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Jul 8, 2008 08:10 PM

Wheelchair friendly places MSP?

I recently was in a accident and have two back surgeries and am in a wheelchair for a while as I wait for my body to heal. I'm at a rehab center right now in Maplewood, but am getting at a place where I can take a few field trips. Can you think of places that don't have steps and where I would feel comfortable? I like most kinds of foods-not too fancy schmancy though...I'm on a teacher's budget.
Thank you!!

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  1. Oh my goodness, jenniegirl, I'm so sorry. I hope you heal quickly. In the meantime, here are a couple of threads to get you started:

    From the last paragraph, it seems Pastrami Jacks would be wheelchair accessible.

    Here's another thread. Note, Puerta Azul in St. Paul is closed (there is a sign that there are new owners and they will be re-opening soon, though…

    I'm trying to think of places that have no steps, though I've never been to them in a wheelchair. Ngon Bistro and Little Szechuan, I think, would both work for you. On University Avenue in St. Paul. (Edit: Ngon Bistro might be a little fancy schmancy for you food-wise because of the French twist, but it's still very affordable and relaxed.


    I think China Jen off of Snelling (at Cty Rd B? Or is it B2? Can never remember. Right by the Outback Steakhouse there) doesn't have steps.

    Also, how about Khyber Pass on Grand at Snelling in St. Paul?

    Hmmm...that's all that occurs to me at the moment, but I'm sure some of the other knowledgeable, creative 'hounds can chime in with more info. I'm afraid I don't know much about Maplewood, so, the closest I got for you was St. Paul.

    I wish you the very best for a strong recovery.


    1. I'm 98% sure Midtown Global Market is wheelchair accessible (because of its association with Allina). I will call over there and confirm for you later today. Or, if someone beats me to it, that's okay, too.

      1. Technically, by law, all establishments in MN need to be accessible. MN is way ahead of the curve compared to some states in terms of access, but compliance at some eateries barely meets the letter of the law and access is awkward at best. I have a grandmother who uses a scooter for mobility, so before I plan any outings with her, I make sure the place is especially accessible.

        From experience:

        For example, Hot Plate is a bad idea - the tables are just too crowded in there. Big Bowl is laid out in a way that out have to try to squeeze past the Maitre D' desk first and it doesn't work so well.

        MGMkt does indeed work beautifully. Hell's Kitchen works out pretty well, too, depending on the type of chair you have.

        Chipotle, any location, has worked fine - she goes right to a table, and I have went through line for her.

        I have found that a couple of locations of Green Mill (Uptown in particular) are too cramped, even though there are no stairs) to get in and out of, but one other (Coon Rapids) is easily accessible.

        112 Eatery is simply out of the question. I was there once and thought about taking my grandparent there for their anniversary, and realized it was impossible.

        Laredo's might work - I took them there when it was still Mojito and that worked out nicely.

        Joe's Garage and Bar Abeline are accessible, if you can get past the service issues, are easily accessible.

        If I think of more, I will post back.

        Godspeed on your recovery.

        14 Replies
        1. re: pgokey

          I was going to say nearly the same thing. Everywhere is technically accessible. And, if you are willing to bitch, they have to accomodate. I work with a lot of people in wheelchairs (as well as blind and deaf/hoh folk) and I can make recommendations for dt st. paul happy hours, but not much else.

          For DT. St. Paul Happy Hours (and of course, any other time):
          Fabulous Ferns (but only in the restaurant area)
          Downtowner Woodfire Grill
          The Liffey
          and that Brew Pub Downtown, what's it called?

          1. re: churchka

            Is Great Waters the brewpub in downtown St. Paul you're thinking of? They have a nice patio this time of year, too, though the patio might be kind of cobble-stoney (if I recall) and may not be that wheelchair comfortable.


            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              Yep great waters. Good for wheelchairs, bad for the Hard of Hearing.

          2. re: pgokey

            Great suggestions, pgokey, and thank you for the confirmation on MGMkt. You know what would be fabulous if you don't mind traveling the distance from the parking lot? Sea Salt Eatery in Minnehaha Park.


            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              Do they have seating? I was thinking of Tin Fish but skipped it because it's all picnic tables, and you can't get up to one from a wheelchair. (Another case of the establishment being technically accessible but in practice really isn't.) It's been a while since I've been to Sea Salt - maybe they have more than picnic tables there.

