From four-star dining to amazing hole in the wall restaurants, there is great food to be found in Saint Paul. The following are ten restaurants that not only represent the city’s culinary diversity, but pure and simple offer some damn good eats.
For locals and visitors alike, these are restaurants that must be experienced.
Heartland Restaurant and Farm Direct Market ($$$)
289 E 5th St St Paul, MN 55101
Midwest chic. Everything, literally every ingredient of Heartland’s world-class dishes comes from the Midwest. It’s truly is a one of a kind experience. For foodies and locavore enthusiasts, you won’t find a option more pure. For the meat and potato crowd, there is always an amazing steak or burger waiting for you. There’s not much more to say about this restaurant that hasn’t already been said in glowing reviews local and abroad; you’ll just have to try it for yourself.
410 St Peter St St Paul, MN 55102
Fine dining at its, well, finest. Meritage is Saint Paul’s premier French and seafood restaurant, perfect for any occasion. With all of the ambiance and quality of product that you’d expect from top Parisian bistros, the restaurant also provides the finest that American ingredients have to offer: oysters from both coasts, produce from local gardens and farms, fresh baked goods… all to enjoy in the stunning dining room, bar or terrace.
The Strip Club Meat and Fish ($$-$$$)
378 Maria Ave St Paul, MN 55106
Excellent steaks, supported by inspired small plates and seafood. It’s worth coming for the expertly-crafted cocktails alone, but the savory smells when you step inside ensure that you won’t be leaving without trying something from the menu. Brunch on the weekend is equally impressive, with items like the Duck Confit Hash, and the Logger’s Tower (the largest stack of pancakes and ham I’ve ever seen), to go along with a great Bloody Mary.
Tanpopo Noodle Shop ($$)
308 E Prince St St Paul, MN 55101
The dining room at Tanpopo has a casual ambiance, but with minimalist elegance that makes the dinner experience incredibly enjoyable. Had to mention that. But really, I could eat these noodles in the middle of the Saints stadium construction across the street and still be happy. They’re that good. Udon and Soba in fragrant broth, steaming with fresh spices and fresher vegetables will be what gets me through the winter. And for summer, the cold noodle dishes are just as tasty.
510 North Snelling Avenue St Paul, MN 55104
A redefinition of flavor occurs at this Snelling Avenue gem. I thought I understood vibrant flavors, and then I started eating Ethiopian food. Fasika is, pure and smiple, amazing. The injera, flat bread served with entrees, is perfect and the flavors never waver. The servers also make it a welcoming experience for first-timers, explaining the menu and making suggestions that have always been spot-on.
On’s Kitchen ($$)
1613 University Ave W St Paul, MN 55104
Chef On Khumchaya turns up the heat. Seriously. Don’t ask for higher than medium spice unless you know what you’re getting yourself into. Bursting with all the wonderful basil, curry, chili, cilantro flavors that make Thai food so enticing, everything I’ve ever had at this Midway restaurant has left my taste buds tingling. While the Twin Cities aren’t lacking in Thai Restaurants, this is the one to make a point of visiting.
Blue Door Pub ($-$$)
1811 Selby Ave St Paul, MN 55104
It didn’t take long for this tiny burger joint to become a Saint Paul institution. No disrespect to classic burger joints like the Nook, but BDP gains points not only for delicious, Juicy Lucy-style burgers (Blucys), but for pure creativity. The Bangkok Blucy, for example, with carrots, cucumber, red onion, ginger and coconut-milk soaked mozzarella is unlike any burger I’ve ever had. You really don’t have to look any further than the classic Blucy, though. Just a truly great burger.
Black Sea ($)
737 N Snelling Ave St Paul, MN 55104
Minnesota’s first Turkish restaurant. Order one of the doners, a warm, soft pita filled with shaved lamb, beef or chicken, topped with the best dill yogurt sauce, and wash it down with the house lemonade. You won’t be disappointed. Or try one of the other sandwiches, kebabs with rice perfectly seasoned, maybe a spinach pie on the side… my mouth waters. It’s all good. And the prices? You’re getting one of the best meals in the city for the change in your pocket.
651 Cleveland Ave S, St Paul, MN 55116
A New York Deli had passionate love affair with a Midwestern diner and created Cecils in Highland Park. At least that’s how it feels. Since 1949, Cecils has been serving all the classics: pastrami and corned beef piled high on rye bread, potato latkes, Reuben sandwiches, matzo ball soup, bagel with shmear and so much more, all with a decidedly Minnesota twinge.
El Burrito Mercado ($)
175 Cesar Chavez St St Paul, MN 55107
Walking into El Burrito Mercado feels like walking into an awesome birthday party: bright colors burst from the walls, amazing food sizzles on the grill, the sound of people talking and laughing fills the air… and that’s just in the market. Take a seat in the restaurant section and enjoy the amazing, authentic flavors of Mexico. I’m a sucker for cilantro. Give me all of the cilantro. Anchoring District Del Sol, El Burrito Mercado is Saint Paul’s one stop shop for everything south of the border.