El Bravo Mexican Restaurant ~ St Paul, MN

 American, Mexican, St Paul  Comments Off on El Bravo Mexican Restaurant ~ St Paul, MN
Nov 172012

Cuisine: American, Mexican (Tex-Mex)
Location: St Paul, MN
Address: 538 Rice St. St Paul, MN 55103 (651) 291-0363
Hours: Mon-Fri 11am-8:45pm, Sat 3pm-8:45pm  Sunday Closed
Links: El Bravo on Facebook * Google Map
Atmosphere: El Bravo Mexican Restaurant is located on Rice Street, in the North End neighborhood of St Paul, just one block north of University Ave and the Central Corridor Lightrail line.  This was my first visit to El Bravo since the time I visited in the spring of 2009, and I was pleased to see that the walls had been painted in shade of green and yellow that provided it with some vibrance that it seemed to be lacking in the past.  The paintings adorning the walls all seemed to be updated as well. What a difference some updating can do to the interior!!

Menu: Appetizers at El Bravo include Chips & Salsa, Guacamole, Nachos Refritos, Nachos Jalapeno, Quesadilla, Nachos, Nachos Bravo, Quesadilla Tostada  and Bean Dip.

Salads include Dinner, Beef taco Salad, Chicken Taco Salad and Veggie Salad.

Tacos are served on either corn, flour, crispy corn or fried flour tortillas.  Tostadas are served on a crispy corn tortilla topped with beans and chicken or beef, lettuce, tomato.  Options include Chicken or ground beef.  Burritos are stuffed with Beef & Cheese, Chicken & Cheese or Bean & Cheese, and then grilled with the option of smothering in enchilada sauce.

El Bravo also offers a couple of burgers and American items such as Hamburger, Cheeseburger, California Burgers Taco Burger, Chili, French Fries and Grilled Cheese.

Mexican entrees served at dinner include Carnitas, Huevos Rancheros, Mexican-Style Steak, Chile Relleno, Chile Verde, and Chile Colorado.

There are a number of Combination Dinners if you’d like to try a variety of the offerings at El Bravo.  usually some combination of Beans, Rice, Tacos, Bean Burritos, Enchiladas, Taquitos, or Chimichangas.
Price guide: Apps $2-7  Tacos $2-3  Burgers $3-4  Dinners $7-10 Combos$5.50-10
What we ordered: We started with the complimentary Chips and Salsa, which were very good.  The chips were freshly made and while the salsa wasn’t very spicy, it had a lot of flavor.

I ordered the two taco, two enchilada combo, with fried flour tacos and cheese enchiladas ($7.50).  This plate didn’t come with beans and rice but there was enough food that I didn’t really need them.  I did,  however, order a side of guacamole which was fresh and tasty.  The taco meat was seasoned ground beef and the lettuce and tomato were fresh.  Both the tacos and the enchiladas were much better than I remembered from my first visit to El Bravo.  The fried flour tortilla was delicious and not as greasy as you might think.  The enchilada sauce was really good as well.  I wouldn’t consider this authentic Mexican but it was very good for Tex-Mex style.

My companion ordered the same combo that I did ($7.50) but switched it up slightly and got two crispy corn beef tacos and two beef enchiladas.  Both were just as tasty as mine and a big hit with my companion.

Service: Our server was nice and the food was served reasonably quick.  We were in an out for dinner in less than 45 minutes.
Overall Impression: While my first visit to El Bravo wasn’t particularly favorable, several readers had left me comments telling me I had to go back and try it again.  It took some time for me to get back but I am so glad I did!! The food was very good and extremely low priced for a big meal.  I can now see why El Bravo has been around for so many years and why they have so many loyal customers.
El Bravo Mexican on Urbanspoon

Sep 012012

Cuisine: Bakery, Breakfast, Scandinavian
Restaurant Features: Counter Service, Free Wi-Fi
Location: St Paul; (Saint Anthony Park neighborhood)
Address: 2264 Como Ave.  St Paul, MN 55108  651-645-9181
Hours: Monday-Saturday 6:30am-6:30pm  * Sunday 6:30am-4pm
Links: Finnish Bistro Website * Finnish Bistro on Facebook * Google Map

Atmosphere: Finnish Bistro is located in the Saint Anthony Park neighborhood of St Paul, on Como Ave at Carter Ave, (across the street from Muffuletta Cafe).  Inside, Finnish Bistro makes its home in a space shared by Dunn Bros Coffee.  The counters at Finnish Bistro are easily distinguishable, with a variety of delicious, freshly baked items on display.  There are a dozen or so small tables scattered across the room as well as a patio outside.

