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First date suggestions for St. Paul?

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Looking for somewhere in St. Paul, that is good but isn't a chain. Type of food really doesn't matter. I like trying new places and can't really think of anywhere to go for a date. Would like somewhere that isn't loud since it will be a first date and would like to talk to my date. Any suggestions?

Oh this is what she told me: "You are in charge of location: nothing fancy, please."

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  1. My sister and I just enjoyed a glass of wine and a shared a mediterranean flatbread yesterday at the Finnish Bistro on Como Avenue in the St. Anthony neighborhood. The first thing I said was "this would be a great date place." Nice beer and wine selection, very good flatbread, salads, casual menu, fresh baked goods, small, quiet, really cute place in a classy neighborhood.

    If you are thinking downtown St. Paul, I would recommend The Barrio (great tequila selection, good guacamole and small plates that would be fun to share) or the new Black Sheep Coal Fired Pizza joint (a little louder, but unique pizza, nice salads).

    6 Replies
    1. re: rp1760

      Just thought of another great place, but location might not work for you. Sea Salt Eatery at Minnehaha Falls would fit my bill for a great, casual first date. Bring a warm blanket and throw it on the grass for a lovely Spring Picnic!

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      Sea Salt Eatery
      4801 Minnehaha Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55417

      1. re: rp1760

        Didn't know Sea Salt moved to St. Paul. Their website didn't mention the change?

        I'd recommend the bar area at Senor Wong's as well. They have a large menu with a ton of different appetizers along with a great cocktail list. I'd stay away from the Donkey Punch as that stuff might get you a little too drunk for the date. Unless she's into that ...

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        Senor Wong
        111 East Kellogg Blvd., Saint Paul, MN 55101

        1. re: Db Cooper

          No, silly, they didn't move. That's why I noted that "location might not work for you."

          1. re: rp1760

            I suppose it depends on which part of St. Paul you're traveling from, but I consider Minnehaha Park (in Minneapolis) so close to St. Paul that I often include Sea Salt in my "St. Paul" recs, too. You do have to cross the river tho. Note that there is some kind of fun run or something through Minnehaha Park this weekend that might be annoying if you're trying to make your way to sea salt.

            ~TDQ

      2. re: rp1760

        How is Barrio for noise levels on a Friday night?

        1. re: Matronix

          You might be OK for an early dinner at Barrio St. Paul, but it becomes extremely loud (as in dance music so loud you can't hear the person shouting at your from across the table) later at night - at least on Fridays and Saturdays.

      3. I like Ngon on university. Great food, local beer list, quieter, but still has great music going.
        Senor Wong's in DT is also fun. Great drinks, fun appetizers, interesting fusion food.
        If you are looking for a fancy first date Meritage is perfect, romantic and quiet.

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        Meritage
        410 Saint Peter St, Saint Paul, MN 55102

        Senor Wong's
        111 Kellog Blvd, St Paul, MN 55101

        6 Replies
        1. re: run2eat

          Meritage is not quite at all. The rest applies.

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          Meritage
          410 Saint Peter St, Saint Paul, MN 55102

          1. re: semanticantics

            I disagree. Meritage can be quiet. All depends on when you go there. That said, I wouldn't say it meets the "nothing fancy, please." part.

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            Meritage
            410 Saint Peter St, Saint Paul, MN 55102

            1. re: Seige

              When the weather gets nice, I would completely recommend Meritage on the sidewalk patio for Sat/Sun brunch. Somehow, dining on the sidewalk takes away the "fancy" edge. But, I agree: dining indoors at Meritage would be too intense/fancy for a first date. Besides, you have to leave some place to go for when things get more serious!

              ~TDQ

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              Meritage
              410 Saint Peter St, Saint Paul, MN 55102

              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                I've been to Meritage before, I don't think that will fit the "nothing fancy" part of the date clause. :)

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                Meritage
                410 Saint Peter St, Saint Paul, MN 55102

                1. re: Matronix

                  Have you been on the patio for Sat/Sun brunch? I recommend it once the weather's nice. It's more casual than dining indoors. I think we're a good month away from that anyway, so maybe you'll be on to 3rd or 4th date by then.

                  ~TDQ

                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    Patio and Crepe Stand are actually supposed to open May 1 - tomorrow! Oh and the crepe stand is going to be open Tuesday - Saturday. We so, we so excited! :)

        2. There is a dish at Que Nha where they serve the fixings for a spring roll. Lots of fun, very tasty, then split a dish of Lemongrass Chicken. Guaranteed to be a first date neither will forget. The chicken is not all that spicey.

