W.A. Frost and Company in St. Paul
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50 of the Best Restaurants in St. Paul

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W.A. Frost and Company  / Ryan Taylor

50 of the Best Restaurants in St. Paul

By Devon Cox

Minnesota’s capital city is full of incredible food, from no-frills bánh mì counters to James Beard nominees. With incredible diversity and old-world charm, here are 50 reasons to eat your next meal on the east side of the Mississippi.

DOWNTOWN & LOWERTOWN

Anchored by the Xcel Energy Center, Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, Fitzgerald Theatre, and Palace Theatre, Downtown and Lowertown Saint Paul are full of incredible places to grab a meal before a big event. Don’t want to drive home? Make it an overnight at the Saint Paul Hotel or Celeste of St. Paul.

  1. Meritage
    Salad and a side with dressing at Meritage in St. Paul

    "Cooking is like love; its all about timing and chemistry" at Meritage in St. Paul / Ashley Sullivan

    Meritage

    A romantic Saint Paul mainstay for over 15 years, James Beard-nominated Meritage is known for its perfect-every-time execution of French classics and some of the best service in the entire state. Make a reservation to celebrate a special occasion or just stop by on a weeknight to cozy up to the candlelit bar for an unbeatable bowl of Moules Frites and a glass of old-world wine.

  2. Afro Deli
    Afro Deli

    Afro Deli owner ​​Abdirahman Kahin (2023 U.S. Small Business Adminstration’s Small Business Person of the Year) was born in Djibouti and moved to Minnesota in 1997. This explosively popular lunch spot features something for everyone: Somali fusion dishes, West African classics like Yassa Chicken, and even Caesar salad to please your pickiest friends. Be prepared to wait in line during peak hours, and don’t forget to add a side of sweet plantains.

  3. Wrestaurant at the Palace
    Wrestaurant at the Palace's Detroit-style Community pizza

    Wrestaurant at the Palace's Community pizza 

    Wrestaurant at the Palace

    Conveniently located next to the Palace Theatre, Wrestaurant’s joyful menu is built around their signature Detroit-style pizza, with both classic pies and more inventive takes like fideo cacio e pepe and a breakfast pizza that has bacon jam and sausage gravy. Diners can also choose to simply grab a slice, hefty sandwich (served with curly fries!) or a house-smoked trout plate and a few pickle roll-ups. Subs for gluten-free crust and vegan cheese are available, and the full menu is served until 11 p.m. Monday - Saturday.

  4. Saint Dinette
    Saint Dinette bar seating

    Saint Dinette / Dara Levine

    Saint Dinette

    Consistently great for nearly a decade, Saint Dinette serves a tight menu of comforting but elevated dishes that won’t break the bank alongside proprietor Tim Niver’s signature warm, down-to-earth hospitality. Equally known for their killer weekend brunch, we reccomend you stop by after a Farmer’s Market trip to enjoy a perfectly rolled omelette topped with crispy sage alongside an order of the best fresh-fried beignets north of New Orleans.

  5. The Buttered Tin
    The Buttered Tin

    The Buttered Tin’s homey-but-never-boring dishes are made with top-knotch local ingredients, but they’re not going to be all holier-than-thou about it. This is the Midwest, after all. Ever-popular as a breakfast and lunch spot, Buttered Tin also has a bakery full of from-scratch treats like biscuits and hand pies, ready and waiting to be picked from their glass cases and delivered into the eager hands of your family.

CATHEDRAL & SUMMIT HILL

Cathedral and Summit Hill are Saint Paul’s most picturesque neighborhoods, with houses dating back to Minnesota’s 1858 statehood and winding cobblestone alleyways. Restaurants here are full of charm and style, and are only a short drive or bus ride from downtown.

  1. W.A. Frost and Company
    W.A. Frost and Company in Saint Paul

    W.A. Frost and Company  / Ryan Taylor

    W.A. Frost and Company

    Famous for their twinkle-lit, magical patio, W.A. Frost is equally charming in the colder months, with a dining room full of art and vintage rugs and an extremely cozy lower-level lounge. On a January night, when you’re bellied up to the mirror-backed bar with an expertly crafted old-fashioned, it’s easy to remember why Cathedral Hill was the old stomping ground of F. Scott Fitzgerald.

