Ramble Plan Foxtrot: Joseph’s Grill

Weather: 24°F (-4°C)
Road Conditions: Salty, with slush in shaded areas.

Scarlet parks illegally for a photograph. We moved to a legal spot after.

The sun came out this afternoon, after a long absence. It was a welcome surprise, like an old friend dropping in for a visit. The Windsock and Crystal Ball Guild predicted clouds and snow flurries for most of the day, but we all know how accurate they have been lately.

I was energized by the warmth and light, so much that I hastily sketched out a new Ramble Plan to explore after work. Ramble Plan Foxtrot is really a modified R-P Bravo; there are only so many main routes I can take on the way home, at least until the good weather comes and I can ramble long distance.

Foxtrot diverges from Bravo at West 7th Street and Wabasha in downtown Saint Paul. Here I take a right and head across the river on the newish Wabasha Bridge. Just before the first stoplight, there is an entrance off to the left, into the parking lot of Joseph’s Grill.

I was a regular at Joseph’s, back when they occupied their old location at Concorde and State Streets, barely a mile down the hill from my house, “Ton-Up Manor”.

Working third shift at the time, I would ride my old Ducati 900SS home around seven a.m. and stop in for breakfast… er, just before going home to sleep. Yeah, third shift is a weird way to live. I often accompanied my Fajita Omelet with a Bloody Mary, the better to relax before bedtime.

Later, when I got a normal day-job, I stopped going to Joseph’s. Things had changed, my daughter was born, and the next time I went looking for the place, it was gone! Well, not completely gone, as in no longer existing. But they had moved, and were certainly changed at their new location. Bigger, better (according to some definitions of the word), certainly more profitable, the new Joseph’s fits right in with Saint Paul’s “Riverside Rennaissance”.

But I had grown attached to the old Joseph’s, and hesitated to try the new version, until tonight.

The new facility is huge inside, with lots of varnished woodwork, and plasma-screen televisions enough to rival any sports-bar in the area. The clientele trends toward overcoats and suits, and I began to feel a little self-conscious in my Aerostich. But then my waiter Tyler arrived, and I got down to this business of another Rush Hour Restaurant Review.

Joseph’s Fajitas reflect the whole “bigger and better” theme.
(Caution: Don’t click on the image unless you want to get hungry.)

I seem to remember the old Joseph’s had a Fajita Special night. You got enough grilled beef or chicken with onions and peppers, to fill three tortillas for around seven bucks. That was enough to satisfy most appetites, but it was nothing like the feast pictured above.

The Beef Fajitas I ordered tonight still came with three tortillas, but now the mass of fajitas has almost doubled, with only a modest increase in price. The salsa was fresh, though perhaps a tad milder than I remember, but still delicious. I could taste the chopped garlic and citrus in the marinade, and the vegetables were crisp perfection.

Tyler had to bring me a to-go box so I could take the sizable remainder home. This will make for a fine lunch at work tomorrow…

My only complaint was that the tortillas seemed to have been waiting awhile for me to show up. They were a little hard around the edges, and stuck together in the middle when I tried to separate them. This sometimes happens when you arrive for dinner at four-thirty in the evening.

Overall, it was a meal worthy of my memories of the old Joseph’s, and one that I shall return for again in the future. The rest of the menu looks intriguing, and if you live in the area, Joseph’s is definitely worth a visit. Their blend of Lebanese and Mexican heritage has always made for interesting dining.

The ride home was a familiar ritual: negotiating our city traffic in darkness with nobody seeing, much less looking-for, the maniac riding the scooter. With caution and quick reflexes, Scarlet and I made it home, safe and sound.

I’m feeling a bit reminiscent during these dark Winter days, and someone has requested another Cafe Racer Retrospective. If I get enough interest in the comments section, I’ll see what I can come up with this weekend.

14 Responses to “Ramble Plan Foxtrot: Joseph’s Grill”

  1. Bill Sommers Says:

    What is it about the Twin Cities that has such great looking meals served in these huge amounts with really good prices? I gotta figure this out.

    Check me for a “yes” vote for a Cafe Racer Retrospective. I’ll look forward to it.

    Have fun,

  2. michael Says:

    get on with it. cafe racers are almost as good as scooters,

  3. seagullplayer Says:

    I would sure read a good yarn about a cafe racer!

    The food looks great! Even if the outside of the place looks a bit too sheet metalish…

    Rubber down

  4. Sidewalk Dan Says:

    I had a business luncheon there last winter – and as Gary mentioned – the food was very, very good.

