Central Corridor light rail construction is making it difficult -- but not impossible -- to enjoy restaurants along its torn-up St. Paul-to-Minneapolis route. So get patronizing.
Although the place is called cupcake, this Prospect Park counter service cafe/bakery draws customers for its big breakfasts (love the "Daily Carb," which could be pancakes, French toast or other a.m. goodie), lengthy beverage menu (blueberry Arnie Palmer, anyone?), well-stuffed panini and made-from-scratch soups. And yes, the cupcakes are pretty special.
- 3338 University Av. SE., Mpls., 612-378-4818
Late-nighters, don't despair: Despite the disappearance of a navigable Washington Avenue, the Village Wok continues to cook to 1:45 a.m. daily. The Chinese classics menu is as vast as ever (shredded roast duck with preserved vegetables, moo shu pork with pancakes, bean curd/seafood soup, udon noodles with broccoli and a hot garlic sauce), the food still flies out of the kitchen and prices remain aimed at undergraduate budgets, particularly at lunch.
- 610 Washington Av. SE., Mpls., 612-331-9041
The obstacle course that is University Avenue has forced Russian Tea House and Piroshki owners Linda and Nikolai Alenov to limit their hours of operation to Fridays only, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. So carve some time out of your busy Friday for this one-of-a-kind establishment, noteworthy for its warm hospitality, low prices and tasty house specialties, including piroshki (beef-and-cheese-filled pastries) and chocolate-poppy rolls.
- 1758 W. University Av., St. Paul, 651-646-4144