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Bakeries and restaurants in/near St. Paul

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Hi everyone!

We are looking to move soon and would love your feedback.

I am looking for bakeries that have the following qualities-
-reasonably priced (couple of dollars or less for a pastry, for example)
-actually bake them in the store and do not have them shipped in
-have a big selection and a variety of goods but especially excellent bread- French, Italian, etc.
-have fresh selections frequently (don't run out of fresh items right away)

Also, if you happen to live in or know the following areas, please let me know how you would rate their bakeries-

Mac-Groveland
Como
Highland Park
St. Anthony Park (not in St. Paul, but just outside)

Can you also describe the differences in restaurants among these areas?

ANY feedback would be super helpful for us.

Thank you!!!!

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  1. Mac-Groveland and Highland are right on top of each other....so the amenities of one will feed the other.

    You will want to seek out Cafe Latte and Bread and Chocolate...right across the street from each other on Grand and Victoria. Owned by the same family and you can get many, many baked goods there between the two, and all freshly-prepared in-house.

    http://cafelatte.com/

    Also on Grand is Wuollet's. It is a chain with five locations with everything made in one central bakery. They are nowhere near as good as they used to be (especially in their breads), but they have many excellent breakfast pastries that can't be beat (especially the sour cream strudel) and the most beautiful cakes in town:

    http://www.wuolletbakery.com/

    St. Anthony Park and Como are right on top of each other as well. They both have a few nice spots but have nowhere near the selections of great restaurants, bakeries and cafes that one will find in Mac-Grove or Highland.

    The best thing about Mac-Grove/ Highland is our small but wonderful grocery store chain Lunds. The Highland location is the best:

    http://www.lundsandbyerlys.com/

    And welcome to St. Paul...we like it here...

    1. When i think of the neighborhoods you mention, I think of specialty bakeries rather than full service bakeries.

      Grand Ave --readily accessible from MacGrove and (slightly less so) from Highland Park-- has the aforementioned Bread & Chocolate, Bravo! Bakery (great cream puffs and some unusual flavors of cake such as green tea or mango, etc.). Both of these are easily accessible from either MacGrove or Highland Park. I don't love Wuollet's, but yes, it's on Grand Ave, too. St. Paul Cheese Shop (on Grand Ave) and Coastal Seafoods (on Snelling just south of Grand Ave) carry a few nice baguettes. The cheese shop also has a few cupcakes.

      MacGrove also has Breadsmith (very average, but it's Kosher if that is important to you).

      Selby --easily accessible from MacGrove--has Great Harvest Bakery (bread and I think a few sweets) and Bars. Marshall has Sweets Bakeshop if you want tiny, precious cupcakes or macarons. When it was on Hamline, Kopplins (which has relocated to Marshall) used to carry some Rustica products. I don't know if it still carries them in its Marshall Ave location.

      Highland Park has Mojo Monkey , which has lovely donuts (they sell out fast, though, and service is excruciatingly careful and slow). PJ Murphy's is a basic nice bakery for bread and cookies and bars if you don't need anything fancy. Highland also has the chains of Panera and Brueggers. (I think there's a Brueggers on Grand Ave., too). I think Cecil's Deli bakes some of its own breads (rye?), but I don't recall if they have any pastries or know if they'd be any good. I think Highland Bakery and Cafe has some cakes and pies. It's been forever since I've been, so I can't really comment.

      As far as restaurants in general, MacGrove is best situated to hit up Grand Avenue and University Avenue restaurants. Como also gives you good access to University Avenue. There are a couple of Vietnamese bakeries on University Ave, such as Trung Nam. Highland is also very convenient to Grand Ave, a little less so to University (but you're talking a difference of just a few minutes drive), but also to West 7th Restaurants. I think Cossetta's will have an in-house bakery when its expansion is complete.

      Como has a donut shop or two and Key's Cafe and Bakery. That's all that occurs to me. I think there's a Panera in Rosedale. Probably a Brueggers in the area, too.

      I think St. Anthony Park actually is in St. Paul. And it has a little pocket of restaurants. Or did you mean the teensy little city of St. Anthony? If so, unfortunately, don't know the borders of it well enough to give any recommendations.

      If your idea is to be able to walk to these bakeries and restaurants, I think MacGrove is probably your best bet. But, I'd say there are bakeries and restaurants readily drivable to all of these places.

      MacGrove has the awful Rosemark Bakery and Highland Park has the meh Patisserie.

      I hope that helps. I fear it just makes everything really confusing.

      ~TDQ

      1. Thank you both gryffindor249 and The Dairy Queen! This is super helpful. I don't really know much about any of these areas in terms of bakeries or restaurants, so this really helps out.
        Dairy Queen- yes, I was refering to the tiny area of St. Anthony Park, which I didn't think was part of the City of St. Paul, but a suburb just outside, but then again I could be wrong about that. Anyway, it's the area where the U-M has their St. Paul campus, I know the agricultural building is there, the vet clinic, etc. But it is a very small area.

