We've discovered some new places to eat.
2208 W. 66th St., Richfield; 612-866-5061; aidamn.com
A former Taco Bell at Penn Avenue and 66th Street in Richfield is now a Mediterranean restaurant with an Egyptian accent. The food - kebabs, shawarma, gyros, falafel - is very good. If you like lamb, you won't want to miss the kofta kebab, perfectly seasoned ground lamb cooked on a flaming grill. There is also an awesome selection of toppings and sauces - and pink basmati rice that's almost too pretty to eat.
2. BRIX COFFEE, CREPES, CUSTARD
572 Commons Drive, Woodbury; 651-730-7284; brixcoffee.com
Who'd think you could find such a swell coffee and crepe bar in a Woodbury strip mall. This is a great place to meet friends or dine solo. There's even a patio to use on nice days. Choose from more than a dozen sweet and savory crepes. The batter is made from scratch, and crepes are made to order. Not to be missed are the provencale with chicken and thick, herby tomato-parmesan sauce and the fresh strawberry with frozen custard. There's decent coffee here, too.
3. BLUE LAGOON
540 Rice St., St. Paul; 651-224-7555; bluelagoonmn.com
New owners took over the old Lagoon Vietnamese restaurant.
1626 Selby Ave., St. Paul; 651-645-2160; mylulus.com
What happens when a young entrepreneur takes over a dilapidated convenience store? A miracle! Rouzbeh Toliati spent a year giving the former neighborhood spot a facelift and installing a fast-casual deli. The menu is a mix of Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and American, which means saffron fries, Greek salad and tabbouleh sharing the bill with juicy Lucys. If the fish tacos are offered as a special, you should get them.
5. SEVENTH HEAVEN
327 W. Seventh St., St. Paul; 651-222-0122
You truly can hide in plain sight. Exhibit A: Seventh Heaven. The coffee shop, cafe and antiques store all in one opened three years ago, but few people have yet to discover it in the triangular building on West Seventh and Leech streets in St. Paul. Owner Becky Harrington spent time doing missionary work in India, and it influenced her menu. In addition to breakfast sandwiches, French dips, hot dagos and chili, there are samosa burritos, curried meatball subs and authentic Indian chai, which tastes nothing like the thick sweet stuff served at big-chain coffee houses. And the comfort food is all reasonably priced - nothing is more than $8.
3909 Minnehaha Ave., Minneapolis; 612-728-9662; sosafoods.comcastbiz.net
At this Puerto Rican deli in a divey convenience store, you pay for your food in one place and soft drinks in another. You probably will have to wait for a table - and then share it. But none of this will matter after one bite of the shrimp mofongo, a fragrant soupy bowl of garlic mashed plantains. The chicken wings are also fantastic, and so are the potato-crusted pork chops and beans and yellow rice.
7. T-BOX BAR & GRILL
1431 147th St. N.E., Ham Lake; 763-413-9950; tboxbarandgrill.com
T-Box is a suburban non-sports bar, a non-chain restaurant that serves great food. No wonder no one outside of Ham Lake has heard of it; the locals probably want
8. UNIDELI AT UNITED NOODLES
2015 E. 24th St., Minneapolis; 612-721-6677; unitednoodles.com
The deli at this Asian market recently got a much-needed makeover along with a new menu, featuring dishes for grazers - tea-smoked eggs, agedashi tofu, roast pork, noodle bowls and sticky rice dumplings. The prices are easy on the wallet, and the open atmosphere makes it convenient to strike up conversations with people at neighboring tables about the wonderful dishes.
9. ZEN BOX IZAKAYA
602 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612-332-3936; zenboxizakaya.com
Remember this hip-looking little spot if you've got tickets to the Guthrie. Zen Box serves Japanese bar food - dumplings, sashimi, bento boxes, rice and noodle bowls - and it's all made from scratch, even the noodle broths. There's great ramen, terrific tuna poke and the best McNuggets in town (listed on the menu as chicken kara-age).
Do you have a favorite hideaway? Tell us about it at Facebook.com/PioneerPress.