Sep 282009

Cuisine: Mexican
Restaurant Features: Counter-Service, On-Site Parking (West St Paul location)
Locations: Minneapolis, Plymouth, West St Paul ( MN)
Addresses & Maps:

Minneapolis2150 E Lake St Minneapolis,
MN 55407
(612) 729-5320

Minneapolis311 E Lake St Minneapolis,
MN 55408
(612) 825-7466

Plymouth60 Nathan Ln N Plymouth,
MN 55441
(763) 545-1977

West St Paul– 1304 Robert Street So.  West St Paul, MN 55118 (651) 455-6833

Hours: 7 days 10am-10pm

Atmosphere: The West St Paul location is located right on Robert Street and is very easy to spot from the road, with its unique slanted roof.  The counter is just to the right of the main doors when you walk in, and there is a large menu board overhead. There are a bunch of booths set up around the space, with glass privacy separators around each.  The bright stained-glass windows give the West St Paul location a somewhat festive-feel.

Menu: Mexican sandwiches include choice of Ham, Cheese, Breaded Steak, or any of the combination sandwiches including the Chilanga, Mexicana, Hawaiiana, Cubana and Three Meat.  All come with your choice of fixings: mayonnaise, avocado, lettuce, tomato, onion, jalapeno, cream and beans.

All tacos, burritos, tortas, and chimichangas come with choice of meats: Chopped Steak, Barbacoa, Mexican-Style Steak, Steak with Onions, Lengua, Tripas, Chicken in Tomato Sauce, Chicken in Green Sauce with Potatoes, Chicken in Chipotle Sauce, Roasted Pork, Mexican Sausage in Chipotle Sauce, Pastor, and Spicy Pork.

Taco options include soft Corn or Flour Tortillas, Hard Shell, Tostada, Nachos and Quesadilla.

Burrito options include Bean/Rice/Cheese, Regular (one meat), Burrito Gordo (two meats and avocado), Veggy (cheese and avocado) and the Birrote (two tortillas, two meats).  Any burrito can be made into a chimichanga, served enchilada-style.

Meat Plates come with rice and beans and include Meat Plate, Beef Fajita, Chicken Fajita. Alambre,  Quesadilla (choice of meat), Carne Asada, Green Sauce Enchilada, Red Sauce Enchilada, Chimichanga, Stuffed Poblano Pepper, Garlic Shrimp, Devil’s Shrimp, Breaded Shrimp, Shrimp Fajitas, and Flautas (chicken or potato).

Price guide: Sandwiches $6-8  Tacos $2-5  Burritos $4-9  Meat Plates $9-10
What I ordered: I had previously tried a burrito at Pineda one other time and really enjoyed it.  This time I wanted to try the burrito chimichanga-style.  I ordered it with spicy pork, Mexican rice, pinto beans, cilantro, and hot salsa.  The outside was slightly crisp and flaky from being fried, and topped with a light amount of enchilada sauce and melted Mexican cheese.  Lettuce, pico de gallo, sour cream and guacamole were served on the side.  I enjoyed the chimichanga quite a bit.  Despite the fact that both the chimi and the burrito I had tried before were filled with nearly the same ingredients, it was a completely different experience to be able to add the cold condiments to the hot ingredients instead of having them all mixed in.


One of my companions ordered four tacos: one chicken in tomato sauce, one spicy pork, and two steak.  Each taco was served on two white corn tortillas and topped with the customary cilantro and chopped onion, with wedges of lime on the side.  They were all very good, especially the spicy pork.  The chicken was tender white-meat marinated in a light tomato broth, mild but flavorful.


Another companion also ordered four tacos: two chicken and two spicy pork.


Service: Pineda has counter service that seems to go pretty fast, as they make the tacos and burritos directly as you order them.  Free soda refills
Overall Impression: Pineda offers a wide range of delicious meats for tacos and burritos, with generous portions for the money.  They have some of the best burritos I have had.  The spicy pork is my favorite.

