The Naughty Greek
Best name ever? At his cheery counter-service storefront, owner Angelo Giovanis focuses on quick-service street fare: eggplant-bell pepper spread with pita, tabbouleh, gyro (pork, chicken or beef) with pita, plus shareable, sold-by-weight meat platters (lamb chops, beef skewers), all at affordable prices. Lunch and dinner Tue.-Sun.
181 N. Snelling Av., St. Paul, 651-219-4438, thenaughtygreek.com
Rustica Cookies and Creamery
Dairy Queen, it’s not. When chef Ben Spangler thinks “soft-serve” and “chocolate,” he turns to premium Valrhona, and the deep, rich flavor is exceptional. And who knew that “sweet potato pie” would become the soft-serve flavor to beat? The “cookies” side of the counter features four Rustica classics (don’t worry: The bakery’s trademark Bittersweet Chocolate cookie is there), plus a few newbies. Open 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sun.
Mall of America, Bloomington, rusticabakery.com
Chefs Stephan Hesse and Tyge Nelson (formerly of Libertine and Chino Latino, respectively) have joined forces to focus on modern Mexican fare, setting up shop in the handsome historic building that was most recently home to Glockenspiel. It’s the place for six salsas, nine taco options (hello, smelt-Brussels sprouts) and a handful of wood-roasted entrees (chile-glazed pork chops, a weekly seafood special), all at $22-and-under prices. Big cocktail program, too. Lunch and dinner daily.
605 W. 7th St., St. Paul, 651-340-9545, pajaritostp.com