The patio area is a cute area around the side of the building, with a handful of umbrella-bearing tables and flower boxes full of flowers and other plants.

Menu: Breakfast items are served All DAY with items such as Yogurt Parfait, Finnish “Perinteiset”(traditional) Breakfast, Chilled Finnish Delight, House Aamiainen (Breakfast), Klassikko (Classic) Breakfast, Bacon & Muna (Egg) Sandwich, Pulla French Toast, Ham & Cheese or Veggie Quiche, Lefse Scramble, and Fresh Hedelmät (Fruit) Crepe. Omelets include Greek, Farmer, or Veggie.

Breakfast sides include Grilled Potatoes, Crisp Smoked Bacon, Grilled Kielbasa, Grilled Salmon, Smoked Salmon Lox, Grilled Lamb (Gyro), Fresh Fruit Plate, Side of Toast,  Sour Cream, and Guacamole.

Specialties offered at Finnish Bistro are the Finnish Beef Pasty, Daily Fish Special, Salmon Lefse and Spinach Pie.

Sandwiches offered include Caprese, Classic BLT, Classic Grilled Cheese, Lamb Gyro, Pulled Pork, Bistro Wrap, Bistro Club, and Spicy Quesadilla.

Flatbread Pizzas come with soup or salad with varieties such as The Baltic Special, The Favorite (Grilled chicken breast, crumbled Applewood bacon, onions, and mushrooms with cheddar and mozzarella cheeses on a creamy ranch based sauce,  Baked Potato Pizza ( mashed potatoes and topped with fresh onions, cheddar cheese, smoked Applewood bacon, sour cream), The Mediterranean Pizza – ( Fresh spinach, fresh tomatoes, feta cheese, kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, onions, Greek oregano and garlic with mozzarella cheese on pesto sauce. Add Gyro Meat for an extra charge), Finnish Vegetable ( fresh diced tomatoes, mushrooms, red peppers, onions, black olives, and mozzarella cheese on pesto or red sauce), and Chilled Finnish Delight (Lightly toasted pita bread topped with a fresh thick layer of cream cheese, topped with chilled smoked salmon, capers, onions and dill).
Price guide: Breakfast $4-11  Pizza $9-10 Specialties $10-12
What we ordered: The Mediterranean Pizza ($8.95) sounded really good, so I ordered that for my meal.  It came with choice of soup or salad, I went with the Tomato Basil soup, which was delicious.  Good thing it was delicious, as I never got my Mediterranean Pizza.  Read service section below for the full, disappointing story.

One of my companions had the Veggie Quiche ($8.50).  It looked delicious with flaky crust and a thick filling of egg, carrot, onion, spinach, and roasted red pepper.

Another companion had the Finnish Beef Pasty ($9.95).  This was a football-shaped pocket of flaky pastry filled with ground beef, carrots, onions, and rutabaga.  This was served with a side of cucumber sauce and colorful side salad.  The pasty itself was good but kind of boring in the flavor department.  It definitely needed the sour cream or some kind of sauce to add some flavor.

Another companion had the Caprese Sandwich ($8.95); toasted French bread stacked with sliced tomato, fresh mozzarella, onions & basil pesto.  It also had sweet balsamic drizzled on it; looked delicious!

We shared a Chocolate Chip cookie.  It was big and tasted very similar to the cookies at Panera.  Soft but not too chewy.

We also sampled a Chocolate Pastry that looked like a brownie but wasn’t.  It was actually somewhat light and crispy, not at all chewy.

