By Cortney Mohnk

Nowadays, everyone is busy, busy, busy! If a leisurely lunch is just a fantasy but you don’t want to sacrifice a delicious meal, try out these downtown foodie fixtures. While not grab-and-go type establishments, they are known for their fabulous service and professional vibe. They make the perfect spots for a lunch date, business meal or quick respite from the workday hustle and bustle. Still not speedy enough? Call ahead and take out!

Zelo
831 Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis, MN 55402
(612) 333-7000
www.zelomn.com

Since 1999, Zelo has been serving up fresh Italian to its Nicollet Mall patrons. Try the linguini di mare with scallops, shrimp, mussels and fish in a tomato broth, or the lasagna in both the classic or vegetarian versions. If you can spare some time for dessert, you should. The caramel sea salt custard, tiramisu and molten chocolate cake are all winners. If you’re looking for a faster version of the Zelo menu, try Zelino on the street level for to-go options.

The St. Paul Grill
350 Market St.
St. Paul, MN 55102
(651) 224-7455
www.stpaulgrill.com

Touted as one of the best restaurants in St. Paul for it’s sophisticated atmosphere and menu, The St. Paul Grill is also at a prime location for downtown professionals and those taking in Rice Park across the street.  The lunch selection is vast with many grilled specialties like filet mignon to choose from, but if speed is the name of the game, stay away from the big cuts of meat. Try the cream of Minnesota wild rice soup and roasted beet salad for a light meal. Want a quick sandwich? Opt for the lobster roll, black and blue burger, or cashew chicken sandwich on a croissant.

The Local
931 Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis, MN 55402
(612) 904-1000
www.the-local.com

This Irish pub in the heart of Nicollet Mall is a hot spot for downtown professionals. The popularity doesn’t inhibit the prompt service however. Have yourself a speedy mid-day meal of Irish classics like bangers and mash, corned beef tots, or fish and chips. The Local even has an alternate menu that is entirely-gluten free.

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Downtowner Woodfire Grill
253 W. 7th St.
St. Paul, MN 55102
(651) 228-9500
www.downtownerwoodfire.com

The Downtowner is a quick walk from St. Paul fixtures like the Xcel Energy Center but has free parking for diners driving in. The lunch menu is eclectic and covers everything from wood-fired pizzas to pasta, hot and cold sandwiches, and burgers. Check out the Greek-inspired pizza with olives, feta, spinach, red onion and oregano for a quick bite that is equally good as leftovers at your desk the next day. Salad lovers will enjoy the variety of options that can be topped with jumbo shrimp, steak or chicken.

Mercury Dining Room And Rail
505 Marquette Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55402
(612) 728-1111
www.mercurympls.com

Quick and tasty selections are the name of the game at this downtown Minneapolis lunch joint. Try the crab and avocado salad with oranges and cucumbers and a side of cheddar popovers for a light lunch. Heartier selections include the beef short ribs and fried chicken. Take a dessert to-go if you can’t stay to satisfy the sweet tooth.  The lemon tart, caramel custard and bourbon dark chocolate pie are all great options.

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