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Jul 31, 2008 02:02 PM

St. Paul restaurants... best kept secrets?


I am traveling to St. Paul on business next week and I am looking for a few great restaurants - the best of the best in the area. I am staying in the St. Paul Hotel and will not be renting a car this trip. I'm fine grabbing a cab but would prefer to stay within 15 minutes of the hotel... Price isn't an object, but with that said, I do really want tasty food. What I'm not looking for is Thai, BBQ, Pub Grub, etc.

Your recommendations would be much appreciated.


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  1. People are probably really tired of hearing me trumpet this place, but The Strip Club. I think most of the other places in St. Paul that I love are either ethnic places or pub grub. Cafe Latte for dessert, but their food doesn't stand out. Punch Pizza in Highland may be more than 15 minutes away but I'd make the trip.

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

    The Strip Club
    378 Maria Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55106

    Punch Neapolitan Pizza - DUPlicate
    704 Cleveland Ave, S St Paul, MN

    1 Reply
    1. re: drew13000

      Perhaps dinner is better. Our lunch was horrible. Po-boy special - burnt. Walleye sandwich -well well overdone. Salad OK. Server uncaring/unknowing. This was four months after opening. I was excited to go - after seeing many amazing reviews. Perhaps I'll try again.

    2. Heartland gets great reviews. Though I haven't been there yet, my wine-drinking friends went to the wine bar last month and loved it (both the wine and the food).

      But me, I'm a hole-in-the-wall ethnic eatery kind of girl. The fanciest place I ever go to in downtown St. Paul is Tanpopo - it's a nice mix of stylish and casual, both in the decor and the food. (You can follow the Tanpopo link to read previous threads, to see if it's your kind of place.)

      Enjoy your visit!


      1806 St. Clair Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55105

      Tanpopo Noodle Shop
      308 Prince St, Saint Paul, MN 55101

      4 Replies
      1. re: AnneInMpls

        Drew and Anne -

        I know what you mean about ethnic... It's a fav of mine, and living in Seattle, I have so much to choose from.

        I really like all of your suggestions, but I think I might give Heartland a try - I loved the menu!

        Do you know anything about the restaurant in the St. Paul hotel? I have heard good drinks, but so-so food.

        Thanks so much!!

        1. re: sassyseattle

          The St. Paul Grill (hotel) is a good restaurant, but if I were you I'd take a walk down the street to Meritage, it about a block from where you are staying. My experience there has always been top notch.

          410 Saint Peter St, Saint Paul, MN 55102

          1. re: dinendash

            Finally. I couldn't believe no one had suggested Meritage yest (i actually tried to post a recommendation earlier but was stymied by a bum internet connection). Like d'n'd ive only had awesome experiences there, and you can't beat that commute (its seriously just outside the hotels doors).

            of the others, heartland would give you a great taste of contemporary midwestern, and its nice that you wouldnt have to haul all the way to minneapolis. The strip club is a bit closer, and also has excellent local flavor. you couldn't go wrong with one (or more) of those three.

        2. re: AnneInMpls

          Second Heartland, it is really tasty.

        3. I wouldn't call it a secret, but the patio at W.A. Frost is the perfect place to spend a summer evening, and it's close to downtown.

          We also like Muffuletta, but it may be just a bit longer than a 15-minute cab ride if there's traffic.

          Barbary Fig is a nice place in summer too. You can eat dinner on their deck, then walk down to Cafe Latte for dessert.

          1. i second the recs for heartland, tanpopo, & strip club. other winners may be meritage & w.a. frost (oops i guess that's a second for w.a. frost, as Lizzie beat me to it-- i'll add it to the wiki links), and ngon vietnamese bistro.

            st paul hotel has a pleasing view for brunch, which might be nice, but the food is ime mediocre. the bar is good, but woe is to the high end scotch lover with the bad luck to arrive underdressed. better service can be had elsewhere if your duds don't match those of the mid-level management state workers.

            adding a link to your hotel so you can gauge cab distance

            Ngon Vietnamese Bistro
            799 University Ave W, Saint Paul, MN 55104

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

            St Paul Grill
            350 Market Street, St. Paul, MN 55102

            410 Saint Peter St, Saint Paul, MN 55102

            1. Hard to go wrong with what is offered here. My preference is Heartland. But I do need to get back to Meritage. I was there twice within the first few weeks they were open, and had yet to hit their groove.

              One not mentioned yet is Cafe 128. Since they've reopened, I've had a couple of very good meals there.

              You commented that money isn't an object, so maybe this won't matter but... Cabs in the Twin Cities are more expensive than in most major cities. So even a 15-minute ride (and a 15-minute ride back) is going to be close to $50. So...

              You can walk to Meritage. You can walk to Pazzaluna (not mentioned yet; and some find it tasty). You might be tempted to walk to Kincaid's. Don't.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Brad Ballinger

                It would seem somewhat silly (especially with your comments about price) to let a few minutes of cab travel keep you from heartland, but it is about twice as far (as the google map flies) from your hotel as the strip club.

                i went to college around the corner and had several celebratory meals there that were all very good . . . but dont expect much in terms of surroundings. its in a pretty nondescript building in a mostly residential neighborhood. of all my good experiences there, one thing always stuck out about about the location: you'll have an awesome view of the gas station across the street. some people (myself included) would suggest that the relatively low-profile location is part of heartland's charm. it just may not jibe with your desire as a visitor to see the sights, as it were.

                1. re: tex.s.toast

                  Actually, I like the heartland space. It's very serene inside. Very tasteful.

                2. re: Brad Ballinger

                  I disagree about the cab fares. We can go from our home to the airport (about 15-20 minutes) for $18-25 depending on traffic. I have also taken a cab from downtown Mpls to my home (same distance) and it's always under $30.

                  1. re: LizzieB_MSP

                    The poster said $50 there and back, which if you include a tip both ways, is just about right for a 15-min drive.