Located at the edge of downtown St Paul, Lowertown, a 16-block, former warehousing and wholesaling district, is making a comeback. Once operating as Minnesota’s largest manufacturing and distribution district, this neighborhood has been on the upswing in recent years as a new site for the arts, and as a premier neighborhood for its nightlife. Here are our top ten 10 bars in Lowertown, St Paul.
Bar, Cafe, Restaurant, Wine Bar, Coffee, American, Fast Food, Vegetarian, Vegan, Cocktails, $$$
The Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar is a café that helps hold the Lowertown neighborhood together. In the morning or at night, a beverage and a small plate can be enjoyed here, but with its extensive wine listing and select draught beer menu, late-night beverages are especially appealing. For live music, the Black Dog does its part in featuring live acts regularly, while also hosting the international Minnesota sur Seine music festival. This café and bar is perfect for the solitary pint, an intimate gathering with friends, or a night out to hear some great jazz music.
The most recent addition to Lowertown is the Ox Cart Ale House, a mammoth gastro pub a short distance away from St Paul’s CHS Field. With a wide offering of starters, sandwiches and entrees, this ale house goes above and beyond the norm. Look to try one of the five house-made sausages, a craft cocktail or locally selected draught beer, and head up to their rooftop patio to witness views of the St Paul downtown and the Mississippi River Bluffs.
Off the beaten path of Lowertown’s more trendy spots, Kelly’s Depot plays the familiar, albeit comfortable tune, of the divey burger and wings bar. With a kitchen open until late, competitively priced drinks and an outdoor patio, Kelly’s might be the best place to start a night of debauchery in the Lowertown neighborhood. Head here for the greatest hits of bar fare, the burger, the wing, and the cold draught beer.
The Hat Trick Lounge follows suite in Lowertown’s eclectic dive bar scene, straddling the divide between classic American drinkery and something a tad more grimy. The Hat Trick has the ambiance of a small-time Minnesotan town, where regulars are the primary clientèle, and where light lager is what is served from behind the bar.
The Twin Cities Bulldog franchise has only increased in popularity since their newest addition in Lowertown. Situated amidst an old renovated warehouse, Bulldog Lowertown has become a very popular bar for those interested in the neighborhood’s flourishing nightlife. Specializing in craft and Belgian beer, and with a menu all its own, including its very popular dry rub wings, Bulldog Lowertown has fast become one of the best places to hangout in the neighborhood.
Making its home in the former Noyes & Cutler building, a 100-year old brick warehouse with giant arched windows, Public Kitchen + Bar attracts people from all parts of the city, due to its beautifully renovated space and for its view of Mears Park. Offering a seasonally shifting menu of new American cuisine, Public Kitchen + Bar makes for the perfect place to enjoy a refreshing meal or a from-scratch cocktail, in or outside of this choice Lowertown destination.
Bar, Restaurant, Cocktails, Wine, Beer, Contemporary, Asian
Señor Wong offers something genuinely different from most other bars in Lowertown, as an Asian-Latin restaurant with a rotating list of local and regional craft beers and craft cocktails. With a simple décor to match its menu, this bar and restaurant has a number of classics to satiate anyone looking for something savory or spicy, from its variety of tacos to wonton poppers. Señor Wong invites local musicians to perform all nights of the week too.
On the corner of 6th and Wabasha Street is Amsterdam Bar & Hall, one of the best places to see a show in Lowertown. As a purveyor of all things low country, look for this bar’s impressive listing of Belgian beer, gin and Dutch food, with offerings like their Dutch sandwiches, called broodjes. However most people come to Amsterdam Bar & Hall for their music, featuring some the Twin Cities’ best up-and-coming local artists. The stage space is usually dark and always hip, but a definite sense of community is felt here, especially when a neighborhood band is playing.
The owners of Gopher Bar certainly know their establishment is a dive bar, and are quite proud of it. Despite its aggressive propaganda and the political rhetoric taped up behind the bar, Gopher Bar has one thing really worth sticking around for, its Coney Island hot dog. Set at a very reasonable price, with generous dosages of meat and condiments, little else is required to enjoy this but a can of lager on the side. The Gopher Bar entertains a variety of patrons, everyone from day laborers to attorneys line up late to get their hands on the famous bun.
On the other end of the spectrum is Camp Bar, a beer and cocktail joint with a very lively stage for cabaret. From drag shows to puppet shows, Camp Bar delivers on all fronts, also offering a dance floor popular with everyone in the neighborhood. Their three-for-one happy hour is not to be missed, and their partnerships with neighboring restaurants Keys, Black Sheep and Sawatdee enable Camp Bar patrons to order a variety of foods free from delivery charges.