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Jan 30, 2013 09:39 AM

Eating places: South Minneapolis vs. Como Park/Roseville

Greetings Chowhounds!!

I noticed there's a lot of folks that live in South Minneapolis on these boards here, and many with kids at that. (Yes, even us folks with kids make time to be Chowhounds, right?)

We're looking to move at some point down the road and I am glad to see there are plenty of great places to eat and bring kids to in
South Minneapolis (where we lived before, although we weren't crazy about the particular part of South Minneapolis where we were living as far as food offerings) The other place that we are considering moving to is
Como Park and Roseville.

I am just trying to get a feel for the differences in places to eat-restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries, etc. comparing South Minneapolis and Como Park/ Roseville area. From what I hear, Roseville has a lot of family-friendly restaurants, maybe more chain restaurants that cater to families?

Thank you for any insight!

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  1. Roseville also includes Szechuan, Maverick's, Black Bear Crossings (at Como Park), and Key's, and you're just a short car ride from University Avenue/Little Mekong, with Bangkok Thai Deli, Cheng Heng, Homi. It's not all chains or at least not all huge national chains.

    Roseville isn't yet under any MSP flight paths, either. :-)

    4 Replies
    1. re: steve_in_stpaul

      Can you talk about Black Bear Crossings a bit? I've been in there a few times and have always been underwhelmed. It just seems like a few packaged sandwiches and a soup, if the cafe is even open. Milk in cartons and bottled juice, that sort of thing. I'll admit, it's been several years since I've been, but is there anything really chow-worthy going on?


      1. re: The Dairy Queen

        Well, Black Bear probably tends more to the family-friendly end of things than the foodie end of things. But I think it's better than most parks get for concessions.

        I'll admit I've been there only a few times in the past several years, but I do not recall seeing a lot of packaged sandwiches -- the items I recall were not really fancy but were prepared on order and there was an attempt to get beyond dipping into a tub of "Mrs. Whozies Commercial Tuna Salad" and slapping it on bread. Better ice cream than Kemps/Blue Bunny, too.

        But it's been a while for me, too. It may not be the same as it was. Still not bad for families, though. Maybe better logistically than piling everyone in the car at lunchtime and heading to Maverick's up Lexington.

        1. re: steve_in_stpaul

          OK, so, not a destination as much as a decent place to pop into if you happen to be in the park? I think of the cafe at Como Zoo (Zobota) the same way. We'll eat there if we've got kids needing a meal, but otherwise we'd rather stick out a litle longer and head to Mavericks or University Ave.


          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            Right. It's probably worth a stop next time I'm by the lake just to see what it's like now. Not a place I'd drive to from anywhere, but better than a convenience store.

    2. Food-wise, it really isn't even close. South Minneapolis has probably the best collection of restaurants of any area in MSP. It does depend on which side of 35 you're on, but there are plenty of options on both sides.

      Roseville is close to either downtown, but it really doesn't offer much (aside from what Steve noted).

      1. Restaurants are hands-down better in south Minneapolis.

        Como Park is not too far from good Vietnamese on University.

        You've got kids. I'd drive to restaurants and pick housing location based on schools unless you're doing private school.

        6 Replies
        1. re: JimGrinsfelder

          Also, much of the dining in SMPLS, the best restaurants, are closer to fine dining. So depending on age of kids, and your overall budget, maybe not the best criteria.

          Schools are probably better in Rosedale. St. Paul is going to have half the property taxes of SMPLS. Etc...

          But I'll put up the best ethnic restaurants of University Ave against any other cuisine / area.

          1. re: american_idle

            I've lived in So Mpls for 15 years now, and am really pleased with proximity to a wide variety of restaurants, or at least an easy drive times to other areas.

            I'm curious where you lived that you weren't happy with. I'm in Standish/Erickson, and within the last week both Parka and the new Blue Door Pub opened within a 7 minute drive time.

            Is your criteria that most places should be kid-friendly? Are your kids open minded as to what they eat (i.e., ethnic)?

            1. re: SmartCookie


              We had lived near Hiawatha and E. 42nd Street, near Chris and Robb's Chicago style hot dogs. We went to Chris and Robb's maybe a couple of times, didn't care for it. Also Baker's Wife bakery was near there, but it was just too greasy for us, although I can see why that was popular, they did have some amazing chocolate croissants. Nokomis Beach Cafe was within close driving distance, just wasn't really impressed with them at all. Now I do remember my husband and I went to Pizza Luce and we did really enjoy that place but that wasn't near where we lived. If we end up moving to South Minneapolis we'd like to explore some other neighborhoods.