Pineda Tacos on Urbanspoon

Mar 102009

Cuisine: Chinese
Restaurant Features: Lunch Buffet, Dinner Buffet, On-Site Parking

Locations: Maplewood & West St Paul, MN
Addresses & Maps:

Maplewood– 2950 White Bear Ave Maplewood, MN 55109 (651) 704-9801

West St Paul– 1200 South Robert St.  West St. Paul, MN 55118 (651) 554-0558

Hours: Sun-Thur 11am-9pm  Fri-Sat 11am-10pm

Atmosphere: Both the Maplewood and West St Paul locations are located within strip malls.  Each restaurant has a large, open space for the dining areas.  Silk Kimonos adorn the walls and here and there you will see silk plants as well.  Rectangular-shaped wooden tables are placed close together throughout the space, easy to accommodate larger groups.

GreatMoonBuffet-inside1000 There are four large buffet islands, with additional tables for dessert and also a separate stir-fry section at the West St Paul location.  Each buffet island has about 10-12 food items.

GreatMoonBuffet-buffet1000 The West St Paul location also has a custom stir-fry area.  Similar to Khan’s, choose your frozen sliced meats, Vegetables and sauces and the chef will cook it up in front of you on the Mongolian BBQ.


Menu: Appetizers include Egg Rolls, Cream Cheese Wonton, Cheesey Potatoes, Sweet Biscuits, Sesame Cakes, Pork Sausages, Egg Foo Young, Roast Duck, BBQ Ribs, and Steamed Dumplings.

Soups include Hot & Sour and Wonton.  There is also Lo Mein, Fried Rice, White Rice, Rice Noodle and String Beans.

Chicken dishes include Black Pepper Chicken, Roast Chicken, Sesame Chicken, Moo Goo Gai Pan, Chicken with Broccoli, Chicken Chow Suey, General Tao’s Chicken, Sweet & Sour Chicken, Chicken Wings, Chicken Sticks, and Chicken with Cashew.

Pork dishes include Mopo ToFu, Hunan Pork, Butter Potato, Double Cooked Pork, Hunan Triple Delight, Pork with Mushrooms, and Boneless Ribs.

Beef dishes include Beef with Broccoli, Mongolian Beef, Beef with Mushrooms, Peppered Beef, and Beef Ribs.

Seafood (most items served at dinner only) items include Mussels, Fried Codfish, Salmon, Popcorn Shrimp, Butterfly Shrimp, Salted Shrimp, Coconut Shrimp, Shrimp with Lobster Sauce.

Desserts include Soft-Serve Ice Cream, Cake, Fresh Fruit

Price guide: Lunch Buffet $8-9  Dinner Buffet $11-12
What I Ate: My visit was at lunch time with a group of colleagues, but I still wanted to try a selection of foods.  I had Cream Cheese Wontons, Boneless BBQ Ribs, Steamed Dumpling, General Tao’s Chicken, Sweet & Sour Chicken, Fried Rice, and a Rice Noodle dish with veggies.  The cream cheese wontons were the biggest I have ever had! They were stuffed full of a cream-cheese mixture that was slightly sweet.  The steamed dumplings were very good, with a flavorful pork/onion mixture.  The meats that I tried were okay, but I would not say these use high quality meat.  The Sweet and Sour as well as the General Tao’s Chicken was kind of fatty and gristly and the batter was soggy.

GreatMoonBuffet-myplate1000 I wasn’t quite satisfied with what I actually ate from my first plate, so I opted to wait in line for my own custom stir-fry.  I chose beef, broccoli, pineapple, onions, pepper and mushrooms with noodles and several scoops of all the different cooking sauces.  There is only one cook making stir-fry and he only cooks one dish at a time, so I had to wait at least 10 minutes for my plate.  I was only able to get a few good bites in before it was time to head back to work, but I was very happy with my stir-fry dish.

GreatMoonBuffet-stirfryplate1000Service: At Great Moon you must pay for your meal before you enter the dining room but from that point forward, there are many servers ava
ilable to take drink orders, clear plates, etc.
Overall Impression: Huge buffet with many options, but I would say food is just slightly better than mediocre in taste and quality.  Make-it-yourself Stir-Fry option at West St Paul is a big bonus.
Great Moon Buffet on Urbanspoon

Feb 052009

Cuisine: Greek, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern

Restaurant Features: Counter Service, On-Site Parking
Locations: Coon Rapids, Edina, Lakeville, Roseville (Falcon Heights), Plymouth,  and Woodbury, MN
Addresses & Maps:

Coon Rapids
3179 Northdale Blvd. Coon Rapids, MN 55433
(763) 422-2003
6539 York Ave. S Edina, MN 55435 (612) 866-6363
17701 Cedar Avenue (Cedar Avenue & Dodd Road) Farmington, MN 55024 952) 431-3466

1700 Snelling Ave. Falcon Heights, MN 55108 (651) 645-8800
3355 Plymouth Blvd. Plymouth, MN 55447 (763) 553-2040

10060 City Walk Drive  Woodbury, MN 55129 651-738-9757


Links: Dino’s Website * Dino’s on Facebook
Hours: Daily 10am-10pm

Atmosphere: Dino’s offers counter-service and is about the same size as a typical fast-food restaurant.  The entire restaurant is furnished with your basic hard-top tables set close together, without a booth in sight.  There is a beverage station near the front counter with two large soda dispensers.  A couple of TVs hang from the ceilings and there are also some paintings adorning the walls.


Menu: Side Items include French Fries, Seasoned Fries, Pita Bread, Pita Chips, Hummus, Greek Olives, Pepperoncini Peppers, Falafel, Spanakopita, Onion Petals, Spinach Puffs and Greek Meatballs.

Dino’s offers a Greek Salad ( lettuce, feta, Greek olives, cucumbers, peppers, onion, pepperoncini peppers, and Greek dressing) with choice of meat.

The Sandwiches at Dino’s are served on fresh pita bread and include the Gyro (meat with raw onion, tomato and tzatzini sauce), Jr. Gyro, Spicy Gyro, Chicken Gyro, Jr. Chicken Gyro, Greek Chicken Breast, Greek Philly (sauteed peppers and onions and melted Swiss), Greek Meatball, Falafel (deep-fried patties made of a mixture of ground chick peas and seasonings), Steak Souvlaki, and Chicken Mushroom Swiss.  **Any sandwich can be mega-sized for an additional charge. Any sandwich can be ordered as a Value Meal, which comes with soda and either fries or side salad.

There are also a couple of Wraps including Greek Chicken Caesar, Hummus, and the Gyro Bacon Cheddar Wrap.

Entree Plates offer meat choice with Fries, Greek Salad or Rice, and Grilled Pita.  Meat choices are the  Gyro, Chicken Gyro, Steak or Chicken Souvlaki (kabobs), or Spanakopita (spinach, onions, feta and ricotta cheese wrapped in filo dough and baked).  Combination Plate includes each of the meat choices.

There are also two Family Packs available.  The Family Pack comes with 1 lb gyro meat, sauce, toppings, and 5 pitas.  The Mega Family Pack is the Family Pack with an additional two orders of Fries and 1 large Greek Salad.

Desserts include Baklava, Cookies, or Ice Cream.

Price guide: Side Items $1-2 Sandwiches and Wraps $5-6  Value Meals $8-9 Salads $6-9  Plates $7-9
What I ordered: The Greek Chicken Breast Sandwich with Spicy Feta and side of Seasoned Fries.  Normally this sandwich comes with regular feta cheese, but I LOVE the spicy feta and have them substitute the regular feta for the spicy.  This particular sandwich came with both, which was a little too much.  The chicken breast was marinated and tender, cut into strips.  The sandwich was big and messy, so I opted to eat it most of it with a fork.  The onions were plentiful, sliced thin and the spicy feta had a nice kick to it and was full of flavor.  The Seasoned Fries were delicious!  Dino’s adds their own Greek Seasoning which is pretty salty and garlic-y, but so so SO good!

