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Eat from Italy to Ethiopia along the Green Line
Eat from Italy to Ethiopia along the Green Line
Photo courtesy Caffe Biaggio

14 Places to Eat Along Saint Paul's University Avenue

A guide to dining along the Green Line.

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Eat from Italy to Ethiopia along the Green Line
| Photo courtesy Caffe Biaggio

University Avenue, dubbed "Green Line District" thanks to the light rail transit system that runs through it, is dotted with restaurants of every ethnicity. While the stretch between the State Capital and Lexington is so prolific that it was a struggle to choose just a few restaurants to highlight here, West of Lexington is inhabited mostly by auto part stores and chains like Subway and Arby’s. But even on that bleak horizon, there are a few glimmering gems like Flamingo, On’s Kitchen and Café Biaggio.

This is by no means a complete list. Let us know your favorites in the comments below.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Bangkok Thai Deli & Supermarket

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Housed in a former Burger King and owned by the same family that runs the popular Krungthep Thai in Minneapolis, Bangkok Thai is almost always busy. Ignore the austere décor and the piped in pop music and dig into a giant bowl of pork boat noodles, which usually arrive at your table about 30 seconds after you sit down.

Cheng Heng

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This non-descript Cambodian spot has won the hearts of local residents for its slurp-worthy soups like the red curry Tom Yum, and crisp-on-the-outside-gooey-on-the-inside chive cakes. Their little sticky rice donuts filled with the likes of red bean curd or coconut and sprinkled with sesame seeds are worth the stop alone. Cheng Heng was recently named number five on USA Today’s 10 Best Saint Paul Restaurants list.

Trieu Chau

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You’re not here for the ambiance. You are here for the authenticity and soul soothing goodness of the curries and pho with all the trimmings. And of course, the cream cheese puffs. Don’t forget the puffs. This is a neighborhood fave for takeout.
Photo courtesy Yelp!

Big Daddy's Old Fashioned Barbeque

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Friendly service, unpretentious Southern flavors, and a giant courtyard in the heart of the city, what else can you ask for? How about generous portions of the ribs and chicken at reasonable prices? You got it. Don’t skip the kicky collard greens and smoky mac and cheese.

Hickory Hut

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Hickory Hut is the place to go for mesquite dry-rub wings and unique hojo potatoes- giant center cut potato chips that are crisp on the outside and tender on the inside, sprinkled with secret hojo seasoning. Add a side of hot vinegar sauce and a slice of sweet potato pie for a perfect Southern style meal.

Trung Nam French Bakery

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Trung Nam is more than a bakery, but it is mostly known for their addicting croissants- giant, golden beauties filled with almond, raspberry, or chocolate, just to name a few. Line up early with cash in hand ‘cause these guys don’t mess with credit or checks. The pastries here are like nothing else in town, and the Bánh mì sandwiches are pretty great too.

Ngon Vietnamese Bistro

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The term “fusion” has fallen out of favor as of late, but Ngon does fusion right. Chef Hai Truong bring nuanced Vietnamese flavors to University Avenue, crafting organic, locally raised ingredients into a higher level of Vietnamese and American cuisine. In warmer weather, diners can enjoy the beautifully secluded patio. Bonus: local craft beers on tap and a fab cocktail program to boot.
Photo courtesy Yelp!

Homi Mexican Restaurant

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This tiny, golden storefront hides a Mexican food gem like no other. Like “fusion,” the terms “authentic” and “home cooked” are a bit clichéd, but are genuinely appropriate here. Owners Hortencia Reyes and Miguel Lopez are not just providing the area with richly layered yet simple Mexican dishes, they are also two of the most earnest folks you’ll ever meet.

Hoa Bien Vietnamese Restaurant

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Locals loved Hoa Bien back when it was but a tiny hole in the wall shack of a place, but the remodel made it possible for the masses to join in on the fun. Hoa Bien offers an extensive menu of Vietnamese favorites, including some of the best desserts around. Try the Banh Flan with a Vietnamese coffee.

Flamingo Restaurant

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Owners Shegitu Kebede and Frewoini Haile are activists and community leaders who strive to show other women that success can be achieved despite many obstacles. Flamingo serves beautifully complex East African cuisine in a newly remodeled space, including a unique African wines list and a vast Sunday buffet.

Fasika Ethiopian Restaurant

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Around the corner from the hustle and bustle of Snelling and Uni, Fasika is an oasis serving Ethiopian cuisine. At the heart of the menu is spongy Injera bread, which is dotted with a variety of intoxicatingly scented stews like lamb or lentils. A blend of spices unique to Ethiopian cooking creates a delightful dining experience where no utensils are necessary.
Photo courtesy of Fasika

On's Kitchen Thai Cuisine

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Perpetually busy On’s serves Thai cuisine in a family friendly environment that is equally fitting for large groups or romantic dinners. The extensive menu includes unique dishes like the monstrous stuffed chicken wings or the haw-mok, a curried flaky white fish cradled in a banana leaf. Their basics are on point too, including one of the best Pad Thai versions in town.

Turf Club

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The Turf Club is, first and foremost, a music venue, but thanks to a 2013 kitchen reboot, they now serve a full menu of elevated classics like crave-worthy buttermilk fried chicken sliders and hit-the-spot burgers. Or try the vegan turf club featuring a plethora of good-for-you deliciousness like Tempeh bacon and house-made vegan cashew cream cheese.
Turf Club

Caffe Biaggio

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Italian fare is all the rage this year, with new spots popping up like tulips in the springtime. But Café Biaggio has been cooking up family recipes since 2002, with a seasonably changing menu filled with well-loved classics like home-made gnocchi or spaghetti with Mama’s meatballs. Mama, by the way, is the famed matriarch of the iconic Dinkytown eatery Mama D’s, who just happens to be Biaggio co-owner’s John D’Agostino actual mama.

