St Paul, Minnesota is a bit of an underrated city. The bright lights and hustle of Minneapolis overshine this classic gem. There is plenty to eat on this side of the river, so come hungry. These are the top restaurants in St. Paul to consider.
19 Best Restaurants in St. Paul – Insights From a Local
St. Paul is often overlooked by Minneapolis-based restaurant people. But St. Paul is a classic, well-rounded city with a lot of great restaurants. We venture over to St. Paul frequently because the restaurant-culture is so different.
Like the Minneapolis riverwalk, you also have a Mississippi riverfront in St. Paul. The river provides varying perspectives among the cityscape of St. Paul.
We generally travel to other locations for little to no cost by utilizing our travel hacking skills. It was great to try a few local spots where we could dine and enjoy without needing to go for. You can get the same travel hacking spreadsheet that we use below.
It’s completely free to use and takes 5 minutes to download.
So after eating out way too much over the past few months, we have finalized our list of top restaurants in Saint Paul.
The restaurants in St. Paul are cozy, quaint, and pride themselves on serving only the best.
Best restaurants in downtown St. Paul
Downtown St. Paul is bustling with fun restaurants. Whether you are entertaining clients or going out on the town with friends, there is something in St. Paul for everyone.
Meritage: French dining with a modern twist
French classics with a modern twist. Meritage is in the heart of St. Paul and creates the best French food in town. Their patio is adorable and makes for the perfect first (or fiftieth) date.
Their french fries are perfect. Crispy, lightly salted, and ready for dipping. We opted to split a burger and fries, and cheesy spaetzle. It was absolute perfection.
The atmosphere is also something we need to point out. As soon as you enter Meritage you feel like you are walking into a brasserie on the Rue di Rivoli. The waitstaff is highly intelligent especially when it comes to pointing you to the perfect wine to accompany your meal. This St. Paul staple is sure to please!
St. Paul Hotel: Historic dining with fun staff
The St. Paul Hotel has a few different dining options. The St. Paul Grill is our favorite option. A wood-lined bar with pub fare and a more extensive dinner menu leaves something for everyone. We recommend pulling up a chair at the bar to chat with the bartenders while enjoying a Brandy Alexander.
Pro tip: if you come from the Saints game with a collectible beer-filled baseball bat, the bartenders may just fill it up for you.
The St. Paul Hotel also has the M. Street Cafe which is a great lunch spot if you are looking for great food in a more relaxed environment.
If you’re looking for the staycation this is 100% the place to go. The rooms are reasonable, exquisite, and oh-so-comfy. We checked in here for a staycation in February 2018 and fell in love.
Mickey’s Dining Car is a Minnesota staple. Famous for its appearance on the Mighty Ducks and Jingle All the Way movies, Mickey’s Diner has lots of diner-staple meal options. Breakfast is served all day.
Mickey’s is open 24-hours so no matter what time you decide to try it they will be ready for you!
Restaurants near Lowertown
Calling all cheese lovers! St. Dinette offers an extensive menu of unique dinner and brunch eats as well as a lovely cheese selection.
We love coming to St. Dinette after a morning at the farmers market. Located right next door, St. Dinette staff will take your farmers market haul and keep it cool in their walk-in cooler while you dine. Could you ask for anything else?
While we have yet to visit St. Dinette for dinner, fellow travelers tell us their dinner menu is to die for. They have unique options like lamb brochette and midwest staples like fried chicken.
One of the rare seafood restaurants in Minnesota, Octo Fishbar has rave reviews. Their seafood towers are a spectacle ranging from the perfect amount for two people to a feast for many more.
The restaurant has seafood staples like lobster, salmon, and sunfish. But they also have unique dishes like jellyfish (we still need to try this).
Theres also options for the non-fish lover. Their burger is well done, and their duck is even better.
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Ramen, happy hour, sashimi, and more. Kyatchi boasts sustainable fishing that brings in the most flavorful sushi in town. They have two locations: St. Paul and South Minneapolis. Both are equally good.
Try the Kara-age – you will quickly become addicted and need to come back for more.
