Monday, October 13, 2008

Shish - Saint Paul

Shish on Grand Avenue in Saint Paul, near the Macalester campus, has some of the best gyros I've found in the Twin Cities. I just grabbed some lunch while running around and picking up some Minnesota Wild tickets.

I had my first gyro while attending school at the University of Wisconsin in Madison Wisconsin. At the time, there were two incredible gyro joints on State Street. The only downside to having world class gyros so easily accessible, is I'm now spoiled and expect only the best. Shish definitely delivers the goods. Their gyros start out with a full grilled pita. I hate it when places try and stuff everything in a cold pita cut in half. That is not good gyro. Then Shish piles on the lettuce, tomato, onion, tzatziki sauce and more gyro meat than a human could ever fold up in a pita. This is good gyro.

I also picked up a chicken shawarma sandwich. Most places would call this a chicken gyro. The shawarma sandwich is just like their gyro sandwich just substitute the beef & lamb with sliced seasoned marinated chicken. I should also add Shish offers excellent hummus and soup as well as a nice little coffee bar and delicious cakes and pastries.

Shish is located at 1668 Grand Avenue between Snelling and Cambridge. Shish is open 7am - 11pm daily.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Pop - Saint Paul

I have Minnesota Wild tickets and I can't wait until the next game so I can go back to my latest hot spot find which is Pop!! downtown Saint Paul. Pop!! is the sister restaurant to the original Pop! in Northeast Minneapolis. I'm guessing this is the story behind the double exclamation marks. I have yet to visit the first Pop!, but I have heard nothing but good reviews. Pop!! Saint Paul is located in the old Fhima space on the corner of Sixth and Wabasha. I always liked Fhima and it's nice to see a new restaurant in this space. The space looks very much the same with a few slight cosmetic changes. If anything, feels more fun and casual. I think it would be a great place to take the kids for something different.

We decided to start out with the Pop!! fritters ($6.25) and the ... ($7.50) off the small plate menu. Both were great and the portions are very generous. We could have easily made a meal of just the appetizers. The signature fritters consisted of black beans, shrimp, cornmeal and served with a chipotle and a quasaca (Venezuelan avocado condiment) dipping sauces. The spicy fondue was served with grilled vegetables, cumin bruschetta, flat bread and plantain chips. I would not recommend ordering this unless you bring two or three friends to share with.

For entrees we went with the Swedish Meatballs and a Spicy BBQ Sandwich. Again, all the portions were very generous and we could have easily split either between the two of us. The meatballs were great, but tasted a little plain against all the other spicy food.

For desert we went with the Dulce De Leche filled crepes with candied hazelnuts and vanilla bean ice cream. For carmel lovers this is a must. It was awesome and I will definitely return just for the desert.

Pop!! has a decent wine & beer list with selections that compliment their menu nicely. It's definitely a great place to stop before or after a show if you have Ordway Theatre tickets or tickets to a Minnesota Wild game at Xcel Energy Center.