St. Paul Grill, Sea Salt & more: Most popular dishes at your favorite restaurants

When you go out to eat, do you ever stare at the menu for minutes on end, waffling over what to order? Do you ever wonder if the restaurant's regulars know something you don't? Here's a handy guide to what customers order most at some of the Twin Cities' most popular eateries, plus recommendations from the chefs. Check out more of our Eat This posts here . ST. PAUL GRILL Most popular: The biggest seller at the stately St. Paul Grill last month was the "F.O.D.," says executive chef Doug Tigges--the fish of the day. The Grill usually runs a daily seafood special all year, Tigges says. "Predominately right now we're running Alaska halibut and wild salmon." The dishes are prepared differently every day, but they are usually pan roasted with a light sauce and vegetable medley, the chef says, so as not to interfere with the natural flavor of the fish. The fish special is usually priced in the $27 to $29 range.

Chef's choice: "I love our lamb chops [$38.95], because we get the Colorado-raised lamb," Tigges says. "There's nothing like the domestic Colorado-raised lamb. We do them grilled with garlic butter. And we serve it old school with mint jelly, but we do a twist on it--we do a jalapeno mint jelly."

SEA SALT EATERY Most popular: At the crazy-busy Minnehaha Park seafood mecca, "I would say our most popular item is the grilled catfish po' boy," says co-owner Jon Blood. He describes it as a half-pound to 3/4-pound fillet grilled with Cajun seasoning, served on a grilled po' boy bun with lettuce, tomato, and the Sea Salt's own tartar sauce and hot sauce ($10.95). "It's a giant sandwich," Blood says. "It's a meal in itself."

Chef's choice: The catfish po' boy is also one of Blood's favorites. Another is the crab cake. "It's about 90 percent blue crab meat," he says, crusted in panko breadcrumbs and sauteed, served with a corn relish on the side ($10.95).

MASA Most popular: At dinner, the pollo con mole is the restaurant's top seller, says general manager Dan Nelsen. "It's the most traditional, classic Mexican dish that people might have familiarity with"--an all-natural half chicken, cooked in authentic mole colorado, from the Oaxaca region in Mexico. It's served with cilantro rice and fried plantains and sells for $18.75.

Chef's choice: "As far as a personal favorite, our dishes change seasonally. Right now I'm liking something light for the summer, the sea bass," Nelsen says. The fish is marinated in adobo pastor and tequila and is served with avocado puree, black rice (infused with fish ink), and pineapple salsa ($24).

FUJI-YA Most popular: Not surprisingly, sushi is king at the popular Minneapolis and St. Paul restaurants. "Sushi is 80 percent of our business these days," says Tom Hanson, who runs Fuji-Ya with his wife. "There's just a huge trend in sushi. It's been increasing in the last 10 years." The top three: the California roll ("We use real crab, and it's just a mainstay," Hanson says, at $6.75), spicy tuna ("We sell a ton of those" for $6.95), and the caterpillar roll (eel and cucumber wrapped with avocado and decorated to look like a caterpillar; $11.95).

Chef's choice: "I love udon noodles. I love our sauteed rib eye and vegetable udon noodles most of all," Hanson says. The rib eye steaks are marinated in a special sauce, sliced thin, sautéed, and broiled. Then it's put it in pot with veggies, udon noodles, and broth ($16.25 for dinner; $9.95 for lunch). "It's a very traditional Japanese dish. Every time I go to Japan that's probably what I eat most. On a cold winter day there's nothing better," the owner says, although he adds. "In summer I'm more of a sushi and beer guy."

CHEEKY MONKEY DELI Most popular: For lunch, Cheeky Monkey's clientele dig the turkey sandwich on flax seed toast, with avocado and crispy bacon ($7.50), says owner Matt McArthur. At night, he says, "our most popular items are our specials." The changing specials highlight a fish, poultry, and meat dish. At the moment, the most requested is a seared Amish chicken breast with arugula blue cheese potato salad and barbecue demi-glace ($14).

Chef's choice: "Right now my personal favorite is the Amish chicken," McArthur says. And when the new specials go up, "I'll change my mind next week."

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