Service: This was my first time visiting Finnish Bistro, which was a recommendation from the companions I dined with that day.  We ordered our meals and then took a seat at a table on the patio.  We were told our meals would be brought out to us.  About 15 minutes after we ordered, my soup came out, as did the meals of my companions. The menu says it takes about 15 minutes for a pizza, so I knew ahead of time that there would be a wait.  After 30 minutes of waiting and no pizza in sight, I went inside to check on it.  I was told it would be done in two minutes and they would bring it right out.  I was offered a free cookie for the inconvenience.  Ten minutes later…still no pizza! At this point I was pressed for time as we had another obligation to attend to right away.  I went back inside and requested my pizza to-go.  About five minutes later a server sheepishly appeared to tell me that they had mistakenly given my pizza to someone else and that there was no pizza for me!!  At this point I had waited 40 minutes and would have been starving had it not been for the small bowl of tomato basil soup, but I did not have any more time to wait for another pizza.  I requested my money back and left Finnish Bistro shortly thereafter, hungry and disappointed.  I hope this was just an honest mistake but I feel like they could have offered me something more than just a cookie and my money back.
Overall Impression: I will try it again because the food seemed good but I am hoping for a better experience next time that doesn’t involve me leaving hungry.
Finnish Bistro on Urbanspoon

Apr 272012

Cuisine: Breakfast, Deli, Pizza, Pasta, Pizza-by-the-Slice
Restaurant Features: Counter-Service, Flat Screen TVs, Patio
Location: St Paul, MN
Address: 616 Como Avenue  St Paul, MN 55103 (651) 488-1922
Hours: Mon-Thursday 6:30am-10:30pm *  Friday 6:30-10:30 * Sun 10:30-9:30
Links: John’s Pizza Cafe Website * John’s Pizza Cafe on Facebook * Google Map

Atmosphere: John’s Pizza Cafe is located on the wedge-shaped corner of Como Ave and Dale St in St Paul.  There are two entrances; one in front and one from the patio near the very small parking lot.  The back of the restaurant is where the service counter and kitchen is.  The main dining room has a number of booths as well as tables, live plants and a HUGE (70-80″) Flatscreen TV.

There is a second seating area adjacent to the main dining room that has beautiful natural lighting and live plants.  The tables are smaller but can be arranged to accommodate bigger parties.

There is also an enclosed patio facing Dale Street that has a handful of tables available for outdoor seating.

Menu: Breakfast items at John’s Pizza Cafe include two varieties of Breakfast Pizza9also sold by-the-slice),  English Muffin Egg Sandwich, Egg Sandwich, Omelettes, French Toast, Stuffed French Toast, Pancakes, Yogurt and Granola Parfait, Oatmeal, Caramel Nut Roll, and Cinnamon Roll.

Salads are made fresh throughout the day and include Pear-A-Dise, Garden, Antipasto, Caesar, Grilled Steak, Grilled Chicken, and Taco Salad.

John’s offers and number of fresh-baked Hoagies, all served with chips and pickle spear.  Sandwiches include Philly Hamburger, Works, Chick-A-Dilly, Tex-Mex, Envious Turkey, Turkey Florentine, and John’s Club.

Entrees offered include Spaghetti, Sausage Lasagna, Calzones, Mac-N-Cheese, Sloppy Dogs, Sloppy Meatball, Stromboli and Spaghetti.  Specialty Pastas include Chicken Parmigiano, Linguine Alfredo, Pasta Bolognese, Gnocchi, Pasta Primavera, Three Cheese Ravioli, Sausage Pappardelle, and the Mediterranean.

Pizza is, of course, John’s specialty.  Pies come in 10″, 12″, 14″ and 16″.  Varieties include Create-Your-Own, The Works, The King, Denver, The Hawaiian, Hog in the Bog (brat sausage, wild rice, mushrooms and garlic herb sauce), The Bandito, Chinese Fire Dragon (pepperoni, spicy peppers and pineapple), Mexican Extravaganza, BBQ Chicken or BBQ Pulled Pork, Club, Spicy Caribbean Chicken, Chick-A-Dilly, Reuben, Wisconsin Wonder, Veggie 2000, Meatless Wonder, California Dreamer, Farmer’s Fantasy, Popeye’s Pie, and It’s Not Easy Being Green (artichokes, sun dried tomatoes and basil pesto sauce).

Desserts include Cupcakes, Brownies, Cheesecake, and Cookies.
Price guide: Breakfast $2-7  Hoagies $7  Pizza $9-30 Pizza By Slice $2.50-3.50
What we ordered: I tried a slice of the Pepperoni Deep-Dish, which was great! The crust wasn’t as thick as a traditional Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, but it did have a ton of cheese directly on top of the crust with the sauce just drizzled on top. The piece was quite big and very filling for under $3.50.