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          Que Nha
          849 University Ave W Ste 101, Saint Paul, MN 55104

          1. How about Scusi?

            1. I had lunch for the first time Wednesday at Twisted Fork Grill on Grand Ave. It's reportedly owned by Green Mill and is in the same building with them

              The menu is interesting with lots of variety; the quality isn't stellar but certainly acceptable; and it's a fairly quiet neighborhood place with some booths with high backs. They serve breakfast until 3:00 as well as lunch and dinner (I think). It's well decorated in a chainy sort of way, and prices are reasonable. Might that work?

              1. Scusi.

                3 Replies
                1. re: sandylc

                  How is Scusi? I have been meaning to try it. Guessing it fits in the not fancy category?

                  1. re: Matronix

                    We haven't been in the dining room yet - we very much enjoyed the bar area where there is a good happy hour with the full menu available. Nothing earth-shattering, but very good.

                    1. re: sandylc

                      Same report here. You have the option to try a bunch of stuff. Pretty low key in the bar area. What I've had is tasty.

                2. ngon
                  shish
                  tanpopo

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                  Ngon Vietnamese Bistro
                  799 University Ave W, Saint Paul, MN 55104

                  Shish Mediterranean Grill
                  1668 Grand Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55105

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

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: soupkitten

                    Shish is a good suggestions, with drinks at The Muddy Pig after.

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                    Muddy Pig
                    162 Dale St N, Saint Paul, MN 55102

                    1. re: semanticantics

                      The Muddy Pig isn't SUPER convenient to Shish, really. Not walkable, for instance. Scratching my head at that rec.

                      I'd second Tanpopo and Ngon. Maybe Cheeky Monkey?

                      ~TDQ

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                      Muddy Pig
                      162 Dale St N, Saint Paul, MN 55102

                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        +1 on Cheeky Monkey. Not fancy, but good food. Pretty cozy. Could be a very nice 1st date option.

                      2. re: semanticantics

                        I know she said nothing fancy, but Shish is counter service, and I'd be annoyed if it were my first date with a guy and he took me to a counter service place.

                      3. re: soupkitten

                        +1 on Tanpopo. Quiet so you can hear each other speak. Not overly uber-cool but not staid either. I think it strikes the perfect balance between casual and not-casual. I love their udon. Since they have limited their service to only dinner I haven't been (when you have to pay a babysitter...) but I miss it.

                        1. re: soupkitten

                          We ended up going to Tanpopo. Thank you for the suggestion. We enjoyed the food and was exactly what I was looking for.

                          1. re: Matronix

                            awesome! thanks for reporting back and good luck! :)

                            1. re: soupkitten

                              Thank you very much.
                              I believe there was another...possible first date going on there last night. It was a very quiet place so there weren't any distractions when trying to conversation. Wait staff was very good. I'd go back for date or just dinner.

                        2. On's Thai Kitchen on University, go next door to The Turf Club for a nightcap, and if you need it, there is an "adult" store between the two! Perfect!

                          -----
                          On's Thai Kitchen
                          1613 University Ave W,, St Paul, MN 55104

                          1. I'll echo the recs for Ngon and Tanpopo. They both offer quiet, calm, solid but not-too-fancy dining experiences.

                            Sea Salt would probably be good too, if it's close enough to St. Paul to suit you, although it's not as "easy" because it tends to be more crowded and confusing, which (to me) would be distracting on a first date. However, there is the plus of great scenery and the option of renting a surrey to tool around in afterward.

                            Good luck!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: diesel

                              Tanpopo would be my rec as well. Enough wiggle room so that if your date isn't the mood for this or that cuisine, you'll be okay.

                            2. Carmellos on St. Clair and Snelling.

                              1. How about dinner at Trotter's, followed by ice cream at Izzy's? Trotter's is quiet and extremely low key - the antithesis of chains - and perfect for counter-cultural types. If the date is going well, you can walk down to the Mississippi River and watch the water flowing south.

                                Anne

                                http://trotterscafe.com/

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: AnneInMpls

                                  What do you recommend off the menu at Trotters? I've had some pretty good dishes there, but nothing amazing. I do love Izzy's though.

                                  ~TDQ

                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                    I'd agree that Trotter's is mostly good-but-not-amazing. But they have a couple of really nice dishes. My favorite dish is the WAYY-better-than-good buffalo burger (but ya gotta get it with cheddar cheese). Mr. Tastebud really likes the Tuscan Chicken with Penne - it's nice and garlicy and has tangy bites of marinated artichoke hearts. And the green salad is very very good - love the maple-dijon dressing.

                                    If you didn't opt for Izzy's for dessert, their uber-chocolatey Chaos Cupcakes are awesome.

                                    What I especially like about Trotter's is that the food tastes "real" - nothing chemical or artificial about it. But it's not at all fancy, and the order-at-the-counter coffeehouse ambiance isn't especially romantic (unless you're me and your dining companion is my husband :-).

                                2. For a first date, I'd think Grand Avenue so you can easily continue after dinner. Brasa is very good, and very casual. Grand Ole Creamery a pretty short walk for dessert.