Why Saint Paul Captured Our Hearts – Restaurant Edition

A series about Saint Paul, MN — Part 4 of 4 If you’re anything like us, you probably like to change it up when it comes to your dining experiences. Maybe it’s date night and you want to treat your special someone to something new, something that isn’t Chipotle or Applebee’s. Maybe you’re hungry one day after work for something other than a grab-and-go sandwich. Or maybe you’re tired of visiting the same old bar after work every day and feel ready for a change of pace.

If any of these assumptions ring true, never fear. Not only have we been in your shoes, we’ve created a “checklist” of restaurants and bars in Saint Paul that we’d like to visit. It started off as a list of three or four places and has only gotten bigger … and better.

Here are several of the places on our checklist that we’ve revisited perhaps more times than we’d like to admit. We’ve chosen them either because the food was fare for the gods or because of the atmosphere. Regardless of their differences, we think any of these places would be a good choice for a date night (hint hint, wink wink)!

W. A. Frost

W. A. Frost is located at 374 Selby Avenue, Saint Paul 55102. It’s open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. most days. They’re definitely on the higher end when it comes to prices—their entrees range from $14 for a pasta plate to almost $40 for a steak dinner.

Located just across the street from Nina’s Coffee Café (a sweet little nook and cranny we covered in Part 3 of this series on Saint Paul), W. A. Frost is a restaurant that’s simultaneously ahead of its time … and stuck in the era of Victorian England. If you’re looking for a place that will dazzle your senses and treat your taste buds, look no further than here.

W. A. Frost is technically classified as New American Fare, but don’t let the word “new” throw you off. The food may be prepared in exciting and untraditional ways, but W. A. Frost and its many selections of wines and spirits promise to take you back in time. In fact, don’t be surprised if dining at W. A. Frost becomes an experience that suspends time itself.

In the name of honesty, we’ll disclose that we've dined here almost twice a month since we discovered its existence. We’ve eaten here for breakfast, lunch, and dinner—and W. A. Frost ended up hosting our wedding reception about a month ago. We couldn’t be more pleased with their service and wide range of offerings.

(Seriously, you haven’t lived until you’ve gone to W. A. Frost.)

If you’re hungry for brunch and a Bloody Mary (made from scratch with their secret recipe), take a seat in the bar area, which boasts the coolest bar we’re ever seen: a Western-style wooden bar imported from Wisconsin. And make sure to check out their basement lounge and/or outdoor patio (which looks like something out of a Victorian circus, with bright lights and old posters) if you want to kick back and relax! Both areas provide your pick of comfortable couches and armchairs among the usual table seating.

W. A. Frost’s dining rooms, on the other hand, take visitors back to the 1800s. Beautiful paintings, marble statues, and romantic lighting complements W. A. Frost’s red velvet carpets and dark brick walls. Their wine cellar offers an expansive list of award-winning wines imported from all over the world, and their food is 100% organic, fresh, and local.

Also, the chef puts TLC and (we're convinced) a bit of fairy dust into every order. Each dish is like no other we’ve tried.

The two of us have dined in California, France, Norway, England, New York, and other places, and yet something about the charm of W. A. Frost and the quality of their food and servers keeps us coming back. It’s not cheap, but the food is magical and the atmosphere makes for both a casual date and a romantic evening … whichever you’re feeling. It’s worth checking out.

Sweeney’s Saloon

Sweeney’s Saloon is located at 96 Dale Street North, Saint Paul 55102. It’s open from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. most days. Prices are average for bar fare—but they also have happy hour and other great daily deals.

I (Mrs. Nerd) couldn’t quite write about the wonderful places in Saint Paul without mentioning the place that "introduced us" in the first place, now could I? (If you haven’t yet, you should check out Part 1 of this series, where I talk about my experience with Sweeney’s and Saint Paul.)

There’s something very special, and equally as casual, about Sweeney’s Saloon. The food is standard bar fare (although their chicken nachos are to die for) and their drinks are what you’d expect, but we’ve never gone there and left disappointed!

It’s the people that make Sweeney’s so fantastic.  Over the years, we’ve met friends at Sweeney’s in the middle of winter to sip a beer and complain about the snow and ice. There’s always people watching sports games on the TVs, and if you’re paying attention, you might hear the bartender crack a fantastic joke. We can’t recall a time when we haven’t heard laughter and friendly chatter at Sweeney’s—and chances are, you won’t be able to, either!

If it’s deals and drinks you care about, Sweeney’s offers some great happy hour deals and a rather delicious selection of beers and spirits—all priced at an affordable rate. They’re open pretty late, too, just in case you’re craving an amazing Oatmeal Stout and some tacos at midnight.

Other Awesome Mentions

We don’t have the room to talk about all our favorite restaurants in Saint Paul (there are about 15 on our checklist alone), but here are some special mentions—just in case you’re still hungry:

Ristorante Luci – $$

(470 Cleveland Avenue South, Saint Paul 55105)

Ristorante Luci is a great Italian restaurant in Saint Paul—even though it might look like a hole in the wall! Their dishes are always quality, and the servers are very kind and knowledgeable. All in all, you can’t go wrong here!

French Meadow Bakery – $

(1662 Grand Avenue, Saint Paul 55105)

French Meadow Bakery. What is it? Some say organic and local New American Fare. Some say authentic French bakery. We say, does it matter? It’s both, and it’s delicious! French Meadow is a great place to get a hot cappuccino and a fresh croissant to go, a salad and a glass of wine for lunch, or a steaming breakfast burrito. (Or you could just cave and do all three!)

Do you have a restaurant checklist that you’re currently making your way through, or do you tend to visit the same haunts? Which restaurant in your hometown is your favorite and why? Leave us a comment below—your suggestion just might end up on our checklist, too!

If you missed out on the first three parts of this series, check out these links! We cover the best of the best coffee shops, tea shops, and bookstores in Saint Paul, as well as discuss why Saint Paul is oh so unique.