I also tried the Chick-a-Dilly Pizza.  This pie starts with the hand-tossed crust topped with a creamy dill sauce ans then mozzarella, red bell pepper, onions, and bite-sized pieces of chicken.  This combination of flavors was delicious, I especially liked the creamy dill sauce which was  a nice change from red sauce.

One of my companions had a slice of the Works, which was topped with Italian sausage, pepperoni,  green pepper, onion, mushroom, and black olive.

My companion also had a slice of Sausage

Another companion ordered a slice of the Hawaiian Pizza, topped with a ton of pineapple tidbits and really good Canadian Bacon.  I need to try this one next time.

Service: I have been to John’s Pizza Cafe a few times now and have had very fast and friendly service each time.  From the hours 10:30-2:30pm they have ten varieties of pizzas that they offer by-the-slice and will get your order ready quickly.
Overall Impression: John’s Pizza Cafe has a large selection of pizzas and hoagies and everything is homemade.  The service is fast and friendly.  This is my new favorite local spot to grab a slice of tasty pizza over the lunch hour.
John's Pizza Cafe on Urbanspoon

Wabasha Deli & Cafe ~ St Paul, MN

 Cafe-Style, Counter-Service, Delicatessen, Delivery, St Paul  Comments Off on Wabasha Deli & Cafe ~ St Paul, MN
Mar 102012

Cuisine: Breakfast, Deli
Restaurant Features: Cafeteria Style, Counter Service, Delivery, On-Site Parking
Location: St Paul, MN
Address: 32 Fillmore Ave E St Paul, MN 55107  651-291-8868
Hours: Mon-Fri 6am-2pm

Links: Wabasha Deli Website * Wabasha Deli on Facebook * Google Map

Atmosphere: Located on Wabasha just before it heads across the Mississippi into Downtown St Paul, the Wabasha Cafe makes its home in the same industrial building as Nasseff Mechanical.  The parking lot is quite big but the interior is rather unimpressive.  It has an old, grungy feel to it and the items in the deli case were just as unimpressive. You order at the counter where there are hand-written menu boards displayed on the wall behind.  You wait while your sandwich is being made and pay at the far counter after you get your food.

Most of the seating is in the form of wooden bistro tables and chairs near the front of the space near the windows.

There is also a dining nook that was created for a more cozy place to eat, a very welcome addition.

Menu: Breakfast is served until 10:15 and includes McWabasha Muffin Sandwich, Philly Sandwich, Eggs, Toast, Bacon, Sausage, Pancakes and French Toast.

Omelettes are made with three eggs and include Cheese, Ham & Cheese, Wabasha Special (ham, cheese, onion and green pepper), Veggie, and Protein (bacon, ham, sausage, cheese).

Sandwich options at Wabasha Deli include Club House, Turkey, Roast Beef, Corned Beef, Ham and Hard Salami.  Bread options include White, Wheat, Rye, Hoagie Roll or Croissant.  There are also a handful of Wraps offered such as BLT, Turkey & Garlic, Egg Salad Olive, Pesto Cream Cheese Veggie, Turkey Cucumber Ranch, Turkey Bacon Bleu Cheese, Chicken Caesar and Asian Chicken.

Hot Lunch Items include Sloppy Joes, Chili, Chili Nachos, Italian Roast Beef Hoagie, Corned Beef Hoagie, Turkey Bacon Club Croissant.

Price guide: Breakfast $3-5 Salads $  Sandwiches $4-6

What we ordered: This was my first time to visit Wabasha Deli so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I will almost always choose a hot sandwich over a cold one, and I especially like reubens, so it was an easy choice when I saw Reuben Panini on the menu.  My companion also ordered the same sandwich.  I can be very picky when it comes to Reubens and I have to admit my expectations  weren’t real high, based solely on the looks of the deli counter.  I asked and was told that the meats are all sliced fresh daily.  This reuben was pretty good, better than I expected.  It had several slices of deli-style corned beef, real swiss cheese that was thickly sliced, and a heaping of good sauerkraut and thousand island dressing.  The marble rye bread was crispy from the panini press, giving the sandwich a nice crunch.  We both ordered ours with kettle chips and deli pickle, which was an additional charge.

I also bought a White Chocolate Macademia Nut Cookie that was soft and chewy.

