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Grand between Fairview and Snelling (MSP)

I'll be moving here soon and I'm wondering what folks think of the restaurants there--the Italian Pie Shoppe, Huong Sen, Pad Thai, Coffee News Cafe, etc.--and others in the neighborhood. Any recommendations about particular dishes or must try's at particular places are especially welcome. Thanks in advance.

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  1. welcome :)

    italian pie shop: depending on how big of a pizza fan you are, you may not be impressed, but it does an okay job. don't order broccoli on your pizza, it's teeny frozen florets. stick to the basics.

    i really like shish next door. nice fresh middle eastern menu, attempt to use local ingredients, good execution, featuring lots of from-scratch housemade sauces etc. i was there recently and they've changed their menu, & are doing more table service. they now have burgers and a kid's menu incl mac & cheese-- (i was like, great, they're americanizing)-- i have not tried these items yet, don't know if i will--but with their new format, if you order a main (back page of menu), and you get a nice very fresh house salad to start, and your main comes with yellow rice and a generous serving of grilled mixed veggies-- peppers, mushrooms, squashes, etc. all very fresh and good. i was very pleased. also a fan of their chicken gyros when on-the-go. very kind and friendly staff.

    1. I don't live in the area, but am over there now and then and I like Coffee News. I've had the standard American there and it is good. I also had a strawberry rhubarb tart there once that was awesome. Good coffee and the people watching is great. Bonus: on the two occasions I have been, they were showing Woody Allen movies on the little TV in back (Sleeper the first, Bananas the second)

      2 Replies
      1. re: Foureyes137

        Coffee News does delicious desserts, and so-so sandwiches. They're fries, however, I love -- crispy and super salty.

        1. re: chompchomp

          Ooh, yeah, Coffee News fries . . . all of what chompchomp said, plus they're sprinkled with garlic.

      2. I like Huong Sen, but have done take-out only. I especially like the menu items with lemon grass.

        1. Welcome to the neighborhood!

          None of the places you mention are exactly earth shattering, however since my wife and I can walk to each of them, we've eaten at all of them dozens (or hundreds) of times.
          Here's the condensed version of our critiques:
          Italian Pie Shoppe; actually fairly good. I like the thick crust, wife likes thin.
          Huong Sen; Average food. Nice family run place. I think it's worth the walk. wife doesn't.
          Pad Thai; Our default Thai rest. in city. Nice ambiance. Okay food and pricing. Popular.
          Coffee News Cafe; Very um... bohemian. Good value. Beware of hair in food.
          Also:
          Everest On Grand‎; Interesting. Unusual. Only place I know that serves Yak.
          Khyber Pass Cafe‎ and Wine Bar; If you have wine you'll be the only one. Worth a visit.
          Cat-Man-Do; We tried it once only. Awful. We probably should give it another chance.
          Also close:
          Taste of Thailand:1669 Selby. I like the food better than Pad Thai. No ambiance.
          Puerta Azul; 1811 Selby. Worth trying. Not always consistent, but often very good.

          There are many restaurants within a couple of miles. You won't often be ecstatic but you'll almost always go home happy.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Grandview

            Puerta Azul sadly, has closed. It is in process of being remodeled and reopened by new owners as......(we'll have to wait & see)

            1. re: Grandview

              There used to be another place in St. Louis Park that served yak, but I think it's gone. The purveyor who provided the meat to them, to Everest on Grand, and to a third place whose name escapes me, sold frozen yak at the Mill City Farmers Market at one time. May still be there.

              1. re: mntraveler

                The Himalayan Restaurant on E. Franklin in Mpls (Seward neighborhood) serves Yak Momos. They're great!

                Though the place is a bit of a trek for the OP.... For that general area of St. Paul, my rec's would be: Khyber Pass, 128 Cafe, Izzy's Ice Cream, Trotter's Bakery, Punch, Russian Tea House, Cafe BonXai, Fasika (still haven't been here, but it gets rave reviews), and all the SE Asian places on University Ave.

                Anne

              2. re: Grandview

                Sorry to disagree, but my husband and I went to Taste of Thailand. Once. Ugh. My husband literally could not chew his calamari appetizer--it was the consistency of a bicycle tire, and just about as tasty. When he complained, the server huffed like it was unreasonable to expect our food to be fit for human consumption and took it away without so much as a "kiss my a**," let alone an apology. Our main courses were barely better. We asked to see a manager, but were told that he was "busy in the kitchen" and couldn't get away at the moment. You couldn't pay me to take a chance on this place again.

