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24 Hours in St. Paul
By: Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl | Posted: 03/05/2014
When I first heard that Mac’s Fish & Chips, the cult star of St. Paul fish and chips shops, was opening a second location in Minneapolis, I immediately thought, "Wow, Mac’s Fish & Chips, the cult star of St. Paul fish and chip shops, is opening a second location in Minneapolis!"
There isn’t a heck of a lot else to think about Mac’s: They serve phenomenally tasty fried fish and fresh fries from a roadside shack that doesn’t invite lingering and is beloved by everyone in St. Paul.
A few months passed, and then a few days after they opened I hauled down to 54th street just east of Lyndale, parked in one of the three parking spots outside the new spot and I can faithfully report, "Hey, Mac’s Fish & Chips, the cult star of St. Paul fish and chip shops, has a second location in Minneapolis! And it’s just exactly how you’d think it probably would be! The fish is crisp! Fresh! Kind of really airy in that Mac’s way! Also the fries are still really good! Really really good!"
The legendary halibut
That’s all I got. The space is brand new, spic and span, clean and simple. There are a few chairs, sturdy tables, bright lighting, a Coke machine, and a beer cooler. The menu is direct and simple: The legendary halibut (crisp and fresh and tender!), the legendary cod (crisp and fresh and tender!), the clam strips (crisp and fresh and tender!), and a few more things. Everything I tried was excellent, in the classic Mac’s sorta way.
There’s a very stripped down poutine with fries ladeled with brown gravy, and topped with fresh, squeaky cheese curds. They have two beers, a Finnegans and a Summit, saltwater taffy, bottles of vinegar on all the tables, and, hmm, did I leave anything out?
The bottom line is it's nice and close to the Diamond Lake exit off 35W. Convenient to a Kowalski’s and South Lyndale Liquors, in case you need to run some errands.
Oh, wait, one more thing! There are cardboard crates of fresh potatoes near the door. The potatoes come from Wisconsin. When I was eating in Mac’s and listening to high school hockey on the radio—like you do—an older gentleman in duck boots came in, spied the real crates of potatoes, and exclaimed, “You got the good stuff. Most people can’t afford the good stuff.” Becaus, let's face it, we live in a degraded world in which many people can’t afford real potatoes, but they can at Mac’s. And they’ve brought those real potatoes and real good fish to Minneapolis, to the delight of older gentlemen in duck boots and me.
Mac’s Fish & Chips, 612 W. 54th St., Mpls.; 1330 Larpenteur Ave. W., St. Paul, 651-489-5299, macsfishchipsstrips.com
Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl is a senior editor at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine.See bio
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