Suburban Bites: The 7 best places to eat in West St. Paul

Sean McPherson
Succulent bird at Pollo Campero

Whether you live in the suburbs, or find yourself outside your regular stomping grounds in search of restaurant options, there's value in knowing more about all the great eats beyond Minneapolis and St. Paul's most covered neighborhoods. In our Suburban Bites series, we'll explore the best places to eat and drink in the greater metro area.

For many people, a trip to the suburbs means surrender to a predictable meal. But a Target/Office Max run should be seen as an opportunity to explore a new neighborhood, not as a chance to try the featured footlong at Subway. The first- and second-ring Twin Cities suburbs are filled with unique dining options, and today, we tackle West St. Paul.

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West St. Paul is technically located south of St. Paul, but it didn't earn its title from the compass reading; the suburb is named such because it sits primarily on the west side of the Mississippi River banks. Shoppers know it for its 2.5-mile stretch of retail stores including an Office Max, Target, AutoZone, and many other suburban staples. But what they might not know is that on this strip you can enjoy some quick Latin and Mexican dishes, try authentic Lebanese cuisine, or dine at the student-run restaurant of Le Cordon Bleu. Suffice it to say, there's no excuse to grab lunch at a Subway or Chipotle just because you're leaving downtown St. Paul. Here are a couple of recommended alternatives.

Tony Nelson
Stuffed sandwiches at Pineda Tacos

If you are looking for a pork-filled dining experience, hightail it over to the Pineda Taco on Robert Street, the easternmost location of the Twin Cities-based Pineda franchise. Located in a former 1970s diner, the dining room is filled with windows and housed under that classic low, slanted roof. The space is expansive, with plenty of places to sit down and dig into some of the finest pork-based Mexican dishes in the area. For our money, we say skip the tacos and get right into the enchiladas with any of the four pork variations available. Steer clear of the nachos; the cheese sauce and limp vegetables are nothing to write home about. But don't worry, that's the only low spot we can find on the menu.

The Great Moon Buffet has gotten some grief the last couple of years because its big competitor across the street, the Hibachi Grill & Supreme Buffet, has stolen some formerly loyal customers. But you can't beat the Great Moon's small Mongolian grill. Whatever this spot lacks in size, it more than makes up for in the quality of ingredients and the attentive staff. The Great Moon's buffet selection isn't very different from the majority of Chinese buffets in town, but thanks to the volume of customers the food stays hot and fresh. This is a great spot to bring the family for an early dinner after a long day of shopping. 

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