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WEEKEND IN ST PAUL

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My wife and I are finally coming to St Paul to see Prairie Home Companion in mid March. We are staying at the St Paul Hotel. I have been to the St Paul Grill before, but am not familiar with anything else in the area. Any suggestions for other restaurants? We are open to trying anything. Any good breakfast places?

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  1. Ooh, St. Paul Hotel, nice. Perhaps you can give us an idea of what kinds of places you're interested in? Also, will you have a car? Do you want to limit yourself to St. Paul or is a jaunt to Minneapolis okay?

    For upscalish recommendations:

    Very near the St. Paul Hotel (walkable) is a new restaurant Meritage. There have been a couple of reports here on the Midwest board you can search on. I hear they do brunch but I don't recall if anyone's posted about brunch. The word seems to be they do a good dinner, but are rather weak for lunch.

    Also, you'll need a car or to take a cab, but Heartland is a wonderful St. Paul restaurant focusing on sourcing locally. They have a wine bar if the full restaurant experience doesn't appeal to you.

    WA Frost on Selby is lovely--again, you'll need a car. I seem to recall someone talking about their brunch here on chowhound recently, too.

    St. Paul also has some really fantastic casual places, such as Little Szechuan and Ngon Vietnamese Bistro both on University Avenue (car, car, you'll need a car) or Tea House II (which does dim sum on weekends, by the way). Lots of great neighborhood bar types for burgers and suchlike The Nook on Hamline at Randolph--I like the Moliter burger myself-- (and Kopplin's coffee a couple doors down from The Nook) or the Groveland Tap for AYCE Friday fish fry. Oh, and Keys Cafe in downtown St. Paul for a homier kind of breakfast...great caramel rolls.

    It just depends on what you want.

    ~TDQ

    21 Replies
    1. re: The Dairy Queen

      Thanks for the ideas. We will have a car. We prefer to try places close by. I travel to Minneapolis often and rarely get to St Paul so this is my chance. Just wondered if the Keys Cafe used to be in downtown Minneapolis on Nicollett? Also are there any good Italian spots in St Paul?

      1. re: jdsopil

        I love La Grolla on Selby Ave. A quick 5 min drive from the hotel.
        http://www.lagrollastpaul.com/

        1. re: jdsopil

          There are several locations of Key's, including one in Minneapolis.

          When you ask if there are any good Italian spots in St. Paul, my answer is, it depends. If you mean red-sauce places, yes and we can give you some recs for those if you like. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/47956... If you mean the other kind, no, there are only average ones. There is La Grolla, which leaves me unimpressed --what shines most about it for me is the fact that it has a patio, which is lovely for Spring and summer--and Luci, which is again, average.

          Many 'hounds have recommended Al Vento in MInneapolis for good Italian--I haven't personally tried it, but I would try that before La Grolla or Luci again. Or Broder's, again, in Minneapolis.

          ~TDQ

          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            Osteria y Nonni doesn't usually disappoint for Italian of the "other than red sauce" type, does it?

            -----
            I Nonni
            981 sibley memorial hwy, Lilydale, MN 55118

            1. re: KTFoley

              You know, it doesn't and I love their adjoining Buon Giorno shop--I think that's a great rec, KTFoley. I think of that location as "Lilydale" rather than St. Paul, but I don't know if Lilydale is actually "technically" St. Paul or not. Regardless, you'll need a car.

              ~TDQ

              1. re: KTFoley

                ditto on I nonni - much better than La Grolla.

                Worth the extra 3-5 mins in the car.

                1. re: St Paul Susie

                  I posted last week for comments or recommendations about I Nonni and got zero response. If you want current info, we ate there last night.

                  1. re: otps

                    um, I responded. a day or 2 after you posted

                    How was it?

