11 more of our favorite new St. Paul restaurants

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We’re not quite done finished talking about last year — so many great new restaurants opened that we have split our list of outstanding newbies into two.

(Our first list focused on global eats.)

So, as promised, here are 11 more restaurants that opened in 2023 that you should put on your list to try.

Herbst Eatery & Farm Stand

Chicken liver mousse at Herbst Eatery & Farm Stand in St. Paul’s St. Anthony neighborhood. (Jess Fleming / Pioneer Press)

This stylish eatery and market puts most current farm-to-table restaurants to shame, both in its close ties to the driftless-region farmers who supply it and in the quality and creativity of its menus.

It’s where I took my chef friend when she visited, and she admired both their sleek furnishings and chef Eric Simpson’s attention to detail. Every dish had layers of flavor and technique. The cocktail list, with its full-, low- and no-proof options and a stellar wine list add to the experience. Take your food-lover friends, or anyone you want to impress, here. Just plan ahead, because reservations can be scarce, for very good reason.

The menu rotates seasonally, but we’ve enjoyed the chicken liver mousse twice, and all the handmade pastas and entrees have been outstanding.

Herbst Eatery & Farm Stand: 779 Raymond Ave., St. Paul; 651-340-0254; herbstsaintpaul.com

— J.F.

Mandalay Kitchen

Mohinga, a traditional Burmese fish soup, is served with catfish cake, egg, and crispy chickpeas at Mandalay Kitchen in Frogtown on Nov. 14, 2023. (Jared Kaufman / Pioneer Press)

For years now, St. Paul has been home to one of the world’s largest diaspora groups of Karen people, an ethnic group native to Myanmar. And just in the past year alone, the community has celebrated a new grocery market, shared folktales in one of the nation’s first professional Karen theatrical productions, and now, added a restaurant serving traditional Karen and Burmese foods.

Mandalay Kitchen, in the former Marc Heu Patisserie spot on University and Western avenues, serves classic dishes like sugarcane juice, a green tea-leaf salad called lahpet thoke, and a Burmese fish stew called mohinga.

And for the restaurant’s owner, Chris Tunbaw, food is clearly a family affair. The restaurant is dedicated to Tunbaw’s late grandmother Daphne, who is also honored in a new mural on an exterior wall. And during one afternoon a few weeks after the restaurant opened, in November, who was cooking in the kitchen? Tunbaw’s own mom, Pandaw.

Mandalay Kitchen: 383 W. University Ave., St. Paul; 651-219-5887; mandalaykitchenstp.com

— J.K.

King Coil

Fancy sausage pizza at King Coil Spirits in St. Paul’s Vandalia Tower. (Jess Fleming / Pioneer Press)

I love this new spot in the Vandalia Tower development for meeting friends from the other side of the river.

The sleek, modern space from the folks behind Lake Monster Brewing features tasty Roman-style pizzas, plenty of seating and a really staggering cocktail list, considering they make every component in every glass in house.

The pizzas here have a thicker crust than the usual Midwest version, but thinner than Detroit-style. Specialty pies vary from the ubiquitous pepperoni and hot honey to the Lake Monster, which features whitefish pate, capers, dill and more. And trust us when we tell you to order the carrots.

King Coil: 550 Vandalia St., Suite 140, St. Paul; kingcoilspirits.com

— J.F.

Bar Cart

The menu at Bar+Cart Lounge and Restaurant is divided into four categories; the lamb chops with red lentil dal, shown here on Feb. 10, 2023, fall into the ‘homey’ category of entrees. In addition to an excellent cocktail program, the new restaurant also serves lighter fare, appetizer spreads, and footlong hoagies, including the Alabama chicken with arugula in the background. (Jared Kaufman / Pioneer Press)

Bar+Cart Lounge is one of my favorite recent additions to the St. Paul dining (and drinking) scene. And since opening almost exactly one year ago, it’s only gotten better.

The star of the show is the cocktail list, which has graduated from the back of the menu to its own booklet, with several pages’ worth of complex drinks. Too many options? Maybe. But somehow, each listing manages to feel worthwhile and high-quality. There are no throwaways here, no cheap shots — literally or figuratively — and the drinks themselves are strong and bold, just as they should be.

