Root Down DIA: First stop on our way to St. Paul, you can’t go wrong with a stop at Root Down’s DIA location on Concourse C. Not only is the food different and delish, the decor is super cool and worldly – literally. The ceiling has a mish-mash of world globes. My co-worker, Jennie, ordered the edamame hummus and I had the Farm to Table Cobb, sans bacon and blue cheese and subbed the dressing for a vinagrette. I ended up eating it on the plane and it was perfect. Also, I don’t know where they get their dates but damn, they are so tasty. Perfect texture and sweetness. We also each ordered a Coconut Gin Fizz, mine virgin because I don’t like gin. Refreshing and light! Yum.

The Liffey Irish Pub: After we arrived in St. Paul and checked into our hotel, we took off down 7th Avenue, near the Xcel Center. We stopped into a place, were seated and got up and left immediately and then wandered and wandered trying to find something that wasn’t burgers or all fried food. We landed at The LIffey which has a nice rooftop patio. I ordered the Punjab Glory, only after asking our server if the curry was actually good. Curry in an Irish pub?! Never heard of it. I’d also, the day before, had a very disappointed experience with Noodles & Co Curry (was trying out their zucchini noodles – underwhelming) and I didn’t want a repeat. She assured me it was good, their house recipe, so I went ahead. It was delicious! I ordered it vegetarian, the cauliflower and chickpeas were super. Jennie ordered the Cara Chopped salad which was supposed to have cheese curds on it and alas, it arrived without. She asked the server and she was told that it didn’t have cheese curds. We double checked the menu. It should have. Sad face. Speaking of cheese curds…

Washington Square Bar & Grill: On Wednesday night, I was lucky enough to have my friend Heather, who lives right outside of St. Paul, pick me up and take me to Washington Square Bar & Grill. We both had the pecan-crusted walleye. I’d been looking forward to having walleye and this did not disappoint. It was obviously a little sweet with the pecans and maybe maple in the butter that went on it but just sweet enough. Heather ordered their cheese curds and they were not like any I’d had before. For one thing, they were perfect little squares. They were filled with white cheddar and had a very light breading. SO GOOD. I wish I had one right now. This place has a nice patio too.

Saint Dinette: (photos above) On Thursday night after class, Jennie and I walked from our hotel (in the rain!) to Saint Dinette, which had been recommended by Heather’s sister. We started with the shishito peppers, where were served caesar salad style with dressing, breadcrumbs and bonito. Neither of us got a hot one! Jennie ordered the trout that came with vichyssoise, leek and potato. It was sooo good. As was her as big as her head biscuit. I was disappointed in the fried chicken. I never order fried chicken but it sounded really good for some reason. In high school, I worked in a Dairy Queen wanna be restaurant and you knew when it was time to change the fryer oil because the fries were super dark. I feel like that’s how this fried chicken was. Also, the breading was so thick and unforgiving. I believe I equated it to a football skin. The pickles were tasty though! We had the best service here, both of us immediately developing a crush on our young lady server.

Cossetta Market & Italian Grocery: On Friday night after training was through, my mom and sister picked me up and we whisked away to our amazing Airbnb further down 7th Ave. We decided to head to the Italian market up the street and make dinner at home, since the Airbnb had a huge, nice kitchen. On one side of this market, they have an Eatery and Pizzeria where you can get pizza, pasta, sandwiches etc. We headed to the grocery side and picked up Italian sausages from the butcher, we each choose a different flavor. Mine was chicken, parm and red pepper – YUM! We got some a giardiniera with banana peppers, pepperoni cubes and olives and some lettuce for a salad and mom and sis got tortellini with meat sauce. We also wandered over to their pasticceria and picked up a few chocolates and macaroons. Their chocolate on chocolate macaroon is to die for. We ended up with enough food to have a weird mish-mash breakfast.

Esker Grove: (in the Walker Art Center, photos below) Saturday found mom, sis and I at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. We decided to forgo the actual museum and instead have lunch and wander the sculpture garden. There was about a 20 minute wait for a table and when we were seated, we noticed that the employees all looked very miserable! Luckily, that didn’t affect our food. I had avocado toast with king crab, mom had veggie hash and a side order of biscuits. These biscuits were better than the one at Saint Dinette, and mostly because of the spreads that came with them. One was a raspberry lemon curd type and the other was pimento cheese-ish. Sis ordered the lemon ricotta crepes. I also had the Double Step, double espresso shaken with sugar and with an orange peel garnish. It arrived cold, which I not expecting but it was good nevertheless. This restaurant has so much to look at, inside and out. Good food and good people watching.

WA Frost and Company: On Saturday evening we were back in St. Paul and we met up with a childhood friend of mine and her two daughters at WA Frost. This place had the best patio and the inside of the restaurant was very fancy. I let the server talk me out of a trout salad and into an artichoke grilled cheese and that was a mistake! The sandwich was cold and the cheese was not gooey! Everyone else loved their food. Mom had a burger, sis the mussels, friend the curry sandwich and the fries were super good.

San Pedro Cafe: (Hudson, WI) My friend had mentioned how close it was to Wisconsin and we decided to head over the border to Hudson for breakfast. Hudson is the cutest little town! The main street drag has adorable shops and restaurants and there are tons of nice houses to drive around and stare at. At the cafe, we sat on the back patio which was really nice. Tons of flowers all over. Sis won this ordering round with the Cubano Benedict. A cuban with dijon hollandaise – genius! My mom got the breakfast pizza which looked really tasty. I was boring with the huevos rancheros. Their rice was Caribbean style and a little sweet.

After writing this, I feel like I ate my way through St. Paul and even into Wisconsin! I’m amazed I had time for four days of leadership training. If you are looking for an Airbnb in St. Paul…stay here: Artist’s Parlor. The photos in the listing don’t do the place justice, especially the rooftop garden.