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Let's Lunch

Let's Lunch
Photo by Todd Buchanan

(page 2 of 3)


Paris, France, has a lot going for it. It’s not just the way locals place a lei of foie-gras medallions around your doughy American neck when you get off the plane. It’s not just the way preschoolers lean against jungle gyms twisting sections of lemon peel into their espresso-filled sippy cups. It’s the ornament. That city has more egg-and-dart cornices and Gothic balustrades than the Boundary Waters has pinecones. And it has them because the French look at life differently than we do. We Puritan-descended Americans get dessert when we finish our chores, and not a moment before. And, naturally, those chores include fixing the world. The French get dessert because it’s the natural completion and fitting ornament to a meal; having a meal without dessert is the same as having a book without covers or a coat without buttons.

And this essential French-ness is Meritage’s genius: the sweet, fresh butter in the chilled table-pots; the pale consommé introduced to fresh herbs tableside, so you’re treated to a scent that’s salty and enticing; the lobster roll tucked into a perfectly seared white roll that you very well may not eat. (But does that mean it shouldn’t be toasted and attended to till it’s burnished like a cover model? No, it does not.) Best of all, you can lunch at Meritage for as little as $10.50 for a soup and sandwich combination, and you can get it regardless of whether or not you have perfected your—and everyone else’s—life first.

10 Best Capital City Lunches

Bangkok Thai Deli
315 University Ave. W., St. Paul, 651-224-4300
Get the larb salad. It’s a one-two punch of super-hot chilies and meat balanced by lime, herbs, and a cooling avalanche of vegetables. To eat it is to be jolted into a more awake, more alert state of happiness.

Ngon Bistro
799 University Ave., St. Paul, 651-222-3301, ngonbistro.com
Farm-driven Vietnamese is a rarity—and glorious. Try the silky and resonant pho made of grass-fed oxtail.

425 W. Seventh St., St. Paul, 651-291-7105, degidios.com
Bootlegger “Kid Bullets” DeGidio’s post-Prohibition plan remains fantastic; the sausage dip is zesty and filling.

Punch Pizza
704 Cleveland Ave. S., St. Paul, 651-696-1066, punchpizza.com
The Ripieno calzone: eating it is like confronting a perfectly realized piece of art, and then putting it in your belly.

W.A. Frost
374 Selby Ave., St. Paul, 651-224-5715, wafrost.com
This St. Paul classic still makes some of the best food in the city. For a bigger lunch, try the Wild Acres chicken with roast mushrooms, dinosaur kale, and silky potato purée.

Everest on Grand
1278 Grand Ave., St. Paul, 651-696-1666, everestongrand.com
Everest on Grand’s weekday lunch buffet is so popular they vary the star entrées. The Monday roast pork may change your assumptions about Nepali cuisine. It’s meaty and cakey—just the thing to fuel a trip up the Himalayas.


13 Best Soups

Laksa is the favorite meal-in-a-bowl of Malaysia, and Satay 2 Go’s is stellar: fragrant from the curry and rich with coconut milk. • 6670 150th St. W., Apple Valley, 952-891-8551, satay2gomn.com

Svekolnick, a vegetarian chilled-beet soup, is Russian summer in a bowl: light, bright, powerful, surprisingly delightful. • 371 Selby Ave., St. Paul, 651-291-1236, moscowonthehill.com

Borscht has helped hearty souls survive the winter for eons. Enjoy this beefy version for lunch and you can skip dinner. • 215 E. Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-379-3018, kramarczuk.com

Chili-red broth makes this spicy calamari soup sing with fiery grace. • 1989 Silver Bell Road, Eagan, 651- 688-3447, hobanrestaurant.com

Pho: conquerer of colds, curer of bad days, triumph of still-wonderful Quang. • 2719 Nicollet Ave., Mpls., 612-870-4739, quangrestaurant.com

Pozole’s homey combo of chicken, corn, and spices has been popular since ancient Aztec times. • 809 E. Lake St., Mpls., 612-825-4978

Wonton soup for foodie elites. The crisp, tender gai lan greens perfectly complement the house-made dumplings, which are as buoyant as clouds. • 326 Cedar Ave. S., Mpls., 612-340-0937 , keefercourt.com

Tangy Thai tom yum blends sour and spice to make you feel healthy, happy, and meaningfully sated. • 3001 Hennepin Ave., Mpls., 612-827-1606, chiangmaithai.com

How spicy do you want it? Think twice—and then order the boiled beef in Szechuan hot sauce. • 3016 Lyndale Ave. S., mpls., 612-353-4281, szechuanspice1.com

Udon noodles are tender and comforting in Fuji Ya’s light and briny broth. Top them with your choice of treats, like this shrimp and vegetables option, crisply tempura fried. • 600 W. Lake St., Mpls., 612-871-4055, fujiyasushi.com

Fried fish with pickled vegetables isn’t your everyday soup. It’s more sour and much better. • 1676 Suburban Ave., St. Paul, 651-771-1790, ourteahouse.com

Potatoes, bamboo shoots, and black-eyed peas form the core of this Nepalese soup called aaloo-tama. It’s big in Nepal, and one of the most delicious vegan soups in town. • 2401 E. Franklin Ave., Mpls., 612-332-0880, himalayanmomo.com

Famous for their matzoh ball soup, Crossroads makes a creamy tomato that’s equally divine. • 2795 Hedberg Dr., Hopkins, 952-546-6595, crossroadsdelicatessen.com


Comments may be edited for length, clarity, or appropriateness.

Old to new | New to old
Jul 14, 2011 11:43 pm
 Posted by  mutt

Mutt Bucket · 106 years old
Bayport is inconsistent at best. I've had ribs there that were way underdone and ribs that were way overdone....everything tastes the same...oak wood....they had a buffet there last weekend that was illegal....no sneeze guard, no ice on the cold stuff that sat out for hours.. When I told the owner he chuckled and said," Yep, breakin' the law, I'm not worried about it." I guess the customer doesn't matter. Arrogance doesn't begin to describe this guy...he said his buffet was a one off deal...but he's having another one this weekend....how may one off deals does it take. I hope he sees the light and complies with the law...

I won't be back. Not worth the drive.


May 21, 2012 01:27 pm
 Posted by  bahrbee

I agree. Bayport was terrible and I went there twice. It wasn't only mine that was poor, but the other three people who went with me. Wouldn't recommend it and echo the sentiments of the previous author.

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