Leah Raymundo and John Occhiato already have found success with their pandemic pop-up Side Hustle and St. Paul staples Stella Belle and Cafe Astoria. They now turn their full attention to the Philippines with Kalsada. The name means “on the road” in Tagalog and is a nod to Raymundo’s Manila roots; she grew up just outside the country’s vibrant capital and fondly remembers playing in its smartphone-free streets.
Kalsada is really two different restaurants. Its daytime menu features specialty coffee drinks like an Ube Leche (espresso, sweetened condensed milk, and purple yam perfection) and Leah’s Happy Place (matcha, lavender, and pistachio), rounded out by dynamic brunch dishes.
The secret weapons are Filipino dishes, like silogs and “lunchy bits,” including a longganisa (pork sausage) burger and truffled chicken adobo. The evening menu revolves around robust, highly shareable contemporary Filipino cuisine. Best experienced in a bigger group to sample a little bit of everything, it’s the most invigorating tour of Southeast Asia the Twin Cities has seen since Hai Hai.
Raymundo and Occhiato were asked to take over Kalsada’s Selby Avenue space when Augustine’s closed just six months into its mission to become the Balthazar of St. Paul. Augustine’s background as a bar and bakery and its recent remodel as an all-day cafe play to Kalsada’s strengths, right down to the palm-tree wallpaper that now has Kalsada’s logo plastered over it like a lively pop art painting.
1668 Selby Ave., St. Paul, kalsada-stpaul.com