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[MSP] Dinkytown "Healthy" options

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Hi there, quick question, I'm looking for "healthy" and delicious (of course) options for dinner in Dinkytown. By "healthy" I mean options that will fit my Weight Watchers Core plan--so, grilled lean meats, whole grains (brown rice, whole wheat pasta, soba noodles, or other grains like quinoa, polenta...), and lots veggies. I realize this is a tall order at the last minute here, but if you have a recommendation for me, please let me know!

Does the Loring Pasta Bar offer whole wheat pasta as an option? Do we need reservations? Also, we actually do quite well at steakhouses (believe it or not...) something like that would work too.

Thank you!

~TDQ

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  1. Well, since we're both at it this early, I actually have some recs in Dinkytown. I don't think the LPB has whole wheat pasta, but they do usually have a cheaper steak or two on the menu. With school in session, I would get reservations...but even without they usually manage to seat me and the family within 10 minutes, it's a big place that tends to turn tables pretty fast.

    If it's steak you're into, you might want to try the Steak Knife, right across the street from LPB...I haven't been there in a while, but if memory serves it's kinda of like a brighter, 21st century version the old Best Steak Houses.

    You might also try walking up the street to Pagoda, which we've been having for take-out just about every week since they opened. They have over 200 items on the menu, I'm sure they'd have something that fits your food approach. I'll admit, however, to an addiction to their deep-fried, salt and pepper shrimp, which would definitely not be on the plan. Also, the duck (hanging, tantalizingly, in the case) is to die for...

    Chow topic here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/454316

    3 Replies
    1. re: Dragon

      Thank you for the quick reply! I'm going to have to make a note of that duck (as well as the salt and pepper shrimp) for later...they both sound delicious. Lucky you, getting regular visits to Pagoda!

      ~TDQ

      1. re: The Dairy Queen

        Kafe 421's menu had some nice looking salads, as well as one dish that came with wild rice as the grain (the entree, however, was chicken breast stuffed with cheese, but I bet they would sub the potatoes on another dish with the wild rice) There is usually one or two dishes on most menus that would align with your goals, which are pretty similar to mine after being dx. with type2 diabetes (Mantra: less carbs, healthier carbs). My problem: When I get into a resto and see all the other glorious choices, any willpower I thought I had goes right out the window, and I find my self ordering extra cheesy bechamel garlic potato something or other; or pasta carbonara or something. This is when it helps to have a SO who will lay down the law (generally a script I give him ahead of time) Honey, we will not be able to go out anymore if you insist on sabatoging yourself. It helps if your SO is a convincing actor (or doesnt secretely want you to order the bad stuff so they can have a bite :) ) Good luck - I will keep my eyes open for you. I wonder if Pagoda has brown rice on their menu? anyone know??

        1. re: autmommy

          I didn't see any brown rice on the menu, but was not looking for it. Do soba (buckwheat) noodles work for you DQ? They may have those at Pagoda as well.

          At Loring Pasta Bar, I like their Salade Sauvage. Not exactly the healthiest thing, but probably works better for you than the pasta.

          Bob

    2. Dinkytown isn't exactly teeming with healthy-eating options, alas. I second the suggestions of Pagoda and Kafe 421. Both have willpower-testing menus, but there are some lean meat and vegetable choices at each.

      At Kafe 421, I'd probably get the grilled salmon salad. Careful with the balsamic dressing, though - it's very sweet and extremely tasty (I usually lick the plate). There's a grilled chicken salad, too, but I've never tried it. And a grilled chicken dinner that comes with some rather tasty gnocchi (ah, potatoes!). Not many non-salad veggie options on the menu, though, except for the bits of squash etc. that come with the various dinners.

      At Pagoda, I might get a big bowl of soup (but I think the only noodle choices are white wheat flour or rice flour). Or else I'd get the steamed chicken plate (#98), which comes with a pile of bok choy on the side (and lots of white rice, which you'll need to ignore). I really like Pagoda's steamed chicken - my friend thinks it's boring, which it kinda is, but it's moist and tender. I think it's lovely plain and even better with the two dipping sauces. (My friend got the mixed meat plate - #102 - and let me eat all the chicken.) And I'd definitely get the stir-fried snow pea shoots (or leaves or tips or whatever they call them at Pagoda) - they're the best vegetable on the planet.

      Or you could head over to Stadium Village for Vietnamese food (Jasmine Orchid or Bona). That's about a half-mile away, at Oak St. and Washington Ave.

