It’s easy for those of us who live in or near the city to forget about all the great places to eat in the suburbs.
In the past year or so, some really stellar places outside the cities have opened, some just before the pandemic and some in spite of it.
This week, we dive into all the great suburban food we’ve eaten in the past year or so. There are definitely more places on our radar that we didn’t get to. But just in case we don’t know about your favorite new suburban spot, please let us know what new restaurants you’re loving in your neighborhood. As always, reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This sleek, modern multi-story spot in downtown White Bear Lake has adjusted to the ups and downs since the pandemic. In addition to dine-in, the spot also has a patio and, when it’s cold, igloos for dining outdoors. The menu is a nod to Midwest comfort foods cranked up a few notches. There are soups, salads, shore lunches, sandwiches and burgers on the lunch menu. During dinner, the menu expands to include flatbreads, pasta, chicken, steak, ribs and fish entrees.
We’ve ordered from here twice, once on the upstairs patio when it was chilly but warm enough to brave (also: there are two igloos available on the patio via reservations if you can snag one) and another time for takeout, and both dining experiences translated well.
We recommend you start off with easy shareables such as the shore lunch basket with wonderfully crisp sunnies or the Saku Block Tuna, a beautifully elegant seared ahi tuna dish with crisp togarashi rice paper to scoop it up. Move on to a Brickhouse burger with a prime-grade blend and “secret sauce” or the generously portioned and flavorful Sticky Ribs with fried rice and cheffed-up touches such as pickled watermelon rind and a brilliant, lightly spiced shredded cabbage that makes you want to eat all your vegetables. It’s safe to say that The Brickhouse is a solid dining option.
4746 Washington Square, White Bear Lake; 651-528-6958; brickhousemn.com
BUB’S AUSSIE PIES
After hauling our cookies out to Lake Elmo to give this oddball Australian restaurant (it sports a drive-through!) a try, we had to ask ourselves what took us so long.
The savory pies here are as pretty as they are well-executed and delicious. Flaky, golden-brown crusts are filled with all manner of meats and vegetables. We were huge fans of The Joey — filled with fresh spinach, fire-roasted red peppers, mushrooms and cheese — but it just narrowly beat out The Pippin, which is stuffed with a just-right spicy curry chicken. Don’t sleep on the duck-fat-fried french fries, dusted with Australian sea salt, either.
And in case you live as far from this place as we do, the hot pies definitely travel well, but they also offer them frozen.
9939 N. Hudson Blvd., Lake Elmo; 651-493-9528; bubsaussiepies.com
EGGROLL QUEEN MUSIC CAFE
Husband-and-wife team Chai Xiong and Chef Mai Vang, who gained a following through their Eggroll Queen food truck, now have a bricks-and-mortar spot for serving those giant egg rolls. The space, the former Underground Music Cafe, is not far from the State Fairgrounds and operates as a cross between two operations: an Asian eatery and a music cafe. Coffee, including mochas and lattes, continues to be offered, and the owners say live music will be back but not just yet, because of the pandemic.
Now there are also several varieties of jumbo — and we mean giant — egg rolls offered. In addition to Classic (choose among pork, chicken or vegetable), there are some off-the-beaten-path varieties such as Breakfast (scrambled eggs, sausage, cheese), Pizza (sausage, cheese and red bell peppers), Cheesy Steak (think Philly cheesesteak) and Cheesy Chicken (ranch chicken style). There is also a closer-to-regular-sized strawberry shortcake dessert egg roll.
Our favorite is the Classic, as well as the cheesy steak that comes with all the flavors we love in an oozing Philly cheesesteak. Egg rolls are $3.50 to $4 each, but less if you order a three- or 12-pack.
In addition to egg rolls, daily rotating lunch specials are also offered. On the day we ordered takeout from here, teriyaki chicken, honey beef and ginger pork were available. We tried the ginger pork, and the generously portioned entree hit the spot.
You can browse the menu on the website and then call to place an order. For the time being, orders are for takeout or delivery only.
1579 Hamline Ave. N., Falcon Heights; 651-644-9959; eggrollqueen1.com
We have written about this new gastropub a lot already, but we couldn’t do a story about new suburban eats without including it. We love that the menu changes frequently, and that there are always plenty of nutritious options on the menu — just because we’re drinking doesn’t mean we don’t want to get our veggies!
