The whole process of buying a house right now is wacky.
If you like a house, you have to put an offer on it. . .right away? No big deal just the biggest financial transaction of your life.
We’re moving to a nearby suburb. It’s closer to daycare, close to our parents, and the most affordable way to obtain some more space (unexpected baby coming this fall).
There are a lot of things that we’ll miss about living in the Mac Groveland neighborhood of St. Paul – most of all, our neighbors are really kind people.
I loved finding everything I needed within a mile of our house – trendy restaurants, salons, grocery store, dentist, car repair shop. . . and the parks and river parkway.
Something nice about St. Paul is that it’s weirdly easy to get a hold of city departments for things like parking permits, alarm permit questions, birth certificate records.
There are some things I won’t miss about St. Paul such as the (lack of) snow plowing, but the good things have been very good and so it feels so bittersweet to move.
I loved warm St. Paul evenings – the neighborhood buzzes with people walking their dogs, pushing strollers, and jogging. You can hear the murmur of house party laughter and bikes. The air smells like charcoal and delicious grilled things.
Suburb evenings sound like nature grows thicker. It draws close like a down blanket pulled snug against your chin. The air feels so still. Both are good, just different.
While it’s fresh, I I wanted to share some of our favorite neighborhood places:
How cool is it to have a little 96+ year old candy factory in your backyard?
Regina’s makes the BEST dark chocolate. It’s so creamy and rich. Order anything covered with the dark chocolate – plush, dark chocolate covered apricots, the best dark chocolate covered pretzels, and my other favorite, dark chocolate covered sea salt caramels.
Between mid-October and January only, they also make peanut brittle in copper kettles. The brittle is delicate and buttery and riddled with lots of peanuts.
Another Willy Wonka favorite is their spring Easter eggs. Regina’s makes them in a few sizes and fills them with many different flavors from their homemade caramel, fudge and different flavors of marshmallow.
You can also buy little bags of salted nuts or bridge mix to offset all of the sugar.
The Original Davanni’s on Cleveland
At the corner of Cleveland and Grand, you’ll find the original Davanni’s. Growing-up, Davanni’s was the fancy treat pizza our parents ordered. At church youth group, they sold slices for $1. I don’t know if it’s the “best” pizza but it’s one of my favorites. I especially like the hoagies.
This one feels like an authentically homey neighborhood bar. Whether you’re looking for a beer at the bar or toting a baby or toddler, the staff will make you feel very welcome and you won’t feel out of place.
The food is already reasonably priced (and hooray for including fries with the burger prices!) but they’ve typically offered happy hours, too. I like all of the fun fried appetizer choices that also include steak bites and pirogies. My favorite burger is the beef strogonoff burger and the fried fish is good, too.
During the pandemic, they turned part of their parking lot into outdoor seating with picnic tables.
Before the pandemic, I used to walk to the theater for early weekend matinees, maybe with some wine in my pocket, and enjoy a movie and popcorn in a nearly empty theater. It was wonderful.
The owners are genuinely nice people. Even though this is a smaller neighborhood shop, it has a large and thoughtfully curated variety of everything along with unique products you wouldn’t find everywhere.
If you ask their wine specialist for a recommendation, he will find you the perfect bottle no matter the flavor profiles or price range.
In the summer, they often host food trucks on Fridays and live music in their parking lot. Pay attention to their Instagram account because they’ll announce special tastings and days the Woodford Reserve reps do free bottle engravings.
A Tad Further Up Grand:
Shish has ruined me for gyros, hummus and eggplant spread. The hummus is ethereally creamy and perfectly seasoned.
When they took a brief hiatus one week, I ordered a gyro from a different place and felt sorely disappointed.
Our typical order is a gyro wrap and mezza platter which comes with hummus, baba ganoush, pita, tabouli, salad, feta, olives and two falafel.
Sometimes I’ll stop by just to buy hummus and baba ganoush.
Sencha Tea Bar
The owner is really nice and welcoming. The shop opens at 10 am and has been my favorite work break treat for a while. I usually prefer taro shakes or slushes with some coconut or lychee jellies.
What would a Grand Ave post be without mentioning Cafe Latte? I haven’t found better slices of cake. The salad sampler is a favorite treat – you can pick three deli salads which they stuff into a container along with your choice of bread.
Close but not quite
SK Coffee is located just across I-94 in the Lake Monster building.
When the weather is nice, their plaza buzzes with people enjoying drinks and food. SK is located inside the lobby of Vandalia Tower. They offer a short, focused coffee menu with Mojo Monkey doughnuts.
If you have a small child like mine, SK is the greatest because your toddler can roam the spacious lobby and hallways of Vandalia Tower.
I’m sure Cecils serves many wonderful things, but we have only ordered Just Like New York sandwich because it’s so good we haven’t branched out – hot pastrami and coleslaw on an onion roll. The coleslaw is good, the sour pickles are good. . . You can also pick up many other deli items.
Carbone’s on Randolph
Carbone’s is the pizza I’m most delighted to encounter at parties and work events.
There are lots of Carbone’s, but there’s only one Carbone’s on Randolph. They have their own website and seem to be different from the other locations. I’ve heard it’s because they are privately owned.
Ordering is old school – you can’t order it for delivery, but for pick-up. They serve pizzas in puffy paper bags instead of boxes. And the crust is extra thin and crispy.
St. Paul Pet Hospital
We’ve taken our dog to the Cathedral Hill location since we moved back to the Twin Cities 5 years ago – they opened a Highland Park location a couple years ago.
The vets are caring and thorough. I’m probably gong to find a new vet closer to our new home, but would recommend them. Just like all vets, they are dealing with high demand and limited staff during the pandemic. For urgent issues, you can call when they open to see if they have any same-day appointments. I’ve never had an issue when something urgent happened, but keep this in mind.
J Goodreid Salon
I’ve always been a sucker for the Aveda experience. The Aveda smell, the weird tasting tea that I don’t really like but feel compelled to drink every time. . .
I’m extremely picky about hair stylists and salons and will bounce around until I find the perfect fit. I really liked Jackie and would recommend her 100%.
La Boulangerie Marguerite
We remember going to this bakery back when it was PJ Murphy’s. I think the doughnuts are even better now, and croissants are above average. The neighborhood obviously loves this bakery so prepare for a little wait on weekends.
You’re fairly close to Minnehaha Falls, so enjoy Sea Salt, of course!