Service: The person behind the counter who helped me was helpful and friendly.  There was a line about 5-10 people deep when we arrived but it went quickly.  I was appreciative of the wait so that I could peruse the menu boards.  Our sandwiches were prepared in about five minutes.
Overall Impression: The Reuben Panini and the cookie that I tried were both tasty, although I think I would prefer to get my order to go next time.  Quick and inexpensive.
Wabasha Deli & Cafe on Urbanspoon

Feb 262012

Disclosure: I was invited out to do this review and my meal was provided by Morrissey HospitalityAll opinions are my own.

Cuisine: Italian
Restaurant Features: Banquet, Bar, Valet Parking
Location: St Paul, MN (Downtown)
Address: 360 St. Peter Street, Saint Paul, MN 55102 651.223.7000
Hours: Daily 4-11pm
Links: Pazzaluna Website * Pazzaluna on Facebook * Google Map

Atmosphere: Located Downtown St Paul on St Peter Street, Pazzaluna is in the heart of St Paul’s entertainment district , putting it within walking distance of The Ordway, Xcel Energy Center, Roy Wilkins Auditorium and the Science Museum of Minnesota.  The space is big and open, with the bar area greeting you when you first enter and the dining room taking up the remainder of the space.  The dining room actually has two tiers; an upper and lower.  The upper dining area has a separate room with French doors that can be used for private parties.  There are a handful of round booths but otherwise all of the tables in the dining room can easily be arranged for parties of various sizes.

The Kitchen at Pazzaluna is big and open, the center of which is a beautiful  green wood-burning oven.  It is set off to the side of the restaurant, you walk right by it on the way to the restrooms.

Menu: Appetizers at Pazzaluna include Bruschetta (White Bean & Prosciutto, Tomato Basil, Portabella Goat Cheese, Burrata & Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Braised Beef & Porcini Mushroom), Polenta Fries, Mozzarella & Artichoke Bagna Cauda, Calamari, Seared Scallops, Crab Cakes and Antipasti Bar (cheeses, meats, salad and vegetables).

Soups offered are the Scallop with Cucumber and Cannellini Bean.  Salads offered are the Mixed Greens, Caesar, Arugula, Shepherd, Beet and Panzanella.

Pazzaluna also offers traditional  12″ thin crust hearth baked Pizzas in a wood-burning oven.  Varieties include Quattro Formaggi, Grilled Vegetable, Pear and Gorgonzola, Margherita, Bolognese, Spicy Sausage and Peppers, and Grilled Chicken with Asparagus.

Pasta dishes include Spicy Penne, Rigatoni with Chicken, Capellini alla Caprese, Fettuccine Alfredo, Pappardelle Bolognese, Spaghetti & Meatballs, Seafood Linguine, Spinach and Cheese Ravioli, and Three Meat Cannelloni.  Pazzaluna also makes homemade Gnocchi.  Varieties of Gnocchi include Bolognese, Quatro Formagi, and Tomato Basil. Risotto options include Saffron Risotto with Chicken, and Herb Risotto with Shrimp and Chorizo.

Pazzaluna offers Entrees such as Salmon, Ahi Tuna, Sea Bass, Scallops, Rabbit, Chicken Saltimbocca, Chicken Piccata, Chicken Parmesan, Pork Chops, Beef Short Ribs, Veal Medallions, Filet Mignon, and New York Strip.

Desserts at Pazzaluna include Creme Brulee, Tiramisu, Mocha Cheesecake, Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Versato, Banana Nutella Tart, Frangelico Pecan Pie, Gelato, and Sorbeti.

Price guide: Appetizers $8-14 Salads $7-11 Pastas $14-24 Entrees $19-45

Happy Hour:

  • Daily 4-6pm * In The Bar
  • $3 Beefeater, Pinnacle, Bacardi, Windsor or Campari Featured Cocktails Michelob Golden Light
  • $4 Stella Pinot Grigio or Montepuliciano D’Abruzzo, Summit EPA, Summit Seasonal or Blue Moon
  • $5 Coppola Bianco White Blend or Rosso Red Blend Fulton IPA, Stella Artois or Surly Bender ; $5 Two Antipasti Bar Selections, Fried Gorgonzola Gnocchi, Polenta Fries, Tomato Basil Bruschetta or White Bean & Prosciutto Bruschetta
  • $6 Pazzaluna Signature Cocktails Pazzaluna Signature Martinis  Appetizers: Three Antipasti Bar Selections, Portabella & Goat Cheese Bruschetta, Four Cheese Pizza, Pear & Gorgonzola Pizza, or Veggie Pizza
  • $7 Four Antipasti Bar Selections, Burrata & EVOO Bruschetta, Margherita Pizza, Bolognese Pizza or Chicken & Asparagus Pizza
  • $8 Five Antipasti Bar Selections, Braised Beef & Porcini Bruschetta, Rustica Pizza, Calamari or Mozzarella & Artichoke Bagna Cauda

