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Recommendations for St Paul and Minneapolis

I am traveling to St Paul in a couple of weeks alone for a conference for the first time. Do you have suggestions for where I could eat in St Paul or Minneapolis? I will most likely stay in St Paul to eat 2 nights and go to Minneapolis for one. Nothing too formal as I will be dining solo most likely. I like all types of food and love trying something new and unique to the area. Thanks!

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  1. In Minneapolis, 112 Eatery is a good place to dine alone, especially (but not necessarily) if you can snag a seat at the bar. Make reservations. If you can't get in, slide up to Be'Wiched, which makes the best sandwiches ever.

    At least two dozen people here have "Brasa" hot-keyed, and it has locations in both cities, so let's get that out of the way.

    In St. Paul, the Blue Door Pub has outstanding renditions of our native burger, the Juicy Lucy, and is also a nice place for solo dining. Punch Pizza is informal, unique, and good for solo dining.

    Cafe BonXai on University is good for solo dining, especially if you take that term very literally. Actually, any Vietnamese or fusion on University Avenue. Honestly, if you want to know what sets the Twin Cities apart, it's Vietnamese food. Don't let anyone trick you into thinking walleye is anything special.

    3 Replies
    1. re: kevin47

      For dmlewis' planning it would be good to know that the second Brasa location kevin47 mentions in St Paul will not be open for at least another week or two yet, according to owner Alex Roberts.

      A couple other practical questions to help your search:

      will you have a car? travel between minneapolis and st paul on public transport isnt that unpleasant, unless you are going to or coming from somewhere other than the downtowns.

      What do you mean by not too formal? People are always posting looking for things that arent too fancy or expensive, but these are highly relative terms - there are a number of really good, relatively nice, but not "formal" places in town, so either a bit more about what you would like, or maybe a price range that works for you would help a lot. also, where are you coming from? knowing what foods are generally available could help target good recommendations.

      1. re: tex.s.toast

        I will not have a car and will be relying on public transport. By not too formal, I just don't really enjoy dining solo in a place that is too fancy. In terms of price range, I am fairly open. I am from Greenville, SC. Thanks for the help!

        1. re: dmlewis

          I went to school in Greenville, SC (Furman). I hope you enjoy your time in MSP. Lucky for you it's not winter. When I was down south, no one would ever believe me when I told them how cold it got up here.

          If you're looking for some St. Paul history and don't mind grease, try Mickey's Diner.

          -----
          Mickey's Diner
          36 7th St W, Saint Paul, MN 55102

    2. DM

      over the last 6 months jfood has been travelling a ton to MSP for biz. He eats almost every night solo in lots of restaurants. He learned of all of these on this board from incredibly wonderful posters. He also posted almost every one of these experiences and then posters would add to the reviews. From Bulldog to Cosmos with tons in between.

      Do a search of "jfood" and you will see all the restaurants where a solo diner has gone. And most places he snags a seat at the bar.

      If you get a little more specific there are many who will guide you along.

      1 Reply
      1. re: jfood

        I will check that out. I did see the review for Manana and that looked great. Thanks!

      2. I am staying at the Embassy Suites downtown also- are any of these places close by? Thanks!

        1 Reply
        1. re: dmlewis

          ooh wait--there is more than one ES hotel-- are you staying in ES metrodome (minneapolis), ES downtown st. paul, or one of the ES in bloomington? don't want to direct you wrong. . . i'm guessing you'll stay at the st paul location?

        2. You might want to try Heartland Cafe. The food is all local and very good. There is a wine bar attached where you can get most of what's on the main menu. That's a good place for a little more informal meal, like a small entree and a salad or a soup and salad. It's on a bus line, if that matters.

          Another place on a bus line is the Cheeky Monkey, a sandwich and coffee place that's been getting a lot of attention on this board.

          I think you'd be comfortable in either of these places dining solo.

          1 Reply
          1. re: karykat

            If you are by the light rail, I would suggest a trip to Minnehaha Falls and eat at Sea Salt. It's a fabulous little eatery by the river and waterfall that has great seafood. Try to go on off-peak hours. I think they have music in the park coming soon as well.

          2. I am going to second Mickey's Diner. If you're in downtown St. Paul, its the place to go. The cheeseburger and baked beans cannot be beat. If I want breakfast, I usually get the 2s, which is 2 eggs, 2 pancakes, and 2 bacon/sausage (although, frankly, they almost always give me like 5 bacon.)

            Its not anything fancy or groundbreaking, but they do the classics right. Its a good way to experience the "real" St. Paul, whatever that means.

            Don't get the chili though.