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Bangkok Thai Deli & Supermarket

Housed in a former Burger King and owned by the same family that runs the popular Krungthep Thai in Minneapolis, Bangkok Thai is almost always busy. Ignore the austere décor and the piped in pop music and dig into a giant bowl of pork boat noodles, which usually arrive at your table about 30 seconds after you sit down.

Cheng Heng

This non-descript Cambodian spot has won the hearts of local residents for its slurp-worthy soups like the red curry Tom Yum, and crisp-on-the-outside-gooey-on-the-inside chive cakes. Their little sticky rice donuts filled with the likes of red bean curd or coconut and sprinkled with sesame seeds are worth the stop alone. Cheng Heng was recently named number five on USA Today’s 10 Best Saint Paul Restaurants list.

Trieu Chau

Photo courtesy Yelp!
You’re not here for the ambiance. You are here for the authenticity and soul soothing goodness of the curries and pho with all the trimmings. And of course, the cream cheese puffs. Don’t forget the puffs. This is a neighborhood fave for takeout.
Photo courtesy Yelp!

Big Daddy's Old Fashioned Barbeque

Friendly service, unpretentious Southern flavors, and a giant courtyard in the heart of the city, what else can you ask for? How about generous portions of the ribs and chicken at reasonable prices? You got it. Don’t skip the kicky collard greens and smoky mac and cheese.

Hickory Hut

Hickory Hut is the place to go for mesquite dry-rub wings and unique hojo potatoes- giant center cut potato chips that are crisp on the outside and tender on the inside, sprinkled with secret hojo seasoning. Add a side of hot vinegar sauce and a slice of sweet potato pie for a perfect Southern style meal.

Trung Nam French Bakery

Trung Nam is more than a bakery, but it is mostly known for their addicting croissants- giant, golden beauties filled with almond, raspberry, or chocolate, just to name a few. Line up early with cash in hand ‘cause these guys don’t mess with credit or checks. The pastries here are like nothing else in town, and the Bánh mì sandwiches are pretty great too.

Ngon Vietnamese Bistro

Photo courtesy Yelp!
The term “fusion” has fallen out of favor as of late, but Ngon does fusion right. Chef Hai Truong bring nuanced Vietnamese flavors to University Avenue, crafting organic, locally raised ingredients into a higher level of Vietnamese and American cuisine. In warmer weather, diners can enjoy the beautifully secluded patio. Bonus: local craft beers on tap and a fab cocktail program to boot.
Photo courtesy Yelp!

Homi Mexican Restaurant

This tiny, golden storefront hides a Mexican food gem like no other. Like “fusion,” the terms “authentic” and “home cooked” are a bit clichéd, but are genuinely appropriate here. Owners Hortencia Reyes and Miguel Lopez are not just providing the area with richly layered yet simple Mexican dishes, they are also two of the most earnest folks you’ll ever meet.

Hoa Bien Vietnamese Restaurant

Locals loved Hoa Bien back when it was but a tiny hole in the wall shack of a place, but the remodel made it possible for the masses to join in on the fun. Hoa Bien offers an extensive menu of Vietnamese favorites, including some of the best desserts around. Try the Banh Flan with a Vietnamese coffee.

Flamingo Restaurant

Owners Shegitu Kebede and Frewoini Haile are activists and community leaders who strive to show other women that success can be achieved despite many obstacles. Flamingo serves beautifully complex East African cuisine in a newly remodeled space, including a unique African wines list and a vast Sunday buffet.

Fasika Ethiopian Restaurant

Photo courtesy of Fasika
Around the corner from the hustle and bustle of Snelling and Uni, Fasika is an oasis serving Ethiopian cuisine. At the heart of the menu is spongy Injera bread, which is dotted with a variety of intoxicatingly scented stews like lamb or lentils. A blend of spices unique to Ethiopian cooking creates a delightful dining experience where no utensils are necessary.
Photo courtesy of Fasika

On's Kitchen Thai Cuisine

Perpetually busy On’s serves Thai cuisine in a family friendly environment that is equally fitting for large groups or romantic dinners. The extensive menu includes unique dishes like the monstrous stuffed chicken wings or the haw-mok, a curried flaky white fish cradled in a banana leaf. Their basics are on point too, including one of the best Pad Thai versions in town.

Turf Club

Turf Club
The Turf Club is, first and foremost, a music venue, but thanks to a 2013 kitchen reboot, they now serve a full menu of elevated classics like crave-worthy buttermilk fried chicken sliders and hit-the-spot burgers. Or try the vegan turf club featuring a plethora of good-for-you deliciousness like Tempeh bacon and house-made vegan cashew cream cheese.
Turf Club

Caffe Biaggio

Italian fare is all the rage this year, with new spots popping up like tulips in the springtime. But Café Biaggio has been cooking up family recipes since 2002, with a seasonably changing menu filled with well-loved classics like home-made gnocchi or spaghetti with Mama’s meatballs. Mama, by the way, is the famed matriarch of the iconic Dinkytown eatery Mama D’s, who just happens to be Biaggio co-owner’s John D’Agostino actual mama.

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