  2. Moscow on the Hill
    A food spread at Moscow on the Hill

    Moscow on the Hill

    Moscow on the Hill

    From the moment you step inside, greeted by lush damask curtains and the sounds of a live accordion player, Moscow on the Hill lives up to its Russian namesake. Come for the pelmeni, stay for the cabbage rolls, and don’t be too shy to indulge in a shot of horseradish vodka.

  3. Revival
    Revival

    When four-time James Beard award semifinalist Thomas Boemer first opened his fried-chicken spot, Revival, the lines went around the block - and for good reason. The shattering-crisp skin (available in multiple levels of spice for varying palates) gives way to perfectly brined meat, and your whole bird will be gone before you can say “ope”. With sides of grits, cheddar drop biscuits, and a banana cream pie finisher, Revival brings Boemer’s southern soul to our icy Northern neighborhoods, and Minnesotans couldn’t be more grateful.

  4. J. Selby's
    The Dirty Double burger at J. Selby's

    The Dirty Double burger at J. Selby's

    J. Selby's

    J. Selby’s was founded on the belief that vegans shouldn’t miss out on hot wings with ranch, loaded nachos, and smashburgers — and thank goodness for that. This airy Selby Avenue spot turns out comfort food for the plant-based set, but omnivores certainly won’t feel like they’re missing anything while digging into an order of deep-fried local mushrooms or a classic sandwich featuring the excellent chickin’ of Minneapolis’ Herbivorous Butcher. Who says meat-eaters have all the fun?

  5. Hyacinth
    Hyacinth restaurant in Saint Paul

    Hyacinth 

    Hyacinth

    After cooking at Michelin-starred restaurants in NYC for years, Chef Rikki Giambruno brought his big-city pedigree back home and opened Hyacinth: a tiny-but-mighty Italian spot that proved that not only can you come home again, but you can make it a better place than it was before. Hyacinth’s vibes are distinctly Brooklyn, with marble tables packed close together and chill but personal service from servers in Warby Parker frames. Cozy, quiet, and romantic, Hyacinth is the perfect spot for a special date night or reconnecting with a friend. After earning two James Beard semifinalist nods for Rising Star Chef of the Year, Giambruno recently passed the reins to Chef Abraham Gessesse, who has maintained the restaurant’s best-in-class bowl of cacio e pepe.

  6. Brasa
    Brasa food spread in Saint Paul

    Brasa

    Brasa

    In 2007, James Beard-award-winning Chef Alex Roberts (of Restaurant Alma) opened Brasa — a casual, family-friendly rotisserie joint focused on fresh, local ingredients (one of the restaurant’s first sources was Roberts’ father’s farm). Inspired by the Latin American and Caribbean hole-in-the-walls Roberts used to frequent with his fellow line cooks when he worked for Danny Meyer and David Bouley in New York City, Brasa is consistently delicious and affordable. Don’t be afraid to over-order on slow roasted pork, candied yams, rice and pigeon peas, and collards with smoked chicken - they’re even better the next day. And never leave without picking up a half-pint of the restaurant’s signature green sauce, which has had customers begging for the recipe for over a decade.

  7. The Lexington
    Steak Diane at The Lexington

    Steak Diane at The Lexington 

    The Lexington

    With a history that goes all the way back to 1935, The Lexington (a.k.a. "The Lex" among the many locals who have loved it over the years) exudes the elegance of another era. The one in which supper clubs reigned.

    Kick things off with a relish tray of rotating pickles, cured meats, cheese, crackers, deviled eggs and bread, but be sure to save room for splurge-worthy entrees like Steak Diane served with wild mushrooms and a rich cream sauce, Lobster Spaghetti slathered with lemon, parmesan and Pernod butter, and pecan-crusted Whitefish Gorbachev topped with burst tomatoes and smoked tomato butter.

    There's also a rightfully famous Smoked Chicken Pot Pie if you're looking for a little comfort within the depths of winter. 

