hidden gems

HIDDEN GEM: Dar's Double Scoop

I always notice this shop every time I drive by-it has a silly hot dog statue that makes me laugh all the time. Dar's Double Scoop is on the corner of Rice and Cook in St. Paul--you can't miss the funny statues! They serve delicious ice cream and pizza but I also gave their hot dogs and malts a try. 

Their ice cream waffle cones were huge and very affordable-- a small cone was only $2.50. Very generous scoops.

We ordered a Chicago style hot dog, Coney Island hot dog ($2.50 each)  and cheese curds ($3.50). Great prices, great taste!

The chocolate malt was decadent and super chocolaty. I loved the little wafer with whipped cream on top, too. Plus it's plenty large and good for sharing. 

This shop is a place where families and friends can enjoy some ice cream and catch up. Come on down to this old school ice cream and pizza shop and support local business.  Next time I think I'll order a pizza!



HIDDEN GEM: Lady Elegant's Tea Room & Shoppe

This cute little tea room is hidden away in the back of a shopping plaza off Carter Avenue in St. Paul.  You’ll have to look hard for a tiny sign that says Lady Elegant’s to find this place. Notice the tea room sign too? 

Make sure you make a reservation-it fills up fast for a small space. You walk into the gift shoppe first before the staff takes you to the tea room. It’s a classy and elegant setup. Check out the fancy looking china. 

I loved the spiced roobois chai tea. It was excellent, spicy, and floral tasting. Since it was a four course meal we started with Savory Potato Thyme soup-- a very smooth and creamy soup. The tea help cut the richness.

Among other appetizing treats, there are currant scones, chocolate brownies, cookies, and madeleines for tea time. I think started on the dessert first and not the sandwiches…oops! 

The bottom plate are the tea sandwiches-- egg salad chive on pumpernickel and broccoli bacon roulade. My favorite was the egg salad sandwich because the pumpernickel brought out the herbs in the egg salad. 

The waitress, the daughter of the owners, was super friendly. She helped us pick out the teas. The tea menu is so long you'll need to ask for recommendations! This is a great place to bring a bridal party or just spend the afternoon with your lady friends and get treated like queens. Enjoy! 



HIDDEN GEM: My Huong Kitchen

My Huong Kitchen is a Vietnamese restaurant hidden next to a tax services venue off of Eat Street. Though there are many places to get your Vietnamese food cravings, this place stands out for being so quaint and affordable. The place only seats 14 but you can always get food to go. And with a flat-screen TV playing lots of Asian action movies, you won't be bored waiting for your food.

The Egg Roll and Pork Chop Noodle Salad covered in peanuts, carrots, cucumbers, and fresh herbs was a refreshing salad to eat on a hot summer day. You can see the sweet house fish sauce on the side gives it a flavor blast when you pour it all over the salad. This dish was just $8.95-- and the bowl was huge!

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The broken rice combo is another great plate to try out. Shown above is the lemon grass pork chop and shredded pork and it was very tasty. Take your spoon and mix everything up and drizzle some house fish sauce on it. It has a sweet and salty flavor but the lemongrass is a nice touch to the protein. Only $7.95, what a deal!

Luckily, we came after the dinner rush so there were some empty tables. The owner was our waitress and she was very attentive.

We shared the Nutella and Cream Crepe between four people-- that's how large it was!-- and it tasted wonderful. The crepe was $5.95 and I almost got another just for myself! The owner was very nice, and even threw in some free desserts as we left. We will definitely head back to this Hidden Gem again soon.



HIDDEN GEM: Tongue in Cheek - East Side Feast

Tongue In Cheek is located on the East Side of St. Paul. It is an intimate restaurant with a bar in the front of the house. Prices are very affordable and they do not skimp on food. The waitress was extremely upbeat and awesome, and she tolerated our unruly group very well-- like a champion! 

The Cock(tail)/Teasers were surprisingly tasty and only cost $2.00 each. What a good deal. However, there was one teaser named the Crossed Eyed Mary that tasted like Top Ramen broth. I liked it since I love ramen but my companions did not like it at all. You can’t win them all. The favorite teaser was the Mother of Dragon-Jalapeño infused Jim Beam with peach and OJ.  It was a delicious combination.

The Soup of the Day was divine. It was smoked corn bisque with roasted pork belly on top. The broth was rich and creamy. Anything with pork belly on it will automatically win in my book.

I love mussels! The steamed mussels with chermoula were a classic. I didn’t know what chermoula was so I looked it up online. Chermoula is an Algerian marinade with a mixture of herbs, lemon juice, oil, and garlic. Sometimes a classic dish comforts the belly.

I ordered Roasted Pork teaser that only cost $2.00. Again, what a good deal. The pork belly was covered in stonefruit, sesame, jalapeño, and peanut sauce. Even though it was small, it packed a punch. Still delicious.

The wild salmon on top of goat cheese risotto with zucchini and tomato consommé was light and refreshing. It was not heavy like the meaty dishes. The wild salmon was the size of my fist. It was very filling.

The scallops were delicious. They were cooked perfectly. Outside of the scallops were caramelized well with a very tender inner flesh. The sauce was sweet and the pork belly that came on top of it was amazing!


HIDDEN GEM: Chimborazo

An Ecuadorian Jewel in NE Minneapolis

Chimborazo is an Ecuadorian restaurant located on the corner of 29th and Central Avenue in NE Minneapolis. It’s a small intimate restaurant that you can bring a lovely date to without busting your wallet.

Every Tuesday nights they half-price bottle of wine that you can share with your date. Or you can drink the bottle all by yourself-- your choice. And every Wednesday is date night-choose two entrees and a bottle of wine for $35. What a good deal! Hurry up and bring a date to this local gem.

For aperitivos we tried out the Llapingachos which are three cheese-filled potato pancakes with a side of eggs and peanut sauce. The dipping sauces at Chimborazo are tasty andyou can’t stop licking your fingers.

Chaulafan was the first entradas of the night. It’s an Ecuadorian fried rice with Shrimp, pork, chicken and eggs.  It was filling and savory. We could’ve shared this plate but we wanted more.

I love fried plantains. The second entradas was the Churrasco with fried plantains, beans, grilled flank steak hidden underneath a pile of fries and a fried egg on top of rice. This was a hearty and satisfying dish. The aji criollo green hot sauce tasted refreshing. I wanted to take a bucket of it home with me that’s how good it was.

Sadly, we had no room for dessert but do try their tres’ leches. It’s made in house.