnamese Restaurant - but I think they close early

      - Cupcake Coffeeshop (University & Bedford, Mpls) - just soup and sandwiches (and cupcakes)

      Bon appetit!

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

      Fasika Ethiopian Restaurant
      510 Snelling Ave N, Saint Paul, MN 55104

      Vina Restaurant
      756 Cleveland Ave S, St Paul, MN 55116

      Jay's Cafe
      791 Raymond Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55114

      3338 University Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414

      Abu Nader Deli & Grocery
      2095 Como Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55108

      Pho 79 Restaurant
      2233 Energy Park Dr Ste 800, Saint Paul, MN 55108

      Black Sea Restaurant
      737 Snelling Ave N, Saint Paul, MN 55104

      Obento-Ya Japanese Bistro
      1510 Como Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414

      3 Replies
      1. re: AnneInMpls

        A belated follow-up to Anne's comment about Jay's Cafe--it can actually be pretty inexpensive. The first time I ate there I had as an appetizer these fabulous liver toasts (6 of them, I think) served over a wonderful salad. It was $6. Astonishly cheap, I thought at the time.

        They have several pizzas on their menu, that run about $8-$10.

        The entrees are a little pricier--typically in the $16-$19 dollar range, but the pork, beef or chicken that they're serving usually has a local-sustainable kind of pedigree, so, for the quality of the food they're working with, it's really a good value.

        I don't think I've ever had dessert there...

        Also, Vina II restaurant on Cleveland--is that the one across from the Highland Grill? I don't think of that as being very close to the UofM--if you're going to go that distance, it opens up a bunch more options. Or, am I thinking of the wrong place altogether? [Oh oh oh, are you referring to the place that's in the tiny strip mall just off University near Goodwill??? I've always wondered about that place...]


        1. re: The Dairy Queen

          I think Vina II is the one on University and Fairview (northeast corner in a huge old office complex).

          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            Yup, Vina II is on Cleveland & University near Goodwill (and across the street from the wonderful Russian Tea House - which closes mid-afternoon, or I would have recommended it).

            Vina II is "first-wave Vietnamese" - mostly Chinese-style stir-fries with good Vietnamese Egg Rolls and Hot-and-Spicy Chicken. But nothing else on the menu is particularily Vietnamese.

            And it's not terribly close to the St. Paul Campus. But I mentioned Fasika, and Vina II is just around the corner and a few blocks down. I just didn't know where to stop...


            Russian Tea House
            1758 University Ave W, Saint Paul, MN 55104

        2. Brasa, on Hennepin (Larpenteur becomes Hennepin as you travel west; Brasa is just east of downtown/Riverplace/St. Anthony Main/Surdyk's/name your landmark here). Real food, well-prepared. Initially seems a bit spendy for what you're getting, but it's all tasty and real.

          1. In addition to Anne's recommendations, here's a thread from this past summer you might find helpful, too.

            My vote would be for China Jen, though the place has zero atmosphere. Solid chow, though.



            2 Replies
            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              Good call! I always forget how close Roseville is to the St. Paul campus. China Jen is a nice, casual Chinese restaurant with good food (including soup dumplings, if I recall correctly).


              1. re: AnneInMpls

                Yes, and really good scallion pancakes, too! Actually, everything I've had there has been good in terms of deliciousness.


            2. Try Mims across Cleveland from the St Paul Student Center. They have Great Falafel!