A Grand Tour

By Marissa Warden

Macalester is lucky to be nestled among such an abundance of delicious restaurants, all with their own unique spin. I’m sure by now you have already sampled, studied at, or at least walked by the cafes next to campus, and if you haven’t had Shish’s falafel I suggest you do that as soon as possible. But when you are tired of cooking for yourself or eating the same thing at Café Mac, Grand Avenue offers a brief escape into the culinary world–kind of. If nothing else, it can serve as a nice distraction from homework. I’ve provided you with a list of my favorite and not so favorite restaurants.Brasa Premium Rotisserie
Favorite-Southern Creole Inspired Cuisine
I think I can safely say that this is my favorite restaurant on Grand, and for that matter in Saint Paul. I would eat here every day if I could, and it wouldn’t be completely unfeasible either because the prices are really reasonable. Brasa describes their cuisine as comfort foods inspired by the Creole cooking traditions of the Caribbean and Americas, and it certainly is comfort food. One of the best parts about Brasa is that they keep things simple; they don’t try to complicate the menu or the food with unnecessary things. It’s always about the food. Brasa is a sustainable restaurant, purchasing most of its ingredients from local farmers, including the meat, which is free range organic. When it comes to deciding what to order, Brasa gives you a lot of freedom. You have plenty of unique and delicious sides to choose from and different portions of meat and seafood to choose as well, allowing you to enjoy a family style meal or a small plate for one. My favorites (and I’ve sampled nearly everything on the menu) are the rotisserie chicken and slow roast pork with a side of fried green plantains, crispy yucca or rustic style cheese grits. And you have to order a side of cornbread, which is delicately drizzled with honey butter. Delicious. I also suggest you try the guava lime homemade soda; my friends and I always get a pitcher of it whenever we go (which is quite often actually). Try Brasa, you won’t be sorry. I promise you.
Price $$
777 Grand Ave., St. Paul

India House
Almost Favorite-Indian Cuisine
The first time I had Indian food was at the India House and I thought it was wonderful. Then I had “real” Indian food in England and that was only slightly more wonderful than India House. So what I’m saying is that if you are looking for pretty authentic Indian food, India House is a safe bet. I’m a huge fan of the vegetable samosa and onion pakora as appetizers. The samosa is deep fried dough stuffed with delicious vegetables, and the pakora is similar to an onion bloom, but so much better. And my all time favorite Indian food is chicken tikka masala served with white basmati rice. I’ve sampled other things on the menu, as well, and can say that most everything you try will be good. And you can’t have Indian food without the naan, which is a buttery flat bread that is so good you’ll be coming back for more. You can wash all of this down with a glass of mango lassi, a sweet yogurt drink that is a refreshing addition to any meal. I suggest you go with friends and each get something different and share, or you can go to the lunch buffet everyday between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.

Price: $$
758 Grand Ave., St. Paul

Punch Neapolitan Pizza
Really Good-Neapolitan Pizza
Punch serves authentic Neapolitan pizza baked in a wood fired grill at 800 degrees for 90 seconds. The thin crispy crust is slightly blackened from the heat, creating a delicious smoky flavor. You can choose from a list of classic pizzas or you can build your own, starting with the style: either a Margherita or a Napoli, the two styles are essentially the same but the Margherita is made with basil and the Napoli with oregano. These personal sized pizzas can then be topped with a variety of cheeses (goat cheese is my favorite) and your choice of meat and vegetables. If you want something other than pizza, Punch also serves beautiful fresh salads. I’ve tried the Greco, which has olives, pepperoncini and cucumber tossed with red wine vinaigrette on a bed of romaine.
Price: $$
769 Grand Ave., St. Paul

Café Latte
Good-Salads, Soups, Sandwiches & dessert
This is my mom’s favorite restaurant. She loves the fresh unique salads that are on the more healthy side of the food spectrum. I must agree with my mom, the salads are good and so are the build-your-own sandwiches, but what I really love about Café Latte are the desserts. Let me tell you about the cakes. Oh the cakes! My friends so generously bought me a raspberry torte (which is three layers of rich sponge cake layered with butter cream and whipped cream and topped with a raspberry sauce) for my birthday and it was the best cake I have ever had. It wasn’t too sweet or too rich, rather it was the perfect marriage of slightly tart raspberries and homemade whip cream. You should also know that I am not a cake person, I would choose a pie over a cake any day, but not this cake. This cake was perfect. I suggest you all get it for your birthday, and then invite me.

Price: $$
850 Grand Ave., St. Paul

Dixies on Grand
Not so Good-Southern Inspired Cusine
My roommates and I went there recently; mostly in the mood for fish because we watch too much Top Chef DC and they make a lot of fish. However, we were sorely disappointed. I tried the fried gulf shrimp po’boy only to have my shrimp way overcooked and to have too much remoulade sauce on a slightly stale bun. Please note that this disaster was $14-a lot of money to waste for a college student. I also tried the cornbread on the side (just in case you didn’t know I love corn bread; it’s right up there next to the raspberry torte and my dad’s Mexican food) which in my opinion was too dry and not warm enough. My roommates had similar experiences with overcooked fish or according to my roommate from Georgia, unauthentic Southern cuisine. The only redeeming part of this meal was the BBQ pulled pork sandwich-The Shack, that one of my roommates so cleverly ordered. If you do decide to try Dixies go at lunch because the dinner prices weren’t worth it, and don’t order fish. On second thought, don’t waste your time at Dixies-go to Brasa instead.
Price: $$$
695 Grand Ave., St. Paul