  8. Cafe Latte
    Lunch at Cafe Latte in St. Paul

    Lunch is served at Cafe Latte 

    Cafe Latte

    A St. Paul staple since 1984, Cafe Latte is particularly strong during the daily rush for filling lunch fare. That's when regulars walk "The Line" with trays in hand and minds racing over a wide range of rotating salads, soups and sandwiches. Pizza and wine take center stage at night, making this a suitable all-day solution for just about everyone.  

WEST 7TH & WEST SIDE 

Beginning directly to the South of the Xcel Energy Center and crawling along the Mississippi River, the West Seventh neighborhood has recently become one of the coolest corridors in the Twin Cities. Choose a West 7th or West Side restaurant before a big game or concert, or stop by for a late lunch after a fun-filled day at the Science Museum.

  1. Cossetta
    Cossetta Alimentari

    Cossetta Alimentari  / Visit Saint Paul

    Cossetta

    New York has Eataly, Minnesota has Cossetta. Cosetta Alimentari has been Minnesota’s premiere Italian marketplace since 1911, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t evolved; in 2011, it underwent a complete remodel that expanded its footprint and added both a fine dining restaurant and pasticceria.

    There are so many ways to do Cossetta, but our favorite is standing in line at the cafeteria-style eatery for the platonic ideal of Mostaccioli Con Ricotta and Caesar Salad with a side of garlic bread, and taking it to the upstairs dining room to eat alongside a truly mixed crowd of families, businesspeople, and students. After you’re full and satisfied, hit up the adjoining Italian grocery for focaccia, hand-pulled mozzarella, and a couple of containers of signature sauces. Grab a scoop of gelato on your way out the door and congratulate yourself on a couple of hours well-spent.

  2. Waldmann Brewery
    The winter patio outside Waldmann Brewery in Saint Paul

    The winter patio outside Waldmann Brewery in Saint Paul  / Paul Vincent

    Waldmann Brewery

    Waldmann Brewery, housed in an 1857 lager beer saloon that had sat vacant for 154 years, feels like it’s been there for centuries. Waldmann was restored in 2017 with a team of historians who worked tirelessly to maintain the building’s pre-Civil War character. These days, Waldmann is a popular spot for locals and visitors alike, serving classic German brews and eats like soft pretzels and brown butter spaetzle. With an interior vibe that’s more “cozy 1800s tavern” and less “cavernous warehouse,” Waldmann is perfect for those looking for a slower, quieter vibe — just like St. Paul itself.

  3. Emerald Lounge
    Emerald Lounge in Saint Paul

    Emerald Lounge

    Emerald Lounge

    Nestled into an old storefront, Emerald Lounge has tons of style packed into a very small footprint. This no-reservations eatery has a distinctly New York vibe, with exposed brick walls and a tightly edited menu of delicious, reasonably priced dishes. The true “longue” is in back, where vintage furniture and rugs encourage patrons to nestle in for a few cocktails on chilly Minnesota evenings.

  4. Tori Ramen
    Tori Ramen

    Tori Ramen 

    Tori Ramen

    Tori’s ramen is different — it contains no pork — which not only makes it Halal and Kosher-friendly, but also endears it to picky eaters looking to make the next step up from chicken noodle soup. Charmingly housed in an old train car, Tori’s standouts include their “Bali,” with tahini, ground chicken, and fried leeks, and their super-spicy “Fire Shoyu,” which can be customized to your preference by ordering it hot-sauce-on-the-side.

  5. Day By Day Cafe
    Day by Day Cafe

    Day by Day Cafe

    Day By Day Cafe

    Sometimes, you don’t want to deal with molecular gastronomy at 10 a.m. or hour-long waits for $18 Bloody Marys. That’s where Day by Day Cafe comes in, where breakfast and lunch has never been “brunch” and your $2.99 cup of coffee comes with an entire pot dropped on the table. You know, for refills.

