The Bar Guide 2015: Neighborhood bars

Rounding up the best neighborhood bars in the Twin Cities.


Updated 4/2/2015

Heyday *NEW*

2700 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls. • 612-200-9369 • www.heydayeats.com

Jim Christiansen’s destination-worthy dishes have the metro abuzz. But Uptown dwellers know Heyday’s bar side is a relaxed place to enjoy a soy sauce-spiked Bloody Mary or any of Britt Tracy’s libations without a reservation. Exposed brick and reclaimed wood lend a comfortably hip vibe, while the Replacements quote behind the bar honors the neighborhood’s legacy.

 

Red Cow North Loop *NEW*

208 1st Av. N., Mpls. • 612-238-0050 • www.redcowmn.com

People who live near a Red Cow frickin’ love them, and the mini beer and burger empire is spreading like tomato jam on its Royale burger. Its latest and largest North Loop outpost is a welcome everyday option in a neighborhood rife with special-occasion restaurants, and it arguably boasts downtown’s best beer list. Approachable cocktails by Ian Lowther don’t hurt, either.

 

Tinto Cocina + Cantina *NEW* 

901 W. Lake St., Mpls. • 612-354-2130 • www.tintompls.com

Add a bar rail, a few barrel high-tops and two colorful murals, and presto: Spill the Wine became Tinto. New owner Rebecca Illingworth, formerly of Bin Wine Bar, now deals in tacos with handmade tortillas, which are well worth the effort. Beer prices are a touch high, but $2 off during happy hour.

 

Sweet Pea’s Public House *NEW*

472 S. Snelling Av., St. Paul • 651-698-0100 • www.sweetpeaspub.com

Green Mill honcho Paul Dzubner flipped the old Goby’s into his version of an inviting neighborhood bar.

 

Emmett’s Public House *NEW*

695 Grand Av., St. Paul • 651-225-8248 • www.emmettspublichouse.com

St. Paul can’t have too many Irish pubs, and Peter Kenefick of Dixie’s on Grand recently christened this adjacent Celtic tavern.

 

The Blue Door Pub

A wholly unpretentious, come-as-you-are pub. The Blue Door offers nothing more than the healing properties of cold beer and good beef patties done to perfection. Don’t let the “gourmet” Juicy Blucys fool you — this grub is all the way classic: squishy bun, spot-on temperatures and, of course, gooey cheese. (1811 Selby Av., St Paul • 651-493-1865 • www.thebdp.com.) (Mecca Bos)

 

Blue Door Longfellow

The Blue Door’s west-of-the-river watering hole runs its small bar area tight (you have to be seated) and BDL’s lengthy beer-garden benches are casual and convivial. (3448 42nd Av. S., Mpls. • 612-315-2470 • www.bluedoorlongfellow.com.)

 

The Bulldog

There’s a reason for the proliferation of this franchise: They’re solid bars. With about 30 taps and an extensive variety of bottled beer, there’s gonna be something to fit your personal drinking profile. (2549 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls. • 612-872-8893 • www.thebulldoguptown.com.) (Spencer Doar)

 

Buster’s on 28th

A worthwhile destination for folks of all ZIP codes looking to get their beer-and-burger fix. A deep, well-groomed draft lineup with a build-your-own-flight option makes this corner tavern a South Side beer-sampler’s paradise. (4204 28th Av. S., Mpls. • 612-729-0911 • www.busterson28th.com.)

 

Eli’s Food & Cocktails

This E. Hennepin sister bar to the original downtown Minneapolis location warrants a trip with its modest but commendably tended beer list and a mature menu. Eli’s is simply lovable. (815 E. Hennepin Av., Mpls. • 612-331-0031 • www.elisfoodandcocktails.com.)

 

Groveland Tap

Burger-bar endeavor from the Blue Plate restaurant empire. If a visiting friend is looking for a true Minnesota Nice experience, a burger and a beer, head on over. (1834 St. Clair Av., St. Paul • 651-699-5058 • www.grovelandtap.com.) (S.D.)

 

Grumpy’s Northeast

Grumpy’s classic Nordeast outpost is nothing if not “what a bar is.” Pro bartenders, solid drinkin’ grub and fine ear candy are all mainstays. (2200 NE. 4th St., Mpls. • 612-789-7429 • www.grumpys-bar.com.) (M.B.)

 

Keegan’s Irish Pub

Guinness toucans flutter in suspended animation on the walls. Irish music can be heard weekly and while specials are far from unordinary, they do feature larger pours. (16 University Av. NE., Mpls. • 612-252-0880 • www.keeganspub.com.) (S.D.)

 

The Lowry

One part casual eatery, one part beloved hipster hangout, and one part beer-and-oyster pub. Bring the kids for Mickey Mouse pancakes, bring your buddy for a beer and a burger, bring a book and sip wine in the corner all by yourself. (2112 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls. • 612-341-2112 • ww.thelowryuptown.com.) (M.B.)

 

Mac’s Industrial Sports Bar

This no-frills sports saloon is a convenient cubbyhole that draws a mixed, down-to-earth clientele. Mac’s offers a variety of nightly specials, a sturdy tap list 27-strong and seriously underrated bar food. The snug bar area is adorned with a few TVs, empty Grand Marnier bottles and a Big Buck Hunter machine, which every workingman’s bar should have. (312 Central Av. SE., Mpls. • 612-379-3379 • www.macsindustrial.com.)

