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Jun 14, 2012 08:48 AM

University Ave. reminder

The construction continues and the business still need our commitment to keep them open. Lets renew our pledge to eat on University whenever possible. Even Rick Nelson doesn't thimk it is that hard to get to them.

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  1. Great reminder. I wish he'd given the nearest cross-street for these places that you can get through on...


    1. Ditto that. I was there last night - compared to the University Ave construction of last summer, this one seems to be less of a hassle to get around. I stopped by for pho and then went to Sun Foods off University & Rice and had no issues. I was expecting the worst based on last summer and was pleasantly surprised.

      4 Replies
      1. re: spahkee

        Last Sunday afternoon I had probably the most memorable, life changing meal in my entire life. Bangkok Thai Deli will be my regular stop from now on. I had the whole fish which was deep fried Talapia with two sauces on the side. Some of the freshest and most tasty fish I have had. Also I tried a noodle soup which name escapes me but the broth was crimson as blood and as spicy as a dragon's tongue. It also had deep fried fish cakes and copious amounts of sliced pork. Also the stuffed chicken wings were to die for. This place is the real deal.

        1. re: Fudist

          Might have been Boat Soup, which has blood in it.

          1. re: semanticantics

            It was actually the Dudee Noodle Soup. I went again today and got the Pork Boat Soup which I actually even enjoyed more. I brought my cousin along who loves Saigon and Trieu Chau and he agreed BTD blows them away. Anthony Bourdain would be in heaven here.

            1. re: Fudist

              Actually just got home from there. Today's dish seemed a bit oilier than usual, but still awful tasty.

      2. Tried to eat at Ngon last night. Either R.N.'s article, this post, or some kind of father's day blitz had the place hopping. At least 20 seats open, the bar fully seated, and a 30 minute wait (insert sad emoticon here). After the transiting an alley way, and making a couple of questionable driving maneuvers to get there, I felt a mix of feelings. I've never had a reservation there before in my many visits. We'll be back again, but you might want to call ahead. I don't think Caribe was having this problem.

        1 Reply
        1. re: keg

          Since Caribe is now closed (at least their web site says so), I don't think they were having that problem either.

        2. My father and I went down to Regions to see a relative and we decided to take a drive down University to see the destruction. Wow, I don't think things are going to improve all that much even after the construction is completed. Where are people going to park?

          One of the recent casualties is JJ's Chicken & Fish. I had not eaten there in a long time but thought they were still open just a few weeks ago. If these businesses do not have a parking lot, are near a parking lot, have rear parking, or some other parking solution, things will remain tough for them.

          14 Replies
          1. re: John E.

            I have not run into an issue finding parking within a block / block and a half on a side street. Uni is slow and all kinds of broken up, parking isn't the issue, it's construction traffic. But if you know where you are going and use a different major street, like Marshall to navigate the east / west part of your trip, getting over to Uni isn't that bad.

            1. re: semanticantics

              semantic, I agree. Use side streets and walk a block. It's not rocket science.

              1. re: MSPD

                I do sort of get it that St. Paul is a strange and foreign land for many in the metro, and construction is a turn off obviously, but if you're from the general area and have two feet, it's not horrible. The fish place that went under wasn't lighting the world on fire to begin with. Ngon reportedly is still doing pretty well. Bangkok Thai hasn't seemed affected on my three recent trips.

              2. re: semanticantics

                Side streets? Do you really think that is enough parking for all of the businesses on University Avenue? When I was writing about parking, I'm not referring to now while it's under construction. I'm referring to AFTER the train is running.

                1. re: John E.

                  JJ's was a converted fast-food restaurant. Parking was not one of their problems. And, in truth, parking isn't going to be any worse once the trains are running than it is now. Nothing wrong with walking a block or two.

                  Construction traffic at rush hour IS bad, but I've been to University Avenue businesses a few times a month since construction started and travel really isn't prohibitive at non-rush hours -- even if you have to circle the block after missing the little sign indicating parking for wherever you're going.

                  Personally, I think JJ's had some other issues.

