Perhaps I’m biased, but my hometown ‘hood has become IMO the most exciting neighborhood in Saint Paul for its ungentrified moxie, diversity, and sense of place. Head to the “East Side,” as locals will only call it (never East Saint Paul) for excellent Mexican, Southeast Asian, and African fare, mashed up with old-school drinker’s bars, Phalen beach, and great international markets of all stripes.
Since Tongue in Cheek opened, this darling, independent, defies-category “eating, drinking, and cavorting establishment” has featured a $3 “teaser” menu, allowing a one-bite wonder of fine dining proportion. A wee nibbler of a chef-inspired dish is just a cute way to flirt with fine without committing to a big price tag. Think of it as dating that pork belly instead of marrying it. Then, pair it with a mini cocktail flight for twenty bucks and you’re living the high life minus the gut punch to the pocketbook.
A fun, modern take on East Saint Paul’s classic charm, East Side Bar has a bit of whatever you’re looking for, whether it’s Pad Thai, an adult milkshake, or a simple can of Hamm’s (the storied brewery is just down the block). Twice daily happy hour, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and 9 p.m to close, means inventive or simple takes on eats and drinks, whatever your pleasure. Enjoy that happy with rotating trivia nights, “Artist Happy Hours” where you’re invited to chat with the artists who bring in fresh new work for the walls, plus beautiful cocktails like Old Fashioneds or house-infused Jasmine Sweet & Sours for seven bucks.
My personal favorite hang in The Paul, friendly as hell Brunson’s Pub - they never disappoint. With ownership that’s there for all the right reasons, the friendly feel of the place trickles down to the very last detail. Opportunities for happy hour abound: Monday through Thursday 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday 2 p.m to 5 p.m.; Sunday through Thursday 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Friday and Saturday, 10 p.m. to midnight. If you can’t find a time to drink during one of these windows, what are you even doing? Discounted appetizers, $5 Jamesons, $3 Hamm’s, lots and lots more.
Also, see “Wine & Whiskey Wednesdays, for, you know: wine (house) and whiskey (select). Five bucks each.