                    1. re: soupkitten

                      I come to this site enough to know better, my fault.
                      We arrived there and they had our reservation scheduled for the previous night. Small delay but handled well. Had a drink at the bar and were seated within a half an hour.
                      When our server (Jay) told us about the tasting menu, all four of us ordered it.
                      We started with a perfectly seared scallop with a slice of blood orange and onion and a slice of something that I don't recall,all good.
                      Next was pasta with wild boar ragu very tasty and perfectly prepared.
                      A beef tenderloin was next (Fillet) 2 med's and 2 med rare, all cooked and seasoned perfectly.
                      The cheese course was next, a goat cheese that I enjoyed, my wife is not a cheese lover so I had hers also.
                      Dessert was a hazelnut and chocolate mixture in a formed shape
                      that was not quite pudding and not quite jello, with a berry sauce. Good taste, my wife ate hers and half of mine.
                      A couple of bottles of Barbera and very attentive wait staff with no
                      push to turn the table made it a wonderful night and meal.
                      The last time we enjoyed a meal like this was when we visited Italy, good food, relaxed pace, with a comfortable atmosphere. Sorry for the length of this post.

                      1. re: otps

                        Drool is on my keyboard - that wild boar ragu is what I had on the gnocci about a month ago and its amazing!

                        1. re: St Paul Susie

                          The tasting menu was $60.00 per person, and some people will think that is too much. I look at the dining experience, a perfectly paced meal that lasts for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. What can you do these days for $20.00 an hour with great service and good atmosphere.

                2. re: The Dairy Queen

                  Al Vento is great- quaint atmosphere, nice menu, reasonably priced. It is in Mpls. though. Been there twice and would definitely recommend it.

                3. re: jdsopil

                  If you're feeling lazy Sunday morning do NOT be afraid of the st paul hotel brunch. It is solid.. just plain good. Each table gets a ginormous caramel roll (so sit 2 per table, you get the whole thing.. it's designed for 6 or so!) and a big plate of fresh fruit (1/3+ a whole fresh pineapple, berries, melon, and a fruit sauce).. along with your choice of meal (I had the crab cake -- it was awesome) and a glass of champagne.. and i think all that was like $15. Very nice. My husband had biscuits & gravy instead of crab and it was probably $12. Enjoy! =)

                  1. re: jdsopil

                    The orignal Keys in on Raymond Avenue just a half block north of University, very close to the Mpls/StP border. Better parking (street) than in dtwn Mpls, and the oiginal location just plain has that something extra. If you like Keys for breakfast, that's the location to hit.

                    Cay

                    1. re: cayjohan

                      Since my fingers can't seem to spell "original," I thought I'd be nice and include the address. :-)
                      Cay

                      -----
                      Key's Cafe & Bakery
                      767 Raymond Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55114

                      1. re: cayjohan

                        The Key's I was referring to when I first brought it up is the one in downtown St. Paul at 500 N. Robert Street, which is only a minute or two driving from the St. Paul Hotel. Personally, I prefer it to the Raymond location, which I find too crowded. And, somehow, I just don't think the chow is as good at the Raymond location. http://www.keyscafe.com/00_frameset.html If you're willing to drive all the way to Raymond Street location of Key's from the St. Paul Hotel, it seems like you might as well hop in your car and drive a bit to really expand your breakfast options to include Tea House II for dim sum (I don't know what time of day that starts, though), or WA Frost's brunch or Muffuletta's brunch, etc., although, reannd brings up a great point that the St. Paul Hotel itself does a nice brunch.

                        WA Frost's Saturday brunch starts at 11am; Sunday, at 10:30.
                        Muffuletta: Sat 11am, Sun 10am
                        Meritage Sat & Sun 10am

                        ~TDQ

                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                          TDQ, can you share the differences in the Keys locales, other than crowdedness? I love Keys, and patronize the one in my neighborhood out of habit and loyalty, but I'm willing to take a stab at another.

                          Chow better at the other? Maybe a better bet.

                          Cay

                          1. re: cayjohan

                            I still think, that if you are looking for really fresh, hearty home breakfasts in a fun environment, the Day by Day is the way to go.