  6. Mancini's Char House
    Mancini's Char House in Saint Paul

    Mancini's Char House

    Mancini's Char House

    As old-school as old-school gets, Mancini’s opened in 1948 and has been a Saint Paul tradition ever since. With live music on the weekends, a stick-with-the-classics steakhouse menu, and a dining room that will transport you to the era of Old Blue Eyes, Mancini’s isn’t just a restaurant — it’s a whole vibe.

  7. Mucci's Italian
    A pepperoni pizza and wine glasses at Mucci's Italian

    Mucci's Italian

    Mucci's Italian

    What’s the word for an Italian restaurant that’s updated, but not fancy? A date night and a family spot? Casual, but cool? We’ve got a word for that: Mucci’s. With a cozy-cool dining room and menu full of crowd-pleasing pastas and pizzas, Mucci’s is the kind of place that appeals for both weeknight “let’s just go out” emergencies and long-awaited celebrations. A highlight is the Pizza Montanara, a fried, not baked style you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.

  8. El Burrito Mercado
    El Burrito Mercado, St. Paul

    El Burrito Mercado / Visit St. Paul

    El Burrito Mercado

    Founded by Tomas and Maria Silva in 1979, El Burrito Mercado is now a West Side institution. Swing by for a filling lunch of chilaquiles or tamales, then dip over to the deli and grocery store to stock up on take-home salsas, deli containers of tinga de pollo, and fresh nopalitos. Stopping by in the summertime is extra sweet, when a parking lot pop-up starts slinging elote for a couple bucks each. You can’t find a better car snack than that!

  9. Soul Lao
    Mama Dao's Kaopoon from Soul Lao

    Mama Dao's Kaopoon from Soul Lao

    Soul Lao

    Sabrina Boualaphanh and Eric Phothisanh first launched Soul Lao as a food truck known for Luang Prabang-inspired plates full of sticky rice and everything from herb-forward, house-made pork sausage to the best rotisserie pork belly you'll ever eat. A family recipe for khaopoon was also a favorite early on thanks to its spicy red curry broth and both vegan and traditional "jungle style" (chicken feet and blood cubes) takes.  

    Now located in a brick-and-mortar next to Wandering Leaf Brewing Company, Soul Lao has expanded its menu to include garlic noodles gussied up with lemongrass butter and fish sauce, crispy fried chicken served over garlic rice with a side of spicy fermented soybean sauce, and bright salads that blend toasted rice, herbs, chili flakes, and lime with charcoal-grilled steak or spicy minced shrimp. 

  10. Crasqui
    Chef Soleil Gomez at Crasqui

    Crasqui

    Crasqui

    Having already gained a following at the Midtown Global Market with her casual yet complex Arepa Bar, chef Soleil Ramirez shifted her focus to fine dining and elevated Venezuelan food at Crasqui. A blend of her Caracas upbringing and tricked-out culinary school techniques, it's unlike anything else in the Twin Cities. Think: burrata with mojo trujillano, chicharron, annatto oil, and herbs, or ribeye with chorizo, guasacaca, and crispy morcilla.

    And don't forget dessert, whether you opt for passion fruit mousse with guava foam or rum cake that's leans heavily on coconut and vacation day vibes.  

EAST SIDE

Saint Paul’s tight-knit East Side is full of young families, artsy types, and attractions like Lake Phalen and Hmong Village. Want to pick a spot that will be delicious, but tourist-free? Go to the East Side!

  1. Juche
    A couple of Korean rice wine cans at Juche St. Paul

    Pouring some Korean rice wine at Juche 

    Juche

    Juche rose out of the ashes of the dearly missed Cook St. Paul, and is one of the few places around serving a full menu until midnight. With inventive twists on Korean classics and a family-friendly “all-ages lounge” ethos, Juche is the perfect place to cozy up on a cold St. Paul night and split some bulgogi and an order of mapo fries.

  2. Yarusso-Bros.
    A couple plates of pasta at Yarusso Bros

    Yarusso-Bros.

    Yarusso-Bros.

    It doesn’t get more old-school than Yarusso-Bros., the family-run red sauce joint that lets you choose a “half and half” pasta plate when you can’t decide between the meatballs and the fettucine alfredo. Founded by Roman immigrant Franceso Yarusso in 1933, Yarusso Bros. is Saint Paul’s oldest family-run restaurant. With a classic, nearly unchanged menu that’s been pleasing East Siders for almost a century, Yarusso Bros. embodies the phrase “don’t mess with perfection”.