 

Merlins Rest

At this British Isles-themed pub, it literally feels like the whole neighborhood flocks there like some daily flash mob. Their whiskey selection is so comprehensive and full of Gaelic-derived names that it makes a newcomer’s decision near impossible. (3601 E. Lake St., Mpls. • 612-216-2419 • www.merlinsrest.com.) (S.D.)

 

Morrissey’s Irish Pub

When a whiskey craving strikes, the quaint drinking den is a welcome alternative to louder and larger Irish bars, as Morrissey’s will likely draw more regulars than high-volume revelers.(913 W. Lake St., Mpls. • 612-465-8555 • www.morrisseysuptown.com.)

 

Moscow on the Hill

Does anyone know what “Nazdrovia!” even means? It doesn’t real­ly matter: If you indulge in what Moscow on the Hill claims to be the largest vodka selection in the United States, you’ll be saying it. Loudly. Nazdrovia! (271 Selby Av., St. Paul • 651-291-1236 • www.moscowonthehill.com.) (M.B.)

 

Nightingale

The stylish and elegant room might say “restaurant,” but at its heart it’s really a bar, with a serious cocktail program and only small plates that encourage lounging and lingering. (2551 Lyndale Av. S., Mpls. • 612-354-7060 • www.nightingalempls.com.) (M.B.)

 

Northeast Social

The gentlemen of “The Social” are no ordinary restaurateurs. They are the sort of men who bring their sensibilities from years of world travel. Who wear white linen pants with shoes that match, who deliver gratis snifters of beer, ring a bell and declare a “social.” This means it’s time to raise a glass and imbue the space with even more of its indelible conviviality, its tin-ceiling grandeur, its white-linen-pants air of special occasion. (359 13th Av. NE., Mpls. • 612-877-8111 • www.northeastsocial.com.) (M.B.)

 

The Nook

For a study in what a St. Paul burger bar is supposed to be like, look no farther. This is as solidly working-class, good-old-fashioned and real-deal Minnesota as they come. Order a beer and a burger, nothing more, nothing less. Plus: a vintage bowling alley in the basement. (492 S. Hamline Av., St. Paul • 651-698-4347 • www.crnook.com.) M.B.

 

Pat’s Tap

Take everything that’s good about Wisconsin bar culture, mix in a few things that are just plain good no matter where in the world you are (Skee-Ball and pork belly) and throw it all together in the hip Lyndale neighborhood. This is the place to enjoy your beer the old-fashioned way: in a can. Pat’s has taps, too. And cheese curds. (3510 Nicollet Av S., Mpls. 612-822-8216 • www.pats­tap.com.) (M.B.)

 

The Sample Room

The Sample Room still boasts the vintage charm of yore. Only now, in addition to beer (and spirits and wine) one can sample, say, rainbow trout en papillote. Three-dollar happy hours make the sampling that much sweeter. (2124 NE. Marshall St., Mpls. • 612-789-0333 • www.the-sample-room.com.) (M.B.)

 

Seventh Street Social

Follow W. 7th Street out of downtown St. Paul, and eventually you’ll hit this upscale-truck-stop-looking bar and restaurant in Highland Park. The comfortable gastropub-y bar features 16 mostly local tap beers. It’s the kind of place you could bring a kid to or belly up between smokes and rounds of darts. (2176 W. 7th St., St. Paul • 651-330-4688 • www.seventhstreetsocial.com.)

 

Stanley’s Northeast Bar Room

Stanley’s makeover of the storied Stasiu’s brought about a beefed-up beer list, with 32 taps. Stanley’s has a small-town sensibility (bingo games, meat raffles), but its microbrew focus smacks of city sophistication. (2500 University Av. NE., Mpls. • 612-788-2529 • www.stanleysbarroom.com.)

 

Sweeney’s Saloon

This Selby-Dale saloon smacks of St. Paul ethos. The unpretentious barroom has a cozy, quiet character and the hometown beer (uh, Summit) is dutifully repped during happy hour. In the summer, the most sought-after seating is on the two-tier back patio. (96 N. Dale St., St. Paul • 651-221-9157 • www.sweeneys saloon.com.)

 

Town Hall Tap

At this Town Hall Brewery outpost, cornerstone beers like its citrusy signature Masala Mama IPA are always flowing, like fresh air does when the bar’s garage doors open in the summer. (4810 Chicago Av. S., Mpls. • 612-767-7307 • www.townhalltap.com.)

 

W.A. Frost

At this stunning Cathedral Hill stalwart, you might almost expect a white-gloved butler to come to your service. And yet, for all its history and gilded charm, Frost manages to remain a place-for-all-occasions; a jeans-clad stop for a pint, a festive birthday party for two dozen, an elegant flute of sparkling in the legendary garden. (374 Selby Av., St. Paul • 651-224-5715 • www.wafrost.com.) (M.B.)

 

Ward 6

In the relative food desert that is St. Paul’s East Side, along has come the sort of bar that other neighborhoods take for granted. The sort of bar in a restored vintage building with a hand-carved bar, where a pint of Hamm’s and a solid burger is treated as the obvious right of a hardworking man. Where the menu is designed for drinking and the beer flows like water. (858 Payne Av. • 651-348-8181 • www.ward6 stpaul.com.) (M.B.)

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