                            1. re: karykat

                              I like Day by Day, especially when I'm trying to eat healthy or am with a vegetarian (they offer scrambled tofu options and brown rice options, for instance)--it has more of an artsy/quirky feel and has a patio (for when spring comes). It always feels a bit disheveled/busy to me, which has to do with the toys and stuff they have all over the walls. It's fun, but also a little chaotic in decor and sometimes service (which is very earnest). However, it's not chaotic in atmosphere--it's a friendly, mellow crowd. It's also much larger than you think, as it's divided up into many rooms. It's homey, not polished.

                              Key's is more of a greasy spoon/diner kind of place--they have fantastic caramel rolls, and turkey omelettes (they roast their turkey in-house), and they make their own rhubarb jam in house that they'll bring out about 70% of the time for you to have with your toast (I think they bake all their breads and bakery items in-house). There are multiple locations of Key's--each is run by a different member of the family and, thus, has a slightly different vibe. The downtown St. Paul location is really large (not at all intimate)--almost a cafeteria feel--no personality at all, really, other than "diner". The Raymond location is quite small, with booths. I've only eaten there once, but it felt really crowded to me and there were several minor service mishaps (like the kind where they forget to fill your coffee or bring you a fork--nothing major) that made me think they were overwhelmed. There were newspapers everywhere and my eggs weren't right. I just got the feeling they couldn't handle the crowd that morning--maybe it was a one-off experience. But, I've always gone back downtown or even to Roseville after that; since none of the location are really in my neighborhood, it's just as easy to go to one over the other for me.

                              In fact, Highland Bakery and Cafe on Ford Parkway in that strip mall at Cleveland is closer to me. The folks who run that used to work at Key's and the menus are very similar (breads, soups, sauces, etc. all from scratch, meats roasted in house, all baked goods baked in-house), except that Highland Bakery also offers a small Nepalese menu for dinner (and, if you ask nice, at lunch.) I love their "meat" momos.

                              I don't think you can go wrong with either Day by Day or Downtown St. Paul Key's if you want a casual, egg and pancakes kind of breakfast. I just depends on what you want.

                              While we're talking about eggy breakfasts in a homey setting, I'll also throw out Capitol View Cafe on Smith (on the West Side), if you're hopping in your car. I love their Mexican inspired breakfasts. There is a "view" of downtown from that part of town, but not really from the restaurant itself.

                              ~TDQ

                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                did the op mention where they are visiting from? i wonder if they would prefer big homey diner-style breakfasts, or lighter, fancier brunch-style breakfasts, or just a simple wonderful pastry or scone with a high-quality cup of coffee. grand ave has many great brunch places and stellar bakeries.

                                i used to like both key's & day by day but haven't gone in years-- there's a lot out there, breakfast-wise. . .

                                1. re: soupkitten

                                  TDQ is spot-on with her assessments for Day by Day and Key's. Neither are fancy or "pamper-y". If the OP want casual and down-home, either would work.

                                  If jdsopil wants a fancier (and more expensive) place, how about brunch at WA Frost? I haven't ever tried their brunch, but the menu looks great. And the restaurant is lovely.

                                  And I second the recommendation for Tanpopo - it's fancy enough to be included in a splurge weekend, but casual and inexpensive enough (especially for lunch) to be part of a "conserve-our-pennies" weekend, too, if that's what the OP is going for.

                                  Anne

                                  -----
                                  W.A. Frost & Co
                                  374 Selby Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55102

                  2. Not quite within walking distance, but I like the Day by Day Cafe for breakfast. Good blueberry pancakes and tempting specials.

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

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: KTFoley

                      We agree: Day by Day cafe is great. Tall bookshelves on the walls, nice atmosphere. Excellent hashbrowns and good service. Interesting place and makes us wish it was summer to sit outside and dine outdoors. (Coming soon...coming soon...) For lunch, go to Cossetta's!

                    2. second the recs you've gotten and would add: tanpopo in lowertown, a lovely homestyle japanese place. think noodles rather than sushi. very nice atmosphere & service, great food, relatively cheap!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: soupkitten

                        I love Tanpopo. You could even walk if you were feeling ambitious...

