By Phyllis Louise Harris
One of the most memorable experiences I had in China 30 years ago was a visit to the night markets in Chungking. Imagine narrow city streets filled with vendor booths and carts offering everything from food to clothing, to plants and animals. The sun had set and this mountain city was in complete darkness. The only lights were from bare electric bulbs hanging from wires strung on trees and poles. Despite the eerie look of the bright lights and pitch-black shadows, the place was packed with people looking for bargains or just meeting friends for snacks or dinner.
The closest thing we have to that experience is the Little Mekong Night Market on the Green Line on University Avenue from Dale to Marion in St. Paul. With more than fifteen restaurants nearby it is also a great place to enjoy some of the Twin Cities best Asian food.
In 2010, when construction began on the Green Line and University Avenue became a construction zone, businesses along the way were concerned about surviving the next four years with the decrease in customer traffic. To help overcome some of the problems eight business districts were created along the Green Line with special events, promotions, and anything that would keep customers coming to the torn up streets. Little Mekong was one of those districts.
From 5:00 – 10:00 pm the Night Market around Western and University is filled with guest artists performing dances, playing instruments, singing, drumming and offering a wide variety of Asian arts plus kids activities. Along with a variety of vendors and nearby restaurants, Little Mekong comes alive with opportunities for shopping, dining and just enjoying Minnesota’s cool autumn nights.
Here are just a few of the restaurants in the Little Mekong section of the Green Line on University Avenue starting at Dale Street and moving to Marion Street.
Al Hue Bakery & Deli, Vietnamese Pho Ca-Dao Restaurant, Vietnamese
Bangkok Cuisine, Thai Phuong Café & Deli, Vietnamese
Bankgkok Thai Deli & Supermarket Tay Ho, Vietnamese
Cheng Heng Restaurant, Cambodian Thai Cafe
Ha Tien (to go only) Trieu Chau Restaurant, Vietnamese
Lao-Thai Restaurant University Buffet, Asian
Little Szechuan, Chinese Wung Lee Supermarket Deli
Mai Village, Vietnamese
There are just two markets left this year, September 6 and 21. Take the Green Line to the Western station and you will be in the heart of the festivities. Help support those hardworking store and restaurant owners who survived the construction and are looking forward to meeting new customers the line will bring to the area.