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Looking for a place for a beer and light meal in St. Paul

I lost a bet and therefore owe my friend and his wife a beer and something good to eat.

We all like good food. I had suggested Heartland's lounge for something light to eat. But the feedback I'm getting is that it's overpriced for not very much and kind of dead there. I haven't been there in a good while. Is it busy at night these days? Midweek? Or on the weekend? (We always liked it in the old location but am not sure my friends will.)

What would be other good options?

How about the bar at Frosts. Haven't been there either in a while. How is it there these days?

What else am I forgetting?

The place should be conducive to conversation. Need not be high end but must be good. Should have a good beer selection. Should be reasonably moderate in price. I know I'm forgetting places.

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  1. Sorry about the bet.

    Ngon Bistro might work, though I think the light rail construction might hamper the atmosphere a bit.

    Scusi's wine bar is nice and cozy--just as cozy as it was in the Heartland days. The food's not half bad, either, though it isn't up to the standards of Heartland (of course). I can't comment on the beer selection though.

    That's what's comes to me at the moment.

    ~TDQ

    3 Replies
    1. re: The Dairy Queen

      Again, I'm not the best one to comment on beer selection (this is what they say on their website: "the beer of Saint Paul, Summit Extra Pale Ale on draft" plus Japanese beer), but Tanpopo meets your other requirements.

      ~TDQ

      1. re: The Dairy Queen

        I think Ngon is a great option-- plenty of appetizer type things for "light" eats and a fantastic, all-local beer list.

        Otherwise Frost is great, especially if you or your guests appreciate a slightly more upscale, old-fashioned vibe (though the food is quite modern). And the Gnome could work, though it's probably fairly loud, esp. on weekends. Don't recommend the Pig-- food not very good....

        1. re: mtullius

          Ngon has a really great happy hour, too.

          ~TDQ

      2. There are plenty of options along both Grand Ave and Dale St that are not far from DT with decent bars and some good food. Of course any of those places may be busy at peak dinner time.

        1. Happy Gnome.

          The food selection may not be quite up to the beer selection, but it's better than your standard bar food, IMHO.

          3 Replies
            1. re: steve_in_stpaul

              I was thinking Happy Gnome too! I was there last weekend and enjoyed the patio but it seems the evenings for that may be behind us for the season.

            2. I would also say the Gnome. One of the best beer selections in MSP and solid food.

              The flip side would be Brasa. Some of the best (IMHO) food in town, but a small (~4 beer), if well thought out, tap list.

              2 Replies
              1. re: BigE

                I was going to recommend Brasa, too, except that it can be a little loud.

                ~TDQ

                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                  If you're going as casual as Brasa, then I'd also recommend Black Sheep in downtown St. Paul. They always have 8ish interesting beers on tap, and are generous with tastes. But neither compares in my mind to the lounge at Heartland (although I'll admit I haven't been for 9 months or so, so I can't report on the current vibe/level of popularity).

              2. These places all fit the criteria for good beer selection, moderate prices and decent (if not quite Heartand or Frost quality) food. Whether or not they are conducive to conversation probably depends on day/hour of visit.

                Happy Gnome - 498 Selby Ave
                Great tap list served in proper glassware and while I didn't care for the food the last time I was there, which was some years ago, per their website it looks like they've improved their menu quite a bit.

                The Muddy Pig - 162 N. Dale St
                Again, great tap list with proper glassware, can't vouch for the food.

                Bulldog Lowertown - 237 East Sixth Street
                Excellent tap selection, proper glassware, and reasonably good bar food

                1 Reply
                1. re: lizpeck

                  Bulldog can be pretty loud unless you're going at a pretty off time.

                  ~TDQ