Russian Tea House a homey St. Paul delight


Russian Tea House 1758 University Ave. St. Paul 651-646-4144

The Russian Tea House is one of those places where you walk in and say, “Am I really in Minnesota?” Owners Linda and Nikolai Alenov are the most delightful hosts at this lunch-only “Russian fast food” establishment. Linda and Nikolai are sweet and familiar with their customers and the setting is like you are in a family home-- which is no coincidence. Not only have the Alenovs run their business from this location for the last 20 years, they raised their three daughters here, too.

The Russian Tea House has received some big props; Alton Brown described it as a favorite stop on “Feasting on Asphalt,” and the walls of this old house have seen the likes of Bob Dylan, George Harrison, and Bono. Perhaps they also visited the guitar shop next door, which Nikolai’s brother used to own.

The house specialty is the piroshki, or Russian hamburger. A little loaf of fresh baked bread is filled with wonderfully savory hamburger and cheese and deliciousness ensues--this is the perfect quick lunch as the chill sets in. Other menu specialties include cabbage rolls with a tomato sauce, borsht, and, of course, Russian tea brewed in a real samovar.

Lunch is served Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. All meals are under $6. Stop by for the Friday-only beef stroganoff special and live music in the upstairs dining room.