              3. Welcome!

                I really like Coffee News Cafe. The workers are great. The fries can be coated in garlic, so be careful if you aren't a garlic lover :) My favorite is El Gordo breakfast burrito.

                Pad Thai is pretty good. It isn't the best, but if I lived close I would get takeout even more than I do.

                I am not a fan of the Grandview Cafe on Grand and Fairview. I like the Louisiana Cafe on Selby and Dale much more.

                Italian Pie Shoppe-- I like their calzones better than their pizza.

                I still need to get to Shish.

                9 Replies
                1. re: LizzieB_MSP

                  What exactly, in your mind, distinguishes between Grandview and the Louisiana Cafe? They serve exactly the same menu and, in my experience, its pretty much the same execution at both places, which is to say heavy greasy breakfast great for soaking up last nights drinks.

                  if one were to go all the way to the louisinana cafe from the OPs new home, id gladly divert to Bon Vie for something a lot lighter and more creative in the breakfast category (unless i was craving a huge pile of greazy potatoes covered in hollandaise, which, sadly, i sometimes am)

                  1. re: tex.s.toast

                    What exactly, in your mind, distinguishes between Grandview and the Louisiana Cafe?

                    --

                    The crispiness of the hashbrowns, the state of the food upon delivery.
                    The menus are almost exactly the same, but execution is much better at Louisiana Cafe IME.

                    1. re: LizzieB_MSP

                      Ditto what Lizzie said about the differences.

                      I'm closer to & go to Grandview more. But if Louisiana was closer then I'd go there instead. Plus they have sweet potato fries at Louisiana.

                      I think grandview is much louder too.

                      Shish is wonderful! Coffee news a close second, pie shoppe - not too bad - my kids like it.

                      Pad thai - I'm just ok with that spot. Its good. But not earth shattering.

                      That new pizza take & bake..... can't think of the name - (its like Pizza Baking Company or something else obvious) its pretty good too - I've picked up a couple of the pizzas and baked and sliced for appys and they were decent. Nice selection....and they have a kids deal or make your own pizzas which are fun.

                      and the tea garden is great too. Good option when you are sick of Dunn brothers.

                      welcome to the neighborhood.

                      1. re: St Paul Susie

                        expanding the topic just a tad.

                        a few blocks away on St Clair about 1/2 block east of snelling is acme - sandwiches - highly recommended. just m-f til 3....

                        I haven't been to the st clair broiler for years - it was lousy for a bunch of visits - anyone been recently?

                        Groveland tap at fairview and st clair. Pretty decent bar grub....

                        1. re: St Paul Susie

                          I really like the kabob dishes at Shish and stop by often for take out or dine-in during the winter. The mezze appetizer plate is a good option, too.

                          Home Made Pizza company is the pizza place. It's always empty when I'm there, so I'm not sure how long it will last. The pizzas have been good (with more eclectic choices than Papa Murphy's) and the salads and cookies are excellent.

                          1. re: jaycooke

                            i think always being empty is the nature of the take-and-bake pizza place, no?

                            my girlfriend and her roommate have been doing their best to keep them open.

                            1. re: tex.s.toast

                              Perhaps. The few times I've been to Papa Murphy's, there have been other people in line, so that's my only comparison.

                              -----
                              Homemade Pizza Company
                              1700 Grand Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55105

                        2. re: LizzieB_MSP

                          Bon Vie is not particularly creative although in comparison.... Louisianna Cafe, Grandview Cafe, St. Clair Broiler, Groveland Tap are all in the 70's in terms of how they buy their ingredients (Sysco, U.S. Foods, Rhinehart, etc..). None of them strike me as scratch kitchens, and I'd suspect hormone free, anti biotic free, and organic have about as much play as sustainability. It's still about good cooking no matter where the ingredients come from, but Trotters (Cleveland and Marshall) executes on a similar level with all, and delivers some higher food values too. Heartland is full-on artisan scratch, and special occasion for the budget oriented, but the Wine Bar is edging towards affordability.

                          1. re: keg

                            perhaps creative was the wrong word to describe Bon Vie. i think that diverse may have actually been preferable. their menu is pretty consistant in that it offers a decent range of choices from the really light - like a quiche and salad - to slight heavier- meatier scrambles.

                            creative was purely meant to contrast with LC/grandvies approach which seems to be more of the pick the order you want your potatoes, eggs and meat stacked in, and be sure to cover everything with hollandaise (which has its place, but isnt something im looking for real often).

