Fall Break is a great time to get off campus and explore the Twin Cities, especially if you’ve been too busy during the school year and haven’t gotten many chances to explore all the Twin Cities have to offer for dining options.
Café Mac will be open, and meal plans will still work. But if you’ll be around the Twin Cities, why not change things up and go off-campus for a meal or two? Here are a few suggestions of places that are both affordable and easily accessible.
Formerly St. Paul’s warehouse district, Lowertown is now known as an artistic, creative center. Blocks of old warehouses have been converted into apartments, shops and restaurants. The Union Depot, an old train station, has been rehabbed and now serves as an anchor of the neighborhood. Walk inside and marvel at the beautiful architecture in the lobby. Then, after your meal, take a stroll to Mears Park, right in the center of the neighborhood. This park is a gathering space for residents, visitors and dog walkers galore. During the summer months, this park, and the whole neighborhood, come alive with live music, food trucks and throngs of people in the streets.
Any skeptics of whether St. Paul has a lifeblood, especially compared to Minneapolis, need to do nothing more than take a walk around Lowertown. To get there, take the 63 Eastbound, and get off at Sibley Street, right in front of Mears Park.
Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar
308 Prince St.
M-Th 7 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Fri-Sat, 7 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Sun. 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
The Black Dog Café is so many things; a café, a sandwich shop, a wine bar and more. I’ve come here for so many different reasons and haven’t been disappointed once. Their food is delicious, and they have a wide supply of sandwiches, salads and breakfast items.
Try the turkey and provolone sandwich, or the Black Dog Special Salad (with chevre) if you’re feeling adventurous. All their food items are reasonably priced, coming in around $8 at most.
They have an extensive coffee and wine bar; drinks are on happy hour from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. And the best part: during the evening, this restaurant transforms into a live music lounge. The Black Dog can be many things: a great place to do homework, a lunch or happy hour spot, or a venue for some local music.
The Buttered Tin
237 7th St. E
Open daily, 7 a.m. – 3 p.m.
The Buttered Tin is located a bit farther north than the rest of Lowertown, but don’t let its location discourage you from heading there. It’s a phenomenal place for a late breakfast or brunch. This restaurant opened up a few years ago to rave reviews, and is known for serving pretty high-quality American breakfast fare. I recommend the Crab Cakes Benedict and a cup of coffee. Just be warned for long lines on the weekends; this place is popular, and for good reason. Put your name down for a reservation and then walk to Mears Park and back while you wait.
36 7th St. W (Downtown)
Although this isn’t technically Lowertown, it’s still a St. Paul institution that every Mac student must visit before they graduate. Preferably late at night (this jaunt, in an old dining car, is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!) but any other time day or night works too.
I don’t have much to say about the food. It’s about as classic Americana greasy spoon as you can get. But you’re not going to come here for the food; you’ll come for the experience. Make sure you get a shake, fries and any of their delicious breakfast food that they’ll serve you. Get ready to be cramped; this restaurant is small, but the crowd is part of the experience. And be sure to take a look at the menu; plenty of famous celebrities have dined in this car!