      Or you could go 2-3 miles away to Central Ave N.E., where you would find the wonderful Bombay 2 Deli. No lean meats here - it's all-vegetarian Indian food - but plenty of veggies and beans. Resisting the white-flour breads, however, would be tough.

      Anne

      1 Reply
      1. re: AnneInMpls

        P.S. Oh, and the steamed chicken at Pagoda is hacked-up, bone-in chicken. The servers usually mention the bones, but just in case....

        Me, I think bone-in chicken tastes MUCH better than the off-bone kind, and I don't mind chewing carefully. The extra flavor is worth it.

      2. As the recommendations are creeping out of Dinkytown proper, you're less than two miles from Alma. You could order lightly and get out of there without breaking the bank.

        Camdi (Vietnamese) had expanded their vegan menu quite a bit a while back -- likely still some good core options along those lines.

        Kafe 421 seemed like the most obvious bet.

        1. LPB does offer some healthy options although I don't believe they have wheat pasta. For apps I like their Salad Savage that has a light champagne vinaigrette, pears, gorgonzola cheese, raisins and candied walnuts. Also they have a steamed artichoke and a fairly healthy and light bruschetta or tuna sushi roll. You can also add chicken, shrimp or grill beef for pretty cheap. For pastas they have a vegetarian orzo that can be made vegan and healthier by eliminating the cheese and includes grilled marinated artichoke hearts, and asparagus. They can make a lot of adjustments for dinners if you ask. I also really enjoy Camdi right across the street for some of their healthier vegan options including soups and spring rolls. Kafe 421 is also a safe bet for some healthier items and they have the 1/2 priced bottle wine deal i believe monday nights.

          1. Ecopolitan is nearby and about as healthy as you can get!

            4 Replies
            1. re: lgss

              No, Ecopolitan is not nearby. It is on the other side of the river, all the way past downtown in the Lyn-Lake area. With the 35W bridge down, getting to 24th & Lyndale from Dinkytown requires some serious detouring.

              1. re: Jordan

                Sorry, forgot about the bridge being down. I was basing distance on google maps...

              2. re: lgss

                I agree that Kafe 421 does a great job with salads , and I recently had a great
                meal from Shuang Cheng, that included something I've learned to ask for, which is basically Chinese broccoli or bok choy, or any Chinese greens, simply stir-fried with fresh garlic and ginger, 'easy on the soy sauce' and it is amazingly delicious.
                If they don't overcook it, the greens come out a beautiful bright green color and are quite filling- Chinese broccoli especially- and the slight bitterness is balanced beautifully by the garlic and ginger. I do eat a small amount of rice, and wish there were places that would offer brown rice. I have fond memories of a place in Philly Chinatown that did have brown rice. Good luck, and let
                us know your successes!

                1. re: faith

                  Not many Chinese places offer brown rice. One that does: Bravo Bakery in St. Paul. This all-vegetarian place has brown rice for 50 cents extra. But it's not very close to Dinkytown...

                  Anne

              3. This is probably too late but for future reference - at Camdi you can substitute brown rice for $1. I didn't know that! According to their new expanded vegan menu it is an option. http://www.camdirestaurant.com/menu.h...

                1. ObentoYa is not too terribly far up on Como.

                  1. Thank you, everyone, for this (as always) fantastic list of recommendations. I made reservations at Loring Pasta Bar, which helped us stay on schedule for the evening. What a lovely setting--I imagine it is quite the date spot when the weather warms up and they open those big glass doors. Food was good--not exceptional. I had the seared tuna, which came on a giant pile of greens--perfect choice; my companion ordered the pork tenderloin. Both were very nice. We also ordered the steamed artichoke appetizer, which would have been healthier had I not dipped in the ranch dressing they provided (which was completely my own choice--it came with lemon wedges, too, which would have kept it "light"), and a side of grilled asparagus, which came with a dollop of hollandaise (whoops! I should have anticipated that...). Still, it was my choice. I also helped myself to slice of the bread they brought to the table, but, again, that was my choice to go off-plan.

                    Just to answer the question for those who come after me, they do not offer whole wheat pasta.

                    It's good to know of the other options, though, for next time I'm over there. The spots I know in Dinkytown aren't especially diet friendly :), even if delicious.

                    ~TDQ

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      Glad that the LPB worked for you. The food used to be better than it is (and a little cheaper too). Now, it's the space and the drinks that are the real draw.

                      Check out Kafe 421 sometime. Surprisingly good.