              Maybe it's what American_Idle mentioned because we did not frequent any fine dining restaurants in South Minneapolis, not in our budget. Also, I never found even one Chinese take-out place near where we lived that was reasonably priced or had decent food, and that was disappointing.

              Criteria- We are open to a pretty good variety. We do love ethnic food. We would go to United Noodle all the time and loved their cafe, but a bit overpriced. I love all the ethnic places on University Avenue- Pagoda, Tea House. We love a good value. I also really like Mom and Pop places to eat.

              I personally love a good coffee shop too, not the chains but the independently- owned ones.

              There was Carbone's over on Cedar Avenue in South Minneapolis and we thought that place was okay, but a little overpriced and I wasn't that terribly excited about the food. But Carbone's was exactly the kind of atmosphere we prefer, kind of down-home, cozy, family feel to it.

              Kid-friendly- yes, I would prefer that, but I am also open to places I could go with just with my husband as long as it's more reasonably-priced.

              We won't make our decision about our move based on just food places in the area but we were just curious about it since we know very little about food in the Como Park and Roseville area and are only familiar with food places in only a small part of South Minneapolis where we lived- would like to know more about food in other neighborhoods in South Minneapolis too.

            2. re: american_idle

              I agree that S. MPLS may have the best collection of restaurants in the Twin Cities. But I disagree that much of it is fine dining. In my area (within 2 miles), there's Las Terisitas, Nokomis Beach Cafe, 3 Tiers, Buster's, Dominguez, Turtle Bread/Biga (yup, I know, some folks don't like it, I happen to like it alot), Town Hall Tap, and Carbone's (not my fave, but it's there). All cheap eats, and I've been to all those with my daughter (except 3 Tiers, but I've seen kids in there frequently).

              I'd agree that Roseville area has more chains, and does have more family friendly places, but I'd also say that S. MPLS has a lot of family friendly places, they're just different than those in Roseville.

              1. re: foreverhungry

                Thanks for the feedback foreverhungry! I need to check out Turtle Bread, never have been there but it's recommended a lot so that is on my list. And Town Hall Tap too, have to try that one out as well.

                I have been to 3 Tiers-ordered a brithday cake for my mother in law and it was delicious and beautiful. 3 Tiers is located in a very nice area too- by the library, and the grocery store Oxendale's, where we shopped plenty of times and enjoyed- they have some really good cakes there as well. Thank you for the suggestions!

                1. re: chocolatemint

                  I used to think that 3 Tiers was just cakes and stuff like that, but it's a really good spot for dinner (and lunch too??). Gret menu and reasonable prices.

          2. In Macalester Groveland I can walk to good Vietnamese (Indochine), Middle Eastern (Shish,) Afghani (Khyber Pass), Italian (Luci, Luci Ancora, Carmellos, Scusi), Thai (Pad Thai), Himalayan (Kat Man Do), burgers (Groveland Tap, St. Clair Broiler), and soon, French Meadow. Very close are: Izzy's for ice cream and Trotters for coffee/breakfast/lunch/dinner. Enough?

            10 Replies
            1. re: Haricotsv2

              This is probably a good point -- proximity to Mac-Groveland and Highland Park in St. Paul is another plus in favor of South Minneapolis.

              All in all, I would probably choose South Minneapolis not just for what's there, but how easy it is to access downtown Mpls, Highland Park/Mac Groveland, Edina/50th & France, University Ave in St. Paul, and so on. Heck, you can even get to Como/Roseville pretty quickly.

              1. re: MSPD

                Well, there's South Minneapolis and there's South Minneapolis. We can be talking anywhere from the east end of Franklin and Grand Rounds to just this side of 50th and Penn. I've traveled during dinner hour on Lake and 46th and would not consider Mac/Groveland or University in St. Paul "easy to access" at that time. It might be a straight line or two, but it's busy and full of traffic lights. And if it's easy to get to Como/Roseville quickly from South Minneapolis, then, by definition, it's as easy to get from Como/Roseville to South Minneapolis.

                Posters here have provided some great restaurants on both sides of the river. But I would not consider its proximity to the good-eating neighborhoods of St. Paul a point in favor of South Minne.

                1. re: steve_in_stpaul

                  "But I would not consider its proximity to the good-eating neighborhoods of St. Paul a point in favor of South Minne."