        Thank you again, this answers many questions for us, we're looking to move fairly soon now, but we just haven't had the time to walk around much and since bakeries esp. are very important to me (and secondly, some good Mom n Pop restaurants, was very curious to know what they were like in these areas.

        1 Reply
        1. re: chocolatemint

          I think you're getting two different places confused. There's St. Anthony Park which is an actual neighborhood of St. Paul. It's where Muffuletta is, for instance, and the new Colossal Cafe, and yes, near the UofM Farm Campus (you'll be able to go to the meat and dairy lab on Wednesdays!). Then there's the tiny little town of St. Anthony that is wedged between Minneapolis and St. Paul.

          ETA: St. Anthony Park has Finnish Bistro, which I think is (or used to be, not sure, I think it has evolved over the years) a bakery/cafe. I've never been. Difficult hours. http://www.finnishbistro.com/

          ~TDQ

        2. I live in an area bordering the east side of the Como neighborhood (a part that used to be listed as Como on the MLS, but now is not). There really isn't much to walk to in terms of bakeries and restaurants, if that is important to you, but there are several good places in close driving distance.

          For baked goods I go down to Selby to Bars Bakery and A Piece of Cake. Bread and Chocolate and Cafe Latte isn't far from there either. The Mississippi Market on Selby carries Rustica Bread, and the St Paul Farmer's Market is a short drive as well, with some good bread vendors.

          It is also easy to get to good restaurants on University Ave (Big Daddy's, Ngon, Bangkok Thai Deli), Selby (W.A. Frost, Cheeky Monkey, Mango Thai, etc.), Grand Ave (Tavern on Grand, Brasa, Punch), and downtown (Meritage, Heartland). The Strip Club is also not too far. Plus, it's pretty close to both Hmong markets.

          I'm guessing parts of Mac/Groveland would be just as close or closer to most of the places I am talking about, and would probably be the neighborhood I would choose just based on culinary appeal. The nicest thing about the Como neighborhood is Como Park and Lake Como, really.

          1. I agree with everyone else's assessment here and I too love bakeries. One place I never see mentioned on here is Highland Cafe and Bakery. It's a fairly average diner type place but I think they have a really good bakery. They make their own cakes and I think they are above average and always fresh. But I REALLY think they have the best caramel roll in town. Better than Isle Bun and Coffee, better than Good Day Cafe, and better than .....Bars Bakery. Yep I said it.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Bobannon

              I agree...their caramel roll is fantastic. Good, solid Mom and Pop food too,

              1. re: gryffindor249

                Glad to hear this place is still good (as I was wondering in my post above).

                I ate there --and reported on it--a couple of times when it first opened (2007 or something?), but something about the setting seemed depressing to me so I stopped going. The owners worked at Keys for many years (like 25 years, I think) and I see a lot of Key's influences in their food.

                Are they still serving the limited Nepali menu at lunch and dinner? There is something really neat, I think, about a place where you can order pork chops with gravy AND momos...

                ~TDQ

                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                  Yes they are, although I've never ordered from the Nepali portion of the menu. For some reason I was thinking the owners were connected to the Himalayan. Did I totally make that up?

                  I didn't know about the Key's connection, but now that you mention it, I can see it too. I like the variety of baked cakes in the case. All that I've tried I really liked.

                  I also get what you're saying about about the depressing atmosphere...I think it's the clientele. Sort of the nursing home crowd. My mom and I often go for breakfast though and food is always solid. I'm willing to overlook it for a fabulous caramel roll. And possibly a piece of cake to go.

                  1. re: Bobannon

                    No, you're not making the thing up about being connected to Himlayan. That is also true! (Well, assuming nothing's changed. They used to list the Highland Cafe and Bakery on Himalayan's website, if I recall. They don't seem to anymore...) As I said, it's been a zillion years since I've been, but I really enjoyed the Nepali side of the menu the couple of times I tried it. The momos (vegetarian, I think?) and chicken curry were really delicious. I should get over there again just for that!

                    I can't remember the name of the place that used to be there before, but I think the depressing-ish atmosphere is leftover from that.

                    I'll see if I can find my old post about this place--maybe I put some of the history in that...

                    ETA: here is my old post. It used to be the VIllage Bistro. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4174... It was the meat momos that I tried that I liked. And I forgot about the mango lassi. That was good, too.

                    ~TDQ

                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      Good to know, thanks! There aren't a lot of Nepali items on the menu but I'm assuming they are similar to Himalayan, which I LOVE.

                      Suddenly I'm craving caramel rolls and curry.