  3. Tongue in Cheek
    The Weekend at Bennies Eggs Benedict at Tongue in Cheek

    The "Weekend at Bennies" Benedict at Tongue in Cheek

    Tongue in Cheek

    One of the Twin Cities’ most inventive restaurants, Tongue in Cheek is a true hidden gem. Start your meal with one of their one-bite “teasers,” before moving on to entrees like a pork belly and smoked salmon banh mi or grilled whole fish with curry remoulade. With everyday brunch until 3 p.m. and a spirit of fun that imbues every dish, Tongue In Cheek proves that neighborhood joints can also be destinations.

  4. Mañana
    A plate of pupusas at Mañana in St. Paul

    A plate of pupusas at Mañana 

    Mañana

    No need to google “where to get a great pupusa in Saint Paul” — it’s Mañana. Featuring a vast menu of Salvadorian classics, Mañana is the perfect place to bring the whole family on a lazy Sunday or grab takeout on a busy night. Throw in an extra side of fried yuca; you’re worth it.

  5. Brunson's Pub
    The #NoPayneNoGain burger at Brunson's Pub

    The #NoPayneNoGain burger at Brunson's Pub / Alex Stahlmann

    Brunson's Pub

    This ever-popular Eastside hangout will make you feel like an instant regular. Serving elevated but not too far-out bar food, Brunson’s unique burger menu is their calling card, with selections like the #NoPayneNoGain, which features blackberry vidalia jam, pulled bacon, and a bleu/American cheese blend. With a tap list that reaches 20 selections and a hidden back patio, Brunson’s is truly the kind of place “where everybody knows your name”.

UNIVERSITY AVENUE & FROGTOWN

The area directly to the North of the Minnesota State Capitol is officially Thomas-Dale, although it is colloquially known as “Frogtown.” The culturally rich neighborhood is chock-full of delicious eateries, including the many along University Avenue, where you can’t walk 10 feet without stumbling upon a delicious meal. Right on the Green Line of the light rail (literally — the route runs straight through the center of University Avenue) and home to major attractions like Allianz Field and the Turf Club, there’s always a reason to duck into one of these amazing restaurants.

  1. Cheng Heng
    Cambodian restaurant Cheng Heng in Saint Paul

    Cheng Heng 

    Cheng Heng

    A thriving hallmark of Twin Cities Cambodian cuisine, Cheng Heng is best enjoyed any day of the week and in any format (dine-in, takeout, or delivery). The sprawling menu features familiar dishes like cheese puffs, but also unmissable Cambodian specialties like Chha Kroeng, a lemon-grass scented stir fry in a complex peanut-based sauce. Pro tip? Swap your usual egg roll order for the chive cakes, a marvel of crisp-chewy texture and rich allium flavor.

  2. On's Thai Kitchen
    On's Thai Kitchen

    On's Thai Kitchen

    On's Thai Kitchen

    Right next to the Turf Club is the unsuspecting red-and-stucco exterior of On’s, the kind of place restaurant insiders will quickly mention when you ask them their favorite places to go out to eat. While On herself may now be retired, her intensely flavored dishes are still hitting tables with incredible speed and wok hei. Go with a group and order generously, and keep your eyes peeled on the dining room: many of the Twin Cities’ fanciest fine-dining Chefs can be spotted chowing down at On’s on their days off.

  3. iPho by Saigon
    iPho by Saigon

    iPho by Saigon

    iPho by Saigon

    When you enter iPho by Saigon, you’ll be faced by three options: have a speedy bánh mì made to your specs at their grab-and-go sandwich counter, order from their vast takeout menu at an adjacent counter, or enter the dining room and eat as many Vietnamese specialties as your stomach can expand to fit. No matter which you choose, you can’t go wrong, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that on a beautiful summer day, there’s nothing better than picking up a half-dozen bánh mì (iPho’s will run you under $6 each) for your friends and heading to one of Saint Paul’s many nearby parks to enjoy a truly low-effort, high-reward picnic.

