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May 19, 2010 08:14 AM

Very quick visit this weekend. What shouldn't I miss...

I'm in town Saturday morning - Sunday late morning with a wedding in between.

I'm staying at the St. Paul Hotel.

Recs for:

Saturday Lunch
Saturday After Wedding Drinks (possibly food)
Sunday Breakfast/Brunch
Sunday quick must-see tourist destination (QUICK)

I'd like to get as much out of MSP as possible.


M. from NYC

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  1. I'm assuming you have a car for this trip.....

    Saturday Lunch - I'd say Meritage which is just down the block from your hotel. It's a french restaurant and really one of the best in the city.

    Saturday After Wedding Drinks/Food: Head up to Selby Avenue and have drinks on the patio at W.A. Frost. They also have an outdoor menu. The patio at Frost is one of the best in the Twin Cities.

    Sunday Breakfast Brunch: You are in the St. Paul hotel so the St. Paul Grill should be on your agenda. It does the classics very, very well.

    Sunday Tourist Stop: Well, the Mall of America isn't too far from the airport and you can get your shopping fix. I'd also suggest driving over to Dayton's Bluff where you can walk in Mounds Park and get a great view of downtown St. Paul and the river. The walk can help work off the food and drinks from the night before!

    410 Saint Peter St, Saint Paul, MN 55102

    1. Will you have a car?

      Db Cooper's suggestions are good - however, if it were me I'd do Tanpopo for Saturday lunch, Barrio for post-wedding drinks, Meritage for Sunday brunch (or maybe Strip Club if driving). Good quick tourist stops: St. Paul Farmer's Market is right downtown, might be worth checking out. If driving I'd go to the Como Conservatory, which is gorgeous. Minnehaha Falls Park is not too far from the airport either. Personally I wouldn't bother with the Mall, but if you do want to go shopping it is certainly large.

      410 Saint Peter St, Saint Paul, MN 55102

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

      1. Saturday lunch - Meritage. If you want a little less "traditional" lunch, I would walk over to the St. Paul Farmers Market. This could actually be your "Sunday Breakfast and/or your "must-see tourist destination" as well.

        The hotel you're in is probably the best place for the after-wedding drinks. The bar at the St. Paul Grille is known for its scotch selection and an extensive liquor offering. (


        Sunday Brunch -- get to Brasa on Grand Ave (just up the hill from downtown St. Paul) at 11:00 when they open.

        For the tourist destination, after Brasa, go north a couple blocks to Summit Avenue. Hang a left (going west) and enjoy the beautiful urban boulevard, very large houses (including the Governor's residence), and the vibrant active lifestyles of Minnesotans. At the end of Summit, you'll hit the East River Road, turn left and you can follow that all the way back down to downtown St. Paul (it becomes Shepard Road), or go straight to the airport (which is basically just across the river from where you'll be, via Highway 5). If you want to extend that a bit, leave the River Road at Ford Parkway. Turn right across the Mississippi River and you'll see signs for Minnehaha Falls Park. Go in there and check out the falls, duck into Sea Salt Eatery for some Sebastian Joe's ice cream (a local "highbrow" ice cream) and maybe a local beer. Be sure to skip the food lines and go right to the register next to the ice cream case or you'll wait unnecessarily.

        Sea Salt Eatery
        4801 Minnehaha Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55417

        410 Saint Peter St, Saint Paul, MN 55102

        1. Well, you can't say you won't have options...

          Saturday lunch...Take Robert Street across the river to Cesar Chavez. Turn left, and you'll find El Burrito Mercado ahead on your left. Eat at the deli there. You can also opt for the roasted corn stand outside either entrance. After El Burrito, get back on Cesar Chavez, cross Robert, and you see a tiny place called La Chiquita on your left. Get some ice cream (the mamey flavor -- cross between avocado and papaya -- is killer) or a homemade popsicle (I like the pineapple chile).

          Saturday night drinks/food...The hotel bar is good for drinks. I honestly don't know what they do for late night food options. I like Barrio or W.A. Frost better. But both require driving unless you don't mind the long walk from Barrio, so staying put has its appeal. Barrio will be the most lively spot of the three.

