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MSP - got a car this Wkend, where should I go?

I've been without a car for over the last year, but this weekend I'll have one and I'm trying to decide how to make the most of it. There are a lot of parts of town I don't get to much because I don't feel like taking 3 buses or the weather (until now, ahh spring!) has not been something I want to mess around biking in. So I'm thumbing through my mind for places to go to that are south of Minnehaha creek, west of the lakes, north of northeast Mpls, and aren't on University Ave in St. Paul.

I just can't decide! Anyone want to help me make up my mind? Breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack and any cuisine is fine. I'm sort of steering away from $$$, birthday dinner type places, but maybe the right recommendation will sway me.

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    1. re: The Dairy Queen

      Tea House II is a great choice. Here's the places link so you can read all the posts about how wonderful the juicy dumplings and scallion pancakes are.

      Tea House
      1676 Suburban Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55106

      1. re: AnneInMpls

        You gals know your stuff! Tea House II is the best Chinese in the Twin Cities -- maybe the least known. The owner of the Tea House empire always goes to Tea House II for their dan dan noodles.

    2. If it were me, I'd trek out to Apple Valley to try Satay2Go. That's a really long trip just for food, so I might also go to the zoo. (Or I might just eat.)

      If I was in the comfort-food mode, I'd head up north to Carol's Restaurant in Blaine. They have the best stuffing on the planet. The turkey and gravy is great, too. And they have pie.

      Slightly closer in, there's a great strip mall on Portland at 494 that has two Indian restaurants - Kabobs is hallal, and India Cafe is mostly vegetarian - and a nice little Mexican place called La Mixteca. All are good, and are extremely inexpensive and casual.

      Buon Giorno deli is a nice place for casual lunches or ingredients - it's in Lilydale on Hwy 13 at 35E. If you really wanted a $$$$ dinner, the restaurant here (I Nonni) will definitely use up all your money. But I'd stick with the deli. They have great cheese and amazingly fabulous spumoni ice cream.

      Have fun exploring!

      Kabobs Restaurant and Meat Shop
      7814 Portland Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55420

      TBS India Cafe
      7826 Portland Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55420

      Mixteca La
      7822 Portland Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55420

      Satay 2 Go
      6670 150th St W, Saint Paul, MN 55124

      I Nonni
      981 sibley memorial hwy, Lilydale, MN 55118

      Carol's Restaurant
      11888 Aberdeen St NE, Minneapolis, MN 55449

      2 Replies
      1. re: AnneInMpls

        Ooohhh Buon Giorno--good choice. Also, El Burrito Mercado and the little pocket of places over that side of town. Or this pupuseria place Manana MSPD mentioned that I've never made it to... http://www.chowhound.com/topics/398467

        For breakfast, maybe Capitol View Cafe. (I've never been to Carol's, but it seems like you might have to go there for breakfast first. Capitol View Cafe would be on your second day with a car...).


        1. re: The Dairy Queen

          I can vouch for the pupusas at Mañana. They're delicious, though the cole-slaw-like stuff that goes on them might be even better.

      2. How about Modern Cafe? Lots of choices from the traditional pot roast to something seasonal and fresh.

        1. Are you paying for the gas? If you are open to the low cost fare, come to the Five Corners area of St. Paul (where Dale, Como and Front meet). Schroeders (the place with the mural) and John's Pizza Cafe. Everytime I go to John's there is always a cop, firefighter, or some city official in there. Must be for the Lasagna, Calzones or the creative pizza toppings. Aesop's Table during the week has great lunch specials. Abetto's for pizza, albeit a bit greasy pizza.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Mess Hall Bob

            I drove past Aesop's Table today and noticed it for the first time. What kind of food do they have and how is it?

            1. re: karykat

              Aesop's Table is a BBQ/deli type place (and yes, indeed, a favorite spot for local law enforcement), though I've always thought they had more of a weekday than a weekend focus (I've not been on a weekend, but that's always been my impression.) Maybe mess hall bob can expand on that. They also offer catering--their pig roast has always sounded fun to me. http://www.aesopstable.com/door/

              Here's a photo of their pulled pork from the BBQ chowdown... http://www.chowhound.com/topics/44877...


              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                I'm not sure where this fits in with a "weekend focus" but my one experience with Aesop's table involved ordering a whole hog, which came out quite well.

                of course, i had intended to do one myself but when the situation wouldnt allow for it they came through with a pretty respectable product. no comment on any of their other stuff. i suppose if you were looking more for a sandwich on a weekend and less for a whole pig this may not help you, but who knows? perhaps your hungry or have a lot of friends? it certainly would be easier taking your whole hog home in a car than on the bus (though i can't actually remember if they delivered it to us or not, in which case the car would be optional)

                1. re: tex.s.toast

                  By "weekday" focused I meant I understood that a lot of the stuff they have on weekdays --like the ribs--aren't available on the weekends. Catering, of course, is a whole other thing. I'm glad to hear that the whole hog was a thumbs-up. Was it a giant mess to clean up after?