Birthday Special: Dine at Pazzaluna the week of your birthday and they’ll give you a complimentary* bottle of wine priced at your age. *Purchase of two (2) entrees required. Offer valid for in-store consumption only. Equivalent credit of person’s age can be applied to a higher priced bottle of wine. Proof of age and birthday required. Must be 21 years or older. Offer good for one birthday per table.
What we ordered: We started with the complimentary basket of bread.  It contained slices of fresh ciabatta and focaccia.  The focaccia was especially tasty, as it was seasoned with butter, parmesan and herbs.

There are many delicious appetizers at Pazzaluna, making it hard to pick just one. For our first course we started with the Seared Scallops and an order of Calamari.  The Seared Scallops were cooked to perfection, with a nice caramelized seared crust and soft meat within.  The dish was garnished with slices of skinless pink grapefruit, orange, fresh mint and other fresh herbs.

We also tried the Calamari with our first course.  Pazzaluna puts their own spin on the traditional fried calamari by adding thin slices of carrots, zucchini and sweet onions and frying those too.  It was delicious, I loved the combination of textures and flavors.  The order was very big; piled several inches high and full of vegetables with lightly battered calamari rings tossed in (and a few pepperoncini peppers too!).  The dish was drizzled with a zesty roasted garlic aioli that finished the dish off nicely.

For our next course, my companion and I split the Beet Salad, which was served to us on two plates.  The base of this appetizing salad were the salt-roasted beets, which had a firm yet juicy texture.  We both enjoyed this salad quite a bit; it had such a unique combination of flavors and textures including shaved goat cheese that was subtle yet distinct at the same time.  The candied walnuts provided a nice crunch and hint of sweetness and the micro-greens were fragrant and refreshing.

Pazzaluna is known for its Bolognese sauce, which they offer with a selection of dishes. For our next course, we tried a half-order of the Bolognese Papperdelle and a half order of the Gnocchi Bolognese.  The sauce was a thick and rich blend of ground beef, pork, tomato, onion and a variety of Italian herbs and spices.  It was delicious and would be great on any pasta but was especially good served on the long strips of papperdelle.  Our server grated fresh parmesan on top giving it that extra touch.

The Gnocchi at Pazzaluna are made in-house and are fantastic!  They are soft potato dumplings that are sticky, velvety pillows that on their own don’t have much flavor but when topped with a thick and rich sauce like the Bolognese, they are delicious.

For my main course I ordered the Sea Bass.  This was wonderful! The fish was pan roasted until it had a nice crispy sear to the outside while being soft inside. It was served on a bed of carrot purée, and was topped with red onion jam with a drizzling of salsa verde on the plate.

My companion had the Veal Medallions for the main course and it was the highlight of the meal. The veal itself was cooked to a medium temperature and was extremely flavorful and juicy.  The medallions were served on linguine with garlic butter with sautéed porcini mushrooms & spinach.  The dish was topped with a silky roasted tomato butter sauce.  The server topped it with freshly ground pepper corns

I was much too full for dessert but ended up ordering the Banana Nutella Tart.  This was also very good; it had a layer of chocolate Nutella custard, then a layer of banana in a vanilla cream, then topped with real whipped cream.  It was topped with a wafer of caramelized nuts.

