I would give Forepaugh's a try. It reopened this summer under new ownership, management and with a new chef. I've sampled several items on the menu and was surprised by the combination's and flavors from each item. Their menu is now online:
don't let the web site fool you, the food and restaurant is much better :)
276 South Exchange Street, St. Paul, MN 55102
Jfood-- wow some great recs here, not a bad one in the bunch. based on what you've already enjoyed, i'm seconding the recs for fugaise, la belle vie, meritage, barbette, lucia's & tanpopo as places you'd probably like for sure. some of the other recs are excellent but more casual neighborhood bistro type places-- if this appeals search the boards for reviews.
i'll throw out a couple of wild cards: saffron in downtown mpls (across the street from 112 in fact) for upscale north african/mediterranean, and the strip club in st paul for meat & fish with local flair. the strip club in particular is a bit of a schlep from the western suburbs, but it's all freeway, and as long as you have gps i won't worry about you getting turned around in the neighborhood, which can get a little dicey a few blocks from the restaurant. it's my neighborhood and i can say that, as i have a new bullet hole in my siding and i don't know how it got there or when. . . the restaurant itself is on a main drag, no worries.
Saffron Restaurant & Lounge
123 North 3rd Street, Minneapolis, MN 55401
I heartily second the rec of the Strip Club-- it's a wonderful place, with great people and great food and drink.
Since I also live in the neighborhood, I'd like to respectfully disagree with soupkitten's statement about it being somehow a worrisome place to get lost in. I wouldn't have any concern at all-- you can see the restaurant from the interstate, for goodness sake, and the surrounding neighborhood is just fine.
I second the Meritage recommendations.
Last Friday I went to El Meson (http://www.elmesonbistro.net/) for the first time and really enjoyed it. The calamari was very well fried and nicely flavorful and my garlic shrimp with plantains had the most delicious sauce (very garlicky, but in a good way) that I have had in a while. Dinner was capped by a nice, simple version of key lime pie. The restaurant and food are not fancy, but I would definitely like to go back in the near future. I also very much enjoyed my husband's Carne Mechada (spanish pot roast) for lunch the next day, however I was not quite as impressed my one of my other dining companion's arroz con pollo - it was fine, but the things I tried were much more flavorful.
I went to El Meson last week and thought it was horrible. The server blew us off for a long time, took forever to get our drinks and then delivered the wrong meal to my dining companion. I ordered a rice dish and it tasted like they took it from the fridge and microwaved it. it wasn't fresh or flavorful. very dissapointing. my biggest pet peeve: we asked for beer recommendations and the server said "oh, i'm not the person to ask. i don't drink beer." just lie to me. tell me what other people like. i don't care. don't tell me you don't like beer. a knowledgeable staff can answer any question a diner has, regardless of personal tastes and preferences.
will not go back to El Meson.
I had a similar server experience at a local restaurant in South Bend a couple of years ago (don't remember the name, wasn't worth remembering). I asked the waitress what she recommended on the menu, her response "I don't eat here." Unbelievable that servers aren't ready with an answer when a customer (who "may" tip you) asks for food or drink recommendations.
I'd suggest, if the weather is nice, a walk down Eat Street. Eat Street is Nicollet Ave between about 12th and 28th. There are lots of great restaurants to chose from and I think it is a good representation of Minneapolis.
My favorites are Quang (Vietnamese), Evergreen (Taiwanese), Pennisula (Malaysian), and The Black Forrest (German). The Black Forrest can be a little hit or miss, but the pate, beer, and hamburger is a great meal.
(I can't get Link to a place to work, otherwise I would)
Another less fancy but good food neighborhood place - Modern Cafe in NE Minneapolis
Adding places links:
3311 E 25th St, Minneapolis, MN 55406
Town Talk Diner
2707 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55406
337 13th Ave NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413
3804 Grand Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55409
Fugaise [CLOSED 2009]
304 E Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55414
La Belle Vie
510 Groveland Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55405
Tanpopo Noodle Shop
367 Selby Ave, St Paul, MN 55102
410 Saint Peter St, Saint Paul, MN 55102
601 1st Ave N, Minneapolis, MN 55403
Nook the Casper's & Runyon's Nook - duplicate
492 Hamline Ave, S St Paul, MN
For finer dining, La Belle Vie, Fugaise and Cosmos.
I encourage at least two trips to St. Paul -- Meritage (also finer dining) and Tanpopo.
For less fancy, but still very good food and experiencing the neighborhoods where people actually live, Birchwood Cafe and Grand Cafe come to mind.
Town Talk Diner is a fun place.
Do get over to the Nook for a burger at some point.
Much info on all of these places on here -- let us know if you want more detail. It also might be time for you to provide some specifics. Need breakfasts? Lunches? Pastries? Certain foods? Do you have any hobbies/interests that you would like to combine with dining (toy railroads, bicycling, art, reading)? There are a lot of unique possibilities.
FYI, Town Talk Diner is under new ownership, as of recent. According to Andrew Zimmern, "Tor Westgard, the chef-owner of Town Talk Diner, has sold the restaurant to the Theros Group, the same cats who own Rudolph’s and the St. Claire Broiler."
I hope they'll still have those killer Manhattans.