                  1. re: steve_in_stpaul

                    JJ's has been really bad for at least a year now in terms of food but yeah stay away from Uni during rush hour if possible because it is bloody murder. Use 94 and get off on the Capital exit if going to BTD and if you must park in the now vacated Burger King parking lot across the street. Last 3 times I went on a Monday evening, Sunday morning and Friday night they were packed. I would avoid that place this week however because it will be ridiculously hot in there what with the no air conditioning and never mind the fish funk.

                    1. re: steve_in_stpaul

                      I'm sure JJ's had issues. I never actually ate at that one but did eat at the one on White Bear Avenue a few years ago before it closed. My original point was about what the construction is doing to businesses on University Avenue. I mentioned JJ's only because it did recently close.

                      1. re: John E.

                        Not intending to be argumentative here, as I know the construction certainly has an impact on businesses on Uni, but so far people have only cited ones that were already on the brink for what appears to be other reasons (e.g., bad location - Caribe, bad product - JJ's).

                        The rail should be completely laid by the end of this year with things easing up from a construction and traffic standpoint next year - it should at worst have a small positive impact on local business, hopefully a fairly substantial positive impact when the project is complete. It just seems as if it is commonly accepted truth that construction is shuttering businesses left and right - those that I have been frequenting seem to be weathering the storm pretty well.

                        1. re: mull0263

                          What have you seen, other than their doors still being open, that gives you the idea that University Avenue businesses are "...weathering the storm pretty well."? I would guess that may be true with some of them, but probably a tiny percentage of them are doing it 'very well'. If a restaurant has to go from 65 employees to 11, is that doing it pretty well?

                          1. re: John E.

                            Which restaurant went from 65 to 11 employees?

                              1. re: John E.

                                I'm not going to argue one way or the other about whether or not businesses are weathering the storm or not, it's pretty clear that Mai Village's problems began long before the LRT construction began. See

                                1. re: John E.

                                  There is general agreement here and in other threads regarding our need to support good restaurants, particularly when construction is making it hard to reach them on a whim.

                                  Let's acknowledge that restaurants that make poor food and/or poor business decisions will have a tougher time when other stuff is going on. That is just more evident when people can't reach them on a whim.

                                  JJ's? Caribe? Mai Village? We're 0 for 3 in naming a business whose problems are limited to light rail. Not all restaurants need to be saved, at least not with my wallet. Mai Village has been discussed extensively already in this very context, particularly here:

                                  The original disagreement with John E.'s post was whether the parking on University is going to be a problem post-construction. Having witnessed the same disruption for a longer period along Lake Street, I'll be curious to hear of a spot that can pin all its failures on the light rail project.

                                  1. re: KTFoley

                                    Here's my list of University Ave. Restaurants I'd be sorry to see go:

                                    1. Little Szechuan - so much better than Tea House.
                                    2. iPho by Saigon - bahn mi baby.
                                    3. Pho Cadao - best Pho in town.
                                    4. On's Thai
                                    5. Fasika (spelling?)
                                    6. Big Daddy's BBQ (best we've got in Twin Cities, AFAIK).

                  1. re: ChillyDog

                    Couple notes: Yeah, this is pretty lame of the construction crew. It might have been an easier fix for Hai if he threw together some cold drinks and some appetizers to augment the lunch pails with a "hey...keep up the great work and I'd appreciate it if you looked out for my customer parking and access (wink, wink)".

                    Separately, I drove University from the U of M to Homi last night. For fun, I timed it. 6:39 at the University, in my seat at Homi a couple minutes after 7:00. Really no different from before -- the stoplights caused all of the delays. Parked right in back. The worst part was that Homi doesn't have air conditioning....holy hot. I've never been so relieved to go OUTSIDE INTO 85+ degrees. But....steady business the whole time, including takeout. Pretty good to see on a Monday evening.

                    Great mole by the way.

                    1. re: MSPD

                      Thank you for reporting back on how you got to Homi and where you parked. Right now, during construction, that information is exceedingly helpful. Sorry to hear about the no air-con. Yikes!

                      And, yeah, I wish Hai had thought to be a little bit more cunning in dealing with the construction folk. He shouldn't really have to, of course, but that's how these things sometimes go. I'll bet a little iced tea could go a long way right now!


                      1. re: MSPD

                        Talking to the owners of business on University the crews never come in for lunch and don't give a damn about access...