Service: We had excellent service at Pazzaluna, starting with the curb-side valet service.  We had a reservation ahead of time and our table was waiting when we got there.  Our server was very professional and highly knowledgeable about the menu, giving us many excellent suggestions from each section of the menu.  Each course that we had was separate and distinct, with plenty of time in between each.
Overall Impression: We really enjoyed our experience at Pazzaluna.  They have a great selection of both pasta and traditional Italian meat and seafood dishes and the service is top-notch.  Pazzaluna is a great place to visit for Happy Hour, a romantic dinner, to celebrate a special occasion or even for larger parties.
Pazzaluna Urban Trattoria & Bar on Urbanspoon
Pazzaluna Reviews in St Paul

Feb 082012

Cuisine: Donuts
Restaurant Features: Counter Service
Location: St Paul
Address: 1169 7th Street West  Saint Paul, MN 55102    651.224.0142
Hours: Tues-Fri 5:30am-3pm * Sat-Sun 6:30am-3pm * Closed Mondays
Links: Mojo Monkey Donuts Website * Mojo Monkey on Facebook * Google Map

Atmosphere: Snuggled between a couple of other small businesses with just a small sign on the window, if you blink you might just miss Mojo Monkey Donuts.  The inside is a somewhat cozy little place with a big counter displaying donuts behind glass cases and a couple of small tables for those who want to enjoy their coffee & donuts on the premises.  The back of the space is where all the donuts are made.

Menu:Cake donut varieties include Plain, Cinnamon-Sugar, Chocolate Ganache, Chocolate Ganache with , Assorted Toppings, Vanilla Icing, Mango Glaze with Organic Coconut, Apple Dumpling, German Chocolate, Red Velvet, Double Chocolate with Organic Coconut.

Raised donut varieties include Classic, Cinnamon-Sugar, Chocolate Ganache, Chocolate Ganache with , Assorted Toppings, Vanilla Icing, Sprinkles, Crumbles, Mango Glaze with Organic Coconut.  Old Fashioned come either Glazed or Chocolate Ganache. Cruller varieties include Classic, Cinnamon-Sugar and Chocolate Ganache.

Fritters include Apple and Banana Pecan.  The only Long John variety is the Maple Bar with Thick-Cut Bacon.

Bismark Flavors include Cherry Almond, Peanut Butter and Jelly, Lemon, Blueberry-Lemon, Keylime, Crème Brûlée, Strawberry, Mocha Mouse, Vanilla Crème, Vanilla Cream with Banana.

Mojo Monkey also has Cinnamon and Nutmeg Bun with Maple Glaze.

Danish Varieties include, Cinnamon, Cinnamon Raisin Almond, Cinnamon Raisin Marcona Almond, Pistachio, Cranberry Orange Pecan and Vanilla Cream.

Not in the mood for a big donut? Try the Donut Holes: Pumpkin, Pumpkin Eggnog, Chai.

Beignets are available on the weekends.

Price guide: $1-2/donut $16.99 /  Dozen

What we ordered: I love fritters and when I saw that Mojo Monkey had a Banana Fritter, I knew I had possibly hit the fritter jackpot.  I did, indeed! This fritter was thick, soft and doughy with the flavor of real banana and pieces of banana infused as well.   It was perfectly crispy on the outside and to make it extra special and amazing, it is coated with a brown sugar glaze and has pieces of candied pecans as well. I can’t stop thinking about it, to be quite honest.  It might not look appealing but if you like bananas, you will want to go to Mojo Monkey donuts tomorrow for breakfast just to get this!

My companion had the Cinnamon Bun, which was very big!

I also tried a bite of the Maple Bar with Bacon and this was also very thick; so much so I almost couldn’t get it in my mouth! It had a sweet, sticky and substantial amount of a maple-based glaze and a slice of thick and extra crispy bacon. The salty, smokiness of the bacon really goes great with maple.  Always has, always will.  Needless to say, I enjoyed the bite I had ;)

The Mango Glazed Raised Donut with Coconut is another I have tried.  The mango glaze is made from real mangos and was topped with shaved coconut.  A tropical treat!

Service: There were only a couple of customers ahead of us but it still took a good five minutes before we were able to order.  The attendant was nice and explained that they were currently out of the Maple Bar but were in the process of making more.  We opted to wait a good ten minutes more before our order was complete.
Overall Impression: Mojo Monkey has some unique varieties of donuts that are worth a trek to St Paul
Mojo Monkey Donuts on Urbanspoon

Feb 052012

Cuisine: American, Breakfast
Restaurant Features: Cash-Only, On-Site Parking
Location: St Paul, MN
Address: 1446 Rice St  St Pal, MN 55117 651-489-0020
Hours: Daily 5am-3pm
Links: Coffee Cup Website * Google Map

Atmosphere: This year celebrates the 60th Anniversary of Coffee Cup on Rice St, making it one of the oldest breakfast joints in the city.  The front room where you enter has booths as well as a couple of counter-top dining benches that seat six on each side.

