According to one of their servers, The Neighborhood Cafe in St. Paul has been The Neighborhood Cafe for around 10 years. Just sitting there quietly on Selby, hardly a block from Snelling Ave. It’s nothing new. But when you discover a place that makes you happy, it’s easy to feel like you’ve actually discovered it. Like you’re the very first patron to uncover its secrets and measure its worth. Maybe the place is special because it witnessed a first date or acts as a personal refuge from a hard day. But whatever your experience with The Neighborhood Cafe, it must involve satisfying food.
Go there for breakfast. On a Tuesday it’s quiet, on a Sunday it’s packed. But the food flies out fast and good and big in either case. My advice is choose whatever sounds unique. The Neighborhood Cafe does originals well.
The Migas! ($8, pictured above) are delicious, a comfortable combination of spicy and sweet. Eggs scrambled with jalapeno peppers are delicious with a spoonful of silky black beans. Once your mouth is sizzling, take a bite of the “silver dollar” cornbread pancakes. They’re actually huge and offer a sweet, fluffy foil to the warmth of the rest.
The Original Breakfast Chimi ($9) is another gut-busting winner. Pulled pork, tender threads of hash browns, caramelized onions, and a judicious bit of cheese are rolled and fried in a flour tortilla. The result is a giant, slightly crispy torpedo filled with spicy, citrusy goodness. Sour cream and a generous chop of fresh tomatoes and onions complete the picture. Fantastic.
The Cafe’s Whole Wheat Cottage Cheese Pancakes ($3 for one cake) sound funky but taste like a dream. Don’t be scared. They are nutty, moist, and plate-sized, with no individual curds in sight. These cakes are the definition of homemade. Corned Beef Hash ($9, pictured above) also does the trick. Diced potatoes and bits of beef are super-charred, salty, and delicious.
The only low point we found was in a plate of Eggs Benedict ($8). While the eggs were perfectly cooked, the hollandaise was essentially tasteless, and the ham a little tough. The hash browns on the side were well-charred but unseasoned.
Even so, this restaurant fulfills the criteria of every solid diner — attentive servers who don’t mince words, flowing coffee, and food that sticks to your ribs without regret. Even better, breakfast is served all day.
The Neighborhood Cafe
1570 Selby Ave
St. Paul, MN 55104
OWNERS: Mike Noyse and Dan Jones
HOURS: Sun-Mon 6:30am-3pm
BAR: Beer and wine
ENTREE PRICE: $3-12
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes / No