I swore I’d always remain loyal to Minneapolis. Back when I was a new college grad, I lived in Uptown and rarely crossed the river. Now, I work in Minneapolis and live in St. Paul. I love my Twin Cities. Here are a few places where I recently enjoyed and excellent cocktail (or two) that also serve really good food:
We also love that we can walk there. But Stewart’s is a place we would seek out even if we couldn’t. For example, there are a few other restaurants we walk to, but Stewart’s is the number one place we’d take friends. In fact, we have.
The first things you may notice when you walk into Stewart’s are the spinning slushie machines behind the bar. I order a pina colada or paloma every time we visit. They’re served in little carafes with neon twisty straws. They might look silly, but they’re strong.
One evening we sat at the bar sipping slushies. The couple next to us exclaimed to Jake, “Did you know that you’re the third guy to sit in that exact seat and order that exact drink?” pointing to the pink paloma.
We shrugged and replied, “They’re really good!” So is the food.
The kimchi fries are dusted with red pepper and served with two types of sauces, one of which tastes like a sweet gochujang chili sauce. They are perfect and crisp and homemade.
Our other favorites include the burger (served a true medium-rare if you ask), grilled cheese and kimchi tostada. The lighter food is good too. One evening they offered this fantastic vegetarian mushroom dish and green salad with grapefruit.
The staff at Stewart’s recently experienced the sudden loss of their beloved sous chef. More information published here.
Stewart’s Cafe & Bar, 128 Cleveland Ave N, St. Paul, MN 55104, 651-645-4128
This elegant Russian restaurant in Cathedral Hill serves cocktails made with their house-infused vodkas. I’m guessing this is why their cocktails taste so good.
For $5, you can purchase a shot of any of their infused vodkas that range from horseradish to spiced pear. You can also find the infused vodkas in a variety of cocktails, like this White Russian made with their tiramisu-flavored vodka
We also like their take on the Bloody Mary made with their horseradish vodka and homemade mix and Baryshnikov made with raspberry vodka and sour syrup.
Of course you’ll want to order food.
Discounted appetizers and drinks are offered during happy hour, Monday-Thursday and Sunday evenings. You can easily make a meal from small plates any time.
Pelmeni meat dumplings are buttered and topped with sour cream with glass vial of vinegar to dribble on top. You can order them “peasant style” in a baked dish reminiscent to mac and cheese. They’re served in a hot and bubbly mixture of mushroom sauce and broiled cheese.
The beefy, savory borscht will make you wonder why everyone doesn’t serve borscht all of the time. The person who ordered the beef stroganoff entrée liked his dish so much he didn’t leave anything to share. And I half-heartedly offered to share my fried lamb pies, but pretty much ate them all myself.
Note on street parking: The police are really ticket happy in the surrounding neighborhood. Double check signs with parking guidelines and park a full 20 feet away from any intersection!
Moscow on the Hill, 371 Selby Ave, St. Paul, MN 55102, 651-291-1236
El Burrito Mercado is one of our favorite places in the Twin Cities.
Once you try anything from their salsa bar, most any other salsa else will make you feel sad. This market is a wonderland of Mexican and Latino foods. You’ll find a full grocery store stocked with a butcher counter, deli, and bakery cases, plus a quick service dining option and sit-down restaurant.
My new favorite cocktail is their Cantarito
The drink tastes like fresh citrus, grapefruit soda, and tequila. I sipped it out of the cup so I could get tastes of the spicy salt on the rim. Even Jake, who is typically not into fruity cocktails ordered his own because he liked mine so much. Despite all of the fruit, it’s not an overly sweet cocktail.
One tip – If you want to move the cup, don’t try to slide it around the table. Pick it up and move it or else it will tip.
We arrived at El Burrito Mercado in the mood for fajitas but changed our mind once we saw the mocajete.
The sizzling hot stone pot is stacked with six types of meat: Red and green chorizo, chicken, steak, shrimp, carnitas, grilled onions, jalapeños and cactus, all served with tortillas, rice and beans. I loved how the beef was cooked so that the edges were lined with small bits of melt-in-your mouth fat and everything soaked up the chorizo oil.
We ordered a side of chips and salsa and our server was more than happy to bring us a few type to try including one extra spicy.
El Burrito Mercado,175 Cesar Chavez St #2, St. Paul, MN 55107, 651-227-2192
All three restaurants offer a happy hour on select weekdays and some type of outdoor seating during nice weather. Feel free to leave a comment and tell me about your favorite place to grab a drink.