  4. Demera
    Ethiopian food at Demera in Saint Paul

    Demera

    Demera

    Steps away from the Victoria Street light rail spot is Demera, one of the Twin Cities’ best spots for Ethiopian cuisine. With equally delicious options for meat-eating and plant-based diners (injera, the spongy flatbread that is used to scoop up Eithopian dishes, is vegan), Demera is the perfect place to bring your out-of-town family for a post-flight feast, or to grab a fragrant bag of takeout from. We dare you to make it the whole car ride home without dipping in for a taste.

  5. King Coil Spirits
    Pizza at King Coil Spirits in St. Paul

    King Coil Spirits

    King Coil Spirits

    Veer off of University to visit King Coil Spirits, a distillery and pizza restaurant adjacent to Lake Monster Brewing. With a large, easy parking lot right outside and a something-for-everyone menu of drinks and pies, King Coil is a sure crowd-pleaser in an industrial-chic setting.

  6. Krungthep Thai
    Krungthep Thai

    Krungthep Thai

    Krungthep Thai

    There is no shortage of great Thai food in Saint Paul, and Krungthep Thai is a superlative example, serving soul-healing tom yum soup and a fiery grilled pork nam tok. Krungthep also serves dishes from other East and Southeast Asian cusines, just in case someone in your group is craving pho or black pepper beef but you’re dead-set on laab.

  7. Hmongtown Marketplace
    Hmongtown Marketplace

    Hmongtown Marketplace  / Becca Dilley

    Hmongtown Marketplace

    The Twin Cities are home to one of the largest Hmong populations in the United States, and Saint Paul is home to two vibrant Hmong food markets: Hmong Village on the East Side, and Hmongtown Marketplace in Frogtown. Not so much one restaurant as a food hall and grocery, you don’t want to miss out on grabbing a bite from many of the vendors within the marketplace. A few of our favorites are Naw-Maw Kitchen, Hmoob Kitchen, and Cocoa’s Island, but you really can’t miss no matter where you go.

  8. Mandalay Kitchen
    Mohinga at Mandalay Kitchen in St. Paul

    A hot bowl of Mohinga at Mandalay Kitchen

    Mandalay Kitchen

    Myanmar native Chris Tunbaw moved to Minnesota when he was 10 and saw an opportunity to highlight rarely seen Burmese recipes when he opened Mandalay Kitchen in late 2023. Highlights include the country's iconic catfish soup (mohinga), a fish sauce-flanked tea leaf salad, and pumpkin curry in the style of the Karen community that is 20,000 strong in the state. Tunbaw also created what he's calling the first Southeast Asian Juicy Lucy — a beef chapli patty with bold spices and a bracing yogurt sauce made of avocado, Japanese mayo and Dijon mustard.  

MAC-GROVELAND & MERRIAM PARK

Twin neighborhoods that run alongside the western halves of Grand and Summit Avenue, Mac-Groveland is home to Macalaster College while Merriam Park holds the University of Saint Thomas. Leafy, scenic, and positioned adjacent to the Mississippi river, these restaurants are a great alternative to buzzing downtown eateries.

  1. Gus Gus
    Gus Gus

    Gus Gus is the platonic ideal of a neighborhood restaurant: a super-cozy subturraenan dining room serving a shareable menu that can be casual enough for a weeknight date but elevated enough for a special occasion. With a constantly-changing seasonal menu and don’t-take-yourself-so-seriously happy hour that features a $5 jello shot, Gus Gus is at its best on a chilly Minnesota evening when you’ve got an empty stomach and nowhere else to be.

  2. Everest on Grand
    Momos from Everest on Grand

    Momos from Everest on Grand 

    Everest on Grand

    Everest has been serving Saint Paul Tibetan and Nepalese cuisine for more than 20 years, and this family-run restaurant has developed a loyal fanbase who fill their colorful dining room nightly. Start with an order of momos as you ponder whether your entree will be lamb jogi or matar tofu, although hey — why not both? Everest’s richly-spiced dishes make amazing leftovers.

