By Joy Summers
The Green Line light transit route runs through University Avenue, a historic thoroughfare between Minneapolis and Saint Paul that is packed with fantastic food options. Buy an affordable ticket and plan a full-on crawl through one of the most eclectic and delicious restaurant districts in the city.
Here are the restaurants to plan a trip around ordered by Green Line stop.
Raymond Avenue Stop
Just inside the warm embrace of Saint Paul, this Midway restaurant is beloved by falafel fans and those looking for gluten-free or vegetarian eating. Chef/owner Erica Strait’s crispy chickpea balls are other-worldly - packed with flavor in three varieties (get the Stoplight for a taste of each red, yellow, and green falafel.) Other menu items are made with farmers' market stand-fresh vegetables and responsibly raised meats.
Snelling Avenue Stop
This restaurant's flavor and herb-packed Thai dishes are made with all the care of a homemade kitchen. This is not the place to stop at regular old Pad Thai -- dig deeper into the menu for nuance and comfort, like the pork sour sausage, or the soothing and richly flavored khao mun gai with garlic and chicken.
One of the great pleasures of living in the Twin Cities is our fantastic local music scene. After taking a massive hit during the pandemic, venues are bouncing back and the Turf Club is one of the best venues for tunes and a drink in the city.
Hamline Avenue Stop
Fans of spicy noodles can be found swooning over a fiery bowl of broth inside the dining room of Master Noodle near the intersection of University Avenue and Hamline. Master Noodle has the distinction of being one of the few spots in the city serving hand-cut noodles. Plus, the Sichuan heat is real.
Victoria Street Stop
Ngon Vietnamese Bistro
This polished Vietnamese bistro is a fantastic spot to aim for if you’re looking for a patio on University Avenue. Even if the weather isn’t cooperating, this restaurant is a lovely setting for dinner and drinks. Tuck into the beautiful bowls of pho with fresh ingredients and a stock made with locally raised ingredients. Don’t miss out on the crispy rabbit dumpling appetizer or the fabulous craft cocktail list.
Trung Nam French Bakery
Famous for its croissants and bread (just begging to be stuffed with banh mi ingredients), this humble little bakery is a Saint Paul institution. Starting off the day with a potent iced cafe, made rich and creamy from condensed milk, and a buttery plain croissant is a little slice of perfection.
iPho has become part of a burgeoning little local chain of restaurants serving hearty Vietnamese dishes. As the name would imply, the pho is a draw, but so is the bun - noodle salads, and the egg noodle filled soup, mi. This is also a popular stop for bubble tea.
Western Avenue Stop
To know is to love this small, family-owned restaurant with its eminently cravable Cambodian dishes. The food is incredibly affordable, so order with ambition. The banh xiung is a mix of stir-fried beef over vermicelli noodles served with a mess of fresh herbs and a massive eggroll on the side.
The massive banh mi served at Trieu Chau are the best kind of grab-and-go eating with crusty bread all tender on the inside, packed with flavorful meat and snappy vegetables. Or, tuck into a remarkably affordable bowl of pho.
Marc Heu Patisserie
Some of the most elegant pastries and French treats can be found inside this tidy little bakery. Special order showstopping cakes for special occasions or whole boxes of buttered layered pastries.
A cozy Ethiopian eatery that’s a fantastic stop for rich stews and tangy, plush injera. Open for lunch and dinner, the menu boasts a selection of wrapped sandwiches like gyro and a twist on the burrito.
Bangkok Thai Deli
Find fantastic Thai food inside this transformed Burger King. Hot summer nights beg for the mango salad, a cold and spicy mix of crunchy mango and funky good sauce. For something on the creamier side, the red curry is a lux mix of sauce with choice of meat and a few tender-crunchy vegetables.
This list just scratches the surface of delicious dining along the Green Line. We'd love to see where you're eating! Share your favorites on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using the hashtag #MYSAINTPAUL.
Joy Summers is an award-winning columnist and food writer whose work has appeared in Food Network Magazine, People, City Pages, Minnesota Monthly, Lavender, and Eater. She's been known to take to backcountry roads and plunge into new environments in search of elusive ingredients at their peak. As a passionate storyteller, she strives to connect people with the words that serve them best. She lives in Cathedral Hill with her husband and young children.