                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    tdq, like any good pig pickin' no one left our event thirsty. as such i can't be exactly clear on the details of how things got cleaned up, but it wasn't particularly onerous, as i fuzzily recall.

              2. re: karykat

                I've never been there on a weekend either. They do catering a lot and I'm not sure if they are open on the weekends. I responded to the Phillysteak sandwich topic at how I normally get the Philly Dip there. They have a small eating area inside, and outside when the weather is warm. It is sort of a no frills neighborhood sandwich spot, but they do have ribs and specials throughout the week. They have frozen pizzas made on the premises, and an assortment of glass bottled pop. Don't be too surprised to see one of the cooks waiting on you with a stained apron. They do box lunches and that sort of thing. There is plenty of parking too. I live about a mile away, so I can walk there on a nice day. If you want to get a feel and a taste of what a blue or gray collar worker eats and where they go to get it stop by some time before 6pm. They do weddings I hear.

            2. Try Khyber Pass on Grand Ave at Snelling in St Paul. Their cilantro chutney is spectacular with pita. Also the eggplant bharta, unusual and delicious.

              1 Reply
              1. re: DianeStPaul

                Here is the link to Aesop's - http://www.aesopstable.com/

                They expanded their hours a little bit because I remember I used to swing by there after work on Friday and they were already closed. Their website says 6, but I swear it's til 7. Whenever I drive by on the weekend, it's not open. They still have great value and good food. They're always happy, they get the lunch rush in and out -and now that the weather is turning up - people can utilize a few tables outside (or what the business folk do - eat in their cars...pretty messy!)

              2. Satay2Go turned out to be the perfect tip. The whole reason for having the car involved a quick trip down to Iowa and S2G was right on the way for getting some take out for dinner. I was originally going to get the okonomiyaki (often described as Japanese pizza, but I've always thought that gives the wrong impression) but they warned us it would take extra long to make and we were in a bit of a hurry to get the Iowa thing over with, so I got the Hokkien Mee. It was good, a kind of gravylicious thick udon noodle dish, but now I'm wishing I'd been more patient because I really want to try that okonomiyaki and it's just not going to happen until I get a car again.

                That was Friday. On the way back on Saturday we stopped at Brianno's deli for the eggplant parmigiana sandwiches that are so big they almost feel like you're walking out the door with a newborn cradled in your arms. But it's amazing, when you actually eat the darn things the bread is light and fluffy and the eggplant is all melty, it's not heavy at all. Special rules of physics apply at Brianno's apparently.

                Sunday, we were actually going to go try those pupusas at Mañana, but somehow we ended up driving past the Nook, and after seeing it recommended so often here I decided it was destiny and we made a stop. Ok, the wait, it's no joke. An hour and a half after walking in the door I got to finally take my first bite. The fries were the medium thickness kind with skins, lots of salt, and nothing limp and soggy. Perfect for that style. (My friend likes shoelace style so he wasn't so impressed, but whatever.) I got the lodge burger which had two slices of bacon, onion, cheddar cheese, mayo, lettuce, and it all sort of melded together by the last few bites which hit the spot for me. But still, I don't don't know if it was soooo good that I could make waiting over an hour for it a regular habit. Despite being stuffed we were in the mood for malts and we stopped at Izzy's on the way home. Cherries jubilee malt for me, yum!

                This report is getting longer than I intended, but I should also mention that while in Waterloo Iowa we went to a diner called Morg's for breakfast. Just your basic diner food. Pancakes are humongous and they have a walnut version which is tasty. Nice diner atmosphere and a friendly crowd. It's nothing I would drive out of the way for, but Waterloo doesn't have a lot of options and so I recommend it if you're there.

                Anyway, next time I'm driving I look forward to Tea House II and those pupusas you guys so helpfully pointed out. Thanks everyone!

                2 Replies
                1. re: AmandaAnn

                  Sounds grand! Thank you for reporting back. If you can't bear the wait at the Nook, then head down the hill to Shamrock's on West 7th--operated by the same people with most of the same menu. There's seldom a wait. I personally don't think it's quite as good as the Nook, but others disagree. I do love the Nook, but I don't think I would wait an hour and a half, either. It always does take a good 20 minutes for the food to come out of the kitchen--it's a tiny grill with just a couple of people working it.


                  1. re: AmandaAnn

                    Ah...great stops! The okonomiyaki at Satay 2 Go is far and away the best in a 300 mile radius in any direction.

                    Thanks for the great write up.