Daily Diner Frogtown: A First Look
Daily Diner Frogtown opens their doors to the neighborhood
The interior of the new Daily Diner Frogtown pops with color and art. There's a chalkboard wall with a painted mural (made to look like chalk) celebrating the surrounding community. An overhead art installation is actually a topographical map of the neighborhood. Like the room around it, the staff at this new spot is also more than meets the eye.
The diner is staffed not only by hospitality industry veterans, but also graduates of the Union Gospel Mission's employment program. These are folks who needed a hand up; out of homelessness and hunger and into an opportunity to earn a living. It's a heartwarming story, but we still had to wonder, how is the food?
Hot and gooey
Breakfast is served every day until 11 a.m., featuring the familiar, like stacks of pancakes and eggs your way, but also a few creative dishes like fried chicken and waffles. We sampled their enormous cinnamon rolls, made from scratch on site every day. Yeasty sweet dough is wrapped around a ribbon of cinnamon and topped with a judicious amount of frosting. It's a filling, delicious way to start any day.
Lunch dishes include sandwiches, burgers, soups, salads and entrees that feel familiar to comparable restaurant menus, like Champp's. There are a couple of American-style nods to the diverse neighborhood, like a fried catfish sandwich, Asian salad (with fried wonton strips and mandarin oranges), sweet and sour chicken and fajitas.
Hot in temperature, not in spice level
The Light Rail chili was a vibrant tomato paste red, but lacked any spice, heat, or bite.
The turkey club sandwich is served on wild rice cranberry bread with sliced turkey, bacon, tomato, lettuce, mayonnaise and bacon. Each bite was salty, crispy, savory, sweet, hearty, creamy, crunchy and tasty.
French fries like Jo Jo's that taste like bacon
The sandwich is available with chips, sandwich or an order of their special Frogtown fries. A cousin of Jo Jo's, these fat potato wedges are battered and served with a seasoned sour cream. The crispy, flaky crust paired with the smoked onion sour cream tasted remarkably bacon-y.
The atmosphere is boisterous and it can be a little difficult to hear when the restaurant is filled at peak mealtimes.
Daily Diner Frogtown 615 University Avenue, St. Paul (651) 789-7661 www.dailydinerfrogtown.com
Hours: Monday - Saturday 7:00 AM to 9:00 PM, Sunday 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Minneapolis & St. Paul dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.