21 Feb 19
We get a lot of questions from readers about dining — everything from where to find a specific item to where to celebrate a special occasion. Every few months, we round up our answers and publish them. This installment includes where to get vegetarian pho, pastries that make great gifts and a restaurant that offers shuttles to the big game.
Still have questions? We would be happy to answer them — and round them up for future columns. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q. We are hosting a groom’s dinner on a Friday in early March for about 25 guests. The rehearsal is in Lowertown, and we’d like to find somewhere downtown or near downtown St. Paul. The perfect spot would be within walking distance of the venue, 413 Wacouta. We’d like a place that serves alcohol. A private room would be great but not a must. A brewery would be fun.
A. In Lowertown, one of the newest hot spots is Birch’s Lowertown (289 E. Fifth St., St. Paul; birchslowertown.com), a brewery in the Market House Collaborative building across from the farmers’ market. The spot comes with a private dining room.
Public Kitchen & Bar in Lowertown (229 E. Sixth St., St Paul; publickitchenstpaul.com) doesn’t have a private room, but can easily accommodate large groups. The food here is contemporary and reliable.
Nicole Etter of Oakdale and Jason Engman of St. Paul enjoy a game of Checkers while also enjoying Metza and Breakfast Pizza at the Rival House Sporting Parlor in the Double Tree Hotel in downtown St. Paul. Wednesday, August 14, 2014. The restaurant encourages quests to play games at the tables and bar and even provides some classics such as checkers, Connect Four, Jenga and others.(Pioneer Press: John Autey)
Just outside of Lowertown but also with walking distance is Rival House (Doubletree by Hilton St. Paul Downtown, 411 Minnesota St., St. Paul; 651-255-0645; rivalhousestpaul.com). The spot even has a room with games, making for fun group outings. It also has great appetizers, pizzas and beer on the menu.
Q. I’m a pescatarian. Where in the Twin Cities can I find pho made with a seafood, fish or vegetable broth? Any suggestions for vegetarian banh mi as well?
A. Vegetarian pho can be a little tricky. A lot of the places that claim to sell veggie pho use a chicken or beef broth, so be sure to ask. That said, we know Quang’s (2719 Nicollet Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612-870-4739; quang-restaurant.com) on Eat Street makes a good, truly vegan pho loaded with steamed vegetables. Amazing Thailand (3024 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612-822-5588; amazingthailandusa.com) in Uptown makes a great vegan pho, too, that comes with a fragrant broth. For a vegetarian banh mi, a favorite is the curry mock duck at Jasmine Deli (2532 Nicollet Ave. S.; 612-870-4700; jasminedelimpls.com) on Eat Street. IPho on University Avenue (704 W. University Ave., St. Paul; 651-225-8751; iphomn.com) also serves tasty banh mi sandwiches on their house-made bread, and there’s a deep-fried tofu and mayo on the menu. Just make sure they don’t slather on toppings such as pate.
Q. Where can I get something akin to a muffin basket to send as a gift?
July 8, 2016 photo of Mojo monkey donuts in St. Paul. (Pioneer Press: Jessica Fleming)
A. How about a basket of great pastries from a trending place around town? Top-notch, European-style pastries at Rose Street Patisserie (three locations: 171 Snelling Ave., St. Paul, 651-556-4488; Keg and Case West 7th Market, 928 W. Seventh St., St. Paul; 2811 W. 43rd St., Minneapolis, 612-259-7921; rosestreet.co) always make a good impression. The croissants, especially, are not to be missed. There’s also Salty Tart (289 E. Fifth St., St. Paul; 612-874-9206; saltytart.com) inside Market House Collaborative in St. Paul’s Lowertown, serving up some of our favorite pastries. For the doughnut lover, Mojo Monkey Donuts (1169 W. Seventh St., St. Paul; 651-224-0142; mojomonkey.biz) are delicious, varied and always colorful and fun to eat. Just stop by these places and grab an assortment. Or, call ahead of time and work with staff to create the perfect gourmet gift basket.
Q. I still miss Eddington’s. Any suggestions about where to find soup and breadsticks like they served? I especially crave their cheese soup — very gooey and basic, but super tasty.
A. Ever since Eddington’s closed in the St. Paul skyway, we haven’t found another place downtown that makes it the way we like it. However, if you’re looking for some great beer cheese soups in St. Paul, try Groveland Tap (1834 St. Clair Ave., St. Paul; 651-699-5058; grovelandtap.com) and Red Cow (several Twin Cities locations including 393 Selby Ave., St. Paul, 651-789-0545; redcowmn.com), both of which draw plenty of fanfare for their beer cheese soups. The one at Groveland Tap is on the more traditional side, while the one at Red Cow is more rich. Both are served with popcorn. We’re not sure where to find breadsticks like the ones at Eddington’s — but we’ll be on the lookout.
And it looks like there might still be opportunities to get your hands on Eddington’s soups — and breadsticks. According to its website, while Eddington’s closed the last of its bricks-and-mortar locations in April 2017, it is now focusing “exclusively on workplace delivery and catering. Our transition is not complete as we look for ways to serve our weekday lunch customers through various (delivery) partners. … In addition to becoming a delivery-only kitchen, we are also expanding our Grab n Go line of Eddington’s favorites, making them available through various retail outlet sites.” For updates and more information, go to eddingtons.jimdo.com
Q. Now that O’Gara’s has closed, do you know of any other bars/restaurants that offer free shuttles to and from US Bank Stadium for Vikings games? It’s always fun to ride to and from games with other rabid fans — we’d hate to have to wait until O’Gara’s reopens in 2020 to join in the fun again.
