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Best Dive My Side of the River MSP

  • BillyP Jul 11, 2007 02:23 PM
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So, what are the best local dives/haunts/hole in the walls in St Paul?

I keep hearing good things about Schroeders on Front. I grew up in the Roseville Area, so I am aware of Macs Fish and Chips, and Maverics, Abu Nader. Mimms.

I really prefer towny places where people even students go and hang out. I like Sweeneys!

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  1. Hmmmm...well, if you know about Sweeneys, then you know about the Muddy Pig...

    If you like divey, I like Skinner's on St. Paul but only for the fried chicken.

    Or, how about Obbs in the Mounds Park area? Good Texas Toast, Friday fish fries.

    Conny's creamy cone (soft serve ice cream in a zillion flavors and cheese curds) and the Dari-ette (drive-in, try their hot Italian sandwich), of course--they're both just seasonal.

    Another option for hot Italian sandwiches (only, they controversially call it a hot dago), DeGidio's on West 7th.

    And the Nook for Jucy Lucy's and the Lodge Burger. Their fries are hand cut and the buns are bakery fresh (from PJ Murphy's down the street).

    Lee and Dee's in the Selby area for good BBQ.

    And don't even get me started on pizza!

    ~TDQ

    -----
    Connys Creamy Cone
    1197 Dale St N, Saint Paul, MN 55117

    DeGidio's Restaurant & Bar
    425 7th St W, Saint Paul, MN 55102

    Skinner's Pub
    919 Randolph Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55102

    Lee's & Dee's Barbeque Express
    161 Victoria St N, Saint Paul, MN 55104

    Muddy Pig
    162 Dale St N, Saint Paul, MN 55102

    Obb's
    1347 Burns Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55106

    Nook [DUPLICATE]
    492 Hamline Ave S, St Paul, MN 55116

    Dairy-Ette Drive In [SEE DARI-ETTE DRIVE IN]
    1440 Minnehaha Ave E, Saint Paul, MN 55106

    1. Pho Ca Dao for pho. Hot City for white pizza with dill pickles, hot peppers and other non-intuitive but delightful ingredients. Kallyste Café (the Places feature doesn't like the address; it's in the Signal Hills Center in West St. Paul). El Burrito Mercado for the café inside but even more for the roasted-corn stand out back.

      -----
      El Burrito Mercado
      175 Cesar Chavez St, St Paul, MN 55107

      Pho Ca Dao Restaurant
      439 University Ave W, St Paul, MN 55103

      Hot City Pizza
      1017 7th St W, Saint Paul, MN 55102

      1. My "dive bar" when I was at Mac was the Groveland Tap (Called BB Dixon's at the time) and is down on St. Clair near Fairview. These days find me at Obbs on the east side. just off of hwy 61 on Burns Ave. I haven't been, but a buddy of mine likes the Cherry Pit (formerly the Minnehaha Tavern) across from The Little Oven at Minnehaha and White Bear Ave. I am also a fan of Sweeneys and the Muddy Pig, but the Pig in particular is to snooty in its selection of fine and pricey beers to be a real dive. For a real dive of a dive, there is the Mounds Park Tavern/Lounge on Earl St. just north of I-94. If you want to hang out with St. Thomas students, Plums on Snelling is the place, but I find it generally obnoxious. For a bit of live music (typically with a modest cover charge) with your swill, the Turf Club at Snelling and University is great.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ChrisS

          Groveland Tap was purchased by the Highland Grill/Longfellow Grill folks and is no longer as divey as it used to be. In fact, it's turned very family friendly. The chow is pretty good, too. They do a fantastic cajun lucy and turkey burger, as well as all you can eat fish fry on Fridays (white fish in a Leinenkugel batter).

          I love the Little Oven, in a red sauce "Eye-talian" kind of way. They have this baked pasta dish I love.

          Plums might be divey, but the food is dreadful. Believe me, I've tried to love it (their patio is glorious), but it's truly almost inedible. You'd be better off a couple doors North on Snelling at Goby's. Just a local bar, but much better chow (burgers and such--still only average overall) than Plums, which really tries to pass itself off as having more than a bar menu (they even do weekend brunches). Goby's is more of a dive, too, to be honest with happy hours from 4 - 6 pm most nights. EDIT: I just realized I broke my own cardinal rule, which is I just gave a serious "nay" on a mom and pop place (Plums)--which I am loathe to do--without providing specifics. I've had fish fry and sandwiches and salads there. The fish fry was a soggy, gloppy, greasy mess, the sandwiches (a french dip and a chicken cordon bleu, I think) were oversauced and heavy, greasy, salty; and the salad was just very ordinary, without giving the impression of being super-fresh.

