A trip to Cafe Latté is a must for anybody living in or visiting the Twin Cities. Located on St. Paul’s famous Grand Ave., Cafe Latté has what is arguably the best cake to be found in the Twin Cities area. In addition cake, they also offer several different types of soups, salads, and sandwiches, which vary from day to day and season to season.
I was first introduced to Cafe Latté back in 2009 by my cousin Ariana. The occasion was my birthday, so cake was much in order. Since that time, I’ve been back for more delicious cake no fewer than ten times. You see, Cafe Latté has great soups, salads, and sandwiches, but the cake is the real reason that everybody goes there — and it’s a good reason indeed. The cake is amazing, phenomenal, extremely delicious, and rumored to be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.
Of course, Cafe Latté also sells dinner items for those whose appetite is larger than their huge pieces of cake. This time, Jane and I decided to share a salad sampler ($7.95 for three salads; see picture) and a bowl of basil butternut squash soup ($5.95). With each plate of salad and soup you order, you are given a choice of several different rolls. Since Jane was excited about the rolls, I let her pick both, and we wound up with a focaccia roll and a sourdough roll — both excellent choices.
The three salads we ordered with the sampler were the chicken Caesar pasta salad (left), a black rice and pea salad (bottom), and what claimed to be a pesto vegetable salad (right). Jane liked the Caesar chicken salad the best (recipe here!), and I liked the black rice salad the best. We both agreed that the “pesto” vegetable salad was lacking, due to there being no pesto flavor whatsoever — how can you have pesto without any basil?
At any rate, we were satisfied with our meal, and after dinner, it was time for dessert. Our most recent trip to Cafe Latté was made on St. Patrick’s day, which Cafe Latté celebrated by offering a delicious chocolate, Irish cream cake. Needless to say, Jane and I decided to celebrate St. Patrick’s day with them by ordering up a piece ($5.95).
As is always the case with their cake, the frosting on this one was sweet, but not too sweet, creamy, but not milky, and fluffy, but not furry. The cake texture was also up to par with their others, being of a quality that melts in your mouth while being just sweet enough and just bread-like enough to be better than the likes of ordinary cakes. The Irish cream cake was a win for sure.
Price: Cafe Latté is a reasonably priced restaurant for the quality of the food. Soups and salads seem to cost around $6 per plate and bowl (a cup of soup is cheaper, but very small), and a slice of cake usually runs about $6. A date for two to Cafe Latté will probably cost around $25 to $30 depending on how much is ordered.
Service: Cafe Latté tends to have a cafeteria style sort of service where you peer through the glass case and have the servers dish up a plate or piece of cake. If you are too snobby for this (à la Macalester College bred), then you might want to try the wine bar in the back of the place, where you can be waited upon. One bonus to the wine bar is the ability to order from their delicious woodfired oven pizza menu — recommended for a change of pace. The atmosphere of the place is nice, with dimly lit lights and art from local artists adorning the walls.
Specials: Cafe Latté offers various seasonal dishes and cakes, so be sure to be on the lookout for them. Prices usually do not change when these seasonal items appear, but on occasion day-old bread or cakes from their bakery are offered at a huge discount, and are definitely worth picking up (e.g. a bag of 6-8 of their day-old rolls for $1).
Parking and Transportation: Cafe Latté is located at 850 Grand Ave in Saint Paul, MN (Victoria and Grand). Being on Grand Ave, a place as busy as Cafe Latté would normally pose a parking nightmare. While it’s true that parking directly next to the building may be an issue, it is usually not difficult to find a parking spot nearby in the large parking lot just northwest to the restaurant between Grand and Summit avenues (behind the Chipotle on Victoria street). As for public transportation, Metrotransit bus 63 is the bus that goes down Grand. Bus 63 seems to run about every half hour and usually leaves Cafe Latté on the :00 and :30 minute marks in the westbound direction on weeknights — check metrotransit.org for more details.
Verdict: Cafe Latté is a great place for lunch and dinner alike. The soups and salads are great, but can be hit-and-miss on the rare occasion. Nevertheless, Cafe Latté lives up to a good reputation in this regard. Furthermore, Cafe Latté is an epic win on dessert — try the cake, you’ll love it! Overall, we give Cafe Latté four thumbs up and highly recommend it.