Running from downtown St. Paul to downtown Minneapolis, the Green Line is a physical link between the cores of our two fair cities. But more than that, it has created better access to the many diverse, and interesting neighborhoods in between.
And how best to get to know these neighborhoods? By exploring their restaurants, of course.
These restaurants all lie within a block or two of a Green Line station, ready for hungry patrons looking to enjoy a good meal without any of the hassle that comes from traffic lights, construction, parking spaces, road rage…
There is plenty to do, see, and eat along the way. Consider this your starting point; your guide for where to go first. Simply the 10 very best and most memorable restaurants along the 11-mile Green Line LRT between Minneapolis and St. Paul.
10. On’s Kitchen
In a metro area full of fantastic Thai food, we’re lucky that some of the very best lies just west of Snelling Avenue Station. On’s is a small, almost blink-and-you’ll-miss-it family restaurant next door to the Turf Club, which makes it a great one-two punch if you’re looking to catch a show. But really, far beyond Pad Thai and other well-known classics, this is some of the tastiest, and most authentic, Thai food around.
On’s Kitchen | 1613 University Ave W, St Paul, MN 55104 | (651) 644-1444
9. Foxy Falafel
Vegetarians will delight at having a restaurant almost entirely dedicated to them. But meat-eaters certainly won’t go hungry: The falafel, from the traditional Foxy-style, to beet (our favorite), and curry, are all delicious no matter what your dietary inclinations. But if you’re in need of a little animal protein, there’s always chicken shawarma and excellent beef kofta as well. If you can make it in time for happy hour, Foxy offers food and drink specials from 3-5 on weekdays. You can enjoy a $ pitcher of sangria all to yourself, for example, as you don’t have to worry about driving home.
Foxy Falafel | 791 Raymond Ave, St Paul, MN 55114 | (651) 888-2255
8. Big Daddy’s BBQ
Simple, old-fashioned, soul-hugging goodness. They have ribs, ribs, and more ribs. Oh, and rib tips. This is the only place you need to go for ribs in the Twin Cities. The saucy sandwiches are also great for a quicker meal, and if you’re into chicken you can’t go wrong ordering a whole bird or two. Added bonus: There’s a small patio outside. Sit back and watch the trains stop through Dale Street Station while you enjoy some of the best barbecue around.
Big Daddy’s BBQ | 625 University Ave W, St Paul, MN 55104 | (651) 222-2516
7. Mercury Dining Room and Rail
Blue Plate has finally found their way downtown, and they did by creating perhaps their best restaurant to date. More than just the usual “pub grub” that they’re known for, Mercury has become a great lunch and happy hour spot for busy downtown Minneapolis workers, and great dinner option for those out at night. It’s comfort food in a surprisingly elegant, but still casual, space (housed in the former home of the excellent, but short-lived Brasserie Zentral), with Nicollet Mall Station right outside the front door.
Mercury | 505 S Marquette Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55402 | (612) 728-1111
6. Homi Mexican
The tamales are soft and savory. The pork chops are smoky and meaty. The chilaquiles saucy but somehow still satisfyingly crunchy. The enchiladas are so good you’ll probably be inspired to write a song about them in Spanish. But, then, most everything is incredible when it’s covered in their salsa verde. It’s the kind of place you crave when you’re craving authentic Mexican. And if you can’t decide what to order, just go for the Chef’s Plate: a little of whatever the chef is feeling that day. You’ll find it at the midway point between Lexington and Dale Street Stations.
Homi Mexican | 864 University Ave W, St Paul, MN 55104 | (651) 222-0655
5. Little Szechuan
Two words: Hot Pot. They’re simple words that roll right off the tongue. But you don’t have time for long words that take the place of food in your mouth. Little Szechuan specializes in Hot Pot-style dining (think fondue), creating a fun, interactive, and delicious way to enjoy authentic Szechuan Chinese cuisine. Just choose what type of broth you’d like, and then everything you’d like to cook in it (the list is seemingly endless) and enjoy. Closest stop: Western Avenue Station.
Little Szechuan | 422 University Ave W, St Paul, MN 55103 | (651) 222-1333
4. Dilla Ethiopian Restaurant
The West Bank is full of small restaurants, and they’re all worth visiting. Dilla’s is perhaps the culinary crown jewel, serving up platters vegetarian and meat dishes atop luscious injera, as well as sambusas, salads, sandwiches, and a marinated lamb curry that is so good it’s worth traveling from all corners of the Twin Cities just to get a taste. The spices of East Africa shine unlike anything else on this list. Just hop off at West Bank Station and let the warm smells carry you inside.
Dilla’s | 1813 Riverside Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55454 | (612) 332-2898
3. Tanpopo Noodle Shop
At the end of the line (literally) lies the true taste of Japanese home cooking. Tanpopo is known for noodles, as the name implies, and their thick, luxurious udon, lighter soba, and famous Monday-night ramen, are some of the very best in the Twin Cities. These noodles make Minnesota’s long winters bearable. There is sushi as well, for those who don’t like to do Japanese without it, and a few appetizers including excellent tsukemono: bright, addicting Japanese pickles.
Tanpopo Noodle Shop | 308 E Prince St #140, St Paul, MN 55101 | (651) 209-6527
2. Ngon Vietnamese Bistro
Ngon is a unique mix of French bistro fare, Vietnamese home cooking, and neighborhood cocktail bar that somehow comes together to make something truly special. The fact that they offer some of the Twin Cities’ best pho is probably worth mentioning as well. But it’s about all the pieces that make up this stylish restaurant; it’s a place you can take an intimate date or get rowdy with the whole fam, or just belly up to the bar by yourself to enjoy a quick meal and cold drink right off Dale Street Station.
Ngon Vietnamese Bistro | 799 University Ave W, St Paul, MN 55104 | (651) 222-3301
1. Brewer’s Table at Surly
A 2016 James Beard nomination just confirmed what those lucky enough to score a seat already knew: There is some serious food to be found at this destination-brewery turned culinary-destination. We understand that a brewery is not a traditional restaurant, and therefore might seem a dubious #1 entry to this list, but once you’re seated and dining on lamb tartare, langoustine, chorizo and clams, duck, foie gras, or any of the other items from the tasting menu, you’ll understand exactly why it was placed where it is.
Surly Brewery | 520 Malcolm Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414 | (763) 999-4040