The weekly top three from Lee: Best Saturday Night Spots

Mac and Cheese from Brasa. Photo courtesy of Lee Guekguezian ’18

Mac and Cheese from Brasa. Photo courtesy of Lee Guekguezian ’18

Looking to get off campus for a weekend meal? These three joints offer lively atmospheres, great food and are all within three miles of campus!

1. Longfellow Grill ($$)

Location: 2990 W River Pkwy, Minneapolis – 2.4 miles from campus

This “urban diner” is located right across the river in the Cooper neighborhood of Minneapolis. With a full bar area, cozy booths and patio, this eatery is great for bigger parties (and they take reservations!). The large and diverse menu has great options for both meat eaters and vegetarians. If you’re in the mood for classics, I would try the three-cheese mac and cheese, cheese burger, spinach salad or pesto pasta. If you’re looking for something a little more funky, you can’t go wrong with the chicken and waffles, tempura green beans, szechuan beef salad or Pete’s burger (hard-cooked egg, sweet mustard, pickle relish, ketchup, caramelized onion, toasted sourdough.) If dinner doesn’t leave you feeling full and satisfied, Longfellow Grill offers a wide range of desserts such as banana cream pie, cinnamon raisin bread pudding, triple layer chocolate mousse cake and butterscotch pudding (with snickerdoodles!). While this joint is a great Friday/Saturday night option, it also offers an extensive breakfast menu with options like walleye benedict, roasted veggie hash, breakfast tostadas and oatmeal flapjacks. Even better, most of their breakfast menu is available all day! The dinner entrees range from $10 to $16, and the portions are pretty generous! Longfellow Grill is only an eight minute drive from campus, and a 28-minute ride on the 84 and 21 buses.

2. The Red Cow ($$)

Location: 393 Selby Ave, Saint Paul – 3 miles from campus

This “sophisticated neighborhood tavern” is located just three miles from campus down Selby, and offers gourmet burgers, craft beers and fine wine. If you’re a red meat lover, a classic option is the “Ultimate,” which includes a CAB® burger, Wisconsin-aged cheddar, iceberg lettuce, tomato, onion and Red Cow sauce. If you’re in a more adventurous mood, I would recommend the “Manhattan 2.0,” which includes Red Cow grind (brisket, chuck, short rib and sirloin), bacon confit, gruyere, arugula and dried cherry-red wine reduction on a pretzel bun. While Red Cow’s specialty is beef burgers, they have a variety of other burger options such as bison, lamb, turkey, ahi tuna and a curried chickpea patty. If you’re not in the mood for a burger, try the greek-kale salad, pretzel reuben, cuban or mac and cheese! If you go with a group, make sure to try some of the shareables, such as the Wisconsin cheese curds, caramel bacon puffcorn, sweet potato crinkle planks or the pretzels served with beer cheese sauce. The burgers, sandwiches and salads are all priced between $10 and $16, and are all big enough to share! If you want a casual atmosphere and great food, this place is for you! Red Cow is only a nine minute drive from campus, and a 28-minute ride on the 63 bus!

3. Brasa ($-$$)

Location: 777 Grand Ave, Saint Paul – 1.7 miles from campus

This neighborhood favorite offers creole-style cuisine that doesn’t break the bank! There are a variety of meat and vegetarian options, and almost everything on the menu is gluten free! If you’re a meat lover, the smoked beef plate is a great option! Priced at $12.25, this sweet and spicy BBQ beef comes with the choice of side, such as mac and cheese, black beans and yellow rice or romaine and mozzarella salad. A great vegetarian option is the spicy masa corn cakes, topped with roasted yams, cheese and pickled onions. This plate also comes with a choice of side, and is offered in two sizes (regular: $6.95, and large: $9.25.) If you’re in the mood for something spicy, try the yellow curry bowl that includes cauliflower, carrots, yellow rice and pineapple pickle for $7.95. While the whole menu is pretty moderately priced, a great way to get a lot for a little is to order two or three sides. My favorite side combo is the mac and cheese, brown sugar candied yams and the fried sweet plantains. Together, these are enough to get me full, and cost around $10. Because of the great food and atmosphere, Brasa is almost always packed on the weekends, so I would recommend getting there at least 20 minutes early. Reservations are not accepted unless you have a party of eight or more, so Brasa is a great place for big groups. Brasa is only a seven minute drive from campus and an 11-minute ride on the 63 bus.