Yes, it’s possible to enjoy a conversation over dinner.
For the past six years, Citizen Cafe chef/co-owner Michael MacKay has excelled at updating familiar favorites at reasonable prices. Dinner includes a Rachel-style turkey burger, a better-than-Mom’s chicken-and-noodles dinner and gravlax with potato pancakes, and during weekend breakfast (Friday through Sunday) there’s shrimp and grits and pecan-studded caramel rolls scented with cardamom.
2408 E. 38th St., Mpls., 612-729-1122, www.thecitizencafe.com
It’s hard to believe that 15 years have passed since spouses Eliot King and Jennifer Jackson-King opened their Prima, which helped inspire the plethora of quality-minded neighborhood restaurants now flourishing on the streets of Minneapolis and St. Paul. The format has remained true to its roots: easygoing and freshly prepared Italian fare, at remarkably affordable prices. From Sunday through Thursday evenings, an ever-changing selection of bottled wines is $25.
5325 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls., 612-827-7376, www.primampls.com
Owner An Nguyen’s tranquil Rice Paper is the place for lighter, more refined versions of Vietnamese, Thai and Chinese classics: mint- and cilantro-packed spring rolls, crispy chicken-stuffed dumplings, beautiful rice plates, a fantastic (and egg-free) pad Thai and smoky grilled tofu with a lively ginger-lemongrass sauce. The restaurant is also a smart destination for diners with gluten-free and dairy-free diets.
3948 W. 50th St., Edina, 952-288-2888, www.ricepaperrestaurant.com