Authentic restaurants and ethnic tastes in the Twin Cities


Claire Hallaway

Fresh, from falafel to fries. The Middle-Eastern deli and market on the corner of Selby and North Fry Street offers fresh food and options.

Claire Hallaway and Chloe Morse

Zait and Za’atar

Zait and Za’atar fosters a warm feel and offers fresh and delicious Middle-Eastern food at a great location. Only about two miles down from St. Paul Academy, it’s a perfect place to quickly grab something to eat after school.

The service is great and it’s clear as soon as you step into the restaurant that the workers really care that the customers have a positive experience.

When I first walked in, the owner introduced himself and helped explain the menu; what was really popular, what each dish was like and even offered samples of various teas and lemonades.

The falafel I later ordered was only $3.49 for 5 pieces and was unmistakably fresh. The outside was just crispy enough without being too dry and the flavor was delicious.

The Chicken Shawarma sandwich came within just a few minutes and was still steaming hot. The chicken was flavored excellently and the sandwich was more of a wrap, as the chicken was wrapped up in pita bread.

The sandwiches can be paired with fries or special Za’atar Fries, which are flavored with imported za’atar, which is a blend of thyme, marjoram and oregano mixed with toasted sesame seeds.

There are also plenty of great dishes that would be available to those who are vegetarian and are clearly marked on the menu. Gluten free options are also clearly marked on the menu and it offers many unique dishes.

The restaurant is easy to order from and can be a really casual restaurant depending on what you order. If you’re looking to try food outside of what might be served on a normal day, Zait and Zaatar offers a great opportunity to find a new favorite for a great price.


Claire Hallaway
Since being founded in 1987, Rainbow has relocated across the street but maintained their traditional dishes.

Nestled right in the middle of Eat Street in Minneapolis, Rainbow is an authentic, family-owned Chinese restaurant with amazing food, service and a special history.

Some of the most popular items on the menu are the egg rolls, the Szechuan wontons and the pineapple and basil chicken. I ordered all three to try and each one was delicious.

The wontons came only about ten minutes after we ordered, still steaming hot. The wontons are pork and shrimp dumplings with scallions and a black bean sauce. They were slightly spicy and the black bean sauce gave it an incredible and unique flavor. The dish was only $10 for the plate of about 9 large dumplings.

The chicken egg rolls came next and it was clear why they were a signature dish. Along with the chicken, the rolls were filled with delicious onions and carrots, giving a really fresh flavor. The outside of the roll was crispy without any of the oily feeling that some egg rolls have and it came at the perfect temperature. The cost for two large egg rolls was $8.

The pineapple chicken came last, it was lightly breaded chicken, pineapple, bell peppers, onions, and basil in a tangy sauce. Just like the other two dishes, the unique combination of flavors was incredible. The dishes were also completed by their presentation; each dish came on a beautiful and unique plate or bowl.

Rainbow is also unique in the way it was founded.The restaurant was run by a large Chinese family that started the /business in 1987. The oldest son in the family, Murphy Wong was born in Canton, China and later moved to Vietnam. His family came to the U.S. and stopped in both New York and San Francisco before finally settling in Minneapolis when he was 16 years old.

The first restaurant they started was actually across the street from its current location. When it was first started by his parents, Wong said that he and his siblings told their parents they would stay and help at the restaurants so they didn’t have to pay for labor and could instead focus on paying the rent.

Over the years, the restaurant has changed a lot; it has become more polished and the design is different, but it is still held together by the work of a family.

Wong described that his favorite part of working is cooking, but the best part is being able to try to create new, special things and keep customers happy.