We’ve had everything here from great nachos to decadent Brussels sprouts to mac and cheese that sneaks in cauliflower. Our current favorites are the rissoles (Viennese tavern meatballs), served with whipped potatoes, mustard and bittersweet aronia berries, and Austrian chicken schnitzel, which comes with these giant steak fries we can’t get enough of.
If you’re eating in, do try the cocktails — they might be some of the best we’ve had in the burbs.
973 S. Smith Ave., West St. Paul; 651-330-0896; foodsmithpub.com
KYNDRED HEARTH and EMBER & ICE
One of the most exciting suburban restaurants to open in a long time, James Beard Award-winner Ann Kim’s Kyndred Hearth features her signature wood-fired pizzas, but also starters, entrees and pastas, many of which have Korean influences.
The restaurant, in the stunning new Omni Lakes Hotel, is open and airy — perfect for those who want to dine in during the pandemic — and features a giant, copper, wood-fired oven in which many of the dishes are prepared.
The pizzas are as good as always, but don’t sleep on those delicious pastas — we are obsessed with the spicy lobster lumache. There are also deeply umami Korean short ribs, and many other dishes we can’t wait to try. There will be a beautiful patio come spring.
If you’re looking for something a little more casual, there’s a second-floor lounge, Ember & Ice, which features a giant fireplace, lots of televisions for watching sports, and cushy furniture. There’s also a spacious patio with plenty of additional televisions for watching the big game with the Vikings practice stadium in the background.
2611 Nordic Way, Eagan; 651-689-9800; omnihotels.com/hotels/viking-lakes-minnesota/dining/kyndred-hearth
LA DELICIOUS BREAD
The buzz surrounding this sweet little bakery in Maplewood has been strong since its opening — for really good reason.
Father-son team Tieng and Brandon Vang have tapped their Parisian and Vietnamese roots to bring us some amazing banh mi sandwiches, but also really authentic pastries.
The best banh mi starts with the bread, of course, and the Vangs are importing their flour from Paris to ensure authenticity. The result is an airy, crisp-crusted delight that not only makes great sandwiches, but also is a treat on its own. Oh, and the eclairs are some of the best we’ve tasted.
Brandon Vang, who was born in Paris but grew up in Eagan, studied baking at Ecole Boulangerie de Paris before they set up shop.
2158 Rice St., Maplewood; 651-797-4620; ladeliciousbread.com
The third location of this seafood-centric restaurant opened in a nondescript strip mall in Inver Grove Heights this year.
We’ve only gotten a takeout lunch from here, but we were impressed with the quality of the lobster roll and the uber-crisp batter on the fish and chips. Our seafood-loving teenage taste-tester has been asking when we can return. Our answer has been: So many restaurants, so few meals. But yeah, we’ll be back.
They’re also running a ghost kitchen called Charley Cat Kitchen, which serves takeout and delivery-only chicken sandwiches that are really some of the best in class — and that’s saying a lot in our chicken-sandwich obsessed cities.
5681 Blaine Ave., Inver Grove Heights, 651-330-1893; mallardsmn.com; charleycatchicken.com
This spot that debuted early last spring during the pandemic, closed and then reopened in May, is all about Bhutanese, Nepalese and Indian flavors. And dishes here translate well into the take-out world, so it’s great to have that option in addition to dining in.
Indian staples such as samosas, paneer, curry, Tandoori and masala dishes are all represented on the menu. But since Bhutanese dishes are something we don’t come across every day, we wanted to zoom in on at least one of these dishes to try.
According to family members of this mom-and-pop operation, most dishes from Bhutan, where the family is originally from, are boiled. If we could stand some heat, the family recommended we try the most traditional of them all — the Emma Da Chi ($7.99), a creamy broth-laden dish starring hot peppers that we’ve confirmed is hot hot hot. Bhutanese spices as well as cheese, bell peppers, onions and potatoes round out the dish, as does a side of rice.
We tried some milder dishes as well and a favorite was the Chicken Shahi Korma ($12.99), a stew-like dish of shredded chicken in an earthy cashew cream and Indian spices that also gets some tartness from dry cherries and pineapple. It’s served with a side of rice. To start out, the Momo Chili ($14.99) dumplings with bell peppers and chili sauce does not disappoint, either. We can’t wait to head back and try some of the noodle soup dishes.