Kyatchi is also known for their hot dogs. Yes, it sounds odd, but it works! Give this one a try, you won’t be disappointed.
A sister restaurant of Birch’s on the Lake out in Long Lake, Birch’s Lowertown offers their home-brewed beer and pub eats.
Birch’s burgers are juicy and cheesey, and pair perfectly with their stout. We also recommend trying the Cry Baby Craig’s hot wings. Cooked perfectly with just the right amount of hot!
See Related: Best Things to do Around Lake Minnetonka
Restaurants off Grand Avenue
Traditional Minnesota dining with a European flair. We love restaurants who offer escargot, and the Lexington does just that.
Walking into the Lexington is like walking back in time, but modernized. The deep oak walls bring warmth into the room in every season. The antique pictures with gorgeous gold frames give off a vibe of an old-english or French pub. Standing by the bar feels like you’re right back in the roaring 20s.
A sophisticated dining room comes with a sophisticated menu. Their salmon oscar is to die for, and their steak diane with mushrooms, cognac, and creme is simply unreal. To top it off, their lobster ravioli or duck meatballs in stroganoff will warm you up on a chilly winter day.
The Lexington was definitely revived when they renovated the restaurant to bring it to its full glory. Stop in and step back in time. You’ll leave full and happy.
Our new favorite! Grand Catch is a cozy space with a fabulous happy hour in the perfect location.
The fresh seafood is to die for. The cheesey fries keep us coming back. And the staff is wonderful. Their seafood to boil changes daily based on what they can get their talented hands on, so you will always be surprised.
Their brunch is also to die for. We must admit, we are frequent happy hour visitors and have not tried their brunch yet. Our friends adore it, and we will be visiting very soon to update you. But based on what we hear we are confident their brunch is phenomenal.
Stop on by Grand Catch, you’ll become a regular in no time.
Cathedral Hill Restaurants
W.A. Frost & Co.
A classic staple, W.A. Frost is by far the best patio in town. Elegant glassware, marvelous dishes, and an expert waitstaff. This is where you’re taking your special someone or business partner to impress.
Tip from the locals: in the winter go to the downstairs dining and bar area at W.A. Frost (enter in the rear of the bar area). It is so cozy you will feel like you are in old-world Scotland. Books, art, craft cocktails and cozy chairs everywhere. There’s even a fireplace with two chairs to enjoy your drink.
W.A. Frost is a favorite of Alex’s. Historic vibes, cozy seats, and the best Caribbean Coffee around.
Another favorite of ours, The Commodore sweeps you back in time to wonderful dining in an elegant atmosphere. The drink list is always changing and the white-linen tables are always full of laughter and good food.
We adore the lobster deviled eggs, walleye, and filet mignon. The Commodore also has a sneakily good happy hour, even on Friday nights! Stop by between four and six, or after nine, for a wonderful menu of snacks and well-selected wine.
See Related: Best Restaurants Along Lake Street in Minneapolis
The Happy Gnome
If you like beer and comfort food this place is for you. The Happy Gnome has dozens of beers on tap and even more in bottle. We are always impressed with their beer list (it changes daily).
The Happy Gnome boasts Minnesota staples like poutine (check it out below), seared trout, cheese curds, and more. The menu is sure to leave you happy and full, and perhaps a little tipsy off fantastic craft beers.
Just a moment on this poutine – it is warm and toasty, just the right about of yummy gravy poured on crispy fench fries. The cheese is just the right amount – not excessive – and it compliment the crispy fries with a savory cheesy finish. Roasted in the oven for just the right amount, this poutine comes out ready to eat with a fork and spoon. Yum.
The happy hour at Happy Gnome is a great reason to stop by – especially on the summer patio. The patio has greenery everywhere and the service is fantastic. We adore you Happy Gnome, and if you’ve never been, get over there and try some poutine!
See Related: Top Things to do in Wayzata, Minnesota
Restaurants along 7th Street, St. Paul
Step back in time at Mancini’s Char House
A St. Paul staple, Mancini’s Char House takes you back to the golden ages of Italian families and great food.