The food menu is great too, of course; every flavor feels carefully considered. There were a few stumbles during a visit in February, but those have been evened out by now. The coconut curry sea bass is really incredible. The fish is cooked perfectly — crispier and juicier than I thought possible — and the sauce is rich and silky. The moist chicken schnitzel and the lamb chops (with red lentil dal, one of the most creative side dishes I’ve had in recent memory) are also both standouts. And I’m admittedly a burrata agnostic at best, but the roasted beet and burrata appetizer could convert me into a believer.

Bar+Cart Lounge: 1571 Grand Ave., St. Paul; 952-600-7920; barcartlounge.com

— J.K.

Wrestaurant at the Palace

Meatball pizza at Wrestaurant at the Palace. (Jess Fleming / Pioneer Press)

For selfish reasons, this might be my favorite opening of the year. I love going to shows at the Palace, and this is the perfect place to pre-game with a fortifying Detroit-style pizza and some excellent cocktails.

But the menu has much more than just pizza — it has one of the better Caesar salads in the metro, a killer smash burger and lots of fun, shareable appetizers, including tender, juicy wings (we loved the dry rub) and Pizza Rowls, which are adorably shaped like egg rolls. If you know the history behind the pizza roll (and every good Minnesotan should), you know that the first of these snacks were made by Duluth entrepreneur Jeno Paulucci from egg-roll wrappers and pizza ingredients.

Anyway, Wrestaurant is a great addition to downtown St. Paul in general, and the cute interior is a vast upgrade from Wild Tymes, which had definitely run its course.

Wrestaurant at the Palace: 33 W. Seventh Place, St. Paul; 952-600-5611; wrestaurantatthepalace.com

— J.F.

High Hat

The High Hat, a new breakfast cafe in Cathedral Hill, serves Southwest-inspired fare like the huevos divorciados, shown here on Sept. 17, 2023. The restaurant is owned by Michael Noyes, a former manager at W.A. Frost & Co. (Jared Kaufman / Pioneer Press)

Cathedral Hill mourned the losses of Bon Vie Bistro and A Piece of Cake bakery when the twin businesses closed earlier this year, but The High Hat is a worthy successor.

The jazzy breakfast spot still serves fresh-pressed juices, coffee drinks and delicious pastries like caramel rolls and cinnamon rolls. The food menu is Southwest-inspired, with twists on traditional diner fare like chorizo-and-cornbread eggs Benedict and hearty blue corn pancakes with fried plantains baked inside.

With walls painted a moody teal and floral wallpaper behind the bar — plus a constantly spinning turntable; diners themselves can cue up the next record — the High Hat is exactly the kind of place I want to let the morning slip away over brunch with friends.

The High Hat: 485 Selby Ave., St. Paul; 651-528-7941; thehighhatmn.com

— J.K.

Soul Lao

Several dishes from Soul Lao including a steak salad, green beans and tofu are shown at the restaurant in Highland Park on Dec. 10, 2023. Previously a food truck, Soul Lao opened its permanent home this year. (Jared Kaufman / Pioneer Press)

To be perfectly honest, we didn’t really need to visit Soul Lao’s new permanent home in Highland Park to tell you their food is great. We already know: Eric Phothisanh and Sabrina Boualaphanh have been operating the business as a popular food truck and pop-up kitchen for several years.

But for you, dear reader? We’ll go to the ends of the Earth — or at least West Seventh Street — to do our journalistic duty.

Soul Lao is particularly well-known for chicken wings, which are based on Phothisanh’s grandmother’s recipe, but don’t overlook the rest of the menu. Their sauteed green beans and snow peas are tossed with a fermented soy sauce that gives the vegetables a sweet, funky richness I cannot get enough of. And in the laab seen, a steak salad, the house-made padaek fish sauce brings out a delightful earthiness in the beef.

There are a few seats at Soul Lao, but the real move is to bring your food to the attached brewery, Wandering Leaf Brewing. Find a table amid the jungle of vines and plants, grab a beer (some of which are Soul Lao collabs) and dig in.

Soul Lao: 2465 W. Seventh St., St. Paul; 651-363-3469; soullao.com

— J.K.

Station No. 6 at Rosetown American Legion

The burger at Station No. 6 at Rosetown American Legion. (Jess Fleming / Pioneer Press)

These are burger cities, and this is a burger joint — inside a very old-school American Legion.

