Where to dine, drink, and snack along the Green Line

Our zone-by-zone best restaurant bets from Minneapolis to St. Paul

Where to dine, drink, and snack along the Green Line

When the Blue Line opened almost exactly 10 years ago, savvy partiers were among the first to understand its potential, plotting out all-night bar crawls that started at quirky pubs in south Minneapolis and inevitably ended, well, somewhere seamy. But the Green Line, which connects the downtowns of both cities, seems poised to become a sprawling tour of an entirely different variety. With so many amazing restaurants — from cheap eats near the U of M and hidden gems in Midway, to the many authentic global culinary traditions represented from Little Mekong to Lowertown — we predict the Green Line will inspire some epic restaurant crawls. Here are our zone-by-zone best bets.

West Bank

Stops: Cedar-Riverside station, West Bank station

Good eats: If you're just feeling a little peckish and don't mind a split-open vinyl seat with your split-open hot dog bun, make a pit stop at the Wienery for hand-cut fries and a bang-on Chicago dog. If you don't do meat, or if you just don't do the meat that's in hot dogs, the vegetarian Italian sausage is secretly one of the best things on the menu. Keefer Court Cafe's BBQ pork buns make for a perfectly portable meal, or if you prefer to sit and stay awhile the house noodles with crispy-skinned duck make a fabulous lunch. For dinner, go spicy with Dilla's siga wot or zilzil tibs, grilled beef in a buttery chili sauce. Stepping off the station a little later at night? Head to Republic at Seven Corners, where from 10 p.m. to midnight you can get discounted draft beer and stunningly good fish tacos.

Stadium Village

Stops: East Bank station, Stadium Village station

Good eats: It's hard to resist the garlicky allure of Punch Pizza, but consider popping into Bun Mi, a quick-serve spot specializing in the classic Vietnamese banh mi sandwich. Get any menu item that features the lemongrass chicken and wash it down with a fizzy lychee water or a fancy bubble tea. Dinner calls for a table at Kimchi Tofu House and their signature soondobu jigae. It arrives steaming and spurting, stocked with creamy, uncurdled tofu, mushrooms, crunchy veggies for texture, and a raw egg cracked into the hot broth tableside. If you're pre-gaming and need some deep-fried sustenance, we recommend the delicate calamari or dry-rubbed jerk wings at the Hole Sports Lounge.

Prospect Park

Stop: Prospect Park station

Good eats: For a breakfast of house-made quiche or a gouda and caramelized onion three-egg omelet, or Manchego and figgy jam paninis and an orange and quinoa salad for lunch, or that 3 o'clock sugar crash that only a Key Lime cupcake can fix, it's all about Cupcake on University. There's also great classic breakfast served daily at the Egg & I, tucked away in an unassuming office building overlooking the freeway. If you're up for a bit of a walk, Signature Cafe on Warwick is only about 15 minutes from this stop and serves reasonably priced, crowd-pleasing entrees like seared scallops with orange-ginger glaze and smoked pork ribs. Note: This stop is also future home of the new Surly Brewing compound, so look for new eateries to pop up in the area this fall.

Raymond Creative Enterprise Zone

Stops: Westgate station, Raymond Avenue station

Good eats: There are a handful of restaurant options just steps from the Raymond Avenue station. Cafe Biaggio, famous for its luscious creamy tomato-basil soup and delicate fried zucchini blossoms stuffed with ricotta cheese, is consistently tasty. Fans of Foxy Falafel's dilly cheese curds and cauliflower steaks will already be familiar with the brick-and-mortar storefront, located just north of University. The original location of Key's Cafe is right next door, serving enormous Monte Cristo sandwiches, perfect chicken wild rice soup, and hearty, cheese-covered breakfasts the same way they have been since the '70s.