  3. Chip's Clubhouse
    Chip's Clubhouse

    With an interior that mimics an up-North supper club but a menu that leans just a touch cheffy, Chip’s brings in a crowd of neighborhood regulars nightly. Hob-nob with locals as you chow down on a breaded pork tenderloin sandwich or a bowl of shrimp and pork belly noodles. Just don’t be surprised when you want to come back the next night, and the night after that.

  4. Yum! Kitchen and Bakery
    Sandwiches from Yum! Kitchen and Bakery

    Yum! Kitchen and Bakery

    Yum! Kitchen and Bakery

    Need somewhere safe but delicious to bring out-of-town family? Yum! Want to grab a bite on the way to visit your kid at Saint Thomas? Yum! Been assigned to get baked goods for the baby shower? Yum! Patti and Robbie Soskin’s we-know-what-you-want-and-how-you-want-it all-day bakery, café, and restaurant serves a wide menu where every item elicits an “oh, yeah, that sounds perfect.” With no dish over 20 dollars and the option to grab a mini pumpkin cheesecake on your way out the door, we can’t think of anyone who couldn’t find something to like at Yum!

  5. Estelle
    Roasted Piri Piri Chicken at Estelle

    Roasted Piri Piri Chicken at Estelle 

    Estelle

    Tucked into an unassuming storefront on a residential block, Estelle's southern European menu of pastas, pintxos, and tapas perfectly balance comfort and skill. The rigatoni with fennel sausage and calabrian chili shouldn’t be missed, and don’t skip out on ordering a few pasteis de nada (Portuguese egg tarts) to end your meal. Don’t have a reservation? Go sit at the vibey bar, which is in a slim hallway separate from the restaurant dining room and perfect for a first or second date.

  6. Mario's
    Hero sandwiches at Mario's in St. Paul

    Mario's

    Mario's

    While the Sicilian-style pan pizzas at Mario's are worth a ride out to Merriam Park on their own, don't sleep on the hero sandwiches chef/co-owner Jason Hansen modeled after Italian delis from the east coast. Slipped between squishy sesame seed rolls, they range from a strange yet satisfying stack of marinated artichokes, pickled peppers, fresh mozzarella, spinach and potato chips to a classic Italian combo of mortadella, soppresatta, salami, provolone, spicy olive-pepper relish, sliced tomatoes, and shredded lettuce.  

  7. Em Quê Viêt
    Em Quê Viêt egg rolls

    Egg rolls at Em Quê Viêt 

    Em Quê Viêt

    Rather than simply open a St. Paul location of their long-running Minneapolis restaurant Quê Viêt, the Le family decided to turn its younger sibling into the slightly more contemporary Em Quê Viêt. It carves out its own corner of Minnesota's strong Vietnamese food scene with signature cocktails like the Naughty du Monde Espresso Martini (Vietnamese coffee, vanilla vodka, Kahlua, egg white, Godiva, and Liquor 43) and specials like a shrimp and pork banana flower salad, crispy bacon and shrimp crepe, and soft shell crab pasta. You can also order Quê Viêt's State Fair-famous egg rolls, of course.

SAINT ANTHONY PARK & COMO

Saint Anthony Park, home to University of Minnesota’s Saint Paul campus and nearby Hamline University, and Como, anchored by Como Lake, Como Park, and Como Conservatory and Zoo, are filled with eateries that are popular with both students and neighborhood families.

  1. Colossal Cafe
    The pastry case at Colossal Cafe on Como Avenue

    The pastry case at Colossal Cafe on Como Avenue

    Colossal Cafe

    There’s often a line winding out the door of Colossal Cafe, and for good reason. With an tasty and affordable menu of breakfast and lunch plates, including biscuit sandwiches, cinnamon rolls the size of a dinner plate, and a famous yeasted pancake they call a “flapper,” Colossal is the perfect place to go when you just can’t stare down another half-hearted bowl of yogurt eaten over the kitchen counter. The Como Avenue location is perfectly positioned for a post-prandial stroll around the scenic surrounding neighborhood or a quick game of frisbee at College Park. Oh, and when they ask if you want their homemade hot sauce with your hashbrowns? Say yes.

