These great restaurants prove St. Louis Park is anything but your typical suburb

St. Louis Park is both an all-American suburb and a microcosm of international cuisine. Only minutes from downtown Minneapolis, this community is home to dining experiences rich in both unique flavors and ambiance. From vibrant grab-and-go takeouts to chic dine-in bistros, many of the Twin Cities’ favorite eateries are actually St. Louis Park mainstays.

In contrast to the accelerated pace that defines life in the Twin Cities, St. Louis Park is decidedly laid back. So save yourself the hassle of waiting to be seated in the trendiest area restaurants. As you explore St. Louis Park , you may happen upon dining destinations that, while they’re located just around the corner, don’t yet appear on any city map. Ready to take a quick tour? Let’s get started!

Homestyle Favorites

Comfort food has come a long way from good old-fashioned meat and potatoes. At these St. Louis Park establishments, classic America cooking gets cosmopolitan.

Native Minnesotans and visitors to Minnesota alike love the upscale yet cozy atmosphere at The Loop 5331 West 16th St.) as much as they do the house specials. Those include grilled flat iron steak with parmesan gnocchi, shrimp fettuccini, Kung Pao tofu, generous rice and multigrain bowls, fish and chips — all dishes that perfectly showcase the melting pot that is American cuisine.

Casual and affordable, Mill Valley Kitchen (3906 Excelsior Blvd.) is ideal for either a celebratory family gathering or a relaxing brunch. Their menu may read very “Northern California,” but the recipes themselves are 100 percent Minnesota. From farm-fresh salads to low-calorie, high fiber and vegan versions of hearty favorites like chili (with cheddar grits) and burgers, the emphasis is on quality ingredients. For dinner, try the savory duck breast with lentils, crisp bacon, spinach, smoked tomato and roasted sweet potatoes.

Pub Life

These Irish-style pubs host frequent happy hours and serve great food alongside the expected beer, wine and cocktails. In fact, some of the best craft brews and artisanal spirits are produced right in St. Louis Park itself.

It’s all about the mac-n-cheese at McCoy’s Public House (3801 Grand Way). Build your own as you would a pizza, and by choosing from add-ons that run the gamut from “basic” — caramelized onions — to the “signature” — braised chicken chorizo or charred lobster. For even fancier feasting, pair your pint with a deluxe entrée such as the Hunter’s chicken or Creekstone black angus filet. And, if you’re looking for more of a quick bite, McCoy’s sandwich board is a great go-to. Both the Cuban and the Reuben are legendary in local circles.

A true neighborhood icon, Bunny’s Bar & Grill (5916 Excelsior Blvd.) has been a Twin Cities hangout since the repeal of Prohibition in the 1930s. Just don’t let the “bar & grill” moniker fool you. Bunny’s is renowned for their big breakfasts, available all day, every day. From the golden malted waffles to the French dip, nothing here is so fancy that it’s fussy. And what’s a pub without some sports showing on the televisions above the bar? Consistently rated one of the best sports bars in the city, Bunny’s is also a great place to catch the big game.

Off the Beaten Track

Food and travel go together like, well, peanut butter and jelly. Even if you cannot visit distant foreign lands, you can gain an appreciation for different cultures by sampling their cuisines. Whether you’re an adventurous eater or just someone who likes to wander, these one-of-a-kind St. Louis Park restaurants are more than worth a stop.

If your notion of Indian cooking begins and ends with “curry,” start at the Bluefox Indian Bar & Grill (5377 W. 16th St.). True to the region’n name, the foods associated with India’s Spice Coast can deliver some real heat. However, traditional Southern Indian recipes are mostly about carefully blending seasonings and making every dish as lavish as it is filling. Try an order of samosas, pakoras, dosas or frankies. The latter isn’t a hot dog, but cubed chicken (or lamb), cheese and vegetables wrapped in roti and brushed with egg. It’s almost the Indian equivalent of a burrito… only it isn’t!

Ariana Kabob & Gyro Bistro (7115 Cedar Lake Rd.) serves up dazzling Mediterranean flavors. Appetizers such as spicy hummus, eggplant sautéed in garlic yogurt sauce and coconut shrimp (complete with sweet chili and cucumber dipping sauces) are perfect for sharing, no matter how large or festive your party. Ditto Ariana’s sampler plate, loaded with plenty of pita bread to go around. And your taste buds haven’t experienced bliss until you’ve had their meatballs (kofta), prepared Afghani style and stewed in a thick, zesty gravy.

Pannekoeken Huis  (4995 Excelsior Blvd.) isn’t remarkable only because they specialize in authentic Dutch home cooking. It’s that their speciality is a traditional oven-baked pancake — pannekoeken — stuffed with all manner of sweet or savory ingredients. Breakfast is served all day, but the separate lunch and dinner menus contain their own delights. You don’t have to be longtime Minnesota fisherman to enjoy the walleye BLT, but it doesn’t hurt to know before you order just how much this delicately sweet white fish is prized by diners across the state. And don’t leave without trying the mettwurst, a smoked, almost salami-like sausage exclusive to the Netherlands.

The more time you spend in St. Louis Park, the more you’ll find lots to love. Not merely a Twin Cities suburb, St. Louis Park is community with its own character — and culture. The next time you’re staying the Twin Cities and weighing your dining options, remember that there’s much to discover in St. Louis Park.