              The upside of Tin Fish is that the dock there means you can get dropped off right at the restaurant without having to wheel a great distance.

              1. re: pgokey

                I believe that the Tin Fish has tables that would work with a wheelchair, as well as traditional rectangular picnic tables. Most of these tables are in the pavilion, rather than out on the deck. I'll try to remember to look as I go by tomorrow.

                1. re: bob s

                  As Bob says, from a google search of "tin fish minneapolis" images it looks like Tin Fish has a combo of accessible tables and inaccessible tables, the majority of them being the inaccessible
                  picnic table" kind, as far as I can tell. Would be good to have a "live" update from Bob after he goes by tomorrow as who knows how old these images are and it's been a year since I've personally been to Tin Fish.


                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    I was just at Tin Fish on Sunday - I could not find a non-picnic table table. I wonder if the chairs in those pictures had been removed for some reason?

                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      Just ran by the Tin Fish this morning. Tables are as follows:

                      1) Traditional rectangular wood picnic tables with attached benches. A wheelchair might be able to fit in at an end - there is about a 12-15" overhang at each end.

                      2) Square metal picnic tables with attached benches. There's a good picture of this table in the 2nd of TDQ's links above. Probably not workable for a wheelchair - you'd only be able to sit in the corners and then, not close to the table.

                      3) Round metal mesh "bistro-y" tables. These look like the best bet for a wheelchair, but it still may not be perfect. They're probably made to seat 4 or 5 people. I did not see what clearance there was under the table. These tables were in the pavilion, but are often pulled out on the deck. (See 1st and 3rd links above)


                  2. re: pgokey

                    Yes, Sea Salt Eatery absolutely does have seating, both outside and indoors and not the inaccessible "picnic table" style. They have a variety of table shapes and sizes (typical restaurant patio tables with umbrellas outside and stainless steel bistro type tables inside), but all "normal" tables, not picnic tables. (If you brought your own picnic to Minnehaha Park, then, you're right, you'd have to sit at a picnic table--but, that's entirely different than dining at the restaurant itself.) I've never tried it, but I think it would be no problem to pull a wheelchair up to the tables.

                    I think the distance from the parking lot to the restaurant could be the biggest hurdle, depending on how adept you are at handling the wheelchair. It might be worth calling ahead to see if they have accessible parking right next to the restaurant--I remember seeing delivery trucks there, perhaps there's accessible parking there (or at least the possibility of dropping someone in a wheelchair off), too.

                    Here's a link that shows the outdoor tables. I'll see if I can find more. EDIT: couldn't find anymore, sorry. I hope this one is helpful enough.


                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      At Sea Salt the accessible parking is just up the slope from the pavilion. However, a driver can pull up in the traffic circle to drop a person off right in front of the bathrooms so that a wheelchair does not have to roll up or down that incline.

                      1. re: KTFoley

                        Awesome! Thank you for the clarification. That is really good to know. The nice thing about Sea Salt, in addition to the fantastic food (get a po boy!) is that the setting is lovely. And Minnehaha Falls is only about 50 feet away from the restaurant. You can really make a nice outing of it.


                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                          If you have a handicapped parking placard, you can actually park right in the circle. My partner has MS and that hill can be really steep, but since we figured out that we can park there it has made Sea Salt a more regular stop for us. Hooray! BTW, I had the best Blue Crab Roll there a couple of weeks ago.

                    2. re: pgokey

                      I think most of the Mpls parks now have wheelchair accessible seating where one of the seats is left out on a picnic table to accomodate someone in a chair. Unfortunately, people will take that table when they do not need it, even if others are available.

                2. My mom was in a wheelchair so I had to do a lot of investigation before venturing out to eat. Here's what I found:

                  All hotels, though mostly dull and chain-y are tops when it comes to accessibility. And, in the last few years we've gotten some fabulous dining establishments in our hotels. Cosmos in the Grave 601, Porter & Frye in The Ivy, Basil's in The Marquestte, Charley's Grill in The Depot (though I've never been there or even heard anything about this place), Chez Daniel in the Embassy Suites Bloomington.

                  The other place Mom liked was Axel's in Mendota. They were always very accommodating to her wishes and they make an excellent Tanqueray martini.