          ~TDQ

          -----
          Groveland Tap
          1834 Saint Clair Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55105

          Little Oven
          1786 Minnehaha Ave E, Saint Paul, MN 55119

          Goby's Grille & Pub
          472 Snelling Ave S, Saint Paul, MN 55105

          Plums Neighborhood Grill & Bar
          480 Snelling Ave S, Saint Paul, MN 55105

        2. well as far as local dives/haunts/hole in the walls-- and not nec. for great chow, but still--

          i nominate kelly's depot bar on kellogg & wacouta(? i think)

          great little family owned bar. looks like a super-divey, dockworker-type bar from the outside-- on the inside, it's really quite a clean and pleasant little pub, with drink prices half that of the more pedigreed irish-look pubs closer to the xcel center, decent selection for its small size, too. it has a weensy grill-and-fry kitchen tucked behind the far end of the bar. if in the mood for grease, it's just lovely food on par with matt's in mpls and similar-- hey what do you want, truffles? btw it is cheap. have i mentioned that? it's got a really cute weensy patio and a nice jukebox. you will be waited on by a member of the kelly family.

          i fit in in this bar in my after-work grubbies-- i work in a kitchen, not an office-- it is a working person's bar and i would probably feel out of place if i was wearing a suit. but it is a little, out of the way, dinky, lovable little place that seems to fit billy's criteria. oh, and it's cheap, too! it's gotta be my choice for a drink in totally unpretentious atmosphere in st. paul. well, kelly's and "the noose," i guess.

          1 Reply
          1. re: soupkitten

            uhhh. . . *soupkitten trying this newfangled places thingy out*

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            Depot Bar
            241 Kellogg Blvd E, St Paul, MN 55101

          2. I'll attempt to limit my comments.

            Good dives with decent food.

            Top of my list - Sweeneys, Best east coast style wings in this city. Don't flame me if you like other spots.

            Yarussos (should I attempt the beta?) cheap, big portions of pasta, dagos, less bar-y then whats been discussed. towny.

            http://www.yarussos.com/

            Groveland tap is reliable - but I don't consider it divey (like TDQ said - perfect place for me to bring my kids!)

            Avoid Chatterbox (great beer, fun games, bad food - we've tried so many times to like it)

            and avoid Plums.

            and what about gabe's? and Tavern on Grand? anyone have recent thoughts?

            Haven't been to skinners recently - but I always hear good buzz about it.

            I love Saint Paul

            11 Replies
            1. re: St Paul Susie

              & I'll try it again

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              Yarusso Brothers Italian
              637 Payne Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55130

              1. re: St Paul Susie

                Yarusso's is an old fashioned red-sauce joint-- not to my taste at all but dh has a nostalgic fondess for it. soup is terrible. he likes the red sauce, i think it's cloying. i'll try the dagos next time he's in the mood to go, Susie! the owners are big into Harley-Davidson and a lot of bikers pass through. i like the feel of the place but have a hard time finding anything to eat!

                1. re: soupkitten

                  Can't say I've ever tried the soup. Pasta w/ meatballs & red sauce, dagos, I've had decent chicken parm there as well. - if we eat in we go early with the kids & if not we'll do takeout.

                  1. re: St Paul Susie

                    Thanks! :)

              2. re: St Paul Susie

                Tavern on Grand is one of my late-evening, catch-the-end-of-the-game spots. There are folks at the bar reading the entire paper and chatting one another up who have clearly made it their regular hangout. So it's a neighborhood spot in that way.

                They do have a decent burger and some walleye offerings that bring people in, including families. (My opinion -- if you can bring the family without worrying that it'll turn up in a paperback memoir when your kids grow up to write about their troubled childhoods, it's not really a dive bar. But that wasn't your question, was it?)