The dining room swings around the corner where several wooden tables lead back into an atrium.

Menu: Breakfast Items are served all day at Coffee Cup.  Dishes include Steak &Eggs, Grilled Pork Chop and Eggs, Grilled Chicken and Eggs, Hamburger Steak & Eggs, Ranch Breakfast, French Toast, and Buttermilk Pancakes.

Specialty Omelets are made with three eggs and include Everything, vegetable, Denver, Ham & Cheese, Gyros, Mushroom & Cheese, Turkey & Cheese, Bacon & Cheese, Sausage & Cheese, and Feta Cheese.

Salads include Greek, Grilled Chicken Breast, and Combination Salad.

Sandwiches served Monday-Friday and come with choice of potato and cup of soup: Grilled Bacon  Cheese, Bacon Cheeseburger, Hamburger, Tuna Salad Sandwich, and Reuben.  Additional sandwiches include Bacon & Egg, Ham & Egg, Sausage & Egg, Grilled Cheese, Fish, Fried Ham, Denver, Club House, Pork Cutlet and Grilled Chicken.

Burgers served daily include Patty Melt, Hamburger, Jumbo Hamburger, Cheeseburger, California Burger, Bacon Cheeseburger, Jumbo Cheeseburger, Texas Melt, and California Hamburger Deluxe.

Entrees served daily include Roast Sirloin of Beef with Mashed Potatoes, Roast Turkey, Hot Turkey Sandwich, Hot Beef Sandwich, Breaded Pork Chops, Grilled Pork Chops, Gyro Sandwich, Sirloin Steak, Hamburger Steak, Beef with Onions or Bacon, Pork Cutlet, Fried Chicken, Boneless Chicken Strips, Breaded Cod, Steak & Shrimp, Fried Shrimp.

Coffee Cup also has desserts including Cheesecake, Ice Cream, Cake, Apple Pie, Banana Cream Pie, lemon Pie, Pumpkin Pie, and French Silk Pie.
Price guide: Breakfast $6-13
Weekly Specials:

  • Tuesdays: Baked Meatloaf

What we ordered: I started with a cup of Chicken Dumpling Soup.  It was delicious; hot and flavorful with a good amount of bite-sized dumplings and shredded chicken.

One of my companions and I decided to split the Reuben Sandwich. I knew better than to order a Reuben at a diner and the sandwich was about what I expected; cheap, processed corned beef and Swiss cheese. I did like the grilled bread and sauerkraut though, they were good, as were the steak cut fries.

Another companion ordered the Gyro, which contained pre-sliced strips of gyro meat layered onto pita bread.  The tomato and onion were thrown on top, Tzatziki sauce on the side.

Another companion ordered a Cheeseburger with Fries and a side of Coleslaw.  It looked like your basic 1/4lb frozen beef patty but I heard no complaints!

The coleslaw looked good and it was a really big portion.

The last of us ordered the Denver Omelet with Hashbrowns. This three-egg omelet had peppers, onion and ham and a lot of American cheese inside and out.  It was served with a giant pile of hashbrowns and buttered toast.

Service:   Our server was nice and our food was prepared quickly. Coffee Cup is CASH ONLY, so be prepared.
Overall Impression: I personally wasn’t impressed by the food at Coffee Cup but it is a St Paul breakfast institution with big portions at very reasonable prices.
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Coffee Cup Reviews in St Paul

Winterfest Tent Party at Germanic-American Institute ~ January 28, 2012

 St Paul, Upcoming Events  Comments Off on Winterfest Tent Party at Germanic-American Institute ~ January 28, 2012
Jan 272012

The Germanic-American Institute is hosting a Winterfest Tent Party 

Saturday, January 28th 3-7pm

301 Summit Ave
St Paul, MN

They will be have live music and entertainment and will also be serving authentic German Karneval foods.

The menu includes:

Knödel mit Pilssoße (German dumpling with mushroom sauce)
Rosemary potatoes in herbed yogurt
Schmalzkuchen (deep-fried German pastry with powdered sugar, similar to mini-donuts)
Leberkäse (German-style meatloaf; goes great with beer!)

There will also be a Euro Dance Party in the Summit Avenue Mansion from 7pm-Midnight

See you there!