Grand Avenue is a popular street running through St. Paul, Minnesota.
It’s also near our home, which means we’ve found ourselves here on Grand a lot over the past couple years.
People flock here for shopping, walking, and restaurants. There’s the adorable and independent Red Balloon Bookshop that many of our parents took us to when we were kids, The Bibelot, Grand Ole Creamery, Juut Salon Spa. Or some of us may remember dancing at the Wild Onion (RIP) and drinking at Billie’s.
It’s natural to get excited about all of the new restaurants opening around the Twin Cities. But, I wanted to dedicate this post to three places I love along Grand Avenue that have stood the test of time for 13+ years.
Cafe Latte has been doing its thing since 1984. The food here isn’t flashy or gimmicky. Influencers chasing Instagrammable dishes and moments may be elsewhere where desserts are garnished with edible glitter and things that should not be infused with charcoal are infused with charcoal. Honestly, this is kind of why Cafe Latte is so great. The food here is classic cafe food served cafeteria-style. It’s always been good for 34 years.
You can eat well for $10 or less.
Place dessert or to-go orders at the little counter in the back. Otherwise, grab a tray and meander down the cafeteria line choosing whatever you wish. There’s a large variety of soups and salads to choose, in addition to spreads, sandwiches, and pizza. At the end of the line, you can pick out a fresh bakery roll.
Ordering a single serving of salad will actually yield you a full plate. The salad sampler is one of my favorite options because it allows you to choose three. You can’t go wrong with any of the soups. There are always vegetarian and gluten-free options.
On the occasions that I’m craving a really good slice of chocolate cake, I come here. Cafe Latte serves whole cakes and slices. The multi-tiered slices are huge. Next to the register you’ll find discounted day-old slices wrapped in saran which are equally delicious.
I find typical birthday and wedding cakes yucky, don’t scoff at the desserts here. I’ve never found a better slice of chocolate cake. There will be so many flavors of cake to choose from. But, when I’m here for cake, I go all out and order the flourless chocolate cake, plain chocolate cake, German Chocolate, or Turtle.
A block down from Cafe Latte is Bravo, sits a tiny Asian bakery and cafe founded in 2005.
The owner of Bravo! creates beautiful garnished with intricately carved fruit. What makes these cakes unique is that they’re not super sweet. The cake itself is light and airy and the icing is actually lightly sweetened, fresh whipped cream. You can order whole cakes or buy slices. I was surprised by how affordable whole cake prices are considering the artistry going into each one.
Of all of the places I’ve tried milk tea, Bravo’s reminds me the most of what I drank in China.
The fresh cream puffs are another dessert specialty I’ve never tried but have heard are good.
Bravo! used to sell a wide variety of vegetarian Chinese dishes. However they have discontinued the food menu due to capacity. Hopefully it will return someday, as I remember the food being delicious.
Everest on Grand
I’ve long proclaimed my love for Himalayan. Friends suggested Everest on Grand and we found it equally compelling.
The restaurant was bustling on a the weeknight we visited. It’s located by Macalester College and seems to be a popular dining choice for professors and students.
We ordered our favorite dishes (chicken tikka masala, okra, palek paneer and garlic naan), extra hot, of course, and liked everything. Portion sizes are generous and include a lot of whatever protein you order, such as paneer and chicken. The naan is slightly sweet which provides a nice contrast against the spicy curries. I was also impressed by how the palek paneer tasted like it was made with fresh wilted spinach.
Some other favorite places on Grand:
- Shish (currently closed for remodeling): Our go-to place for gyro wraps, chicken schwarma, and fattoush salad. The Mazza Mix gives you a taste of several appetizers. I haven’t found a hummus or that baba ganoush I like better. Order plenty of extra Lebanese garlic sauce (toum).
- Colossal Cafe: Breakfast and lunch, only.
- Golden Fig Fine Foods: This is my favorite place to purchase local food gifts. The selection is fantastic – you will always find the perfect thing to give your loved one. I like how there’s a wide variety of candies and chocolates from Minnesota candy-makers in one place. Another bonus is that there are always samples of dips, chips or drinks. Plus, they sell a small selection of baked goods from Rustica, so grab a current scone for yourself.
What are your favorite places along Grand Avenue? What are your favorite classic restaurants that have been doing their thing well for decades?