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m
misterpatrick Mar 29, 2011 05:58 PM

Hi all,

just got a house in West Saint Paul and I've love to hear any recommendations for restaurants in the area. I'm just off Robert and am moving from Lowertown so am familiar with a lot of places in the area (Lucky China, Beirut, El Burrito Mercado) but am curious about some of the Mexican, Asian and other restaurants around here.

Some I've seen but haven't yet tried include Pho Saigon, Pineda, Fireside Lounge, Chula Vista, Cici's Pizza. I'll report back if I visit any of them.

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Fireside Lounge
1288 Robert St S, Saint Paul, MN 55118

El Burrito Mercado
175 Cesar Chavez St Ste 2, Saint Paul, MN 55107

Cici's Pizza
1292 Town Centre Dr, Saint Paul, MN 55123

  1. s
    steve_in_stpaul Mar 29, 2011 06:20 PM

    Congratulations on the new digs!

    I haven't been to all of the places you've mentioned. But I've been to Pineda a few times and enjoyed the food. I can't compare it to some of the current Chow darlings on East Lake, but I thought it was pretty good food and several cuts above what is typically considered "Mexican" food around these parts. I also like the Mexican restaurant across from Menard's/Goodwill -- El Taquito. It seems to be family run; very friendly; and makes me wish my Spanish were better. :-)

    Cici's might be worth a visit if both you and your wallet are near empty. But the ambience and menu remind me too much of a Shakey's AYCE buffet. I'd much rather go to the nearby Carbone's.

    IIRC Lucky China is the restaurant that has a "hidden" Korean menu -- ah, yes, here we are, courtesy of Heavy Table: http://heavytable.com/lucky-chinas-hi... . They also have a buffet which IMHO is not near the quality of the menu items.

    And, speaking of buffets, there are two Chinese buffets that I know of on Robert. I know buffets like that typically are not destinations. But when I'm hungry but don't know what I'm hungry for, it's one way of having just a little bit of everything and a little more of what you really liked. One buffet is in the shopping center with Cub. The food I've had there has been middling, but it's one of the biggest buffets I've seen in St. Paul. The other is further north on Robert, by the Radio Shack. Smaller, less selection, but I liked the food better (turns over faster?). If you're in the mood for that....

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    Lucky China
    1375 Robert St S, Saint Paul, MN 55118

    1 Reply
    1. re: steve_in_stpaul
      m
      misterpatrick Mar 30, 2011 10:12 AM

      Great stuff. I've only ever hapd the Korean stuff at Lucky and it is a nice change of pace. I don't really do buffets, but I'll check out El Taquito. I speak bad Spanish so I'm they'll enjoy that.

      I mostly enjoy smaller places with unique menus. For example I love somemof the pupusarerias on the east side.

      Another great place not far off Robert is Jerabeks. Cafe con Amore also opened up their new place on Smith.

    2. AnneInMpls Mar 29, 2011 09:20 PM

      It has been ages since I've been to Beirut (or is it The Port? anyway, it's the restaurant formerly known as Port of Beirut) . But I still dream of their chicken kabobs with Garlic Sauce. And the smoky, garlicky Baba Ganouj. Yum.

      2 Replies
      1. re: AnneInMpls
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        steve_in_stpaul Mar 30, 2011 03:13 AM

        Amen to that! I didn't mention Beirut because the OP already was familar with the place, but that restaurant is one place at which Mrs. Sisp and I find ourselves often, and for just that -- the baba ganouj and the garlic sauce. The deal, though, is that BOTH of us eat it. That way neither partner suffers from "garlic breath". :-)

        1. re: AnneInMpls
          s
          shoo bee doo Mar 30, 2011 04:28 PM

          Those charred chicken kabobs with the garlic sauce are wonderful. I haven't been there in years. I must get there.

        2. g
          gildeddawn Mar 30, 2011 10:30 AM

          Chula Vista is definitely not worth a visit - it's mediocre, Midwestern Mexican.

          1. t
            turtlebella Mar 30, 2011 02:10 PM

            El Amanacer, across the street from El Burrito Mercado, is pretty good. Not as good as Los Ocampo, which is in my 'hood, so we don't go there often, but I like it better than EBM actually.

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

            1. n
              nicols Mar 30, 2011 06:11 PM

              The Fireside has amazing Dago's!! Their marinara sauce is super. I also like to go there for breakfast.....I enjoy their breakfast sandwich.

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              Fireside Lounge
              1288 Robert St S, Saint Paul, MN 55118

              1 Reply
              1. re: nicols
                rp1760 Apr 3, 2011 10:38 AM

                I second the thumbs up on the Dago's. Close to a pound of italian spiced patty served on top of spaghetti. Topped with a liberal serving of cheese, if that's how you like it. Two meals worth for me. I rate it right up there with the Dago's at Yarusso's on the East Side and DeGideo's on West 7th. Someday will have to try Dari-ette, in St. Paul, which also gets some good recs on their dago's.

              2. g
                gryffindor249 Apr 3, 2011 09:51 AM

                Do NOT miss Granny Donuts!

                http://www.avclub.com/twincities/arti...

                I love Pineda...especially the fried cheese. I have not been to JT's burgers in an age, but they used to be pretty spectacular.

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                Granny Donuts
                1555 Robert St S, West St Paul, MN 55118

                8 Replies
                1. re: gryffindor249
                  rp1760 Apr 3, 2011 10:39 AM

                  Another good rec! Note that Granny Donuts only takes cash.

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                  Granny Donuts
                  1555 Robert St S, West St Paul, MN 55118

                  1. re: gryffindor249
                    NugarifiK Apr 3, 2011 11:04 AM

                    Third the Granny Donuts rec. Was in the area around 10am this morning and picked up some donut holes as they had sold out of everything but Apple Fritters and 2 long johns. I think their stock level speaks for itself.

