- James Norman
Visitors to Saint Paul will immediately find themselves immersed in a city full of cultural and culinary delights. With notable residents including wordsmiths F. Scott Fitzgerald and August Wilson, and acting as the host of the annual Saint Paul Winter Carnival, Minnesota’s capital has a lot to offer. We explore 10 of the best cultural restaurants in Saint Paul, from local cafés to elegant fine dining establishments.
W.A. Frost and Company
W.A. Frost prides itself on providing an impeccable fine dining experience. Open for more than 35 years, the restaurant has won several different awards for high standards, fine wines and outstanding outdoor dining. The ambient patio area is the perfect place to enjoy a romantic meal on a warm evening. Describing their cuisine as ‘classic American fine dining’, visitors to W.A. Frost will no doubt enjoy the seasonal menu, with ingredients sourced locally from sustainable family-run farms. Housed in the Richardson Romanesque Dacotah Building, the restaurant takes its name from the W.A Frost Pharmacy, which previously sat in the same spot, and acted as a former hub of the community before the outbreak of the Second World War. Architecture enthusiasts will be bowled away by the arched windows and exterior of this 1889 masterpiece, as well as enjoy the ornate interior décor, which was built using elegant, salvaged goods from across America.
W.A. Frost and Company, 374 Selby Avenue, Saint Paul, MN, USA, +1 (651) 224 5715
Described as ‘a little slice of Paris in downtown Saint Paul’, Meritage is the place to go for a taste of France. Combining classic French cuisine with modern American cooking, there are numerous suggestions available, courtesy of chef Klein. With melt-in-the-mouth flavours, diners can choose from tender trout to smoked mushrooms, from oysters to mini pea pancakes, followed by crème brûlée or another sweet treat. The owners of Meritage held their wedding ceremony here, fell in love with the venue and made it their own; their passion towards the award winning restaurant is clear.
Meritage, 410 Saint Peter Street, 6/7 Downtown, Saint Paul, MN, USA +1 (651) 222 5670 or +1 (651) 222 5670
The Happy Gnome
After a walk along Selby Avenue, The Happy Gnome is the perfect place to stop and take some refreshment. The restaurant offers a delicious and diverse range of dishes including duck bolognese, dry rubbed wings, PEI mussels and a variety of pretzel selections, specialties prepared by Chef Scott Brink. Aside from great tasting food, there’s something else special about the Happy Gnome that really makes it stand out: the vast beer collection. With over 70 varieties of beer on tap, and a further 300 bottles on offer, this is the place for Saint Paul’s beer enthusiasts.
The Happy Gnome, 498 Selby Avenue, Saint Paul, MN, USA, +1 (651) 287 2018
This Mediterranean grill and cafe has won numerous awards for offering some of the best Middle Eastern cuisine in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. The menu consists of a vast array of Middle Eastern delights, with several varieties of soups, salads, sandwiches, wraps, kebabs and burgers on offer. There are several vegetarian options available, and this is the ideal place to partake in some deli-style dining. Situated in the Macalaster College area, Shish Café is a popular venue for students, offering delicious, reasonably priced food.
Shish Café, 1668 Grand Avenue, Saint Paul, MN, USA, +1 (651) 690 2212
Joan’s in the Park
Aiming to be ‘your home away from home’, Joan’s in the Park offers an intimate, elegant dining experience designed to make customers feel relaxed and fulfilled. A family run business, Joan’s is an exciting combination of the creative flair of chef and owner Susan Dunlop and industry veteran maître d’ and co-owner Joan Schmitt. The goal of Joan’s is to bring diners unpretentious hospitality and fresh, locally sourced food. The menu takes a modern American dining approach, with a delicious selection of steak and meat dishes, market-sourced seasonal fish, and traditional mouthwatering desserts for those with a sweet tooth.
Joan’s in the Park, 631 Snelling Avenue South, Saint Paul, MN, USA, +1 (651) 690 3297
This unique restaurant offers three dining experiences in one, bringing three separate restaurants under one roof. Visitors are given the chance to enjoy each of the areas and take part in three separate dining experiences in one visit. The gourmet cafeteria serves a selection of seasonal soups, salads and design-your-own sandwiches. Diners can also enjoy the smells from the in house retail bakery, which specialises in freshly baked breads, cakes, tortes, cupcakes, and their signature bake, the turtle cake. To complete the trio, visitors can sample creative pizzas and bruschetta in the classy wine bar. Numerous Fair Trade coffee and tea options are always available at Café Latte.
Café Latte, 850 Grand Avenue, Saint Paul, MN, USA, +1 (651) 224 5687 or +1 (651) 224 5687
Visitors to this historic building will have the chance to enjoy authentic New American Cuisine in traditional 19th century surroundings. This Victorian mansion where Forepaugh’s Restaurant is housed has benefitted from several architectural improvements since it was built 130 years ago, and exudes class and sophistication, as seen by its crystal chandeliers and unusual antiques. The menu consists of modern American-style dishes infused with elements of French and Far Eastern Asian cuisine.
Forepaugh’s Restaurant, 276 South Exchange Street, Saint Paul, MN, USA, +1 (651) 224 5606
Moscow on the Hill
Described as ‘American upper-midwest meets post-Perestroika Russia’, Moscow on the Hill offers visitors a unique experience for the taste buds. Situated in the ‘European’ district along Selby Avenue, diners can experience traditional Russian-style cuisine, minutes from the famous St. Paul Cathedral. There are variety of meat and vegetarian options available, with vareniki, caviar and pelmeni sitting proudly on the menu amongst other Russian favourites. The restaurant uses ingredients sourced from local farms and stocks an impressive supply of award winning vodkas, both traditional and modern. There are live music performances on Fridays and Saturdays.
Moscow on the Hill, 371 Selby Avenue, Saint Paul, MN, USA, +1 (651) 291 1236
Izzy’s Ice Cream
Izzy’s Ice Cream is a local success – and love – story. Lara Hemmel and Jeff Sommers met as students at Jeff’s’ parents’ sausage stand, fell in love and set about creating what would become one of Saint Paul’s culinary institutions, still thriving more than 10 years later. Producing their own fresh creations, thousands of visitors a year are treated to Izzy’s sumptuous selection of ice cream flavours, including praline pecan, peppermint bon bon and vanilla bean. Izzy’s has even taken steps to help the environment by using solar power to account for a third of its energy requirements.
Izzy’s Ice Cream, 2034 Marshall Avenue, Saint Paul, MN, USA, +1 (651) 603 1458
The St. Paul Grill
Frequently awarded and classified as one of the best restaurants in the Twin Cities, The St. Paul Grill is sure to leave customers satisfied. As well as thick steaks and chops cooked on authentic grills, diners can enjoy delicious seafood, sandwiches and salad dishes. The restaurant’s chefs have created a designated gluten-free menu to cater to any appetite, whether you are seeking brunch, lunch or dinner. For the thirsty traveller, the restaurant offers a fine selection of beers and wines, and offers complimentary tasting sessions for some of the finest scotches worldwide. Diners will also have the chance to appreciate the splendid views of Rice Park.
The St. Paul Grill, 350 Market Street, Saint Paul, MN, USA, +1 (651) 224 7455 or +1 (651) 224 7455