                    2. A little farther South, but also don't overlook the wine bar at Heartland (St. Clair and Fairview). Very fine small-plate menu and very passable wines. The boudin blanc is outrageous. A nice intimate neighborhood setting inside.

                      The new Shish menu is good. The crab cake eggs benedict is wonderful.

                      1. I concur in the recommendation for Heartland when you want something special. It's not far from Grand. The place has a main dining room and then a small wine bar. The wine bar serves selections from the main menu -- some entrees, soups, salads desserts. You can have a wonderful meal there. The focus is on local ingredients and everything has a bit of a different flair. A great place.

                        1. Coffee News- Offers free refills on coffee, few places do. Can get busy during the school year but the food is consistent and the deserts are to die for. Watch out, they do love their garlic.

                          Shish-- Shish is the best place to eat in the area, hands down. Leo, the owner, is really nice and really cares about what he serves. I'm a vegetarian, so I go for the falafel wrap, but my Midwestern mother can't stop raving about the lamb burger and perfectly seasoned fries.

                          Italian Pie Shoppe- It's ok, nothing special. Try delivery from Pizza Luce, which is just down on Selby. Everything is fresh, tasty and there are way more options.

                          Pad Thai- I like it. Not the best spring rolls ever, but decent.

                          Tea Garden- Great for loose leaf teas, fruit coolers, the ever popular bubble teas.

                          I've never tried Huong Sen but you should also think about checking out some of the places just a bit down the street-- a quick bus ride on the 63 or 84.
                          Just a few good places not too far away:
                          Everest on Grand-- Delicious Momos, the curries are pretty good, too.
                          Faskia-- Delicious Ethiopian, reasonable prices

                          Oh and if you're going for ice cream, do Grand Ol Creamery. IZZY's is always so...dry, it just tastes a bit stale.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: soymilk

                            I like the coffee and cake at Coffee News-but I am not a fan of the fries. To me they always taste burnt with too much salt and garlic. The artichoke spinach dip was so garlicky that it was inedible. Nice place to sit around and play cards though.

                            1. re: jenniegirl

                              "so garlicky that it was inedible"

                              I see the words, but I can't understand the meaning. ;)

                            2. re: soymilk

                              Not to start an Izzy/Grand Old war or anything but I'd recommend the opposite. I will pass on ice cream rather than eat at Grand Old; their ice creams taste too sweet to me, and I don't like the way they feel in my mouth. Although heaven knows, plenty of people love it.

                              Izzy's, on the other hand, I love. Smooth and creamy and not too sweet, with interesting flavors. I like the liquored up cherry, the hot brown sugar (might have that wrong) and salted caramel.

                              I wonder what the difference is. Do you think the two shops use a different type or amount of cream? Different amounts of sugar?

                            3. One other place to keep in mind is the salad bar - deli case - steam table at Whole Foods. Not an actual restaurant, but you can often find some good choices for a quick lunch or dinner.

                              Uncle Ira

                              1. Italian Pie Shoppe - Deep dis is good, my favorite is thin crust with pepperoni and banana peppers, we also always get an order the Italian cheese fries are.

                                Huong Sen - Average

                                Good Food, nice atmosphere, for takeout we alway due Taste of Thailand, just a few blocks North on Selby

                                Another that has not made the list is Forepaugh's. It is just outside of Downtown, close to the Excel Center. They just reopened under new ownership, completely remodeled and a new kitchen and awesome menu. My wife and I were there last week and it was awesome. What we had - App Bacon Shrimp - has par dried pinneapple and a lime-chili sauce that gives it some kick. I'm not a fan of shrimp, but this was good.

                                My wife tried the grilled corn soup, which was delicous and comes with a jalapeno shrimp popper that was incredible, I would order them as the app if they were on the menu.

                                Salad - BLT Wedge, good salad, slight variance on the traditional with pickled shallots.

                                Entree - I had NY Strip (rare) cooked to perfection with good flavor, I would go back just for the steak. It was served with pommes frites, and the fries were good (light and crispy), but they included a couple of cheese curds and grilled peppers which were a delicious surprise.

                                My wife went with the Lamp, which was also good, and it came with a delicious side that was a combo of polenta, ratatouille and cheese souffle which made the dish.

                                The prices compare to the heartland and the food was awesome. I had been a few years ago the ambiance was cool, but the food just ok. This time the food out shined the atmosphere.

                                Web site still under construction, but the address and menu are on there. http://www.forepaughs.com/default.htm