Best Undiscovered Neighborhood - 2012
St. Paul's North End
There's nothing pretty about Rice Street. Named after fur trader-turned-politician Henry Mower Rice, who is buried in the neighborhood's storied Oakland Cemetery (the oldest in the city), the street was ushered into its status as the central corridor anchoring St. Paul's North End neighborhood in the 1890s with the arrival of the street car, and it's still about as utilitarian as a street can get. Commercial properties were built quickly to serve the railroad workers moving to the area. The "mechanic's cottages" and other small homes built in the neighborhood to house these workers are similarly practical — Summit Avenue this ain't. But these homes have an unpretentious charm, and the North End reflects well its neighborhood's working-class background, ethnic roots, and rich labor history. Early North End residents typified St. Paul, and today the European laborers, tradesmen, shopkeepers, and domestics who gave the town its ethnic charm are giving way to Asian and Latino immigrants. Completing your blue-collar tour of the North End, check out Italian restaurant and banquet hall Abetto's, as well as Tschida Bakery, both of which have been in the neighborhood for over 80 years. Be sure to stop for ice cream at Conny's Creamy Cone, eggs and bacon at the Coffee Cup, or fried chicken at Tin Cup's. And for nightlife, enjoy a night of blues at Wilebski's or one of the rare underground music performances at the Foundry Pub.