          Sunday brunch... Bon Vie on Selby.

          El Burrito Mercado
          175 Cesar Chavez St, St Paul, MN 55107

          Bon Vie
          518 Selby Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55102

          1 Reply
          1. re: Brad Ballinger

            The 21 bus goes from the hotel to WA Frost / Selby Ave.

          2. Saturday Lunch

            Hoa Bien on University. I wouldn't miss Vietnamese in the Twin Cities
            Tanpopo Noodle Shop - Close to your hotel and solid,

            Saturday After Wedding Drinks (possibly food)

            Late Night Happy Hour at Saffron in Minneapolis. The drinks are unique and outstanding, and the Lamb BLT is a perfect late night snack.

            Bradstreet Crafthouse - cocktails to die for, good eats if you want 'em.

            Sunday Breakfast/Brunch

            Barbette - Then you can take a walk around Lake Calhoun.

            Sunday quick must-see tourist destination (QUICK)

            See above.

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

            8 Replies
            1. re: kevin47

              If you are going to do Vietnamese, do yourself a favor and go to Ngon on University. They have a choice of traditional and french/american Vietnamese dishes. Their pho is usually in the discussion for best in the Twin Cities. I don't think Tanpopo holds a candle to Ngon, but Tanpopo is closer to your hotel if you want to consider distances. But I'd still pick Meritage as numero uno.

              Saturday After Wedding... I guess I'm confused about this. Are you talking about the hour or two after the wedding before the reception (4 to 6pm or so) or late-night (11pm and after) time frame?

              If it is that earlier time frame, I'll stand with my suggestion of W.A. Frost. It's a little more upscale so you'll fit in with your wedding attire.

              If you are talking late night dining, you would have to go to Minneapolis. St. Paul pretty much shuts it down after 10pm unless you are looking for fried bar food (with the exception of Barrio which is small plate Mexican). I'd suggest 112 Eatery or Bar La Grassa for late night eats/drinks in Minneapolis. Their food is some of the best in town and 112 is a favorite of local chefs, including Jean George when he had a restaurant here. Another fun spot is Subo. The idea of that restaurant is sort of a take on Momofunku Ssam Bar in NY. It's no where near as good obviously, but they have good drinks and some interesting food. If you are looking for a more lively atmosphere, Chino Litino in Uptown has a decent late-night menu, a nice drink menu, and great people watching. The hotel can get you directions and/or a cab to any of these places.

              Tourist Destination: I'd still stick with breakfast at the St. Paul Grill and then head over towards Minneapolis and hit Lake Calhoun or Minnehaha Falls. Como Zoo and Conservatory in St. Paul is also nice. Most of the Twin Cities attractions are outdoor related.

              Best of luck with the trip. Let us know how it goes.

              112 Eatery
              112 N 3rd St, Minneapolis, MN 55401

              410 Saint Peter St, Saint Paul, MN 55102

              Bar La Grassa
              800 N Washington Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55401

              1. re: Db Cooper

                Thank you everyone. I've got some great things to try! I'll report back when I'm done. Many thanks. M.

                1. re: dkstar1

                  My trip to St. Paul was excellent and I want to thank you all for your recommendations.

                  I wanted to get to more of the options you suggested, but didn't have the time or ability to get to it all. But here's a recap of what I did...

                  Saturday - 11:30am - Great Waters Brewing Co.
                  I ponied up to the bar having some time to kill before my reservation at Meritage next door. The main room is lofty and fairly clean but lacking in any real, cool, Brew-pub feeling. The boring bar top didn't help. Service was sort of uninterested and not terribly passionate about the place - something I was surprised to see at a Brew pub. In any event, I had the House Ale - which was pretty good. You have to be patient to appreciate its nuances. It doesn't scream at you with excitement. The Myna Bock was interesting. Again, not very exciting but the drinkability of both beers is high. Had the bar been cooler looking, the staff more into it I'd have made sure to come back later that night.

