People who are not familiar with the city of South Saint Paul – say, those from the West metro, or perhaps greater Minnesota, often mistake the city for a neighborhood in St. Paul. Like North Minneapolis – that’s a neighborhood of Minneapolis. South Saint Paul, to the surprise of many outsiders, is its own, unique city. It’s not a neighborhood in the southern part of St. Paul. And if what was going on in South Saint Paul was going on in St. Paul, or Minneapolis, food writers and food web sites would be all over some recent developments.
What do we mean?
There’s a lot of cool things going on with the South Saint Paul food and restaurant scene. The type of things that, if South Saint Paul were actually a “neighborhood” in St. Paul, publications and web sites like the Pioneer Press Eat! section, City Pages Food, Eater, Thrillist, Star Tribune Eat and Drink, all local food/restaurant/dining/drinking publications and web sites, would pick up on and promote. When a new restaurant opens in places like the Mac-Groveland neighborhood, Highland Park, on West Seventh Street, Lowertown, or the east side of St. Paul, or on Lake Street or the Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis, they get dubbed with words like “swanky, cozy, eclectic” or recognized for being “unique urban eateries” among other adjectives.
But when new developments take place in Inver Grove Heights or South Saint Paul, these developments get no love from the local food and dining publications. Prime example? B52 Burgers and Brew of Inver Grove Heights recently announced plans for a 100-seat rooftop expansion. That’s some seriously cool news for a restaurant. But none of the local food and dining publications picked up on it. Remember when Cosetta’s announced its major expansion plans? It made headlines in every food publication, web site and local news station. And it should have, as it’s a staple of the St. Paul restaurant scene. But even now the Pioneer Press Eat! section continues to publicize news about restaurant closings and openings outside St. Paul, but the B52 Burgers and Brew remodel doesn’t even get a mention. To be fair to these publications, the reason these news items are likely publicized is because they received a press release or tip about these restaurant developments. So they can’t promote what they don’t know about, or hear about.
But…getting back to South Saint Paul. With restaurants like The Coop, Angelo’s Pizza, T&T Galley, a coffee shop like Black Sheep, along with a classic bar like Al’s Corral, locals are well aware of some truly unique places to eat and drink right in South Saint Paul. And now, there are some even more cool developments going on. Below, we list four developments in the South Saint Paul restaurant scene that every resident should know about:
Southview Restaurant is now WishFULL: Say what? But the sign for Southview Restaurant is still there. Yes, that’s true, the sign is still there, but not for long. What was once Southview Restaurant is now WishFULL, a family-owned restaurant featuring breakfast, lunch and dinner, locally-sourced coffee, and a cool, trendy new menu that includes small plates, mason jar salads, burgers, entrees and build your own breakfast options. What’s great about WishFULL? It’s made-from-scratch menu uses fresh, real, ingredients. Nothing pre-packaged, or out of a box. The homemade buttermilk pancakes rival any in the Twin Cities, and the made-from-scratch southern biscuits and gravy are a flaky, rich, mouth of goodness. Add the wild rice sausage and your breakfast will leave you wishing you had more and full at the same time. You know what else we liked about WishFULL? The owner actually sat down at our table and asked our opinion on the biscuits and gravy, wrote down some notes, and took them back to the chef – a chef with a background working with the famous Cooks of Crocus Hill – and relayed our feedback because they want to make sure they make them just right. That’s pretty cool.
WishFULL launched a new menu on December 12th. They also serve Amore Coffee, from Amore Coffee shop on Smith Avenue in St. Paul. They take pride in their food. They want to succeed and they want to bring real, good tasting food to South Saint Paul. The Southview Restaurant sign is still there, but your wish for a new, improved restaurant has been granted with WishFULL. Stop in and check it out soon. WishFULL, 229 13th Ave S South Saint Paul, MN, 55075. 651-552-4088.
Asi Es Mexico: This authentic mexican restaurant is located at 1025 Southview Boulevard SSP, MN 55075. Like Rincon Mexicano in Inver Grove Heights? Then you’ll like Asi Es Mexico in South Saint Paul. Featuring tacos (al pastor, asada, carnitas, tinga, pollo), tortas, tamales, burritos, sope, huarache, gorditas, quesadillas and more, this restaurant features a mother-daughter team working hard to serve up good-tasting, authentic mexican food. The asada tacos come as traditional mexican tacos should – with cilantro and onions on a doubled-up corn tortilla. The red sauce was mild but flavorful, and while we like the salsa verde from Rincon Mexicano better than that at Asi Es Mexico, both the red and green sauces are a great topping for any dish. Asi Es Mexico should be a great addition to the SSP restaurant scene, and we can’t wait to try the rest of the menu. So far every review has been positive. One reader sent this to Eat IGH: “Have you had a chance to visit Asi Ex Mexico on Southview Blvd? It is a takeout only but the food is delicious. Had a carnitas burrito and tacos. Maybe there is hope for downtown South St Paul.” Next time you’re craving authentic mexican food, give Asi Es Mexico a try. They also deliver Friday-Sunday ( 3-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 3-8 p.m. Sunday, minimum $25 order, however). Asi Es Mexico, 1025 Southview Boulevard, South Saint Paul, MN 55075. 651-457-2025
Concord Lanes Sports Bar and Grille: Speaking of name changes, Mattie’s Lanes is now Concord Lanes. That’s nothing new to locals, and bowlers. And yes, they also still have the old Mattie’s sign up on the outside. But inside the bar area, wow, what a difference. The dingy old bar with the low seats – something that was unique to the area and Mattie Lanes and that we loved, are now gone and new, U-shaped bar with lots of lighting is in place. It’s a welcome change and improvement. In addition to a wide variety of domestic and craft beers on tap, the Concord Lanes Sports Bar and Grille features a wide variety of appetizers, sandwiches, burgers, pizza, and daily food and drink specials. Check out the bar, grab a beer and order some food at the new bar at Concord Lanes Sports Bar and Grille Concord Lanes, 365 N. Concord Exchange, South St. Paul, MN 55075. 651-455-3220
Against the Grain inside EnVision Hotel: If you’ve traveled North of 494 on Concord lately – and judging by how busy KwikTrip always is you likely have – you’ll notice that the old Clarion Hotel is now enVision Hotel St. Paul South. Look closer and inside the hotel is Against the Grain, a swanky new restaurant open to the public. “Expect well-rounded choices from comfort foods, to local favorites, to some delicious goodness,” says Kelly Kearney, Director of Sales and Catering with the enVision Hotel Group. “Small plates or entrees will be available – whatever you are in the mood for, there should be something to satisfy any appetite.” Forget whatever you thought about the Clarion Hotel, the inside of the enVision Hotel is beautiful, and Against the Grain is serving up a unique menu that’s worth checking out. So the next time you swing down to KwikTrip for some low-priced groceries, stop in at Against the Grain, try the buffalo wings or some other appetizers or entrees, and check out the cool new hotel. Against The Grain inside enVision Hotel St. Paul South, 701 Concord St S, South St Paul, MN 55075. 651-455-3600.
There is actually a lot going on in the South Saint Paul restaurant scene. While local food and restaurant publications might not pick up on it, local residents should be sure to try these new restaurants, and changes to existing restaurants. Like one reader said, there is hope for South Saint Paul. In fact, we hope others get a chance to check out all the cool new dining options, and the many other traditional restaurants that surprisingly, make South Saint Paul a great place to find something unique to eat.