After a long winter, spring finally has arrived. Just like that, the days are longer, bright green buds are appearing on the trees, and the fresh air is invigorating. Along with the change in season comes a change in appetites. We’re craving vibrant vegetables, light and flaky fish, verdant salads and fresh fruits. And so we’re bidding beef stew a firm farewell and moving on to lighter fare. From feta-sprinkled Greek salad and tender trout to flavor-packed veggie wraps, there’s something for everyone in this spring roundup of local dishes.
Asian Pear Salad
Lolo American Kitchen
The name “Lolo” is an acronym for “locally owned, locally operated.” This downtown Stillwater eatery is owned by Stillwater natives Brad Nordeen and Joe Ehlenz. Lolo serves American street food—chef-driven small plates, gourmet American options and hand crafted cocktails and craft beer—with flair and creativity. For a springtime treat, try the Asian pear salad ($7 for a small, $14 for a large), which is prepared with spring mixed greens, candied pecans, goat cheese and tart cherry vinaigrette. The fish tacos (market price) are another delicious option that leans to the lighter side. Your tacos will arrive in a handy taco stand, garnished with shredded cabbage, avocado, chimichurri sauce and salsa.
233 Main St. S., Stillwater; 651.342.2461
Jerk Chicken Lettuce Wraps
San Pedro Café
When you want something light and flavorful, San Pedro Café in Hudson always hits the spot. Instead of using heavy flour tortillas, San Pedro opts for butter leaf lettuce to wrap around spicy Jamaican jerk chicken. The kick from the allspice- and pepper-infused dry rub adds tremendous flavor to the jerk chicken lettuce wraps ($11.45), so you won’t even realize you’ve made a healthier meal choice. The wraps also include avocado, red onion, pico de gallo and grilled pineapple salsa. Skip the side of lemon habanero aioli for bonus healthy points (or don’t, because it tastes amazing). Another healthy and delicious option at this Caribbean café is the San Pedro chopped salad ($11.45). Not a textbook chopped, it has a bit of sass amid those chunks of romaine, thanks to the red onion, bell pepper, pico de gallo, carrot, jicama, pepperoni, smoked corn, cilantro-lime vinaigrette and queso fresco. Add fire-roasted shrimp or salmon for an additional $5.95.
426 Second St., Hudson; 715.386.4003
Mallards on the St. Croix
Boasting scenic views of the St. Croix River and delicious seafood, Mallards on the St. Croix in Bayport is a must-try eatery. It’s fun to get some appetizers for the table before diving into dinner. If you’re eating light, be sure to try the seafood cocktail ($10.99). It’s a cornucopia of southwest-style shrimp with avocado, peppers and tomatoes. For an additional $2.99, you can add crab, which is low in calories and high in protein. If you’d like to pair that appetizer with a salad, we recommend The Mallard ($3.99 for small, $7.50 for large). This salad is a bowl of delicate spring greens tossed with roasted pistachios, goat cheese and fig balsamic dressing.
101 Fifth Ave. N., Bayport; 651.342.0903
Grilled Scallop Salad
Scallops are one of the sea’s super foods: they fulfill 17 percent of your daily iron requirement and 12 percent of your daily calcium, plus they’re low in calories and packed with vitamins and minerals. On top of that, they taste wonderful in the Dock Café’s grilled scallop salad ($16)—a mélange of mixed greens, roasted root vegetables, cashews and red onions with champagne vinaigrette. Another tasty seafood option is the Atlantic salmon ($19), which is prepared with an apple cider glaze and served beside mashed sweet potatoes and fresh vegetables.
425 E. Nelson St., Stillwater; 651.430.3770;
Lemon Trout and Sprouts Sandwich
Revé Bistro and Bar
The neighborhood bistro that won hearts (and taste buds) on the south end of Main Street is now located in the Chestnut Building. Revé has first-date charm and quality service, which is why we’ll follow this eatery anywhere. When it comes to lighter, springtime fare, our favorite is the lemon trout and sprouts sandwich ($14) composed of pan-seared trout with lettuce, tomato, red onion and sprouts on a ciabatta bun. The flakiness of the fish paired with the brightness of the lemon and sandwich accompaniments hit the spot this time of year. Since asparagus is in season now, we also recommend getting a side of these irresistible stalks, prepared on the grill for $5.
200 E. Chestnut St., Stillwater; 651.342.1594
Phil’s Tara Hideaway
Owner Phil Barbatsis has family roots in Greece, so you know that his Greek salad ($6 for a small, $11 for a large) is the real deal. We can’t get enough of it—big chunks of feta cheese, olives, pepperoncini, fresh cucumber, vine-ripe tomatoes, bell peppers, onions and vinaigrette, all atop green romaine lettuce, as refreshing as it is colorful. If you’re looking for something a bit more substantial but still healthy, try the broiled jumbo shrimp ($19), served with soup or salad and your choice of another side. Shrimp are a high-protein and low-calorie alternative to other proteins, and broiling them is a lighter way to prepare them.
15021 60th St. N., Oak Park Heights; 651.439.9850
Garden Veggie Wrap
River Market Co-op
For the season’s produce at its most beautiful, stroll into the River Market Co-op, which is packed to the gills with organic, local fruits, veggies, meats and cheeses. If the weather is especially nice outside, why not go on a spring picnic and pick up your food at the co-op on the way? We like the garden veggie wrap ($6.99), which is available at the deli counter. It’s filled with avocado, spinach, tomato, cucumber, onion, sprouts and roasted red pepper hummus. The Ben Franklin ($6.99) is another healthy sandwich, stuffed with turkey, lettuce, tomato, avocado and Dijon mustard. Then, grab a piece of fresh fruit from the produce section before you hit the cash register, and you’re ready to go!
221 N. Main St., Stillwater; 651.439.0366