                  Saturday- 12:00 - Meritage
                  This is a class act all around. It truly is the Balthazar of St. Paul (perhaps the entire Midwest) for those who know the restaurant in NYC. The bartender looked like he knew what he was doing, so I ordered a bloody mary (a little extra spicy). It, and the skewered, pickled veggies it came with, was excellent. I promptly ordered another.
                  The beignets were excellent as well. Terrific way to start. The moules frites were also excellent. The grilled bread it came with was perfect for dunking - and the best surprise was that they put one piece of grilled bread at the bottom of the bowl - soaking up the juices. BRILLIANT! Only one mussel looked a little funny, so I shushed that to the side. But very, very good. The fries were also great. Not the best I've had, but salty enough (almost a little too salty) and a little thinner than I happen to like, but still great. The bernaise sauce it came with was delicious as well. Excellent service, nice scene/vibe. An immediate return visit if I'm ever back in St. Paul.
                  Saturday - 7pm - Minnesota Boat Club
                  The wedding was on Raspberry Island, cocktail hour was there too and the reception was at the Boat Club.
                  Sunday - 1:00am - some random bar across from the Brew pub. Meh. Bizarre girls dressed in lingerie and one in a lingerie meets motorcycle cop outfit at least kept things interesting. Didn't expect to see that.
                  Sunday - 2:00am - Mickey's Diner
                  The greasiest of greasy spoons. I loved it. Ordered the Lil Jill (grilled cheese with bacon) but held off the bowl of chili. It was excellent. Great little place.
                  Sunday - 930am - M Street Cafe @ St. Paul Hotel
                  Had the brunch buffet. The salmon (capers, onions, etc.) was good and I requested eggs over easy at the omelet station which was super greasy but still pretty good. Bacon scored high. Sausage was JimmyDeanesque.
                  Sunday - 10:30am - Farmer's Market
                  Perfect day for a visit to a local Farmer's Market. Lots of tomatoes, herbs and other to-be-planted items. I actually bought a tomato plant, got it on the plane and planted it when I got home. I hope it does well. Lots of onions, rhubarb, lettuce and other items. A surprising lack of other "stuff" when comparing it to our Union Square Greenmarket in the city. I know its early in the season, but there was little else (vegetable-wise) but flowers and plants and the aforementioned vegetables. I was hoping to see a cheese stand. A little disappointed. Or maybe something having to do with rice. The kettle corn was not a suitable replacement. But alas, a great farmers market nonetheless.

                  Thanks everyone for your recommendations!

                  410 Saint Peter St, Saint Paul, MN 55102

                  Great Waters Brewing Co
                  426 Saint Peter St, Saint Paul, MN 55102

                  Mickey's Diner
                  686 Lexington Pkwy S, Saint Paul, MN 55116

                  1. re: dkstar1

                    You didn't find any cheese? That's odd, since I know of at least 2 cheese vendors I usually see at the St. Paul Farmer's Market.... maybe they're not there on Sundays? Anyway, glad you enjoyed your stay. Great Waters is just a so-so brew pub, I'm afraid. The real action is at Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery, one of the finest brewpubs in the nation.

                    Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery
                    1430 Washington Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55454

                    1. re: dkstar1

                      Meritage is as good as it gets in St. Paul, so I'm glad to hear you got there.

                      Same goes for Mickey's. It's an absolute classic that needs to be experienced.

                      410 Saint Peter St, Saint Paul, MN 55102

                      1. re: dkstar1

                        I'm glad you had fun!
                        The bar with the women in underwear was probably Alary's. Weird place.
                        There's usually cheese stands when I go (Saturdays) - as well as jams, meats, hummus, all kinds of things. I guess Sundays must be different. Sorry!

                        1. re: dkstar1

                          The great thing about the St. Paul Farmers Market is that everything has to come from a certain radius of the market. Not like the Minneapolis market where fruit and vegies can be shipped in from across the country. So even though we've had some unseasonably warm weather this spring, it's still early in our growing season. In fact, I'm a little surprised you were able to find as much as you did. It was on my dance card last weekend and I didn't get there. Will have to go this coming weekend.

                          Come back in a month or two and it will be in high gear.

                          1. re: karykat

                            I am pretty certain it's a 50 mile radius. So, yes, it's limiting this early, but it's legit "localvore".