                        ~TDQ

                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                          not open sunday!

                      2. Additionally, notable for being both new and fabulous, The Strip Club Meat and Fish is just up 7th on Maria...outside of downtown, but connected by a series of off and on ramps (the Wall Street off-ramp leads directly on to the Mounds Park exit, Marie is 1 block up from the off-ramp) so as to be literally 5 minutes away.

                        My wife and I had dinner there last Wednesday for an early Valentine's and it was superb in every way - cozy, hip and most importantly delicious. Tim Niver, owner/front of house guy was the consummate host, greeting us at the door, ushering us to romantic table on the balcony and taking care of us all evening. From the balcony, next to the secret fireplace door, you can glimpse the skyline of downtown St. Paul...and on Wednesday evening the softly falling snow provided a hyper-romantic backdrop that I'm still basking in the glow of.

                        The place is done up in a kind of modernized, supper club...all black and reds...with references to the building's 100 year history - a gorgeous, wrought-iron staircase and the aforementioned secret door.

                        J.D. Fratzke is executing like the good, old days at Muffuletta (Hey, I haven't been since J.D. left, but this might be another St. Paul recommendation for the O.P.), I had the duck...and except for the inclusion of the leg on the plate (duck leg is basically inedible unless prepared in a confit) it was perfect on top of a crispy polenta cake. My wife had the Arctic Char, and we fought over the last bites on her plate...it was incredibly delicious.

                        A more comprehensive review, with extensive photographic evidence can had here: http://www.rakemag.com/blogs/seen-cit....

                        -----
                        The Strip Club Meat and Fish
                        378 Maria Avenue, St Paul, MINNESOTA 55106

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Dragon

                          ooo. dh and i really liked the strip club too & i posted about our recent visit on the chowhound thread about it. i cannot urge you more strongly to get a res if you go, the place is tiny, and it gets packed. Dragon- the rake link isn't working for me. . .

                          1. re: soupkitten

                            With such positive thumbs-up from TWO reliable hounds now, I think we need to make a point of getting over to the Strip Club!

                            ~TDQ

                        2. I would add to this list Cafe 128. A small cafe near St. Thomas University on Cleveland that is easy to get to. We were there recently and the barbequed ribs were as good as ever. Others in our group had the fish of the day and loved it.

                          I strongly concur in the Heartland recommendation. You can eat in the main dining room or in the wine bar if you would like a lighter meal (selections from the menu.) Everything locally sourced and expertly made.

                          If you liked Keys you would really like Day-by-Day on West Seventh, not so far from downtown. Very hearty homemade breakfasts in a quirky environment. I love the Earth Breakfast: eggs scrambled with hashbrowns and onions with melted cheese and toast.

                          We also love Tanpopo in the downtown. It's a very serene Japanese place with wonderful noodle soups. I get the soba noodles with shrimp tempura on top. Very good.

                          1. Sakura--just across the street for Japanese and sushi. Pleasant atmosphere and good food. With apologies to my fellow foodies, I like Kincaids. Great starters, wonderful blue cheese dressing, good salmon and steaks and dijon chicken. Pazzaluna for cocktails and pizza in the bar. The M Street Cafe in the lower level of the St. Paul Hotel is nice for lunch--same chefs with a very reasonable salad and hot bar as well as limited menu.

                            1. I would also add the Downtowner to your list - a few blocks from the hotel. Excellent food and service.

                              There are an abundance of places on Grand Ave as well - you might find yourself there for a few hours if you have some time over the weekend.

                              I personally enjoy Shish, Coffee News Cafe, and Cafe Latte - all are sit down - but you wait in a brief to longish line to order.

