Your restaurant questions, my answers – Twin Cities


It’s time once again to answer all readers’ burning restaurant questions.

This time I’m answering questions about quiet restaurants, pre-show dining, and minority and female-owned restaurants. I’m also confused by a reader question – maybe you can help me!

As always, send your questions to [email protected] I will do my best to answer.

Q I’m looking for a gluten-free fish fry. No suggestions?

A. If you prefer your fish fried, I only know of a few places, one of which is temporarily closed. Birchwood Cafe in Minneapolis is known for its gluten-free pickerel fry, but it’s temporarily closed and it’s unclear when it will reopen.

Randy’s Pizza (6030 N. 50th St., Oakdale;, Oakdale’s gluten-free spot, also offers Lenten fish fries on Fridays.

Q My daughter loves trying different versions of mac and cheese. Would you be able to recommend a few restaurants with this option?

A. Luckily for you, mac and cheese was my favorite comfort food growing up, so I’ve tried quite a few around town!

Here are a few of my favorites:

Chef Justin Sutherland’s Creamy Mac topped with Flaming Hot Cheetos at beautiful pig (173 N. Western Ave., St. Paul; 651-219-4013;

The Velveeta-like — but completely homemade! — macaroni and cheese, created by chef Mike DeCamp at St. Paul’s Lounge bar (267 W. Seventh St., St. Paul; 651-207-4433;

Macaroni with three cheeses Pub Brunson (956 Payne Ave., St. Paul; 651-447-2483;, which is topped with smoky braised bacon

The perfect mac for textbooks The comeback (525 Selby Ave., St. Paul; 651-340-2355;, which has a crispy lid made with more cheese.

Q We have tickets to see a show at the Guthrie. Can you recommend a place for aperitifs and drinks after a 7pm session – something trendy and fun but no nightclub?

A. That’s a tall order – there’s not much in the way of late night venues near Guthrie. If they are open late enough that day I would suggest EaToformerly Eastside (305 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612-208-1638;, on Washington Avenue for great cocktails, pizza and Italian-themed snacks.

I also like Day block infusion (1105 S. Washington Ave., Minneapolis; if there’s no live music for casual but good snacks.

Chip’s Clubhouse co-owners and friends Gina Mangiameli, left, and Tara Coleman in the dining room of their Snelling Avenue establishment in St. Paul on Friday, July 9, 2021. (John Autey/Pioneer Press)

Q I would like a list of minority and women owned restaurants that have recently been featured in Pioneer Press. I am a resident of Episcopal Homes and will promote their support to residents and their families/friends.

A. I love this!

St. Paul has so many wonderful options, but here are a few that I can wholeheartedly recommend to your residents:

Chip’s clubhouse(272 S. Snelling Ave., No. 200, St. Paul; 651-330-1617; is owned by two women who are truly living their dreams of working together and having fun. Tara Coleman also owns Hot hands and biscuit tart (272 S. Snelling Ave., No. 100, St. Paul; 651-330-1617; right next door.

Afro Deli (5 W. Seventh Place, St. Paul; 651-888-2168 or 720 Washington Ave. SE, Minneapolis; 612-871-5555; is one of my favorite fast food places. I love the chapati wraps and the fantastic chicken.

I like Nashville Cooperative (300 S. Snelling Ave., St. Paul; for Nashville Hot (or Totally Mild) Chicken Tenders.

To The Marguerite Bakery (1279 Randolph Ave., St. Paul, 651-699-9292;, chef François Kiemde bakes delicious pastries as well as homemade baked goods.

If they’re looking for something fancy, Chef Karyn Tomlinson currently serves up some of the Twin Cities’ finest dishes at Myriel (470 S. Cleveland Ave., St. Paul; 651-340-3568;

The Ethiopian Tour at Bole Ethiopian in the St. Paul's Como district.
The Ethiopian Tour at Bole Ethiopian in the St. Paul’s Como district. (Jess Fleming/Pioneer Press)

Probably my favorite place right now for traditional Ethiopian food is Ethiopian bole (1341 N. Pascal St., St. Paul; 651-330-2492; in the Como neighborhood.

At last, Big catch (1672 Grand Ave., St. Paul; 651-348-8541;, owned and operated by Chef Thien Ly and award-winning chef Sameh Wadi (World Street Kitchen and Milkjam), is the perfect place to sample great seafood, including twists on the seafood boil. Also has one of my favorite chicken sandwiches in the towns.

The Dining Room at WA Frost. (Jess Fleming/Pioneer Press)

Q I love taking my mom out for nice dinners where we can have a conversation without fighting the typical cacophony of most places today. Lex and Jensen’s Supper Club is perfect for this, but we also love variety, so it would be fabulous to add it to our shortlist.

We live in Metro East, but a good dinner might be worth the trip.

A. It’s very difficult to find a quiet place these days, but I still have a few suggestions for you.

WA Frost (374 Selby Ave., St. Paul; 651-224-5715;, if you’re seated in the dining room, it tends to be quieter. There is carpeting and padding to help absorb noise.

at Axel (1318 Sibley Memorial Hwy, Mendota; 651-686-4840; in Mendota is also great for quiet dining – in fact, when I took a decibel level test, it was the quietest restaurant I have found, even with a full dining room.

Another suggestion: Moscow on the Hill (371 Selby Ave., St. Paul; 651-291-1236;, but ask to sit closer to the windows.

I also want to point out that many places will be willing to help you find the most secluded and quiet table they have if you call them. They understand that it can be difficult for older people to hear!

Q I enjoyed your dumplings post today. Good work. Wondering if you have any information on where to dine or buy German ravioli? I have fond memories of my parents making two kinds of dumplings. One type was a flat dough, the circumference of a hockey puck. The others were called drop dumplings, thicker and rounder…no filling either. Both were made with chicken in broth. I would love to experience them again. Talk about cold weather comfort! Thank you.

A. My grandma made chicken soup with homemade dumplings, kind of like what you’re talking about. Unfortunately, I don’t know of any place here that sells either of these types of dumplings. Maybe our readers can help you? Send your suggestions to [email protected]

    light fixtures are made from beer kegs at Freehouse
Freehouse is huge and beautiful. Here in the back dining room, the light fixtures are made from beer kegs. (Pioneer Press: Jess Fleming)

Q We are in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, and we are staying at the Renaissance Hotel in Minneapolis for our 10th wedding anniversary. We are planning to have our celebratory dinner on Friday night and with friends on Saturday. My wife is gluten free and not the best at walking long distances. We see the high prices downtown, but are willing to pay if it’s worth it. Saturday would preferably be a restaurant/brasserie as we are beer snobs.

A. I’m going to recommend spending your time in the north loop which would be a very short Uber ride from where you are staying. Like under $5.

Here are some of my favorites in this neighborhood:

For a brewery, I like free house (701 N. Washington Ave. #101, Minneapolis; 612-339-7011; It has an extensive menu, full bar, great food and reasonable prices.

For a fancy dinner, I have a few recommendations, depending on what you like:

spoon and stable (211 N 1st St, Minneapolis; 612-224-9850; is chef-chic and hip, and chef Gavin Kaysen is well-known nationwide.

Bar La Grassa (800 N. Washington Ave., Minneapolis; 612-333-3837; offers great Italian food. Get your reservation now – they book up fast.

Smack Cabin (603 N. Washington Ave., Minneapolis; 612-259-7288; is a little less formal but is known for great seafood if that’s your thing. There is also a really fun atmosphere.


Comments are closed.