                1. re: KTFoley

                  Places link for Tavern on Grand--and don't forget, you can always head down to Grand Ole Creamery when you're done at TOG for an ice cream on a house-made waffle cone. I like Izzy's a smidge better, but Grand Ole Creamery has the best waffle cones in the cities, and, I think does "traditional" flavors well---my fav is their Black Hills Gold.

                  ~TDQ

                  -----
                  Grand Ole Creamery
                  750 Grand Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55105

                  Tavern On Grand
                  656 Grand Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55105

                  1. re: KTFoley

                    I actually was thinking of that new place - tavern on the avenue (on randolf) which was spanky's sparky's ???

                    New owners - I think better food? Haven't personally been.

                    I've lived in Saint Paul for years & I've never been to the Tavern on Grand. Perhaps the time has come.

                    1. re: St Paul Susie

                      My husband and I have tried Tavern on the Avenue twice - the first time very shortly after they changed owners - maybe in February or March, and again in April or May.

                      On the first visit, the walleye fingers were superb - far better than Tavern on Grand, in my opinion. Just your basic breaded, deep fried walleye, but the breading was perfectly salted, and had a wonderful texture - sorry I don't know how to explain better. The walleye itself had good flavor too.

                      On the second visit, it was almost, but not quite as good. Haven't been back there since because we like to try other places too! I'd go back for the walleye though. Other dishes we tried (mini burgers, a hot dago, something else, I can't remember what) were perfectly passable but not noteworthy.

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                      Tavern on the Avenue
                      825 Jefferson Ave, St Paul, MN 55102

                  2. re: St Paul Susie

                    Gabe's is not bad. I've only been once or twice--both in the last 6 months. I don't remember the food as being exceptional one way or the other--I think I had a burger there one time and ribs the other. Typical bar menu. They have a patio in summers and fish fry on Fridays. I confess to not really knowing what "towny" means (and now I see Susie is hip to it!), but if it means people from the neighborhood go hang out there, then Gabe's is towny. Also, Lee and Dee's (that I recommended above) is too small for people to really hang out in any large numbers--I've never been there when there was more than two other customers either eating or waiting-- but folks are friendly and do chat while waiting for their take out orders.

                    Okay, here are two places I've wondered about--what about O'Gara's on Snelling nearish to Selby? (Not to mention the place right around the corner on Selby called. blandly, "Neighborhood Cafe"?)

                    ~TDQ

                    -----
                    Gabe's Roadhouse
                    991 North Lexington Parkway, Saint Paul, MN 55103

                    O'Gara's Bar & Grill
                    164 Snelling Ave N, Saint Paul, MN 55104

                    Neighborhood Cafe
                    1570 Selby Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55104

                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      O'Gara's is a huge bar complex. The food is ok, the house-made beers are wildly inconsistent and the atmosphere is variable.

                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        I go to O'Gara's for live music, and bottled beer. We ate there eons ago and had a great burger - but we haven't eaten there is years.

                        I'd call Skinners Towny as well - just from the looks of the building when you drive by - not a slam or slur or anything - just a feel. Where people know each other and if you don't know them when you walk in, you can feel it.

                        Neighborhood Cafe - we've been there a ton for breakfast & its pleasant & sometimes borderline greasy. Chili omelet is excellent (ask for extra jalepenos if you like pain) and service is nice & friendly. I recall bringing the kids there one night for dinner and being pleasantly surprised.

                    2. I'm not a St. Paul expert, but I can't believe that no one's mentioned the Gopher Bar for a coney island.

                      In St. Paul, I also enjoy Half-Time Rec, but don't recall if they have much of a menu.

                      -----
                      Gopher Bar
                      241 7th St E, Saint Paul, MN 55101

                      Half Time Rec
                      1013 Front Ave, St Paul, MN 55103

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: bob s

                        i like half- time rec. never had food there. they used to have great live music but they have slid imo so i have not been lately. note there are bocce ball courts in the basement-- super fun.

                        gopher bar i am very unfond of. . .

                        1. re: soupkitten

                          sorry to hear about half time rec. used to be a favorite haunt pre-kids.

                          Understandable about the gopher bar -- I think that you either love it or hate it. But to me it's the quintessential dive.

                          1. re: bob s

                            we agree it's a dive-- i love a good dive but the gopher is not my cuppa. . .