                              -----
                              Coffee News Cafe
                              1662 Grand Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55105

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

                              Shish A Mediterranean Grill [DUPLICATE]
                              1668 Grand Ave, St Paul, MN

                              Downtowner Cafe [DUPLICATE]
                              253 7th St, W St Paul, MN

                              1. I would also recommed Day by Day Cafe for breakfast and Cafe 128 for dinner. I believe there is also a Key's location on Robert about 10th or 11th in downtown St. Paul? If you want to venture to Mendota, Axel's is good as well. For something different, you could try Beiruit Restaurant on Robert Street in West St. Paul (just a jog south of downtown). Ruam Mit, (just across the street and around the corner from Mickey's Diner) is good for Thai food. It's a plain looking place but good and walkable from the hotel. If you want a good bakery, A Piece of Cake on Selby is wonderful. It's about across the street from the Happy Gnome.

                                18 Replies
                                1. re: liesel

                                  There's a location of Axel's that's more St. Paul than Mendota and that's the one on Grand Avenue in St. Paul, nearish to Victoria, next to Cafe Latte (easily drivable, but parking can be a challenge, there's a small pay lot on Victoria just south of Grand Ave) However, I don't think Axel's is that special-it has more of an institutional vibe to me--it's a small local chain. I'd send you to Cafe Latte for a light lunch, afternoon tea or bakery before Axel's, I think. I think Piece of Cake is a nice bakery if you're in the neighborhood anyway (i.e., on Selby to go to WA Frost or Bon Vie-- a cafe with nice breakfasts that is somehow affiliated with Piece of Cake) , but nothing I'd cross town for personally. For a quirky, only-in St. Paul kind of bakery and for coffee, head a little farther West on Grand Avenue to the teensy Bravo Bakery (you'll need your car--parking can be challenge). Not a huge selection of desserts, but good cream puffs and unique slices of cake such as green tea with red bean frosting, etc. They also have bubble tea and coffee drinks and such. Again, not sure if I'd cross town for it, but if you're in the neighborhood...

                                  http://www.cafelatte.com/
                                  http://bravobakery.net/default.aspx
                                  http://www.apieceofcakebakery.net/
                                  www.wafrost.com
                                  www.axelsbonfire.com
                                  http://tanpoporestaurant.com/
                                  www.daybyday.com
                                  www.downtownerwoodfire.com
                                  www.128cafe.net
                                  www.heartlandrestaurant.com
                                  www.littleszechuan.com
                                  www.ngonbistro.com
                                  www.keyscafe.com
                                  www.domeats.com
                                  http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?...
                                  www.muffuletta.com
                                  http://www.ourteahouse.com/
                                  Since you mentioned Italian and it's so nearby, I'm going to mention Cossetta's on West 7th--I don't think your sit-down dining options are that fantastic (slice of pizza, etc.) unless you're on a budget or in a hurry, but I do love their little Italian market just for browsing. Probably walkable from the St. Paul hotel.

                                  For bar -type food say after the show, McGovern's on West 7th draws a local crowd and has good, hearty open faced turkey sandwich--they roast the turkey in house. It's reasonably walkable from your hotel. If there's a Wild game going on in the XCel Energy Center, there could be crowd at many of the places on West 7th (including McGovern's, the Downtowner) depending on the time, etc.,
                                  http://www.startribune.com/entertainm...

                                  Also, for a quieter spot, maybe for coffee, there's Black Dog Cafe, in the same building (which is filled with artists lofts) as Tanpopo--it has an artsy feel in a St. Paul kind of way. http://blackdogstpaul.com/

                                  ~TDQ

                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                    I think Bon Vie has the best eggs benedict anywhere. Meritage was very good too a couple of weekends ago.

                                    1. re: Haricotsv2

                                      Did you go to Meritage for brunch or lunch? If so, would you please tell us more about that? (My apologies if you've already posted about that and I've missed it, but I'm very curious about their brunch and lunch.) I had a wonderful wild rice salad at Bon Vie, but haven't tried the eggs bennie. Will have to do so!

                                      ~TDQ

                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                        I've been for both brunch and lunch. The eggs bennie were for brunch. I had gnocchi for lunch, sharing the greens that came with my friend's sandwich. I think their gnocchi is to die for.