One of my companions ordered the Spicy Gyro Sandwich.  It is similar to a regular gyro except the spicy comes with the spicy feta instead of tzatziki sauce and also has romaine lettuce.  My companion enjoyed it but prefers the traditional gyro.

Another companion ordered the Souvlaki Plate, with one chicken and one beef kabob, Pita Triangles and Onion Petals.  The meat was very good, but there were just five bites of meat on each skewer.  The Onion Petals were crispy brown and the portion was rather large.


Service: Ordering is done at the Counter and it usually takes less than ten minutes for the order to be ready, at which point they will either call your name or bring the food out to your table, depending on how busy they are.  There are often staff members who will walk around to bus tables or ask you if you’d like a drink refill or anything else.  Definitely a step above most other fast-food type restaurants.
Overall Impression: I really enjoy Dino’s, it is fast and the food is good (especially anything with spicy feta!).  The seasoned fries are AWESOME.  Dino’s is more expensive than other fast-food restaurants but less expensive than most sit-down restaurants.  I wish there was a Dino’s in Hugo or Maplewood!

Dino's: The Greek Place on Urbanspoon

Jul 082008

Cuisine: Greek, Lebanese, Middle Eastern
Restaurant Features: Counter-Service, On-Site Parking

Location: West St Paul
Address: 1264 So. Robert Street, West St Paul MN 55118 (651) 552-9660
Links: Google Map


Atmosphere: The building itself is very small, so besides the kitchen, there is just a very small dining room with a handful of standard fast-food-restaurant-style booths.  The walls are decorated with colorful travel posters.  You order your food at a counter, above which is the pictoral menu of food items.


Menu: Appetizers include Baked Eggplant, Fried Vegetable, Spinach Pie, Hummus Bil-Tahini, 5-Feta Cheese, Falafel and Grape Leaves.

Sandwiches are served in fresh Pita Bread with cucumber sauce, lettuce, tomato and onion.  Specialties include the famous Gyro, Greek Chicken, BBQ Gyro, Chicken Gyro, Falafel Patty, Vegetarian Gyro, Philly Steak, and Philly Chicken.
Entrees include Chicken Gyro, Chicken Kabob, Beef/lamb Gyro, Lamb Kabob, Kufta Kabob, Greek Chicken Plate, and Sauteed Chicken with Vegetables.  There are also a couple fo vegetarian entrees, including the  Stuffed Grape Leaves, Spinach Pie, and Fried or Sauteed Vegetables.
Can’t decide what to order? No fear! There are also several combination dinners including the Ali Baba Feast that lets you try a little bit of everything for $29.99
Ali Baba also has fresh Tabouleh Salad, Greek Salad and Greek Chicken Salad.

Price guide: Appetizers $ 4-6 Sandwiches $5-7 Entrees $8-12
What I ordered: I ordered what I thought was the Chicken Gyro, but I think I received the Ali Baba Chicken.  It was very good, but I had not been expecting chicken that had been marinated in curry spices (good thing I like curry!).  It was a really interesting combination of flavors, especially the curry chicken and the cucumber sauce.  The portion was huge (two meals for me!) and instead of making a giant mess, I ate most of it with a fork.


My companion ordered the Gyro Sandwich, which was loaded with tender slices of beef and lamb that had been marinating in spices.  The meat on this sandwich was delicious! Probably the best Gyro meat I have ever had.  The vegetables were also very fresh and the sauce was decent (although we both agreed we like Dino’s sauce better).


Service: Compete counter-service, from order to pick-up.  After that, you’re pretty much on your own.
Overall Impression: Excellent Gyros, cheap prices.

Ali Baba on Urbanspoon