                            1. re: soupkitten

                              Thanks everyone, there is a lot of good Thoughts here!

                        2. re: bob s

                          Best coney in Saint Paul. Maybe Minnesota.

                        3. I highly recommend the Neighborhood Cafe, it's a really clean, bright diner that still serves delicious and classic diner foods. i've never had anything bad and i've eaten there a lot. the fish sandwich is definite favorite. the omelettes are the best bargain on the menu by far (they come with two fillings, hashbrowns and toast). and for a healthier alternative try the granola/yogurt/fresh fruit, i believe it can be found on the back of the menu under "eclectic sides." its quite fine. also it's open late night on fridays and saturdays.

                          in other news, i second or third the groveland tap: it is a favorite of macalester and st. thomas students (unofficially wed. is macalester night, not sure about st. thomas). after 10pm happy hour is a good deal with $2 summit taps and $2 fries. i used to live for their fries but the last two times i was there (couple months ago?) they seemed to have swapped the amazing, soft, hand-cut ones for ok but boring/dry ones from the freezer. horrors!!!

                          15 Replies
                          1. re: dahliachewswell

                            Apparently, the change to the fries occurred at all of the Blue Plate Restaurants (Groveland Tap, Highland, Edina, and Longfellow Grills) and the change apparently did not go over well. I saw something from one of the owner's recently in a newsletter saying that they are "working on a solution."

                            1. re: bob s

                              Did they also happen to mention the recent change to the sweet potato fries at (at least) Longfellow? They used to be wedges--now, they are thin and sort of limp...and seem more breaded and deep-fried than they did before. (Or, maybe the breadedness just seems to be a more salient quality now that the fries themselves are less substantial.)

                              ~TDQ

                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                It was a general statement. The owner said that he enjoyed getting feedback - both good and bad. He used the fries as an example.

                            2. re: dahliachewswell

                              Where is the Neighborhood Cafe?? Please, please divulge!!!

                              1. re: KTFoley

                                Neighborhood Cafe was discussed earlier in the thread: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/42022...

                                I've since been once, for breakfast. I thought it was okay--nothing spectacular in terms of food, just basic breakfast fare. The decor was surprisingly nice and they have a lovely patio out back. My real issue with it is that --on my one and only visit-- it seems to draw a bit of a rowdy O'Gara's crowd--even somewhat early on a Sunday morning. (I got the impression that the opening shift at O'Gara's breaks fast at Neighborhood Cafe.

                                )

                                ~TDQ

                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                  THE SPOT. The ultimate in dive. I think its St. Paul's longest continually operating bar. If I remember correctly, its on Victoria and Jefferson. Cheap beer and the owner is behind the bar most nights - a really funny guy. Bring cash - no cards accepted. They don't have food - pray that the tamale lady comes by.

                                  1. re: linc

                                    Welcome, linc. Does the tamale lady come by? Do you know when (ish)?

                                    ~TDQ

                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                      it varies depending on the day. I have seen her around 8:30 on weekdays and weekend andthen 11ish on weekends for a second round. She makes the best tamales I've ever had.

                                      1. re: linc

                                        That's awesome. Is it year-round, or just during the warmer months?

                                        ~TDQ

                                    2. re: linc

                                      According to google maps, it's on Victoria & Randolph.

                                      -----
                                      Spot Bar
                                      859 Randolph Ave, Saint Paul, MN 55102

                                      1. re: autmommy

                                        thanks for the update, I am a landmark person. The Tamale Lady, as my friends and I affectionately refer to her as, makes the rounds to saint paul bars that don't serve food. Her tamales are the best 5$ I've ever spent. I hope you all run into her soon. And she makes the rounds rain, snow or shine.

                                        1. re: linc

                                          Linc, which other bars in St. Paul have you seen the tamale lady in? (Just wondering if she's even in any my favs...) Are you saying the tamales are $5 each? That's pretty steep, actually.

                                          ~TDQ

                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                            I'm used to paying about $1.50 for a tamal.

                                            1. re: pgokey

                                              they are three for 5$ and worth every cent. She serves them with a great spicy sauce as well. As for other bars, she can only serve them places where they have no kitchen - so I've seen her at the Turf Club as well.

                                              1. re: linc

                                                That sounds like a good deal. Sounds like someone to seek out.