As with 328 Grill, an established space with regular customers has received the gift of good bar food in this partnership with Josh Matthews. Station No. 6 started as a food truck, but quickly outgrew his wheeled home, regularly selling out while parked in suburban strip-mall parking lots.

The menu is very food-truck-like, meaning succinct and singularly focused. Choose from a variety of smash burgers, a few fried chicken sandwiches and smoked wings. All are executed well.

It’s a great partnership, too. The legion gets more customers, and Matthews has room to grow and a new and appreciative customer base. As a thank-you, veterans were offered a free burger on Veterans Day.

Station No. 6 at Rosetown American Legion: 700 W. County Road C, Roseville; stationno6foodtruck.com

— J.F.

Little Brazil

The panini-pressed hot dog sandwich at Little Brazil, shown on Dec. 15, 2023, also includes corn, shoestring potatoes and a sweet and herbaceous tomato sauce. The cafe and market opened this fall to give Brazilians a taste of home and introduce the country’s food to Americans, owner Charles Spies said. (Jared Kaufman / Pioneer Press)

In opening Little Brazil a couple of months ago, Charles Spies set himself a goal: Serve affordable Brazilian street food, both to give Brazilians a taste of home and to share the country’s food culture with Americans.

Indeed, the small cafe and market was buzzy on a recent weekday afternoon, with conversation flowing in both English and Portuguese. And get this: Lunch — enough food for two, plus imported Brazilian coffee that’s nutty and oh-so-strong — came in under $25.

On the food menu, you’ll find plenty of frequent-flier ingredients like shredded chicken, potatoes, creamy cheese and corn. The empadão de frango brings these together in a pot pie-style dish; the coxinha reimagines them (sans corn, and a little more plainly) as a breaded and fried croquette.

The sandwich list is the centerpiece of the menu, with options like a classic Brazilian mortadella sandwich and another with roasted pork loin. The panini-pressed hot dog sandwich, unexpectedly, feels like Brazil’s answer to the meatball sub: A snappy dog that’s sliced up and mixed with cheese, corn and shoestring potatoes in a sweet and herbaceous tomato sauce.

Little Brazil: 230 Spring St., St. Paul; 612-709-9190; littlebrazilmn.com

— J.K.


The 378 Maria (the former Strip Club Meat and Fish address) is a grassfed New York Strip at Momento in downtown St. Paul. (Jess Fleming / Pioneer Press)

The first iteration of this restaurant in the former Pazzaluna space was a little all over the place, and I think downtown diners were really missing an upscale Italian restaurant.

So owners Morrissey Hospitality, who are never afraid to pivot, closed the restaurant for a few weeks, changed the design to be a little warmer and less cafeteria-like, and got a chef (Aaron Uban, formerly of Strip Club Meat and Fish, Heartland and Kincaid’s) who could pull off an Italian menu.

The result is pretty good — we enjoyed the peas and toast (a fresh take on fancy toast), fresh pastas and the grass-fed New York Strip (an ode to Strip Club Meat and Fish). However, garlic-sensitive folks, beware of the multitude of menu items that contain toum, a Lebanese garlic sauce that here is more garlicky than any other version I have tried.

On the bright side, the restaurant (and all Morrissey Hospitality eateries) has an extensive and very good selection of alcohol-free cocktails, something my husband and I appreciated very much during the first week of dry January.

Momento: 360 St. Peter St., St. Paul; 651-467-0000; momento-stp.com

— J.F.

Big E

California Love, an egg sandwich from chef Justin Sutherland’s new eatery Big E on St. Paul’s Grand Avenue. (Jess Fleming / Pioneer Press)

There was a bit of controversy over the prices at this egg-sandwich-focused eatery on Grand Avenue, but I think that social media commenters discounted inflation and the cost of labor in these times.

Granted, $14-$17 for an egg sandwich isn’t cheap, but these are quality, filling sandwiches that rise above the usual meat-egg-cheese offerings.

We especially love the steak-and-egg sandwich It Was All a Dream, which is slathered in grape jelly for a little touch of sweet and sour. And the California Love, which we expected to hate because it eschews the egg’s tasty yolk, is so chock full of fresh veggies that we didn’t even notice.

And for those on a budget, the restaurant is now offering a smash burger for just $5 from 2 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Big E: 750 Grand Ave., St. Paul; 651-212-5390; eatbige.com

— J.F.

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