Midway

Stops: Fairview Avenue station, Snelling Avenue station, Hamline Avenue station, Lexington Parkway station

Good eats: Midway is such a big, busy zone that there's always a solid restaurant option, no matter what you're craving. Sole Cafe, just a few blocks north of the Snelling stop, serves family-style Korean dishes like unique, thin-cut grilled ribs and the haemul pajeon, a light and crispy seafood-studded deep-fried dish that's somewhere between shrimp tempura and a savory funnel cake. On's Thai Kitchen is great for warming your bones with a bowl of Tom Yum or green curry; ditto for Flamingo Ethiopian, which has some killer vegetarian options. Eden Pizza makes an impressively light gluten-free crust and toppings like sauerkraut, mock duck, and one combination that tastes just like a Bloody Mary.

Rondo

Stops: Lexington Parkway station, Victoria Street station, Dale Street station (exit south)

Good eats: This historic district, the site of the annual Selby Avenue Jazz Festival, stores some well-kept dining secrets. Get the taco-shaped hole in your heart filled at Homi Mexican Restaurant where the tamales are moist and steamed in banana leaves, the mole spice lingers on your lips, and almost everything comes covered in a light dusting of queso fresco. You're probably feeling pretty full by now, but a fluffy, light, raised, glazed doughnut from SugaRush is well worth the extra calories. The super-small dining room at Trieu Chau puts off some customers, but this spot is a must-visit for its delicious pork dishes.

Frogtown

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4 comments
josjr69
josjr69

This is a great list of restaurants that I am sure will grow over time as more residences open up along the Green LIne and the foot traffic becomes too enticing for restauranteurs to avoid for too long. Can you actually believe there is not one, single Starbucks on the Green LIne that is not in the downtown skyways? I can't believe that will last for long, but it is true for now. There is a Caribou Coffee at the Target Field Station Platform 2 (just opened up) and a Dunn Brothers Coffee at the Westgate Station. Those are the only two chain coffee shops on the Green Line right now. But there is the Espresso Expose' at the East Bank Station, the Tara Cafe at the Warehouse District Station and the Overflow at the Prospect Park Station and the Black Dog at the Union Depot Station, for coffee houses. So much potential! I cruise the Green Line every day, sometimes multiple times a day and I am constantly finding new places to eat at, meet people at and write at.

I would recommend that a little more diligence be paid to the Station location relative to the restaurant location. There are a few misleading restaurant/location associations. For example, the Egg and I is associated with the Prospect Park Station, when it is located right at the Westgate Station, which is not even mentioned. It's a long walk from the Prospect Park Station. Another example is the implication that the Station Village restaurants mentions are close to the Stadium Village Station, when (in fact) many of them are very close to the East Bank Station and a long walk from the Stadium Village Station. 

I attribute a lot of this to the changing paradigm from neighborhood association with place to a rail transit station associated with place. In a city with rail transit (like the Twin Cities now, and the Twin Cities pre-1954) people want to know what station a restaurant is located closest to, not the neighborhood its in. It's even more important than addresses and streets. Now that the Green Line is here I'll say that I will meet someone at Bonnies Cafe, which is a five minute walk east of the Raymond Avenue Station, on the south side of the street. People will remember that. That is one of the beautiful things about rail transit. Just say the station and where the restaurant is relative to the station and everyone is on the Same Page. Ngon Vietnamese restaurant is at the end of the Victoria Street Station east-bound platform. The Daily Diner is across the street from Dale Street Station eastbound platform. Big Daddy's BBQ is across from the Dale Street Station westbound platform. Thai Cafe is across the street from the eastbound Western Avenue Station platform. J and J's Fish and Chicken is a block west of the Snelling Avenue Station. And, of course, the Black Dog is two blocks east of the Union Depot Station. 

It is so nice to be in a metro area with rail transit now. Hop on! ... The Bard of Franklin Avenue ...

marshmallow_roar
marshmallow_roar

This is so cool.  I've been hoping someone would put together a list like this.  I haven't ridden the green line yet, but I think I'll give it a go tomorrow armed with your suggestions.  Thanks City Pages !!

EricLarsen
EricLarsen

The most questionable thing on this list is putting Gopher Bar and Buttered Tin in the same sentence.  I love 'em both, but they could not be more different experiences.

RNeprash
RNeprash

Caffe Biaggio (at the Raymond Ave. stop) is the best. Great food and nice people. I recommend it highly!

 
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