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

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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.

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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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29 comments
Steve Smith
Steve Smith

You also forgot Pho Saigon. They've got fantastic Pho there!

Jen Woods Antila
Jen Woods Antila

laughing... "7 best places to eat in WSP" includes two restaurants that aren't even in West St. Paul!!!

Steve Smith
Steve Smith

Come to West St. Paul! We have an Applebees!

Francisco Huerta
Francisco Huerta

Take Pollo Campero and Great Moon Buffet off of this list....DISGUSTING!!

samiratou
samiratou

Lucky China is also a great, underrated place in WSP. Their Korean dishes, in particular. Their Cha Jang Mein (aka Black Noodles) are the perfect kind of comfort food.

John Khoury
John Khoury

I agree, someone should have done some research before writing this article. The kibbee nayee(raw kibee) at Beirut can be ordered as an appetizer, dinner, or as part of The Mezza For 2. I know this because I am the owner. Thanks for the publicity though. Greatly appreciated.

EricLarsen
EricLarsen

Erik Seavey: They said "first and second ring Twin Cities suburbs" in the description. Expect Bloomington, Eden Prairie, Roseville, Richfield... which are all still just extensions of the urban sprawl.  I'm actually a bit surprised my town got covered so early.

Erik Seavey
Erik Seavey

Um. West St. Paul is really still "the city". It ain't country living there.

Paul Dueffert
Paul Dueffert

Great Moon? Really? At best everything tastes the same. How can I take the rest of this list serious?

Lisa Pineda
Lisa Pineda

Pollo Campero is delicious & the employees are friendly

Refugio Morales
Refugio Morales

If you like mexican food you need to check out Sietemares Restaurante!!!!!!

Lorie Haddad
Lorie Haddad

Mashed lava beans. lol! It's FAVA beans. And they're delicious.

Len Mark
Len Mark

You forgot JTs hamburgers.

EricLarsen
EricLarsen

Also, if you were willing to go outside of the city itself to include I Nonni and Technique, then Mendoberri really should have also gotten a mention.

Ajith George
Ajith George

Pollo Campero's grilled chicken is amazing. The fried - not so much,

Dave Eckblad
Dave Eckblad

Like, I might actually visit your site and tickle your banner ads if you only posted meaningful content like this.

Dave Eckblad
Dave Eckblad

Hey, an actual article about nice things that are in our community. Thank you very much for this actual article. Why do you intersperse good content like this with bullshit tabloid nonsense?

EricLarsen
EricLarsen

WSP resident here.


Beiruit: The only destination dining in town in my opinion.  Totally spot on about the garlic sauce - that and some hummus on a bit of pita is perfection.  Go there for the Mezza (small plates of near everything on the menu) and you will *not* be disappointed.  It comes with two kabobs per person, make sure you get one of the kafta - I have been trying for years to replicate this at home.


Pollo Campero: Can't agree more that this is as good as fast food gets, and I'm not really a fan of any of the sides.  The chicken is just that good.  Both the fried and the grilled.  I go out of my way to make excuses to go here.


Hibachi Grill:  Don't knock it.  Their prices are crazy good for an all you can eat buffet that includes sushi.  Not great sushi, but still, I can have as much as I want, and there is plenty of steam table food that keeps my five year old happy.  Definitely great for the price point.


Mikes Butcher Shop: OK, a bit unorthodox here but trust me - get some of their turkey jerky.  Stunningly good.  Also, the best chesseburgers I have ever had have been ones I have grilled at home from their ground beef, and topped with their bacon.  We swear that they put the paper bags that they bag your order in into their smoker, just to make the aroma in your car that much more enticing for the drive home.  Seriously, they are all about that smoker - they get that bacon I mentioned from their supplier, and then they re-smoke it onsite.  Delicious.

mingtran
mingtran topcommenter

Beirut is the shit

EricLarsen
EricLarsen

Refugio, El 7 Mares is in Saint Paul on Cesar Chaves, in an area commonly referred to as "Little Mexico", and the reason I did not mention Los Arcos in my review earlier.  I love that place, but there is slightly better authentic Mexican food just over the border in the "big city".

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