Babani's Kurdish Restaurant544 St. Peter St St. Paul, MN 55102 US +1-651-602-9964
DOWNTOWN. Babani's prides itself on being "America's first Kurdish restaurant." The storefront eatery offers unique atmosphere and is a great place for somewhat adventurous dining. Named after a Kurdish tribe, Babani offers traditional dishes like onion-tinged niskena soup and kubay sawar, a dumpling made with lean beef and vegetables. No meal can be complete without sampling the homemade Kurdish lemonade that is, if the imported Omani lemons have made it in!
Beirut Restaurant1385 S Robert St St. Paul, MN 55118 US +1-651-457-4886
WEST ST. PAUL. This appealing Middle Eastern restaurant enjoys a fine reputation with the downtown lunch crowd, and it's not uncommon to see more than one table filled with business people. Beirut serves traditional Lebanese dishes like baba ghanouj, beef and lamb kebabs, hummus, and falafel. If you can't come at lunch for one of their awesome pitas, make an effort to show up for dinner on Friday or Saturday night when patrons are treated to belly dancing or on select Saturdays when there is live Arabic music.
Cheng Heng448 University Ave St. Paul, MN 55103 US +1-651-222-5577
MIDWAY. Looking for a taste of Cambodia? Cheng Heng has just what you need. This popular restaurant boasts a menu that's at once exciting and exotic. If you stop in for lunch or dinner, try authentic dishes like quob poob (curry noodles soup), plear (a salad of sliced beef and sauce-covered vegetables), or leah chah (mussels sautéed with Asian basil, garlic, and scallions). Don't be put off by unfamiliar names; just dive into the restaurant's terrific Asian fare.
Mirror of Korea761 Snelling Ave N St. Paul, MN 55114 US +1-651-647-9004
EAST ST. PAUL. Mirror of Korea, which St. Paul swiped from Minneapolis, offers authentic Korean cuisine spicy and not "watered down" for American palates. Owner Lee Yong enjoys a loyal following, who praise her barbecue ribs as being among the best in the Twin Cities. Menu favorites include vegetable and chicken stir-fries and bi bim bah (cooked veggies served cold over rice and smothered in pepper sauce). The restaurant's storefront location just east of downtown makes it an ideal lunch destination for the business set.
Sakura350 St. Peter St St. Paul, MN 55102 US +1-651-224-0185
DOWNTOWN. If you're looking for good sushi, many locals will point you to Sakura. Miyoko Omori's cozy restaurant enjoys a fine reputation for excellent service, elegant atmosphere (complete with a stylish loft), and a terrific sushi chef, Ono Katsuyuki. If you're not primed for the house specialty, Sakura offers a regular menu that includes traditional dishes like tempura chicken, salmon teriyaki, and yose nabe (a fish, shellfish, and vegetable stew).