The weekly top three from Lee: Hidden gems


Bagels galore at the St. Paul Bagelry. Photo courtesy of Lee Guekguezian ’18

Everyone knows the classics: Brasa, Pad Thai, French Meadow, etc. These three joints below may not be as well-known, but their food should be! Their menus offer some fresh and unique options that you may not be able to get anywhere else in the Cities.

St. Paul Bagelry ($) – 1702 Lexington Ave N, Roseville – distance from campus: 5.1 miles

Bagels galore at the St. Paul Bagelry. Photo courtesy of Lee Guekguezian ’18
Bagels galore at the St. Paul Bagelry. Photo courtesy of Lee Guekguezian ’18

If you’re Jewish and love a great bagel, this place is for you. If you’re not Jewish and love a great bagel, this place is also for you! You’ll have to venture all the way to Roseville, but this place is totally worth the drive, and it’s affordable. All their bagels are made with love from scratch, and cost 99 cents each. They have a variety of different flavors, such as sun dried tomato, cinnamon sugar (the best), Jalapeno Cheese, Hawaiian and multigrain honey. Top one of these beauties off with a unique cream cheese such as apricot almond, raspberry, bacon chive, cinnamon sugar, honey walnut or smoked salmon. If you can’t decide on a combo, try one of the Bagelry’s sandwiches like the bagizza (pizza bagel), the chicken melt sandwich, the reuben or the B.L.T. All of these are served on a bagel of your choice, and can be customized to match your heart’s desires. If you’re thirsty, no problem! Try one of the dozens of smoothies or speciality coffees. This place is delicious, cheap and the perfect weekend morning spot.

The Barbary Fig ($$) – 720 Grand Ave, St Paul – distance from campus: 1.9 miles

This family-owned Mediterranean restaurant is a straight shot down Grand and is located a block past Brasa and Punch Pizza. This is a great place for both vegetarians and meat lovers, and all the food is fresh and affordable. They offer dinner, lunch and Sunday brunch, and have a great patio that’s open all summer!

If you’re in the mood for a small plate, try the hummus with feta and tomato chutney, the sauteed black olives or the “puree” salad (tomato, grilled eggplant, olives, walnuts and goat cheese puree). For entrees, I suggest the gyros (lamb, chicken or vegetarian), the lemon apricot favas, the no-meat falafel combo or the lamb shakshuka (lamb sausage hash with caramelized onions, eggs and tomatoes). Most of their meat options can be served vegetarian, and all of the entrees are under $13.
If you’re here for brunch, try the scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, the egg and falafel hash, the warm french bread with apricot chutney or the french toast topped with sun-dried cherries. The Barbary Fig also offers some really unique desserts such as pears poached in white wine and topped with mascarpone cheese and chocolate, raisin bread pudding, fresh organic dates and chocolate bourek. If you’re looking for something fresh, unique and affordable, check this place out!

El Taco Riendo ($) – 2412 Central Avenue, Minneapolis – distance from campus: 8.6 miles

While this place is a lot farther from campus, it has been rated the best Mexican food in Minneapolis, so you gotta check it out! El Taco Riendo is authentic, cheap and delicious — what more could you want? This casual order-at-the-counter eatery offers up a classic menu with choices like tacos, quesadillas, burritos, chilaquiles, fajitas, alambres, tortas, enchiladas and tostadas. All of these can be customized in terms of meat or veggie filling and different salsas. If you’re REALLY hungry, try the big burrito (it’s HUGE), one of the speciality plates that are served with beans and rice or the BIG torta. If you don’t want to leave your dorm, don’t fret, El Taco Riendo offers delivery through Bite Squad. Good Mexican food in the cities is hard to come by, especially in St. Paul, so this journey into Minneapolis is totally worth it.