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Jun 26, 2012 06:31 AM

Lunch near airport?

Hi all. My family is flying in to MSP, picking up a car and heading to Duluth. Knowing my kids, they will be hungry when we get off the plane and want to eat before we are too far into the trip. I don't know the area at all. Is there someplace that is easy to get to and on the way on a Saturday at around 2 pm?

Thanks for any help!

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  1. When you leave the airport, you will be heading east on 5/West 7th Street towards I-35E (which is your route up north). A couple of options that won't put you too far out of your way:

    - As soon as you cross the Mississippi River on 5, take the Edgecumbe Road/Shepard Road exit and bear to the left (onto Edgecumbe). Just over the railroad tracks, take a left onto St. Paul Avenue. Follow that about 1 mile (it turns into Cleveland Avenue) to Ford Parkway. At the NW corner of that intersection is Highland Grill - a reliable family friendly place. By 2 p.m. the crowds should have died down a bit. A couple blocks north of there on the right is Punch Pizza, a good Neapolitan pizza place.

    - Staying on 5, just prior to 35E is a funky intersection (Montreal Ave and Lexington). Turn left onto Lexington and go up a couple miles to Randolph Ave. There you will see a Trader Joe's and Rusty Taco. Rusty Taco is basically a glorified Chipotle. It's probably your quickest option for decent food if you want to get going.

    - If you care more about great food and less about making time, go that way, but turn left onto Randolph. In a few blocks turn left at Hamline Avenue and park. You'll see the Nook which is the source of the best burgers in MSP and, in my opinion the best burger on Earth (the Nookie Supreme). Again, at 2 p.m., the crowds should have died down a bit although the Nook can be crowded at all times. You can often get seated quicker downstairs in the bowling alley.

    2 Replies
    1. re: MSPD

      Fantastic information. Thanks so much. I'm tempted by the Nook, but we'll see how much of a hurry we are in.

      1. re: MSPD

        Rusty Taco (a chain out of Texas) is nearly impossible to get into parking-wise on weekends because it's in the same complex as Trader Joe's. Plus, the food is mediocre at best, unless you know just what to order.

        Punch (Neapolitan-style pizza) has a teensy amount of parking--it shares a strip mall with a dry-cleaner-- and Highland Grill is street parking only on a block that also has a movie theater. If Highland Grill or Punch at the corner of Ford Parkway and Cleveland are packed or if you can't park, there's also Chatterbox Pub in the strip mall on the south east corner of that same intersection. It's exceedingly family-friendly with board games and Atari games you can play on sofas and coffee tables while you wait. It's easy to get into in the middle of the day. There's a lot with a generous amount of parking behind (south of) the strip mall it's in. The food isn't as good as either Highland Grill or Punch, but it's pretty good (better than it used to be as an FYI for local 'hounds) and it's an indie spot that welcomes families. Good mac and cheese and quesadillas.

        Also, for expedience, instead of the Nook, I'd send you to Shamrock's, the Nook's sister restaurant located on West 7th. It's a lot larger and there's seldom a wait as there is at the Nook. I don't think their food is as good as the Nook (I wish someone would introduce the fry cook to a salt shaker), but they are accommodating to families with kids. The Nook is street parking only which can be a challenge if there's a ballgame underway at the high school across the street. Shamrock's has a tiny lot in the back and is street parking otherwise.


      2. If you're just looking for fast food, you could hit Forest Lake (40min north of MSP) or North Branch (50min north of MSP). They are right on 35 as you head north. They are nothing more than interstate exits with lots of fast food options.

        If you don't mind eating pizza in the car (don't know how old your kids are), you could order ahead to the Red's Savoy in Hugo (35min north of MSP) which is an exit off of 35E. You could eat good pizza in the car on the drive up.

        2 Replies
        1. re: GutGrease

          I'd like to avoid fast food, but good to know about, just in case. Pizza might work. Kids are 9 & 11, plenty old enough to eat pizza in the car, and we all love good pizza. Thanks!

          1. re: Hungryin theBurbs

            If it is pizza you are after you could stop at Roadside pizza right off I-35 and Larpenteur. Easy and quick on and off the freeway on your way north just before you are leaving St. Paul. It's good traditional square sliced midwest pie.


        2. If you want to make an outing of it, consider going to Sea Salt Eatery, which is very near the airport. It's delicious seafood in a park setting. It's super casual--order at a counter, wait (sometimes too long) for your food to come out to your table. It's a beautiful location, and if it's a nice day it's hard to beat the setting right there by Minnehaha Falls. The lines can be really long, but by 2:00 they might have died down a bit.

          1. Other options along 5/West 7th to 35E:
            - Kiev Foods (Sibley Plaza shopping center, on your left just into the populated part of W 7th): a Russian grocery/deli with really good but cheap sandwiches and some sweets (if you're into that kind of thing) and maybe a short fun experience as an ethnic grocery.
            - Sibley Plaza also has Cooper's Supermarket if you want to pick up normal groceries and snacks for the trip

            The other option is to go west on 5/I-494 and take 35W until it meets 35E and merges into 35. That won't leave you too far from Sea Salt, as another poster mentioned, or Fat Lorenzo's, a pizza/red sauce joint on 56th & Cedar Avenue where you can eat outside and you are not far from Lake Nokomis ("Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis"), or Scott Ja-Mama's Barbecue
            (3 W Diamond Lake Rd, just north of 62/Crosstown).

            2 Replies
            1. re: steve_in_stpaul

              Kiev Foods is a terrific recommendation for quick sandwiches. They have about a half dozen options.

              Just clarification -- the directions after "The other option" don't make any sense at all. Here:

              - Take 5 EAST out of the airport. Exit onto 55 going NORTH (towards Minneapolis). Then....
              - For Sea Salt Eatery, follow 55 and just past the 62/Crosstown split, turn right into Minnehaha Park. Follow the road until you see it on your right.
              - For Fat Lorenzos, follow 55 but take the 62/Crosstown split instead of 55. Exit onto Cedar Avenue NORTH and Fat Lorenzos will be on your left.

              Scott JaMama's is not only a terrible restaurant, but it's very inconvenient to get to from the south (if you're not familiar with the area). I'm going to do a favor to the OP and not give directions to there. You'd be much, much better off following 55 north from the airport and going to Ted Cook's 18th hole. Or, frankly, just continuing east on 5 to the Famous Dave's 2-3 miles east of the airport.

              1. re: MSPD

                The weird thing is that I was writing Scott JaMama's the whole time I was thinking 18th Hole. Color my face red....

            2. I'll give you one more option: Black Sheep Pizza on the edge of downtown St. Paul. Follow the directions to 35E North. Exit at the 11th Street exit, and continue straight to Robert Street. Turn right. Black Sheep on your left half a block away. Easy to get back on 35E. Next door is Key's Cafe, if you want more of a home-spun menu and vibe. Total travel time from the airport is less than 15 minutes.