The torta at Pajarito in St. Paul. Photo by Joy Summers.
We’ve made it through 2016 and the new year is still bursting with promise and new eateries. I swear I did my best to get through all the new openings that happened last month, but there are a few stragglers I’m still waiting to try. However, these are the dishes I am most excited about right now.
Revival St. Paul’s Clams
The former Cheeky Monkey has been reborn as fried chicken heaven with a full bar (Bourbon sweet tea!). The new outpost from owners Nick Rancone and Thomas Boemer is packed with talent and new menu options. Not only are there the familiar dishes, but a bevy of new barbecue items have smoke and heat fans swooning. Surprising even me, was that my favorite new bite was a plate of perfectly fresh little neck clams dressed in a garlicky light, buttery sauce that is positively heaven on toast. revivalfriedchicken.com
There’s a Mexican cheesesteak in town and you need to know about your newest food obsession. It’s served like two pillars of succulent meat decadence atop a bowl of extra sauce and garnished with some pickled onions and cilantro for good measure. We split this bad boy and it was spicy, beefy awesomeness. pajaritostp.com
Tori Ramen’s Salted Duck Ramen
That’s right, we aren’t leaving St. Paul. This exotic land on the other side of the river from Minneapolis is positively bursting with fantastic new restaurants. Tori Ramen is a tiny little eatery tucked into Victoria, just off of Selby in a residential area (and slightly obscured by construction happening at the corner business—a forthcoming J. Selby’s, vegan fare.) Anyway, it’s worth finding this place and jockeying for a little space. You order at the counter and then take a seat for the warm noodle feasting. The salted duck is an umami explosion with a complex broth, velvety meat and crunchy burdock root and seaweed for texture. toriramen.com