A. Why, yes. You can join other fans in St. Paul at Bennett’s Chop & Railhouse (1305 W. Seventh St., St. Paul; 651-228-1408; bennettschopandrailhouse.com/bennettsshuttle/), which provides round-trip transportation to Vikings home games (as well as Wild and Gophers games, for that matter) with the purchase of food or drink. SKOL!
Q. On the corner of Rice Street and Wheelock Parkway in St. Paul, there was a restaurant call Wong’s Cafe. This place had been around for many years. The guy made his own chow mein noodles. They were the best ever. There were times I would just stop in for a couple bags to stash in the freezer. I was so sad when he closed down. Now I’m wondering if you know of any one else that makes them.
Undated photo, circa Nov. 2017, of the sign at Golden Chow Mein, which has been operating on St. Pauls West Seventh Street for more than 30 years.(Jess Fleming / Pioneer Press)
A. We are stumped on this one. We called around to places we suspected might, but to no avail (if any readers have suggestions, please let us know at email@example.com!). While the person on the phone told us the noodles here are not house-made, might we offer up one of our favorite places to get chow mein as a type of consolation? We love the chow mein at Golden Chow Mein (1105 W. Seventh St., St. Paul; 651-228-1276; goldenchowmein.com). Styles of chow mein range from Chinese-American to our favorite, Cantonese-style chow mein complete with a bed of Cantonese crispy fried noodles. As if it didn’t get any better, prices are affordable at this mom-and-pop shop that’s been around for more than 30 years.
Q. I’m looking for a mid-priced, casual restaurant with good food between downtown/West Seventh Street and the airport. Also, it must take reservations. Any ideas?
A. 7th Street Social (2176 W. Seventh St., St. Paul; 651-330-4688; seventhstreetsocial.com), which is just between the two areas, fits all of your qualifications. The reasonably priced menu includes sandwiches, burgers and even entrees like salmon and tater tot hotdish.
Q. We all live in the northern suburbs of the Twin Cities, but anywhere from the downtowns and north would work. Two of us are eating Keto, and one has significant food allergies. More casual restaurants that work for us include Big Bowl, Brasa, Kahn’s, King’s Garden, etc. Is there a “fancy” restaurant that you could recommend that would accommodate our needs and provide more of a fine-dining experience?
The exterior of The Lexington in St. Paul, as seen during a private event that the restaurant hosted on Saturday evening, Jan. 21, 2017. (Special to the Pioneer Press: Liam James Doyle)
A. How about The Lexington (1096 Grand Ave., St. Paul; 651-289-4990; thelexmn.com)? You can order meat courses and sides separately, effectively building your own meal, so anyone who has an aversion or allergy can decide how to deal with it on their own. Chef Jack Riebel cooks a lot of gluten-free food, and the restaurant is good at accommodating allergies.
The Commodore (79 N. Western Ave., St. Paul; 651-330-5999; thecommodorebar.com) also has some similar options, and if your guests haven’t been, the art deco space is really spectacular and fun.
Q. I’m taking a small group of co-workers (eight people) to a celebratory dinner. How about some ideas on a progressive dinner on University Avenue where a small group of friends could take the Green Line to some of the fantastic restaurants along the way?
A. We love this idea! There are so many great spots on University, it might be hard to narrow it down, but we have some thoughts.
How about starting at Cheng Heng (448 W. University Ave., St. Paul; 651-222-5577; chengheng448.com) with a small soup? If you haven’t had Cambodian, this place is a real treat. We especially love the sour/spicy Kor Koo.
The croque madame sandwich at Ngon Bistro in St. Paul. (Pioneer Press: Scott Takushi)
Next, you could go to Ngon Bistro (799 W. University Ave., St. Paul; 651-222-3301; ngonbistro.com) for some fresh, modern Vietnamese and craft cocktails, if you’re into that sort of thing.
A third favorite, and fun for communal eating, is Fasika (510 N. Snelling Ave.; 651-646-4747; fasika.com), which serves our favorite Ethiopian food in the Twin Cities.
If you’re not yet full, or just want to keep the party going, you could end with Naughty Greek (2400 W. University Ave.; 651-219-4438; thenaughtygreek.com), which has fresh, fun and modern Greek cuisine, or you could even order food from there while having a nightcap at Dual Citizen Brewing (725 Raymond Ave., St. Paul; 651-330-4750; dualcitizenbrewing.com).
Q. I would like to give a gift certificate for a mother-daughter “date” to my mom. I am looking for a nice place ($100 dinner for two is OK) that is also somewhat quiet. Mom has some hearing loss and just can’t make out conversation in many of the noisy/echo-filled restaurants. She likes prime rib and most carnivore and herbivore foods, but we both have an aversion to fish and seafood. We live in Woodbury but anywhere in Minneapolis-St. Paul would be great!
A. This is a hard and increasingly frequent question as restaurants continue to get noisier. Have you been to Forepaugh’s (276 S. Exchange St., St. Paul; 651-224-5606; forepaughs.com)? They have several dining rooms, and most of them have carpet and drapery that absorbs sound. You could even request a quiet space. Only problem is that there are stairs, but if your mom can tolerate that, you’d be good.
Another suggestion is Moscow on the Hill (371 Selby Ave., St. Paul; 651-291-1236; moscowonthehill.com). They too have upholstery, carpet and lush drapery. The Russian menu is fun for something different, but it still feels elegant.
[related_articles location=”left” show_article_date=”false” article_type=”automatic-primary-section”]