    Though we ate on the banquet side, don’t think we got your ho-hum banquet food. I believe we had the “Harvest Buffet 2″, which included the following (according to their website).

    Roast Turkey Breast, Walnut Stuffing
    Garlic Mashed Potatoes
    Vegetable du Jour
    House Salad, Dinner Rolls and Butter

    I think I’m drooling on my keyboard after pasting that and looking at Gary’s fajita… I think my oatmeal is calling. Sad, so sad.

    I can attest to the ambiance of the place – and unfortunately I was one of the suits… Anyway the food was excellent and the people were very nice – I’d recommend them to anyone.

    Be wary of the train of off Plato – we got stuck behind that beast for a good half hour.

    Sierra Delta out.

  5. Sidewalk Dan Says:

    Apparently the grammar check in my brain isn’t working this am – fajitas have me distracted.

    I apologize for writing like a high school sophomore (that should have been “train off of Plato”).

    Maybe a trip to Chipotle for lunch today will cure my aches…

    S.D. out.

  6. Gary Charpentier Says:

    Bill: Well, for one thing, you live out on the West Coast, right? EVERYTHING is more expensive out there. As a result, people probably eat less, hence the more, shall we say, svelte waistlines?

    Your Yes vote has been tallied…

    michael: So has yours, I think.

    SGP: That’s what turned me off about the new Joseph’s. That “economical metal building” trend is going to be the death of classical architecture. You should have seen the old place; Spanish influenced brick and stucco, made to mimic adobe. That’s 3 votes for the retro piece.

    Sierra Delta: I know an easy way to get around (over?) that train. Depending on which direction you are going, it involves Robert Street, Concorde Street (Now called Cesar Chavez something-or-other), and Wabasha. I’ll show you sometime…

    Ride well,

  7. Biker Betty Says:

    I am going to have to start reading your blog earlier in the morning. Reading your food critiques in the mid-morning is killing me, lol. The fajitas sure look good. Not too familiar yet with cafe racers – but count me in.

  8. Sidewalk Dan Says:

    52 SB to Plato WB and right at high noon the train, ambling at a baby’s pace, comes out to greet us. It got about 3/4 of it’s length across us – then decided to stop and reverse course – the entire flippin’ train…

    Roger on the SP route. I’m a little (read lot) green down in that area. I’d be happy to be your wing-man any day (hey, how did Val Kilmer get into this???).

    S.D. out.

  9. Gary Charpentier Says:

    Betty: Brunch is the most important meal of the day! Your vote is tallied, and since there are none against, we will proceed as planned.

    Sidewalk Dan: Remember… I’m not only Dangerous, I’m Dangerous AND Foolish. Which makes me, er, pretty Dangerous… I guess.

    Ride well,

  10. MatL Says:

    +1 more for the Cafe Racer Retrospective

    Those fajita’s are looking good even at 8:30 in the morning. That rambling meal plan book is shaping up quite nicely :-)

  11. Gary Charpentier Says:

    MatL: The Retro piece is already coming together. I’m tracking down and scanning photos right now, and will spend a leisurely weekend crafting the post.

    What should I call my book? “The Rambling Gourmet”? Or maybe “Rush Hour Repasts”? I think “Ride to Eat” has been done…

    Ride well,

  12. MatL Says:

    Hmmmm a book title…. (or even a website/blog title)

    Alliteration seems to help with catchy titles… how about something like….

    “Mouthwatering Meanderings”
    “Palate Pleasing Places”
    “Delictible Detours”
    “Epicurian Exits”

    or you could just drop the whole alliteration thing and go with the hard hitting (yet quite approriate) ….

    “Gastronomical Bypasses”

    Let me know what you think.

  13. Gary Charpentier Says:

    MatL: I’ll have my people call your people…

    Ride well,

  14. Dan Jones Says:

    You forgot to mention the beer selection at Joseph’s. Lots of it and they serve it COLD in the Summer.

    Our bicycle club (that’s a two-wheeler with no motor — one of my other passions) drops in once a year for dinner after a ride. We’re the sweaty bunch that they hide in the far back corner so as not to distress the civilized folks.

    Your crash reminded me of a couple of similar accidents during informal bicycle races in my youth. In both cases, I was able to manage three-quarters of an aerial barrel roll prior to impact. The first one left me paralyzed for half a day but I was able to shamble away from the second one only mildly shredded. Those happened at speeds of 25-30 MPH. I don’t even want to THINK about doing it on a cafe racer at speed. I’m glad you are still here to share with us.

    Perhaps we’ll cross paths at Motorcycle World.

    Scootin’ Dan