                  Hope you heal quickly.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: MplsM ary

                    Charley's Grill in the Depot is pretty mediocre. I went there once with a friend who was staying in the hotel. It was a weeknight around 7 and we were the only patrons there. The service was extremely rushed (they were setting up the tables for breakfast the next day by 8/8:30) and the food selection was pretty standard room service fare. I had a caesar salad and pasta with meat sauce (I was looking for something really hearty because after that meal I had to fast for a medical test) and the salad was really overdressed and the pasta average. My dinner companions had a few of their thin crust pizzas, I don't remember their opinions on them. I wouldn't recommend this restaurant to any local folks (or anyone really for that matter).

                  2. Jenniegirl, I've missed your posts and have been wondering where you were. I'm so sorry to hear about your accident! My sympathies and best wishes for quick healing. I'll bet you're really looking forward to those field trips. (And I hope you can arrange for good take-out dishes on non-field-trip days.)

                    My thoughts are running to Asian food, as that is what I would crave if I was in a rehab center...

                    In St. Paul, I'd second TDQ's recommendations for BonXai and Ngon, if you're in the mood for slightly fancy yet affordable pan-Asian dining.

                    For bare-bones exotic Thai, check out Bangkok Thai. Very easy access and plenty of room for a wheelchair. Try to hit it during off hours or weekday nights so the wait isn't too long.


                    Tanpopo Restaurant for (again) slightly upscale and affordable Japanese. There's a long slope to enter the restaurant, which is above street level, so a pusher would be useful, but it is accessible. But note that it's a trek to get to the bathroom, which is on the other side of the building near the Black Dog Coffeehouse - this would be an issue for me if I was wheeling my own wheelchair, but the facilities themselves are quite accessible.

                    And I think that either of the Szechuan restaurants would work well - Little Szechuan on University and the Tea House on Suburban Ave - as they have a good entrance and room to move between tables.

                    And if you're up for a trek to Minneapolis, and have a companion to carry your tray for you, definitely go to the Midtown Global Market. I've never tried the sit-down places, but the food booths are all wonderful. And the bathrooms are very wheelchair-friendly - room to manouvre and turn around - an important consideration!

                    Please heal quickly!


                    3 Replies
                    1. re: AnneInMpls

                      I was trying to visualize whether there was a ramp up to Tanpopo and just couldn't remember (although, great point about the bathroom facilities), so, I'm glad you chimed in with that recommendation, Anne. But, just a small clarification--I specifically did not recommend BonXai (although, yes, I recommended Ngon Bistro, Little Szechuan, China Jen and MGMKt).

                      Forgive me for I'm not trying to be contrary, and it's been awhile since I've been to BonXai, so, perhaps things have changed, but I recall a very uneven and lumpy parking lot and an awkward entryway with a couple of tight turns. I've never tried to a take a wheelchair in there, so I can't say for sure, but I worry the entrance might be difficult. I think jenniegirl would be fine in the dining area itself, but I specifically left BonXai off my list because of the awkward entrance.

                      Anyway, Anne, if your information is more current than mine and things have changed and/or I am misremembering, then by all means, please let us know, otherwise, I would recommend jenniegirl try some other spots first and/or save BonXai until she's a more comfortable with her excursions.

                      Also specifically left off my list: Saigon on University Avenue (steps, if I recall correctly), Everest on Grand (just really cluttered and awkward in general), Town Talk Diner (sardine-like seating--not cheap either), Strip Club (awkward seating area with lots of overflow people from the bar milling about), Highland Grill (too tightly packed in the table seating area--with the rest of the seating being inaccessible booths or at the counter), Punch Pizza on Cleveland (too crowded), the Nook St. Paul (too crowded, weird slopey entrance), Groveland Tap (step up at entrance, mostly booths, bar or high tables).

                      I too have been wondering where jenniegirl has been and look forward to her chowish reports from her field trips and future chowhounding as she recovers.


                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        TDQ, you're right about the entrance at BonXai - I had forgotten how cramped it is. I was there with a creaky on-foot person, so it was OK, but a medium-to-largish wheelchair might be a tight fit. And the parking lot is indeed weird and slopey. You're not being contrary at all, just helpful!


                        1. re: AnneInMpls

                          I'm getting there as far as field trips go-I think my first one is going to be at the Birchwood and sit outside sometime this week. Thank you for all your help-I'm really missing my own kitchen! I think some trips will help.