If you roll out of bed in the Saintly City, you'll find several spots to tickle your tastebuds first thing in the morning. Sampling our way from biscuits covered in milk gravy to crispy cured bacon, we've scoured St. Paul and rounded up the very best places to go for breakfast.
5. Finnish Bistro, 2264 Como Ave.
This picturesque cafe in St. Anthony Park will make you double check the address to be sure you're still in Minnesota and not some quaint European town. The Bistro was founded in 2004 by Soile Anderson and was sold to longtime family friend Sandra Weise a year ago. Weise retained all the cafe's favorites, including oatcakes spiced with cardamom, slathered with cinnamon butter, and buried under a thick blanket of real maple syrup; lefse that makes a Minnesotan's heart rejoice, folded with scrambled eggs and slices of crispy bacon; and a bakery case stocked with treats you can wrap up in white paper and tuck into your hands as a little something to carry you through the day.
4. The French Hen, 518 Selby Ave.
Surrounding yourself in the perfume of a flower shop isn't a bad way to start the day. Head over to Cathedral Hill and pop into the sweet little French Hen for a filling breakfast and an added bonus of floral therapy. (To get to the French Hen, diners enter through the doorway the restaurant shares with Fleur de Lis flower shop.) Since opening, the French Hen has earned a reputation for its beloved biscuits and gravy. The sturdy biscuits and sausage-studded, scratch-made milk gravy are simply wonderful. But if B&G isn't your thing, try the crustless quiche: A bowl is lined with hash browns and topped with an egg and spinach mixture that's cooked to a custard-like consistency. It's a fabulous breakfast dish that also happens to be gluten-free.
3. Colossal Cafe, 2315 Como Ave.
Yes, we're returning to St. Anthony Park, where they seem to have an inordinate amount of great breakfast spots (and brunch on the weekend when nearby Muffuletta's also opens earlier in the day). While this, the second location of Colossal Cafe, doesn't have the wink-wink charm of Minneapolis original's giant name and tiny restaurant footprint, what this spot does have is plenty of character and some pretty incredible pancakes. Flapjack fans worship at the alter of these beauties, so puffy and towering with a flavor like no other. If you're looking for something savory, all the bread is baked in-house, so when you order a breakfast sandwich packed with a perfectly cooked egg and strips of smoky bacon, the base is filled with a wonderful sourdough twang that comes from being made right here in this kitchen. The outdoor patio is lovely when weather allows, but if you bury your face inside one of Colossal's strawberry-studded, whipped cream-stuffed, cake-like flapjacks, you'll swear the sun shines every morning here -- even through the dreariest of winters.
2. Ward 6, 858 Payne Ave.
If only every neighborhood came with a historic building transformed into a cafe and bar that serves fantastic food, great cocktails, a wide selection of brews, and just about anything else your heart desires. Start your day at Ward 6 with scratch-made dishes like demon-banishing corned beef hash. They corn the beef themselves for a tender, succulent meat, and mix it with crispy-edged potatoes, onions, and eggs. No matter the liver damage you might have incurred the night before, this dish will jolt you back to life, ready to face the day. They also have an eggs Benedict worth driving across town for, draped in a spicy, harissa-spiked hollandaise. We always wash everything down with a few cups of their perfectly brewed coffee, and occasionally with a little Surly Coffee Bender.
1. The Buttered Tin, 237 E. Seventh St.
Bacon-topped Twinkie: We could begin and end all of our reasons for fiercely loving the Buttered Tin with those three magical words. But since this Seventh Street cafe and bakery made it to the number one spot our list, we'll elaborate. Inside these four butter-colored walls is a magical breakfast wonderland where the hash browns are always crispy and the eggs are exactly as you like them. Savory bread pudding is packed with all manner of treasures like zesty peppers, smoky bacon, and gooey cheese. Bags of granola sold at the counter contain the most perfectly seasoned, ever-so-slightly-sweet, spiced mixture of grains that will fuel your fiercest, busiest days. Even the house-baked bread, studded with sunflower seeds and adorned with oats, toasts better than average bread. Most meals are served with a brightly dressed salad and a modest pile of fruit that make for a balanced, mother-approved jump-start to your day. Everyone can find something to love at this sweet spot.
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