On Friday I hooked up with MSPD and his buddy Allan for lunch at Stockmen’s Truck Stop in South St. Paul. MSPD has raved about the place before under the Windmill Cafe thread and suggested we head over there for lunch. With him promising me a free meal, to appease the Budget Nazi, I was in and made the 25 minute drive there to dine in truckstop style.
I arrived a bit earlier than I originally expected due to light traffic and incorrect timing provided by Google Maps’ driving directions. I walked in the front door and found the restaurant to be packed at 11 AM. I decided that instead of standing in line against the wall near the front entrance I’d go back to sit in my car and wait. It was during this waiting period that I was approached by three different individuals asking if I was going to be backing out any time soon so that they could use the spot. Busy place for sure.
MSPD arrived right on time at 11:30 and we met up with his buddy and went back inside. You’re greeted by the usual truck stop/gas station counter, coolers, and piles of beef jerky but are also treated to the single largest collection of porn magazines I have ever witnessed within Minnesota’s boundaries. While I can’t say that I’m well versed in the print magazine porn trade I’m certainly no prude but even I was surprised by the breadth of topics covered. Something for everyone there at Stockmen’s.
The restaurant itself reminds me of many of the places back East I grew up eating at including one particular restaurant my father would take me to while on our way to weekend jobs. Simple booths were tightly packed in every available space while only permitting the least amount of space for seating and maneuvering throughout for both patrons and servers. With all the cold weather and the many people traipsing through the restaurant with salt covered shoes, the brown floor tiles were streaked with white salt marks. However each of the tables and booths were carefully scrubbed clean by a young man down on all fours with a slop bucket and a rag. Stockmen’s may be a truck stop but they definitely take pride in their operation.
After taking a seat our drink orders were immediately taken and not two minutes later the server was back to ask if we were ready to order our food. With an extensive array of items, specials, and selections available only on the table tents, we needed more than that to take in the lay of the land. Eventually we made our choices and another server came over to take care of us for the rest of our meal.
MSPD ordered their corned beef hash which came with two eggs and a short stack of blueberry pancakes. His buddy ordered their Ham and Swiss Twist (which came served on a soft pretzel bun and was referred to by the server as the “very popular Twisted Sister sandwich.”) I, against the advice of MSPD, chose the Veal Parmesan. Later when MSPD asked the waitress what items were made in house she rattled off a variety of choices including steaks (cut from the loins in the back), pancakes, the corned beef, etc. She then noted that there aren’t any items which she isn’t proud to serve except the liver which she noted–with a smile–was, “just evil.”
In typical truck stop fashion–as they’re catering to a crowd looking for gas, a shower, and a meal all in as little time as possible–our meals were out quickly and they were each meant to feed an army of one. MSPD’s corned beef hash was not your typical dog foodish, out of a can, mess but instead was a beautiful conglomeration of eggs, potatoes, flavorful and tender but not mushy corned beef that made me question my choice almost immediately. While they would not poach the eggs as MSPD originally asked for, the waitress kindly offered “basted” as an option instead, something which several commenters on a recent poll about preferred egg cooking methods noted as their favorite. MSPD powered through his meal with reckless abandon as I could only admire and hope that he would provide me with more than the single nugget of corned beef he parted with so I could get a taste and he could sit there with a smug smile knowing that he was right. Jerk.
While I didn’t try any of Allan’s Ham and Swiss twist sandwich he made a few mentions of how good it was. Based on the soft pretzel bun alone I’m willing to bet that I would have enjoyed it immensely myself. In addition to the sandwich and interesting bun, he had a pile of fries that quite possibly could have fed all three of us plus some. Definitely enough for the usual trucker clientele and certainly enough for anyone casually stopping in there for a simple lunch with friends.
My veal parm, like the other meals on the table, came portioned for two plus. Plenty of spaghetti, melted cheese, sauce and hugged by two very large and very thick slices of perfectly toasted and very buttery garlic bread I was already foaming at the mouth when I began to dig in. The breaded veal cutlet was large, thicker than I expected for the price, and was as tender as any other cut of baby cow I’ve ever had before. My sole complaint of the entire meal was the fact that the sauce was entirely too sweet for me as I prefer a bit of spicy bite (surprise, surprise, I know) in my sauce rather than a mouthful of sugar. While I had a side of coleslaw, it was not memorable and not worth going into any more detail than, “it was there and I probably shouldn’t have ordered it with veal parmesan.”
In addition to the great food and atmosphere was the excellent service. Our waitress, a woman old enough to be my grandmother who works every Christmas with a smile, was wonderful. Not only was she quick witted and funny but she was also amazing at her job. Our very, very short water glasses were rarely empty and she was genuinely interested in ensuring that we were pleased with our meals. While the meal was good, it was made so much better with her helping to guide the way.
Overall I was impressed with Stockmen’s Truck Stop in South St. Paul. While not a place I’d frequent due to distance alone, I came home and told The Wife that we’d have to get over there for breakfast someday. Being that the place is open 24/7/365 perhaps I’ll stop in there some day after an all night road trip to refuel just before hitting the sack as I will dream of that missed opportunity to try more of that corned beef hash until that day.
Have you ever eaten at Stockmen’s Truck Stop in South St. Paul? If so what did you have and what did you think of the place? What other restaurants around town do you think are similar in menu selection, service, and atmosphere? If you haven’t been there before would you go after reading this review? Whatever you have to say about Stockmen’s go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear your thoughts.
501 Farwell Ave #2
South Saint Paul, MN 55075
See all the pictures from Stockmen’s Truck Stop on Flickr here.