People of downtown St. Paul: Get out of the skyway.
We know it’s been cold, but it’s getting warmer. (A high of 38 today! And 42 by Wednesday!) A dose of fresh air on your lunch hour can do you good, so whether you need a quick bite or you’re down to make the most of a full 60 minutes, grab your gloves and a few trusted coworkers and check some of these non-skyway spots in downtown St. Paul.
The Buttered Tin
A standby for breakfast, you can also count on The Buttered Tin for a solid lunch in the soup-salad-sandwich vein. Tear into the meaty Cubano or try the grain and vegetable salad. And we dare you to leave without treating yourself to a cupcake. 237 Seventh St. E., St. Paul; 651-224-2300, thebutteredtin.com
Splurge a little on lunch at Meritage, and you’ll leave breathing deeper and feeling calmer. Order a trio of oysters to start, then move on to the lunch-friendly half-sandwich with soup or salad. Sit back and listen to Ella Fitzgerald playing from the speakers. Enjoy the attentive service and the perfect little dishes of butter that come with your bread. If you order a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, so much the better. 410 St. Peter St., St. Paul; 651-222-5670, meritage-stp.com
Big River Pizza
Turning out some hefty, hearty pies, Big River Pizza is an ideal spot for a quick bite that satisfies. Choose from 20 different wood-fired pizzas, from the classic Four Cheese to the potato-and-leek 10,000 Leeks to the meat-heavy Leroy Brown. Or build your own! 280 Fifth St. E., St. Paul; 651-683-2186, bigriverpizza.com
This spacious and usually sun-filled spot will make you wonder why you don’t take your full lunch hour more often. Sip some green tea and peruse the extensive lunch offerings. Bento boxes make for a particularly satisfying choice, but the tender, chewy udon noodles slicked with broth also tempt, as will the beautifully presented rows of nigiri and maki created before your eyes. Order some edamame to nibble while you make your decision. 350 St. Peter St., St. Paul; 651-224-0185, sakurastpaul.com
Chicken fantastic, chapati wraps, coconut shrimp, falafel sandwiches—you really can’t go wrong with the St. Paul location of this Twin Cities mainstay, especially if you’re vegetarian. On a chilly day, be sure to order a tall glass of the Somali Sweet Spiced Tea. That, along with the friendly service and lively atmosphere, will warm you right up. 5 West Seventh Place, St. Paul
Ruam Mit Thai
The curries! The perfectly crisp-tender vegetables swimming in oyster sauce! The gently steamed rice! Ruam Mit Thai serves up all of this and more in a relaxed but buzzy setting. If you’re in a rush, try to get in before noon or after 1 p.m.—this place fills up fast. But if you’re in the mood to hang out, order a Thai coffee and some spring rolls to make the most of it. 475 St. Peter St., St. Paul; 651-222-7871, ruammitthai.com
Visit this Lowertown spot for a dose of art in the middle of your day. The café features rotating exhibits of local artists (and live music most evenings, should you pop by later). Soak it in while browsing the menu of sandwiches, salads, shareable plates, and pizzas. Many options are vegetarian and vegan, so everyone in your party can find something to enjoy. 308 Prince St., St. Paul; 651-228-9274, blackdogstpaul.com
At Handsome Hog, dive into the flavors of the South with a Carolina-style pulled pork sandwich or a Hot Brown straight from Louisville, Kentucky. If you’re with a group, the hush puppies are a must. And when your server asks if you’d like to see the lunch dessert menu, don’t hesitate. The brownie listed there simply asks, “Why not?” Why not, indeed. 203 E. Sixth St., St. Paul; 651-340-7710, handsomehog.com