                  And what are the good eating neighborhoods of St. Paul, other than Vietnamese in the University Ave area?

                  1. re: foreverhungry

                    Actually, downtown St. Paul offers a lot of options these days. There's a little cluster of decent restaurants near Macalester, along Selby, and on the West side. And don't forget the Hmong market!


                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      Yes, agreed. Downtown STP has great restaurants. One thing that's too bad about downtown STP is that with some exceptions, it's closed on weekends. Same can be said for downtown MPLS, though it seems that downtown MPLS is more bustling on weekends than downtown STP.

                      Selby has, for a while, held a lot of promise (and fruition). There are some very good eats on Selby, and it looks like the options keep expanding.

                      I'm not too familiar with the options on the West Side.

                      1. re: foreverhungry

                        When you say downtown St. Paul is "closed' on weekends, do you mean non-restaurant businesses? Or do you mean restaurants? Because if you mean restaurants, I most sincerely disagree.

                        If you just mean downtown St. Paul is really quiet on weekends because St. Paul Companies and Lawson and Ecolab and all of the major corp HQ-type business aren't open, I would agree. Although, I don't really find downtown Minneapolis that bustling either. We went to downtown MPLS on a Sunday back in November and discovered the Skyway is closed until noon.


                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                          I know most restaurants are open, but much like downtown MPLS, many eatery establishments are closed, because they're in the skyway system. Or even if they're not in the skyway system, like Andrea's pizza.

                          Yes, most of MPLS's skyway establishments are closed as well on weekends, and I think that's a huge problem for both STP and MPLS. I think though that it's sad that the reason that downtown STP is "quiet" on weekends is because the work-crowd isn't there. Center City Philly is as bustling on weekends as weekdays. Ditto Denver. Ditto many other cities. MPLS is definitely more quiet on weekends, but there's still more bustle there than STP, and the post-6PM crowd on any night in MPLS makes STP look like a vacant city.

                          I think that's a major concern for STP, and a large part of why STP continues to struggle financially (to wit, Macy's vacating).

                        2. re: foreverhungry

                          West side has El Burrito Mercado and lots of Mexican gems along Cesar Chavez. It's really underreported on Chowhound, I think, but there are a ton of little places over there for someone who wants to explore.


                    2. re: steve_in_stpaul

                      I agree that the definition of "South Metro" is covering a very wide swath. Frankly, I almost asked Haricotsv2 where Mac-Groveland entered the picture since it has nothing to do with the OP's question. But Como/Roseville is also a massive, massive area. Are we talking the Roseville Skating Oval or the area by I-280 and the Fairgrounds?

                      Regardless, I respectfully disagree...I do consider University in St. Paul and Highland/Mac-Groveland/etc. "easy to access" at any time (and I frequently do) from just about anywhere. I lived in Mac-Groveland (near Cleveland Ave and St. Clair Ave) and found it incredibly convenient. Even living in Burnsville, I constantly have to get from work in downtown Mpls, crossing South Minneapolis (various parts) to Mac-Groveland, Highland, downtown St. Paul and so on. I do it by car and bike. There are enough side streets and various options that it's a quick and easy trip. Over on the other side, there are very few options to get to and from Como/Roseville (Snelling, Hamline, Lexington, etc.) to get anywhere without a headache. (I also lived in that area for a couple years).

                      And, yes, depending on where you are in "South Minneapolis", Mac-Groveland may even be within walking distance. The OP mentioned living by Colossal Cafe...that's very quick to and from Mac-Groveland. I do it all the time.

                      But, none of this is really helpful I suppose. The bottom line is that you could name/live in any place in the entirety of Hennepin and Ramsey Counties and after a while, you'll have a million recommendations on here.

                      1. re: MSPD

                        I agree with your Mac-Grove has easy access comment. You can hop on either 94 or 35 in a flash and also have easy access to Grand Ave and University Ave from there. Or you can zip down the hill to Hwy 5 & West 7th. Also, super easy to cross the Ford Parkway Bridge to Sea Salt.

                        Roseville isn't a wasteland (I am personally fond of Roseville), but I feel like the gems are more spread out and, yes, are buried in the rock pile of chains. I don't think this is that surprising--it's a suburb and part of the appeal of a suburb ought to be that it's not as concentrated as a city.


                2. Oops! I forgot Joan's in the Park, which edges into Highland Park, but is fabulous for anything from flatbread pizzas, wine, and salad to a full, glorious, celebratory meal.