                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                          bumping this thread (i am not sure if the op has visited yet or not) to say we tried out meritage for brunch this past weekend, and although i wanted to love it, i regret that i must say that everything, food & service, was pretty weak. really hope that it was a one-off morning for them. will try to get to w.a. frost for brunch this coming weekend & compare.

                                          1. re: soupkitten

                                            Hey, we were also at Meritage for brunch. Ours was pretty good, though we mostly had lunch stuff -- steak frites and moules et frites. Plus an incredibly good Fischer Farms coil maple sausage.

                                            1. re: Jordan

                                              dang-- i looked hard at that maple sausage on the menu and evidently chose badly when i decided against it. got the eggs bennie which was poorly executed in 3 ways-- how does that happen, with such a short brunch menu?

                                              1. re: soupkitten

                                                That's rough. Were you there when that big wine lunch was going on?

                                                1. re: Jordan

                                                  no, didn't see any wine lunch, or i could've understood possible problems. we were there sunday am brunch time--maybe 10:30, 11? meritage seemed comfortably full but not packed, yet the staff seemed slammed and service was erratic for our table and the surrounding ones. the food seemed like someone in the kitchen put our order on & then forgot about it & walked away-- poached eggs solidly cooked all the way thru, bread burnt, salad greens with soft, rotten leaves left in. the hollandaise seemed like it was well executed but flavorless, like someone with chops made it in a rush but didn't taste it before finishing. little careless things that could've been easily fixed-- maybe something going on behind the scenes though.

                                                  was this wine lunch on sunday noonish or early pm? i would feel better about a mediocre brunch if the kitchen was distracted, getting ready for an event. from other comments it seems i may have really caught a one-off at meritage, & will have to try them again for lunch or dinner. thanks for the input.

                                                  1. re: soupkitten

                                                    It was Sunday around noon. They had about 20 people there doing a bunch of courses with different wines, as well as a half-dozen tables occupied by non-participants like us.

                                                    Oops, no -- it was SATURDAY around noon. That shouldn't have had any effect on your meal.

                                                    1. re: Jordan

                                                      aw. who knows then. maybe everyone on staff was hung over. sometimes you just never know. :) regardless, i'll give meritage a try for dinner or lunch some other time. i'd be curious to hear about other hounds' brunch experiences. it is a lovely restaurant & i hope they can succeed there.

                                                      1. re: soupkitten

                                                        bad benny aside, you really shouldnt wait too long to get back for dinner or lunch at meritage. my dinner there two weekends ago was truly superb. Visiting the twin cities again after returning to my ancestral homeland of california, my meal at meritage re-inspired my faith in st paul foodstuffs (an awesome dinner at the strip club two nights later helped, too).

                                                        it may not be terribly creative or groundbreaking but the execution was just spot on - the gnocchi, beet salad and bass were just about perfect, as in actually perfect and could not have been better. dont walk, run back, but apparently for dinner not brunch (for now).

                                                        1. re: tex.s.toast

                                                          awesome! i wonder how much of my disappointment in the brunch at meritage was due to my own heightened expectations due to all the dinner raves. i agree that the st paul restaurant scene seems to be getting a much needed & well-deserved injection of talent lately. it is exciting! thanks for the comments & i'll move meritage up a notch on my short list of "get to's. . ."

                                                          1. re: soupkitten

                                                            sorry to bump this again, but didn't want to leave this thread, for posterity, on a bad note!

                                                            OMG! would you believe it took me this long to cajole dh into going back to meritage for brunch!? he was adamantly opposed, saying "why should we go back to a place with shitty food"-- yes, he really said shitty!!!

                                                            anyways, our experience over this past weekend was like night and day. service was warm, personal, very good. we ordered the benedict again, and it was perfectly executed: great poached eggs, flavorful sauce, squeaking fresh salad, barely dressed. ordered some maple coil sausage on the side, just because i wanted it. very good. excellent coffee (though the rest of the beverage service & morning cocktails looked wonderful). the room was lovelier than ever, with seasonal flowers on the tables.