            2. Thanks everyone for the feedback! And thanks Dairy Queen for the clarification about Saint
              Anthony Park, yes that was the place I was talking about.

              Right now we live near a bakery that I had thought would be really great. After we moved here we realized everything they bake is super greasy. So that's another critieria for a bakery- no
              greasy baked goods.

              These are great recommendations, thanks for helping us out!

              3 Replies
              1. re: chocolatemint

                I was reminded by twitter today that Kopplin's Coffee (in Merriam Park, I believe) carries a small selection of Rustica baked goods, and apparently sell the baguettes for $1 at the end of the day. That's a lovely block with Sweet's bakeshop (cupcakes and macaroons only), Trotter's, and Izzy's ice cream.

                1. re: jaycooke

                  Thanks for confirming that Kopplins still carries the Rustica goods. I wasn't sure if they carried that over to their new location! I'm glad they did. One more reason to get over there...

                  ~TDQ

                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    That block is DANGEROUS! I mean, in a good, foodie way! Izzy's ice cream, Sweets bakeshop, Kopplin's, Trotter's Cafe around the corner... and Choo-Choo Bob's if you have children obsessed with trains... If I lived in walking distance, we'd be in big trouble. :) Actually, I really like the Merriam Park neighborhood...

              2. I won't rehash the great information that other posters have given you, but I'll just add a few thoughts:

                1) Bakeries is a broad subject. In some "bakery" areas, St. Paul shines in, and in a few, STP is very lacking:

                "excellent bread" - there's not much "excellent bread" to be found in the Twin Cities, and much of what there is, is in Minneapolis, especially South Minneapolis. This is especially true if you're looking for high quality French and/or Italian. Wuollet's is OK overall, but their French bread is nothing to write home about. Admittedly, it's been a few years since I've eaten Wuollet's.

                cupcakes - there are several high quality cupcake bakers in STP. Great stuff, described by other posters.

                Doughnuts - While some folks might disagree, Mojo monkey on W. 7th is one of the best around, after opening last year.

                Cakes/desserts - Cafe Latte gets mixed reviews. Some folks rave about it, others think it's just OK. I'm in the "just OK" camp. Bread and Chocolate, and Bravo, are pretty good.

                For the "fresh selections frequently", there aren't too many places that have the turnover necessary to keep a large selection of high quality, freshly made bakery products, especially given that many bakery products have very short shelf lives. You are likely to be disappointed if you want to have a large selection of freshly made products at any time of day. For some items, yes, that will work. but for others, such as doughnuts and some bread products, early is best.

                As for restaurants....with a few exceptions, I personally don't consider Mac-Groveland/HP and Como/St. Anthony to be hotbeds for destination restaurants. Brass on Grand gets lots of love. Carmell's on Snelling has its ardent supporters (it's a good neighborhood joint). Recently opened Joan's in the Park has garnered good reviews, but again, not so good that one would drive from a distant neighborhood. Grand Ave has a lot of restaurants, but most are just OK.

                Though I haven't been to it in over a year, I considered Barbary Fig to be the best restaurant on Grand, by a landslide. That is, until Brassa opened. Most of the other places are fine if you're on Grand and hungry.

                Highland Park is another neighborhood that has a lot of eateries, but none (except Punch Pizza) that are worth traveling far for. to be honest, the only place other than Punch that I'd go more than a couple miles for is Tiffany's, which is bar food (but they make a great burger, and have a great beer selection). Down the street, Luci and Luci Ancora used to be solid, but has been very inconsistent the last few years. I haven't eaten there in at least 2 years, but I haven't heard great things. Too bad, they were solid at one point. 128 Cafe on Cleveland also has it's ardent supporters. A great place for its location, but in the context of the Twin Cities as a whole, it's just OK.

                In short, those neighborhoods have good neighborhood quality restaurants, but don't have places that you'd want to drive more than 10 minutes to get to. Downtown St. Paul, on the other hand, has excellent, national-class restaurants. In Minneapolis, the wealth is a bit more spread. Many neighborhoods, especially in South MPLS, do have destination restaurants, as well as high quality establishments in downtown.

                In the end, it all depends on what you're looking for.

                1. As most here have said, Mac-Groveland is your best bet for restaurants and bakeries in St. Paul. I used to live a few blocks away from Como Lake and wished there were more good things to eat in close walking distance. St. Anthony Park was just a short bike ride away, but there's not much there. Finnish Bistro is only OK. Better for baked goods than for food food. Como is walking distance to University Ave. (Ngon, Little Szechuan), but the walk can be rather dismal.

