Come Together: Eight Lunches, The Best Steak and the Richest Street

At the Best Steak House

I’m not a big steak eater.  I’m not vegetarian either, but, the steakhouse is not exactly a highly accessible restaurant for a college student like myself.  However, visiting the Best Steakhouse for our final installment on Lunch on the Avenue felt like a homecoming to an old relatives’ house.  The distinction isn’t lost on me that after seven weeks of lunching across food originating from four different continents, our last stop was a purely American outfit.  And, being received by the warm welcome of Greek owner Mike Hatzis solidified everything University Avenue is about.  Even one of the more “American” fares has a touch of international flavor.  The final Lunch of the Avenue series and my attendance of the Unify University parade raised questions to carry down University Avenue, as the construction edges its way to its final phases.

But first, the steak.  For Mike and the Best Steakhouse, that process has been steeped in over twenty-five years of experience, and it’s expressed both in how the orders are asked for quickly, cafeteria-style, and, the swift ignition of fire and meat on the grill that comes soon after.  I ordered the steak and shrimp, and along with a large cut of steak fillet and five breaded shrimp, any steak order comes with a baked potato, two pieces of texas toast, and a side salad.  The steak was rich, tender, and just simply totally worth stuffing myself silly.  I don’t have much experience with steak, especially with steak specialty restaurants, but if you don’t need the cloth napkins, and you don’t mind a little sass with your service, the Best Steakhouse more than meets any steak needs.  In fact, Mike and his wife are simply part of the attraction, knowing the faces behind one of the longest running businesses on the avenue.

As I drove our group back to Macalester’s campus, I began to reflect on what we had attempted to accomplish with the program.  There were goals, with the most significant being introducing the Macalester community to these businesses and their importance in the community.  I still have my concerns that not all of the needs of the businesses will be met, as I perceive a slight disconnect between all of the new that is coming onto University Avenue and what has already been there.

Perhaps I’m just a nostalgic person.  But, my thoughts were confirmed by my visit to the Unify University Parade.  I was able to witness the parade, comprised of businesses, church and community groups, families and supporters triumphantly march across University Avenue.  It was a small crowd who were there to simply spectate, but, the group was strong.  This was especially evident when, at the Open Mic gathering at the vacant Old Home factory site, Chili Lor, a community organizer with Center for Hmong Arts and Talent, spontaneously breakdanced during a drumline performance.  It was the true voice of the avenue, different communities coming together, which is what happens every day. I just hope that people continue to notice.

The writer,a guest blogger for St. Paul SPOT is Harry Kent , currently a senior at Macalester College, and a student employee at Macalester’s Civic Engagement Center.  Prior to that time, he was a community outreach coordinator and eventually, serving  a brief stint as Office Manager of the University Avenue Business Association.

September 19 – St Paul Picks

Minnesota 4-H Horse Show  at the Fairgrounds from 8 – 5.  Missing summer, or went to the State Fair, got lost in the  Midway, and need a fix of horse barns? You’ve got another chance. 

Lunch at mobile truck food court – If you’ve been meaning to all summer, let yesterday’s weather remind you, gorgeous late summer and early fall days are at a premium.  Take this opportunity to experience truly some of the best, “hand made”,  gourmet lunch on the street. 

Project 515 – There are two showings today of this” artistic representation of the real-life discrimination faced by same-sex couples and their families in Minnesota.” At the JCC (9:30) and again at William Mitchell College of Law (12;00)  Visit the website and see other upcoming events . 

Mesoamerica Resiste! Visual Workshop with the Beehive Design Collective – 7 – 9  pm at Macalester College. The Beehive Collective originates from Maine. You’ll have to follow the link for more information about this political collective, and their work described as “ a graphic narrative of the connections between colonialism, natural resource extraction, and militarization in the Americas, inspired by firsthand research and storytelling.”   

Move in day for Macalester students. I volunteered to help the freshmen class (Class of 2015!) move their belongings into the dorm, and spent the afternoon conversing with engaged young people from around the country while lugging fans and bedding into environmentally sensitive not too air conditioned dormitories.  

I remember arriving on campus via airplane and taxi cab around 2:00 a.m. on a fall day in 1971. Some  freshman lurking in the shadows, probably smoking a joint, helped me lug  2 suitcases to my dorm room in the now defunct Dayton Hall.  I’ve been in St. Paul ever since.

This year’s freshmen class has the red carpet rolled out for them. They pull up to the curb with vehicles exploding with stuff – refrigerators, t.v.’s, athletic equipment, musical instruments. They head off to Target to return with another explosion of plastic case goods.  The parents are reluctant to drive two blocks away to park their cars. I recognize the ambiguity in their faces-having deposited two sons off to college  myself in the last decade. 

Though I exerted little effort all afternoon, being on the campus where I lived for 4 years, and around the energy of parents parting from a lifetime with their sons and daughters, I am spent. 

Some St Paul Spots to check out this week

Monday, April 18 08:00pm MUSIC: McNALLY SMITH COLLEGE OF MUSIC SHOW!!!!   @  Minnesota Music Cafe 
Tuesday, April 19 All Day Event Public Eco-Art   @  Macalester College 
07:00pm Azar Nafisi – The Republic of the Imagination   @  St Catherine University 
Wednesday, April 20 07:00pm – 09:30pm At the Movies with Colin Covert   @  Macalester College 
07:00pm – 08:30pm LECTURE;Chris Hedges   @  Macalester College 
Thursday, April 21 07:30pm THEATRE: I Wish You Love   @  Penumbra Theater 
07:30pm Emerging Artists –   @  McNally Smith Auditorium 
Friday, April 22 07:30pm – 11:59pm MUSIC: DEMO weekly showcase   @  St. Paul Eagles Club 
08:00pm MUSIC: The AMAZING LEGENDARY WILLIE MURPHY BAND   @  Minnesota Music Cafe 
Saturday, April 23 07:00pm TC Terrors vs. Race City Rebels (Indianapolis, IN)   @  St Paul Armory 
08:00pm Paranormal Pajama Party   @  The Historic Mounds Theatre 
Sunday, April 24 08:00pm – 11:00pm MUSIC: Second Harvest Zydeco Benefit   @  Half Time Rec