It’s great that prices are extremely reasonable for the generous portions. There’s also a grocery store next door run by the same family where you can get authentic spices and other kitchen aids for attempting that masala dish at home.
1700 Rice St., Maplewood, 651-440-9759; groceries-nepalikitchen.com
OLIVIA’S ORGANIC CAFE
Those looking for more dairy-free, gluten-free and allergy-friendly options can rejoice with this newcomer that is hitting it out of the park. It’s also nice that you can bring the whole family because, food restriction or not, most everyone can enjoy dishes off the comfort-food menu.
There’s plenty to choose from at this fast-casual operation. For breakfast, there’s a daily lineup of pastries and entrees such as eggs benedict, pancakes and waffles. We’re still dreaming about the Bacon Eggs Benedict ($18.50) on a wonderfully airy, gluten-free English muffin. Also well-executed in the gluten-free category were the gooey cinnamon rolls.
For lunch, a best seller is the Crispy Chicken Sandwich ($21) made with organic chicken that is coated in a potato chip batter that comes out golden crisp. Complete your meal with dessert from the bakery counter or ice cream, available dairy-free or with dairy. And by the way, the lattes here are bold and delicious if you’re looking for a place to get your coffee fix.
11849 Millpond Ave., Burnsville; 952-346-8800; oliviasorganiccafe.com
ORCHID BAR AND GRILL
This family-run spot with a location in White Bear Township now has a second north metro location, this one in Arden Hills off Lexington Avenue across from Target and Trader Joe’s in neighboring Shoreview.
There are traditional Vietnamese dishes, such as egg rolls and pho beef noodle soup. Pan-Asian dishes such as sweet and sour, kung pao and Thai Basil chow fun, Singapore and pad Thai noodle dishes can also be found.
We tried a little in each category. For starters, an Orchid Combo ($15.50) of eggrolls, chicken wings, spring rolls, cream cheese and potstickers was ideal for two to share and sample a few of the appetizer items. A Spicy Cashew that we ordered with chicken that was breaded like what you would get when you order sweet and sour was just what we were craving for a Chinese-American takeout type dish.
The pho was simple and no fuss — all the essential flavors were in there and a side of sauces and garnishes consisted of a hoisin and sriracha sauce, lime slice, a few sweet basil sprigs and bean sprouts. It’s nice that the pho here is very takeout-friendly. We liked that the beef slices came already cooked in the same container as the broth whereas some other places will package them separately and require you to cook the meat once at home.
We’ve only done takeout and haven’t had a chance to experience dining indoors here yet, but one day hope to try the all-you-can-eat barbecue special, in which you get marinated meats to cook over a grill at your table.
3845 Lexington Ave. N., Arden Hills; 651-797-3911; orchidbarandgrill.com
Chef/owners Stephan Hesse and Tyge Nelson’s hit restaurant now has a west metro location at 50th and France in Edina in addition to the original in St. Paul. Like the first location, look for contemporary Mexican fare of tacos, small plates and entrees with cheffed-up touches.
The sizable restaurant is in the former Mozza Mia and Tejas space, and the duo are making use of those two wood-fired ovens with menu items such as woodfired octopus, chicken, pork chops and steak.
If I were to order my perfect meal here, it would include the fish and carnitas tacos, pork ribs and yucca small plates to share, followed by wood-fired grilled octopus and pork chops (entrees $9 to $14). Yum is the word.
3910 W. 50th St., Edina; 612-268-4770; edina.pajaritorestaurant.com
STOCKYARDS TAVERN & CHOPHOUSE
We were pretty stoked when the folks behind St. Paul Grill took over this space (formerly the short-lived Kaposia Club) off Concord Street in South St. Paul.
One takeout meal (we ordered sandwiches because they travel better) was not enough to really get a flavor for what they’re doing, but that one meal was definitely enough to pique our interest.
If you’re a fan of the old-school French dip (we definitely are), their version is worth ordering. Tender beef, a perfect roll and not-too-salty jus are all in the just-right category. We also really enjoyed the simple but well-executed rotisserie chicken melt.
456 S. Concord Exchange, South St. Paul; 651-350-7743; stockyardstc.com
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