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Bill of Fare: Hopping on LRT can broaden culinary horizons

Foxy Falafel employee Gen Johnsen with a customer’s order of a Greek salad with a falafel and a side of cauliflower. The restaurant’s owner, Erica Strait, opened her lunch place half a block from the Green Line’s Raymond Avenue Station in St. Paul because she knew the light rail would rejuvenate neighborhoods along its path. Staff photo: Bill Klotz

Foxy Falafel employee Gen Johnsen with a customer’s order of a Greek salad with a falafel and a side of cauliflower. The restaurant’s owner, Erica Strait, opened her lunch place half a block from the Green Line’s Raymond Avenue Station in St. Paul because she knew the light rail would rejuvenate neighborhoods along its path. Staff photo: Bill Klotz

Although it’s often handy to slip out to lunch spots that are within walking distance, jumping onto the Green Line could transport you across the world. Thanks to the rich diversity of restaurant options along the line, you can sample fare from nearly any continent and still get back to the office for a post-lunch meeting.

Proximity to the Green Line has drawn many restaurant owners within the past few years, such as Erica Strait of Foxy Falafel, located half a block from the Raymond Avenue Station. She opened her lunch place in the midst of construction, because she knew that the line would rejuvenate neighborhoods along its path.

“There’s been such support for our restaurant, and others on the line,” she says. “We’ve really felt welcomed here, and we feel part of a vibrant food community.” The restaurant offers hand-crafted falafels, sauces, pickles, and handmade cheese curds, with most ingredients sourced locally from organic farmers.

Just a few stops closer to the Capitol is Flamingo, founded by owners from Ethiopia and Eritrea, who brought recipes from their countries as well as Somalia. The result is warm injera bread, rich curries, and artfully spiced meats.

Being so close to the Hamline Avenue Station has given owners Shegitu Kebede and Frewoini Haile the ability to attract new diners and showcase East African cuisine. Like Strait, Kebede also praises the business and dining culture along the corridor, noting, “It’s allowed [Flamingo] to grow and flourish.”

One more stop toward the Capitol in Frogtown is Ngon Vietnamese Bistro, specializing in a French-Vietnamese fare that relies on local and sustainable ingredients. Chef Hai Truong is known for creativity, and if you’re looking for a memorable lunch option, consider the “pho-strami” with Thai basil pasta, or the seemingly traditional burger — until you get to the hot sauce and Vietnamese pickles.

Up and down the Green Line, global eateries like these have changed the dining scene near the Capitol, and around the city. Time to hop on board and dig in.

Foxy Falafel

791 Raymond Ave.,

St. Paul 55114

651-888-2255

Cuisine: Middle Eastern

Two most popular dishes: Falafel, cheese curds

Cost range: $5–$12

Hours: Monday 11.am. – 3 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday 11 a.m – 8 p.m.

Delivery service? No

Closest Green Line station: Raymond

 

Flamingo

490 N. Syndicate St.

St. Paul 55104

651-917-9332

Cuisine: East African

Two most popular dishes: Lamb gyro, vegetable combo

Cost range: $11–$30

Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 11 a.m – 9 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Delivery service? No

Closest Green Line station: Hamline

Ngon Bistro

799 University Ave.

St. Paul 55104

651-222-3301

Cuisine: French Vietnamese

Two most popular dishes: Pho, Banh mi

Cost range: $11–$35

Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11 a.m – 9 p.m., Friday & Saturday 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.

Delivery service? No

Closest Green Line station: Victoria

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