An Nguyen’s Rice Paper is one place to enjoy dinner without a lot of noise.

TOM WALLACE • Star Tribune file,

Diner's Journal: Conversation-friendly restaurants

  • Article by: RICK NELSON
  • Star Tribune
  • April 18, 2014 - 12:57 PM

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,


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,


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,


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