  2. Herbst Eatery & Farm Stand
    Herbst Eatery & Farm Stand

    Fine dining options were limited in Saint Anthony Park until the arrival of Herbst in 2023: a chef-driven, farm-to-table restaurant that serves locally-sourced foods in elegant preparations. An airy, art-filled dining room and directional menu full of combinations like fingerling potatoes with honey seaweed butter and smoked trout roe make Herbst a welcome addition to the Twin Cities’ date night scene.

  3. Bolé
    Bole Ethiopian Cuisine

    Bole Ethiopian Cuisine

    Bolé

    Bolé, tucked into a winding street near the Como Park Conservatory and Zoo, serves hearty Ethiopian food in a colorfully-muraled dining room. We love the crispy Kifto, Zil Zil Tibs, and Gomen, but you can’t go wrong with anything from beef stews to vegan specialties. Dining with picky littles? Bolé graciously serves a kid’s menu that includes mac and cheese, chicken strips, and pasta with tomato sauce - so you don’t have to pick between your palate and your little’s.

HIGHLAND PARK

Known as a sleepy residential area, Saint Paul’s Highland Park is home to some truly great eateries. Pick one of these places after a day spent exploring Fort Snelling, hiking the trails at Crosby Farm or Hidden Falls Park, or visiting Saint Catherine University.

  1. Cecil's Deli
    Cecil's Deli

    Cecil's Deli

    Cecil's Deli

    Entering Cecil’s is like entering a portal to the Lower East Side circa 1960. One of Minnesota’s only Jewish delis, Cecil’s has been slinging their signature Reuben since 1949. With hot borscht just like your bubbe made it and the best potato salad in town, Cecil’s has charmed generation after generation and continues to deliver day after day, year after year. Whether you’re dining in or just picking up some rye bread and thin-sliced pastrami to take home to your family, it’s hard to leave Cecil’s without a smile on your face.

  2. The Nook
    Juicy Lucy burger The Nook

    The Nook, St. Paul / Courtesy Visit Saint Paul

    The Nook

    Perched on the edge of Highland Park and Mac-Groveland, The Nook doesn’t claim to have invented the Jucy Lucy (we’re looking at you, Matt’s Bar and 5-8 Club), but many savvy food folks around town will whisper in your ear that it may just be the best. One thing’s for sure: The Nook’s fresh-cut fries and basement bowling alley (yes, bowling alley) make it a destination worth visiting.

  3. Myriel
    St. Paul restaurant Myriel

    Myriel

    Myriel

    Think you have to go downtown for true fine dining? Think again. Karyn Tomlinson’s elegant, romantic Myriel is pint-sized and refined, with a menu of delicate but flavorful dishes and an atmosphere that conjures Parisian brasseries. Whether you sit at the intimate, honed black marble bar or in the low-lit dining room, Tomlinson’s attention to detail and originality are present in every bite. One of the Twin Cities’ most romantic restaurants.

  4. Joan's in the Park
    Joan's in the Park shaved truffles with Brussels sprouts, pear and semolina cake

    Shaved truffles with Brussels sprouts, pear and semolina cake / Joan's in the Park

    Joan's in the Park

    Chef Susan Dunlop and maître d' Joan Schmitt dreamt up the idea for their first joint restaurant while working at Morton's in 2006. Rather than go the steakhouse route once again, Joan's in the Park offers a four-course tasting menu that includes a round of revelatory baked goods (selections have included a savory chocolate babka with salted butter and an eclair made with speck ham and pine nut cream) and such from-scratch finds as quinoa with buttered lobster, anchovy and asparagus, cappelletti with braised beef neck, sweet onion soubise and preserved lemon, and autumn truffles shaved over Brussels sprouts, pear and a semolina cake. 

Devon Cox

Devon Cox is Explore Minnesota’s Digital Strategy Manager. You can spot her carting her public radio tote bag to Twin Cities bakeries, bookstores, and vintage shops. She thinks you should go out to eat tonight (sit at the bar).