                                                            i am very pleased to report that our disappointing earlier experience at meritage was officially a fluke, that their brunch is, as all others have stated, very worthy and delicious, and that nowadays if dh were to overhear anyone referring to meritage's food as "shitty," that he'd probably bonk 'em on the head. *sigh, rolling eyes* :) now it shouldn't be so hard to get him to go back, for dinner there, fer goodness sake!!!

                                                            1. re: soupkitten

                                                              That's great to know. I had dinner at Brasa last week and as I was sitting there, I was thinking, "I'm glad I didn't write this place off". My first experience there (Brasa, not Meritage) was shitty as well.

                                                              1. re: soupkitten

                                                                Sounds great! You know, you *could* have rewarded me with a take-out order of that maple coil sausage.

                                        2. re: The Dairy Queen

                                          The Bonfire on grand is great for adrink - I've been disappointed in the food over the past year.

                                          Also - a lot of nights a 10 pm - they have dueling pianos, or karoke or something equally unpleasant. Avoid it.

                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                            an aside, probably insignificant to the discussion: black dog has recently changed ownership, but as far as i know no changes have been made. other hounds may have better info.

                                        3. If you are up for some decent pizza I'd suggest the Savoy. It may not have the atmosphere you are comfortable with, but the pizza will help you forget the surroundings. Another spot I like to hit is Great Waters Brewing Company on St. Peter. Great beer, good pizza of the day, good fish, nice atmosphere, and a short walk from Rice Park. I don't want to hammer the pizza theme, but if you drive up Snelling Ave, get off at Como Ave, take a right and two buildings down is Bascali's Brick Oven. Bascali's has great pizza, calzones, and other stuff, at reasonable prices. Have a great time!

                                          6 Replies
                                          1. re: Mess Hall Bob

                                            Thanks for all the great ideas. We are heading up there this weekend!. Haven't decided on Dinner yet, I will report after the weekend. We have heard about Mickey's Diner...Is it worth going there or would we be better off at Key's or Day by Day. We want something casual for breakfast on Sunday.

                                            1. re: jdsopil

                                              Really, every recommendation on Mickey's should come with a caviat -- it's a neat little historically-significant dining car but the food is very pedestrian, standard truck stop fare: greasy eggs, bacon, white toast, english muffins, etc. Very plain diner coffee and indifferent service. Now, I really enjoy a good, honest-days-work breakfast, but if your emphasis is on good food, Mickey's isn't even worth mentioning. The only time I would go there is to take my three kids for the novelty factor.

                                              1. re: MSPD

                                                100% agreement, with the addition that it's not even good for truck-stop-fare-style food.

                                                Yes, you would be better off at Key's of Day by Day.

                                                1. re: diesel

                                                  I think the best things about Mickey's are 1) the 24 hour-ness of them (they never close--some say--and I've never checked to see if it's true--that they don't even have locks on the doors) and 2) the people watching.

                                                  But, there's better chow elsewhere, as MSPD and diesel have so eloquently already said.

                                                  ~TDQ

                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                    Photo op = yes
                                                    actual eating = no

                                                    It was one of the first places I went to when I moved and I was a little upset at my dining future!

                                                    Cheers & enjoy

                                              2. re: jdsopil

                                                I hate to disagree with some of the august posters who have replied, but for what it's worth: I find Mickey's utterly wonderful in terms of ambience (including the service, which has its own charms, especially if Mary's working) and I've always been quite happy with the food. The pancakes are good, the hashbrowns are great, the burgers are good, if greasy, the fries good, the baked beans good, my wife is a fan of the french toast.... Notice, I haven't said any of the food is "great"-- for great diner-type food, Al's is the only destination in town-- but it is all quite good, I would say somewhat above-average for a greasy spoon type place. The one point I'll concede is that the coffee is fairly awful.... but then I'm a coffee snob....