We come to Mancini’s for the Lambrusco wine and breaded ravioli for a snack. We stay for the steak dinners. There is something about having fantastic food in a historic restaurant with mirror-lined walls and pictures of famous people.
We love the staff here the most. They know what they are doing, they know the regulars, and they know how to make sure you have a great dinner.
Waldmann’s: the oldest Minnesota watering hole!
Honestly, this brewery is in our top 5 favorite places in Minnesota. There aren’t many places in the U.S. that you can find an original structure restored to its full glory.
The history of Waldmann’s is fascinating. It was built before Minnesota was a state and is the oldest surviving commercial building in Minnesota. When Waldmann’s first opened we sat down with a historian, who lives across the street, who told us the whole story. Back in the mid-1800’s Anton Waldmann built a saloon.
Over time the building became a home and eventually some amazing people revived the place and made it a brewery again.
The beers? Fantastic. The Oktoberfest celebration? Fantastic. The souvenirs? Even better. We only have 4 glasses, a hat, and a few other things….
Come on in, enjoy a fantastic German-style ale and revel in the history. Like breweries? Visit these top breweries in Minneapolis.
Modern Mexican food in an industrial space with great cocktails…sign me up. This hip Mexican restaurant is just slightly west of the crazy 7th street action and the perfect place to stop at along the way.
The drink menu sold us on this place. The Chino Latino is waiting for a cease and desist, the Snozberries margarita (tastes like Snozberries), and the up in smoke are phenomenal. And the jokes are good too.
The sauces make you sing. The tacos make you want more. The yucca, the steak, the braised greens…we just can’t stop. Check this place out – you won’t be disappointed.
A spin-off from the North Loop restaurant, Parlour has fantastic burgers and manhattans. The wine list is always interesting, and the atmosphere is worth trying.
Everyone talks about the burgers and the late-night bar scene at Parlour. But we want to talk more about brunch. Loaded waffles with your choices and a hash unmatched. Take a different route and try it out.
Did we mention the boozy malts? No? Ok more for us then.
Restaurants near St. Paul in Highland Park
There are a lot of small boroughs outside St. Paul with unique restaurants. Highland Park is right next to St. Paul, just a short 10-minute drive, and has an impressive amount of dining options. From movie theaters, Tiffany’s sports lounge with beer specials and pub food, to high-class pre-set menus, Highland Park has a lot to offer to locals and tourists alike.
Joan’s in the Park
Joan’s in the Park offers an affordable pre-set menu that leaves an impression. Four courses that you choose, plated perfectly, served to you with a friendly waitstaff. And they finish it off with a splendid dessert. What more could you ask for?
If you are not into pre-set menus you can still order a la carte. But make sure you make a reservation. This is a small space so it is best to have your seat saved!
French-inspired food, champagne, and rose on tap. Sign us up.
Bar Brigade is a cozy space with a phenomenal menu. We particularly enjoy the wild boar bourguignon and lobster claw crepe. Yum. Their cheese selection is also perfect for a cheat day.
Bar Brigade also has an excellent happy hour. Finding a cozy bar with excellent food and a $6 cheese plate on happy hour. If that isn’t enough to convince you to try Bar Brigade, I suppose their lobster popover for brunch might just do it.
Last but certainly not least, Caffe Biaggio has the best homemade Italian food in town. If you are looking for classic Italian this is the place to go.
The space is made cozy by the smell of fresh garlic cooking in the kitchen. The wine list boasts some of the best Italian wines around. And the owners – and staff – are helpful and add the right bit of pizzazz to your meal.
The food? Outstanding. The spinach-basil ricotta in brown butter will have you licking your plate clean. The seasonal risotto always matches the freshest produce. And on Mondays they offer “date night” with a wonderful menu for only $60 per couple. Stop on by Caffe Biaggio, you will be glad you did!
Conclusion on the Best Restaurants in St. Paul
We hope you enjoyed this list of restaurants in and around St. Paul. We adore every single restaurant on this list and recommend them to our friends and family.
Let us know which restaurants you try out in the comments!
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