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                    Granny Donuts
                    1555 Robert St S, West St Paul, MN 55118

                    1. re: NugarifiK
                      g
                      gryffindor249 Apr 3, 2011 11:10 AM

                      You should have gotten the apple fritters!

                    2. re: gryffindor249
                      s
                      shadowfax Apr 5, 2011 02:46 PM

                      Ha. Your review of Granny is spot on. I never went in there without him trying to double my order. Thing is, it seems to work. Most people say yes. Apparently they can't do basic math.

                      1. re: shadowfax
                        MSPD Apr 6, 2011 06:47 AM

                        I'm not a "regular" at Granny, but the owners recognize me when I come in. I feel it's important enough to come out of my self-imposed MSP Chowhound board exile to point out that, yes, he goofs around with the "are you SURE you don't want another...." often several times. Last time I was in, he was relentlessly pitching one person in a group of three that was only getting coffee while the other two were getting donuts.

                        The thing is, in the end, he'll almost assuredly put the extra donut in there for FREE. I have NEVER walked out of there without a free donut in my bag and it surely isn't because I'm there frequently enough to get any special treatment.

                        The "coffee only please" woman above was practically browbeaten (and it was in a humorous way...she was playing along) into submission. She relented and finally gave an assertive, "no, thank you". As she and her group turned to leave, I saw him hand one of the other guys a bag with a couple free donuts with a wink and a nod towards her. (And I saw her mowing down the donut as she got into the car).

                        He isn't a malicious upseller. I find him quite the opposite -- the upsell routine is a goof and part of his charm.

                        1. re: MSPD
                          s
                          shadowfax Apr 6, 2011 12:15 PM

                          Never said I objected to it. It's hardly immoral to offer to sell me twice as much as I thought I wanted. I just find it amusing that so many people think they're getting some sort of deal when the offer is "I'll sell you 2 for twice what 1 costs" ;)

                          1. re: shadowfax
                            g
                            gryffindor249 Jul 2, 2011 08:00 PM

                            Granny's got nailed:

                            http://www.twincities.com/restaurants...

                            The guy is annoying, but I will put up with it for the donuts.

                            1. re: gryffindor249
                              MSPD Jul 4, 2011 06:31 PM

                              Yeah, and the first comment was from me, saying it was lame. In fact, because of that blurb, I drove across town to grab some donuts/apple fritters that day. When I was there, there was a young man being trained behind the counter.

                              The owner was sitting out at a table eating and greeted some customers by name after I came in.

                              When the owner's wife saw the clerk handing me the bag, she stopped him and motioned at the tray of donut holes on the cart behind the counter. He threw in a handful for free.

                              I've been there dozens of times and have never had even remotely unpleasant service. 9 times out of 10 I leave with a bunch of free stuff in my bag.

                    3. s
                      spezi Apr 3, 2011 01:07 PM

                      I suggest to check out... mendoberri cafe and wine bar, near by you located in Mendota Heights. You can find more info on their website under www.mendoberri.com

                      1. NugarifiK Apr 3, 2011 04:39 PM

                        So I decided to head back into W. St. Paul for dinner after I saw a new (to me) place called Pollo Campero across from Granny Donuts this morning. After some research it turns out its a a Guatemalan corp that I guess you could compare to KFC although its in an entirely different class.

                        This place does chicken soooooo well. I had their fried (broasted) breast meal w/ campero beans, rice and tortillas (dinner roll also available). The breading was very light but seasoned extremely well and very crispy. The meat itself was juicy and beautiful. The campero beans were chocked full of tomatoes, chorizo, bacon, onion, and a plethora of spices. The campero rice was a version of dirty rice that went great with the beans. With their mini-salsa bar one can get their fried chicken craving AND taco craving solved in one meal. Their other side dishes (yucca fries, fried plantains, black beans n rice) also look very good and I look forward to trying out their grilled (looks rotisserie) chicken later this week.

                        The only gripe one could have with the meal was the average size of the breast. One used to KFC may feel cheated out of a couple more bites but I like to think the chicken wasn't jacked full of roids like the KFC chicken that neighbors Pollo Campero.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: NugarifiK
                          a
                          Alsama Apr 19, 2011 10:23 AM

                          I have been to one in Guatemala and like you say it is in an entirely different class then KFC. This place was amazing in Guata, I am excited to try the one here!

                        2. b
                          bethanyg Apr 4, 2011 06:45 PM

                          Wong's Kitchen in SSP by the Knowlan's is really only good for take-out, but great Chinese-American food (as in, not authentic at all, but delicious)

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                          Wong's Kitchen
                          214 13th Ave S, South Saint Paul, MN 55075

                          1. Hankdad1 Apr 5, 2011 12:26 PM

                            Old World Pizza on 55th in Inver Grove, and Turrito's Pizza @ 66th & Concord in South St Paul both have truly great Minnesota style pies. We haven't been to the Fireside for years, it's a good neighborhood type of bar, and the hot dagos were very good. Love the carne asada and the chorizo tacos at El Taquito. They are very nice people, we went for some take out one evening and it happened that their credit card system was down. We didn't have enough cash so they told us to take the food and just pay for it next time we come in. You just have to love people like that. :-)

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                            Old World Pizza
                            5816 Blaine Ave Inver Grove, Hts, MN

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Hankdad1
                              g
                              gryffindor249 Apr 5, 2011 02:14 PM

                              Is that a spin-off of the old Turritos that was in Highland back in the day?

                              1. re: gryffindor249
                                Hankdad1 Apr 5, 2011 04:28 PM

                                I don't know, they have been in this location for around 20 years. There was another shop in W St Paul next to Gallagher's bar that I believe has closed.

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