                  My favorite bakeries (for treats, but not bread) in St. Paul are A Piece of Cake (and its sister restaurant Bon Vie) and Bars, both of which are on Selby. They don't compare to Rustica in Minneapolis, but then nothing does. I'm happy to hear that Kopplin's carries Rustica treats. For bread, Mississippi Market carries a good selection from various local bakeries. If I could afford it, I would have bought a house in Mac-Groveland. (I ended up buying one on the West Side, and I'm looking forward to lots and lots of awesome Mexican food.)

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: ShinyCake

                    If you are on the West Side, then hit up Granny Donuts on Robert Street in West St. Paul for some old-school donuts served by a crazy man.

                    1. re: gryffindor249

                      He IS crazy! My boyfriend and I drove out there a couple months ago (after our second attempt to actually get donuts at The Donut Cooperative failed). Good donuts, very amusing crazy man. :)

                      1. re: ShinyCake

                        I don't know why I bother trying anymore, but....once again, I'll just say how sad I am when I see him characterized this way. He is a Vietnam War Veteran, gracious, and incredibly hard working. He and his wife are so kind to me when I come in there. Yes, his schtick is to try and get you to take extra donuts. Yes, you may have to tell him "no" a couple times (and granted, that makes some people uncomfortable I guess).

                        But he is not "crazy" or the worse labels he has been given by a certain Pioneer Press restaurant critic.

                        Anyway, I know I'm fighting a losing battle and it's just "good innocent fun". Carry on.

                        1. re: MSPD

                          For what it's worth, I meant "crazy" in the best possible way. It's what I call anyone - loved ones and strangers alike - who is enjoyably odd. Certainly didn't mean to offend.

                          1. re: ShinyCake

                            I think you need to take it in the spirit in which it was written. If I truly had something against this man, I would not be recommending his business on a public message board. But yes...his behavior tends to turn some people off and it is best to let them know before they go in.

                            1. re: ShinyCake

                              No worries. It may be that I read too many of these sites, Twitter, and on and on. Anyway, it's so rare that you find a place with top-tier food (whatever the product), incredibly friendly owners, and...yeah...a quirk that gives the place some personality.

                              Since Chowhound was kind enough to leave this up despite it being way out of the requested area, I will say this (to the benefit of the original poster): I lived in Mac-Groveland (near Cleveland and St. Clair) for a couple of years and I would rush back in a second. I don't really think of Mac-Groveland and Highland as distinct "dining and entertainment zones", rather, one-in-the-same.

                              None of my absolute favorite bakeries is there (Rustica, Patisserie 46, and the others named). But, as pointed out, not only are there passable options (even Lund's and Whole Foods) those neighborhoods are smack dab in the middle of the Twin Cities. You are never far from anything.

                              Even though I live 15 miles away, I still get my haircut there, I eat at the Nook, 128 Cafe, Highland Grill, Trotters, Izzy's, Sweets Bake Shop, St. Paul Cheese Shop, Coffee News, Shish, and so on on a fairly regular basis. Same goes for Grand Avenue, Como, and the like. And you're so close...walkable even...to University Ave. with Russian Tea House and Bonnie's Cafe, two more of my favorites anywhere.

                              If it were up to me, I would move right back into my old house on St. Clair. Heck, maybe it'll happen...I still check for a "For Sale" sign every time I'm there.

                            2. re: MSPD

                              I didn't know the guy was a war veteran, and I've only been there 5x or so but I have found him to be delightful, the lady too. He does push the extra donuts, but thats cool because he gives a bit of discount for them. I'll never complain about a couple extra donuts for less. I love the raised donuts they have there. My mouth is watering just thinking about them!

                      2. Wow this discussion has been super informative! I live in South Minneapolis now and have never tried Rustica, so I need to do that.

                        Thank you for all this amazing feedback. We may end up having to travel here rather than living nearby which is what we wanted to do. Like Shiny Cake, we wanted to live in Mac Groveland but have had awful luck finding a place to rent there, so we may not be able to walk to places as we had hoped.

                        But at least I will know exactly where to eat for what. What a great list. I can't wait. to try them all..........

                        Thanks again.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: chocolatemint

                          I would go to Patisserie 46 (also in S. Mpls) or Bars Bakery 10 times over before Rustica. I just haven't been wowed by Rustica so far. Good, certainly, but not better than others. I know I'm completely in the minority on that but that's ok. :)

                          I also think it would serve you well to look some of these places up on a map because I think we all have different ideas of what qualifies as Mac-Groveland vs. Highland, etc. I would never say Mojo Monkey Donuts is in Highland Park. To me, that's the West 7th neighborhood - too far east to be HP.

                          I would also throw Cheeky Monkey Deli into the mix. Not sure where they get their sweets or if they make them in house, but they're pretty good.

                          1. re: Seige

                            You're right. Mojo Monkey is 4-5 blocks too far east to be Highland. I should have said, "readily accessible from Highland". My apologies.

                            ~TDQ