Have you had a meal that had a healing power to it? Maybe it was the experience of trying a food that rocked your world. Maybe it was a discussion that changed the direction of your life.
The Daily Diner Frogtown just opened, and their slogan is “Changing lives with a side of fries.” I actually like another part of their mission: “The road to recovery starts in the kitchen.”
Union Gospel Mission opened the diner, and they take on some of the toughest clients you could imagine. The hungry, homeless, addicted, down-on-their-luck people who often have nowhere else to turn.
The Mission has a food service training program, and they’ve always wanted a real-world restaurant to put their students to work in. Now they do. About 25% of the staff will be from the training program; the other 75% are culinary professionals hired to work there.
But enough about that. Because even without the back story, Daily Diner is a worthy addition to the Frogtown neighborhood.
It looks great—with tons of windows looking out onto Dale and University. On my visit, the food was about all you could hope for from a real diner.
Don’t miss the Frogtown Fries (and don’t eat them all yourself): $6 gets you a huge portion of wedge-style fries with a nice crispy batter and a tasty smoked onion sour cream on the side.
I didn’t care for the Light Rail chili, but I loved the soup du jour—a Cheeseburger soup with chunks of flavorful beef, and a delicious broth ($3).
The sandwich menu is perfect diner fare: chicken, egg, and tuna salad are all represented. I like that Daily Diner also offers half sandwiches. The Cajun chicken sandwich (shown above; $11 full/$7.50 half) was quite good: a chicken breast with Cajun spices, topped with pepper jack, peppers, onions, and served with a remoulade sauce. I also really liked the cranberry wild rice bread in the turkey clubhouse sandwich ($11/$7.50).
The lunch crowd was lively on a weekday, so I think the neighborhood needed a nice diner. And our whole community needs the students of Union Gospel Mission’s training program to succeed. So order up!
Daily Diner Frogtown
Monday-Saturday 7 a.m.-9 p.m.
Sunday 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
615 University Avenue, St. Paul