AUTHENTIC Dinner Destination in St. Paul
Dear Chow Hound Gurus,
I will be traveling to St. Paul this weekend for work and have Saturday evening free for dinner. I'm looking for something really authentic (and potentially Swedish) near the Crowne Plaza Hotel St. Paul Riverfront (I can take a cab to my dinner destination). Any reccomendations? Thanks!
The problem with "authentically MSP" is that over the course of history, Scandinavians and Native Americans haven't been known for their cooking acumen, nor restaurant entrepreneurship. So you may just have to settle for things that were grown or killed here.
To that end, and assuming all price points are fair game, I would recommend Heartland, not too far from downtown St. Paul (and convenient for your Minneapolis friend). You'll get an excellent meal highlighting local and regional ingredients.
Good luck and welcome!
re: The Dairy Queen
I quickly reviewed the links in that thread I just linked above and I think your best bet would be Finnish Bistro--but the reports on that have been mixed as of late and you would have to contact them ahead of time to check their hours. They keep very limited hours.
Midtown Global Market has a "Cafe Finspang" that has a nice dessert counter--but that's Norwegian I think. Again, you'd need to call ahead to see if they'd be open at dinner time. But, you'd still have to do something else for dinner. Lots of neat stuff in Midtown Global Market, but not all always open late into the evenings. Plus, Midtown Global Market is in Minneapolis--might not be super easy to get there and back cabbing it.
I've always wanted to try the Smorgasbords at American Swedish Institute, again, in Minneapolis, but the next one if memory serves is April 20-- and is a day time affair.
I could steer you towards some authentic German food at Glockenspiel on West 7th in St. Paul. It isn't always exceptional, but I really like their appetizer platter.
Also, we have some very good Southeast Asian food in the Twin Cities as we have among the largest urban Hmong populations in North America. Also, we have a large number of Somali immigrants as well---there is Starlight Cafe and Safari in Midtown Global Market if you just want to try something unique and authentic.
We have lots of great "authentic" (boy, we could probably debate what that means till we're all heartily sick of the topic) ethnic cuisines in abundance in St. Paul, although Swedish isn't one of them. What else are you interested in, and what's not easy to find in your hometown? There are great Mexican, Southeast Asian, Szechuan and Ethiopian restaurants that are cabbable from your hotel; there's a good homestyle Japanese place that's walkable. There are also some excellent restaurants that make a point of sourcing local ingredients. Give us a little more info and we'll help you out.
I also support the Heartland recommendation. It is very authentic in the sense that it really emphasizes the fresh and local. It has a nice dining room. If you want to keep things cheaper, there is also a nice wine bar that serves much of the menu where you can get soup and a salad, or an entree and a salad. More ala carte.
Either is very nice.
Another place in St. Paul that is nice (although I'm not sure I would call it authentic) is Cafe 128. It has a small menu with fresh offerings and has a barbequed ribs specialty.
"Authentic" is an interesting requirement. If it means "ethnic" than there really aren't any heavy hitters in the Swedish category. If it means "made by hand" or "scratch" then there are a number of contenders. Lucia's in Uptown is a long time winner featuring simple home cooked food values, reflective of local producers and artisans, and distinctly Minnesotan. Heartland is local to the extreme in terms of ingredients sourcing, but less simple than Lucia's. Add in Craftsman for the charcuterie. Glockenspiel is kitchy decoration, great beer service, and food in third place in terms of importance.